Stroll onto the grounds of El Monte Sagrado Living Resort & Spa and you immediately smell water. Everywhere, ponds are linked to streams, which burble over small waterfalls into still more ponds. Goldfish flash beneath the surface. Plants crowd the view. The effect is of wild, luxurious, and decorative spontaneity.
The appearance is deceptive. El Monte Sagrado's waterscape is carefully planned and eminently functional: a manmade version of nature's own water-purification system.
"The Earth has been doing this for millions of years," says Tom Worrell, the crusading businessman who built El Monte Sagrado. "We just advanced her methods a bit."
El Monte Sagrado is one of the most unusual resorts in the West, if not the world. Unapologetically high-end, with rooms costing as much as $1,095 a night and a spa offering bamboo lemon-grass body polishes and skin renewal-power peel facials, it's also an elaborate experiment in resource conservation.
El Monte Sagrado, in Taos, New Mexico, is trying to prove that in 2006, environmentalism can coexist with aesthetics and sustainability doesn't require sacrifice ― at least of comfort. Worrell has made the resort a personal crusade, hoping it will spark a new philosophy of sustainable building and resource conservation in the West.
But can you really save the Earth at $1,095 a night?