Editor’s note: Continuing our “Going Google Everywhere” series, we’ve invited Sheila Garrison and Kristin Heaton-Peabody, co-founders of Hiatus Spa + Retreat, to explain how Google Apps helped them launch and grow their socially conscious spa in Dallas, Texas. Learn more about other organizations that have gone Google on our community map.

Pictured: Hiatus Spa + Retreat co-founders Kristin Heaton-Peabody and Sheila Garrison

Our business, Hiatus Spa + Retreat, was born out of necessity. As professionals who worked entirely unreasonable hours, and habitual spa users, we were left with few options that fulfilled our needs for an escape to renew body and mind without breaking our wallets. And as serial entrepreneurs, it didn’t take us long to recognize a significant need in the marketplace for a superlative spa experience at a reasonable price. With that in mind, our core mission was firmly set: to make the world a better place, one spa service at a time.

We started writing the business plan in 2006, which took us nearly a year to perfect, then we started looking at Dallas real estate. We started using Google Apps in fall 2007, before we opened; with founders based in both Dallas and Laguna Beach, California, Docs was essential to helping us finalize details such as our initial spa menu (we wished we’d had Docs when we wrote the business plan!). In December 2007 we opened the doors to Hiatus, a full-service day spa featuring a monthly membership and affordable pricing -- the first of its kind in the United States.

We now have our entire team of 30 using Google Apps. Google Apps is perfectly reflective of who we are as founders: it’s all about transparency, efficiency and environmental consciousness. That’s the way we run our lives and business. Google Apps empowers us to work more effectively than previously imaginable (and we spent more than 15 years working in the technology sector!). Through Google Docs, our ability to sit-down, as a company—in multiple cities—and collaborate on one single document, real-time, has become essential.

I simply can’t imagine going backward. With a team spread across several states (including lawyers and consultants in Chicago), we can work on shared Docs across multiple time zones without missing a beat. Employees can access our employee handbook and other spa documents we use daily, plus we keep our on-call schedule in Google Calendar. If you work at Hiatus, you’ve gone Google!

As our business has grown (we enjoyed 83% growth in 2009 and are on track for a 60% increase in 2010, in an otherwise complicated economy), Google Apps has consistently proved invaluable. With the limitations of traditional inbox mail storage, our team had difficulty storing important documents and retrieving them in a real-time fashion. With Apps, we can de-clutter inboxes and provide consistent up-to-date information via Google Docs.

As any entrepreneur knows, organizational “betterments” happen on a daily basis. The business is always a work in progress, and you can’t rely on the notion that your team always has the latest and greatest information. Hosting our critical documents in the cloud also appeals to our eco-conscious sensibilities -- can you imagine how many trees are being saved on a daily basis from not re-printing employee manuals?

We’re also finding new uses from Docs as we grow, from managing construction and budgeting for our expansion into the space next door to event planning for our screening of “Tapped”, as a fundraiser for the Global Greengrants Fund and the Gulf Restoration Network. We’re still working ridiculous hours, but Google Apps helps us be as efficient as possible -- and now at least we have a sanctuary to find our center.

Find out how going Google can help your organization with the Cloud Calculator.

Posted by Colleen Horan, Google Enterprise team