Julie Register visited this Long Island resort spa,
the only thalasso spa in the continental United States, in April 2009
Foredeck Building at Gurney's Inn
wide beach in front of Gurney's Inn in Montauk, New York
scattered all over the beach
am strolling on the wide beach in front of my room at Gurney's Inn on the eastern
tip of Long Island. The fog has almost burned off. The sky is clear, the air is
cool, and the sun is warm. My intention for a brisk walk has evaporated. My attention
is drawn to the many small, colorful stones that have been perfectly polished
by waves and sand and have been generously scattered all over the beach. Like
a little kid, I have to stop and look at each one. I dawdle. The white, red, gold
and black stones call me. I pick them up and brush them off. I put them in my
pocket to later add to my fountains and plant trays at home. I will look at them
and remember this beach, this time, this sun, this sky, the wee trace of fog,
the seawater spa treatments and the child within.
come to this place to experience the only spa in the continental United States
that offers authentic thalassotherapy with fresh seawater. Before I share my experience,
let's talk about thalassotherapy. The word "thalassotherapy" was coined
in 1869 by Dr. De la Bonnardiere, a doctor from Arcachon, France by combining
the Greek word "thalassa" meaning sea and "therapeia" meaning
to treat medically. Thalassotherapy is the use of seawater and seaweed to encourage
an exchange of minerals to rejuvenate and heal the body. There is a synergy between
the ocean and us.
- Sea Water - The water in the ocean contains
the same minerals in the same proportions as the minerals in the human body. After
all, life comes from the sea. Have you ever noticed how good you feel after a
swim in the ocean? It's not just from the exercise, sun and fresh air (although
they contribute). It's also from needed minerals that have been absorbed directly
through our skin. In addition to minerals, seawater is filled with negative ions
which encapsulate free radicals and reduce the harm done by them to the body.
According to Alain
Jouan, immersion and motion in seawater for just a few minutes allows the
body to absorb, through osmosis, significant amounts of sodium, potassium, magnesium
and calcium as well as boron, sulfur, fluoride, chloride and iodine. Thousands
of reactions take place. A few results of these reactions include: stress relief
from magnesium, fat burning from iodine, skin repair from silicon and zinc and
inflammation reduction from selenium.
- Sea Air - Sea air is full
microscopic droplets of seawater that we breathe into our lungs, and the circulatory
system distributes the minerals to the rest of the body.
- Sea Weed
- Seaweed grows in the ocean and has the same minerals in the same proportion
as seawater, but it is more concentrated. Some seaweed has more complete minerals
than others (such as those off the coast of Brittany, France). Products made from
micronized seaweed allow these minerals to be absorbed into the body when applied
to the skin (as in body wraps and seaweed baths). Seaweed is also a softening
agent and softens our skin.
- Sea Mud - According to La
Fédération Internationale de Thalassothérapie, the ionic
concentrations due to the maritime fauna and flora in maritime mud is effectively
used to treat rheumatism and certain skin diseases such as acne and eczema. Maritime
mud acts physiologically (thanks to its plasticity and to its power of retaining
water and heat) and chemically (thanks to the transition of some of its trace
elements through the skin).
There are ~100 ocean-side
thalassotherapy centers in the world. About 50 of them are on the coast of France
(where thalassotherapy was pioneered in the early 1900s), but they are also found
throughout Europe and Africa (10 are in Tunisia). They use seawater in treatments
such as algae (seaweed) poultices, marine mud applications, underwater massage,
baths and showers.
The only way most US spas can offer thalassotherapy
treatments is by adding sea salt to tap water treated with chlorine (a toxin readily
absorbed by the skin) to create their own "seawater." The exception
is the Sea Water Spa at Gurney's. Nick Monte, the forward-thinking owner, researched
thalassotherapy in France and opened a center at Gurney's in 1979. The keystone
of this center is a well that pumps fresh, filtered, seawater into the swimming
pool and Roman baths (which are chlorinated) and into individual therapy tubs
(which are not chlorinated since the water in the tub is used once then emptied).
Nick died in 2007, but Gurney's remains in the Monte family. The current General
Manager is his nephew (son of former GM Angelo Montemarano Sr. who died in 2008),
Paul Monte. The inn's Executive Chef is Paul's brother, Chip Monte. Candice Monte,
Chip's wife, has been the spa director since 2008 and the fitness director since
Pool at Gurney'sNew York
Roman Bath at the Sea Water Spa at Gurney's
Tub at the Sea Water Spa at Gurney's
To complement the seawater, the spa at Gurney's uses Spa
Technologies products which combine sea water and specific seaweeds that provide
benefits to the skin. I had an opportunity to meet Dan Fryda, founder and president
of Spa Technologies, at the Psychic and Holistic Living Fair at Gurney's on the
weekend I visited. After completing studies in thalassotherapy, aromatherapy and
acupuncture, Dan began formulating marine-based products for spas. He said Spa
Technologies uses specially harvested seaweed from Brittany and other quality
locations, which is micronized (ground very fine) so that it can be easily absorbed
into the skin (in a wrap for example). Spa Technologies has grown in the last
13 years by integrating essential oils, botanicals, seaweeds and algae into the
product line to detoxify, regenerate and rebalance the skin.
Fryda, owner of Spa Technologies, at the Psychic and Holistic Living Fair at Gurney's
on April 25, 2009
Technologies Products used at the Sea Water Spa at Gurney's
Back to my Sea Water Spa experience...I am standing at
the entrance to the Sea Water Spa enjoying the sound of the fountain, admiring
the statue of Venus and remembering Thomas Moore's talk on The
Spirituality of Venus at the ISPA conference last November. He said taking
care of ourselves is something we are called to do, and we need to do. I am thankful
that I can take care of myself at this place and with my upcoming thalassotherapy
to the Sea Water Spa
Water Spa Reception Desk
in at the reception desk and am escorted downstairs. I am left in the care of
a spa attendant who gets a robe and sandals for me, shows me to my locker and
gives me a tour. I put on my bathing suit. I have time for a swim in the pool
(co-ed and suit is required) but decide to use the women's sauna and steam room
then soak in the Roman bath instead (suit not required). The spa is pretty busy.
Most of the women I chat with are there to attend the Psychic and Holistic Living
Fair. The Inn offered discounted rates for this event that started at $100 per
person (quad occupancy) and included entrance to the fair, a room overlooking
the Atlantic Ocean, $26 per person credit for dinner, full breakfast and use of
the general spa facilities (indoor seawater heated swimming pool, Roman baths,
saunas, steam rooms and fitness center) plus 18% service charge and NYS tax. What
spend a few minutes resting in the Quiet Room before my body therapist comes for
me. I am having the spa's 90-minute signature Marine Kur Therapy. My therapist
leads me to a lovely treatment suite equipped with two massage tables, a shower
and a hydrotherapy tub. The tub is filled and waiting for me. I am instructed
to get in the warm seawater. The therapist takes a hose and directs it under the
water on the muscles of my body - a hydrotherapy massage. The warmth of the water
and the action of the hydro massage are supposed to enhance the absorption of
minerals from the seawater into the body.
After the bath, I am led to a
treatment table where my therapist exfoliates my body using a seaweed toning gel
and a loofah mitt. Sloughing off the dead skin helps the cells absorb the minerals
from the seaweed products better.
I am led to a Swiss shower to rinse off.
Thankfully, the water is warm. I am asked if I would like it cold for a few seconds
to increase my circulation. I decline. I return to the table where my therapist
applies a nourishing, mineral-rich seaweed body mask all over my body then wraps
me in blankets. While I warm up in the blankets, my therapist gives me a lovely
scalp massage. When I have been wrapped long enough, I return to the warm Swiss
shower to rinse off. Once again I return to the treatment table where a seaweed
body cream is applied. My therapist asks if I would like to remain in the room
for a few minutes to rest. I happily agree. I like the feeling of not being rushed
out of the room. I eventually get up and get dressed. My skin is noticeably softer.
The Sea Water Spa has 39 treatment rooms and has a staff
of 90 employees during the peak season. Here are more photos of the Sea Water
Stations in the Salon on the Main Level of the Sea Water Spa
Treatment Room on the Main Level of the Sea Water Spa
Sea Water Spa's Sun Deck
located on the Main Level
offered at the Sea Water Spa at the time of my visit include:
Green Argilite Mud Therapy
Ocean Radiance Treatment
Rose Face & Body Treatment
Balancing Cellulite Treatment
Lymphatic Drainage Face & Body
Water Hydrotherapy Bath
Water Hydrotherapy Massage
Sea Plunge (Min 5 guests)
Herbal Body Therapy
& Tone/Seaweed Wrap
Water Aromatherapy Treatment
Sun Recovery Treatment
and Honey Re-hydrating Treatment
with Aromatherapy Oils
Outdoor Swedish Massage
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep Tissue Massage
Deep Tissue Massage
Layer Anti-Aging Facial
Facial for Hyper-Pigmentation
with 70 min Facial
Heating Mud Incorporated w/Facial
Hand Tx Incorporated w/Facial
Foot Tx Incorporated w/Facial
Scrub & Hydro Massage
Aromatherapy Bath & Massage
& Exotic Essential Oil Body Treatment
Lavender Thermalism Treatment
and Revive Therapy
Rose Body Therapy
Lesson with Application
Makeup Trial Application
Day Makeup Application
Training with Master Trainer (Weight Training, Yoga or Pilates)
Air Aerobic Beach Walk
for Teens Ages 13-17
for Children Ages 4-12
of Vitality (Gentlemen)
& Daughter Package1
for the Bride
Wedding Package for
I am staying in room #556 of the three-story
Foredeck building which was built in 1962. My room is pleasantly decorated. It
faces the ocean and has a spacious deck area with two lounge chairs. I can walk
right out onto the beach. The same room feature that lets me hear the wonderful
sound of the surf in the room also lets me hear everything (and I do mean everything)
my nocturnal upstairs neighbors do.
There is actually a lot going on at
Gurney's this weekend. I stop by to watch the filming of the American
Dream® Show, a Hamptons WVVH TV show aired in the tri-state area and hosted
by Ingrid Lemme, Gurney's Marketing Director.
of the American Dreams Show at Gurney's Inn The
Psychic and Holistic Living Fair at Gurney's Inn on April 25, 2009
I attend the Psychic and Holistic Living Fair. There are
tarot, palm, flower essence and angel readers, health coaches, massage therapists
and more. I attend and enjoy the Morning
Tobacco Prayer led by Deep Arrow (Lorraine Simone, M.S. Ed., C.Ht., SVF),
founder and director of the Moonfire Meeting House. Phil, a naturopath, does some
energy work on me - some time on energy (mine is low), some time on my physical
being and some time on the cosmic (I am following the path I should be on). He
tells me that energy is infinite, yet some people have huge energy voids and will
try to use my energy. If I choose to let them have it, I must get mine refilled.
Ways to do that include meditation, reiki session and chakra work.
I leave Long Island, I go to the Montauk Point Lighthouse, which was commissioned
by George Washington and built in 1797. I climb the stairs to the top and enjoy
the spectacular view.
from the Top of the Montauk Point Lighthouse
cures of sun and sea impose themselves on most illnesses."
Per Aquam. Health by Water.
- In order to guarantee the availability of your preferred time and service, please
make your appointment 1-2 weeks in advance for individual services and 5-6 weeks
in advance for spa packages and groups.
Spa Technician Preference - Please note your
preference of a male or female spa technician at the time you are making the reservation.
Health Concerns - Please notify the spa reservationist
if you have physical ailments, disabilities or allergies. The spa reservationist
will get you in contact with the Spa Nurse.
Pregnancy - You will want to avoid treatments using
deep pressure and heat, such as hydrotherapy, herbal wrap, and deep tissue massage.
Also avoid heat facilities, such as the Roman Bath, Sauna, and Steam Room. Pre-natal
massage, Brush & Tone, Nourishing Rose Body Treatment, and salon services
What to Bring - Gurney's Inn provides robes, towels,
shower slippers, and lockers. All you need to bring is exercise clothing and proper
footwear if you plan to work out, and a swimsuit if you plan to use the pool.
Valuables - Lockers are provided for guests receiving
services or exercising. All valuables should be left in hotel room safes before
visiting the Spa. For guests wearing jewelry, safety deposit boxes are provided
upon check-in. The Sea Spa at Gurney's Inn is not responsible for items left in
Rooms - Available are clothes lockers, private showers
and dressing rooms, hair dryer, shampoo, conditioner and body lotion. Please bring
private items such as deodorant.
Arrival - Arrive at least 30 minutes before your
first appointment to allow yourself ample time to check in, change, and familiarize
yourself with the Spa. Please shower before using the facilities and prior to
having your treatments.
Dress during Treatments - For massage or thalasso,
you may wear undergarments or a swimsuit if this would be more comfortable for
you. Your therapist will leave the room while you lie down on the table and drape
yourself with a large towel. Please keep in mind that the therapists are trained
to drape you discreetly and to protect your privacy at all times.
Service Charge - All services and packages are subject
to an 18% service charge. From the service charge, all service providers receive
15% of the service price. The balance of the service charge is distributed amongst
support staff of the spa and the house.
Tips - Tips are not required but are appreciated.
Many guests leave a tip in addition to the service charge in recognition of superior
service. A suggested guideline for tipping is $5 - $10 for 30 minute services
and $10 - $20 for hour services.
Subject to Change - Services and Prices are subject
to change without prior notice.
Policy - Please note, a 24-hour notice before your scheduled appointment is
required or you will be charged full value of the service. ALL NO SHOWS will be
charged the full value of the service.
copyright 2009 Julie Register
Lantana Spa at JW Marriott San Antonio
Farm to Treatment Table Lavender Experience
This package is available Saturdays only, May 12 – July 14 (excluding June 8), must be booked one week in advance and requires 48 hours notice for cancellation.
Hill Country Lavender Farm tour,
a bottle of organic lavender massage oil made at the farm,
lunch at Replenish Spa Café with items featuring lavender, and a lavender-based spa treatment featuring the organic lavender massage oil from the Hill Country Lavender farm.
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I'm a believer.
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