Women review spas geared for both sexes.
From manicures and pedicures to facials and massages, spa treatments (and the spas that house them) are often geared toward women. But what about couples? In an effort to create an experience that is equally rejuvenating for men, several destination spas have developed activities and menus (steaks at a spa? yes, please) that will guarantee a return visit—for both of you.
ALVADORA SPA AT ROYAL PALMS
I’m married to a man who not only played professional ice hockey in Europe, but who was also a brute defenseman leading his team in penalty minutes. So you can imagine his take on most spa treatments, especially ones that involve mud, seaweed, New Age music, or the word “detoxifying.” No thanks. But in honor of our second anniversary, I convinced Jim that we were in need of a getaway, so we headed for the Alvadora Spa at Royal Palms, a Mediterranean-style resort nestled at the base of Camelback Mountain near our home in Phoenix.
There, Jim was quick to adapt to the resort’s rugged, relaxed environment and agreed to try something other than his usual Swedish rubdown: the 90-minute Acqua Dolce Ritual for two. In a heated stone room, we lay on adjacent tables as showerheads dumped steamy water onto our bodies and therapists buffed us from head to toe. We were then left to enjoy an oversize bubble bath and two private outdoor showers before the therapists returned to give us light, moisturizing massages. Afterward, Jim called the treatment “sexy,” kept commenting on how great his skin felt, and noted that he felt energized—not sluggish, like he usually feels after a massage. I couldn’t help but agree.
The Acqua Dolce Ritual was the perfect primer for our romantic steak-and-lobster dinner at T. Cook’s, the resort’s exquisite restaurant, and an evening in our private casita, outfitted with a fireplace, scattered rose petals—and even a plate of chocolate truffles and cheeses. Here’s what I’ll remember for our next anniversary: A steamy bath for two is just the thing to make this hockey player melt.
-Laurel Naverson Geraghty
Royalpalmshotel.com; (866) 579-3637; Acqua Dolce Ritual, $200 per person.
THE SPA AT MOHONK MOUNTAIN HOUSE
New Paltz, New York
My boyfriend is a simple guy. He uses an all-in-one shampoo-conditioner on his hair and a bar of soap everywhere else—no lotions, gels, mousses, or colognes. That might explain why Evan looked at me like I’d asked him to take up crochet when I proposed that we visit the newly expanded 30,000-square-foot spa at the Mohonk Mountain House (about an hour and a half by car from New York City). It turns out that he was doubtful that such a plush sanctuary—amenities include an outdoor heated mineral soaking pool and a sun-filled couples solarium—could provide the kind of manly, no-pain-no-gain massage for which he yearned.
Mohonk’s “gentlemen’s massage” didn’t cause screams of pleasure or pain—though afterward Evan noted that his shoulders felt much looser and his neck less knotty—but the revitalizing men’s facial was a clear hit. He kept staring at his reflection for the rest of the day. Meanwhile, I indulged in the spa’s signature facial and a hot paraffin wax manicure and pedicure—two and a half hours of bliss that left me as jointless as jelly. That night we swapped spa stories over wine and juicy steaks in the formal dining room (jackets required) and then scurried back to our tower room to cozy up by the fireplace. In the end, I think the whole spa thing is starting to appeal to him, if only in small ways. Case in point: In the bathroom the next day, I couldn’t find the complimentary body lotion or oatmeal-flecked facial bar. A certain someone had slipped it into his toiletry bag to take home.
Mohonk.com; (845) 255-1000; Eagle Cliff Gentlemen’s Massage, $100 for 50 minutes; $165 for 80 minutes.
THE LODGE AT WOODLOCH
My husband, Paul, and I disagree about lots of things: when to pay bills (I’m always early, he’s just on time), drinking from the tap (I fear rusty pipes, he hates bottled water), and the appropriate time to wear long underwear (below freezing for me, early November for him). But we are in total agreement about what makes a marriage work: quality time together and quality time apart.
That’s why The Lodge at Woodloch was a perfect fit for our romantic weekend away. Clocking in at just over two hours from New York City, the brand-new spa in eastern Pennsylvania gave us numerous opportunities to indulge in the things that make us happy as a couple—plush king-size beds, long massages, multi-course meals crafted from local ingredients—and the activities that keep us content as individuals—hiking and mountain biking for Paul, reading by the fire and morning yoga for me. The spa took our “separate but together” approach a step further by balancing the gender-exclusive saunas, steam rooms, and whirlpool baths with a co-ed “aqua garden”—a watery playground replete with large indoor pool, soaking pools, heated hydromassage water walls, and outdoor Jacuzzi with radiant heat deck (so it’s fun to get wet, even in the winter).
At breakfast the next morning—fresh fruit smoothie and poached eggs Florentine for me, coffee and bagel with smoked salmon for him—we toasted to a perfect weekend together…and apart.
Thelodgeatwoodloch.com; (866) 953-8500; 50-minute Lodge Massage for Two, $230.
I’m in love with a man who cringes at gratuitous ruffles, who scoffs at decorative doodads. So imagine my relief to see that Calistoga Ranch in northern California avoids fussy spa trappings in favor of natural simplicity. Tucked in a canyon, each guest lodge offers both floor-to-ceiling windows and total privacy—an exhilarating combo, we city dwellers learned.
At this spa, you’re never far from the comforts of home—albeit someone else’s impeccably appointed home. The Lakehouse restaurant serves elegant meals in a relaxed setting and offers a menu that’s far from the bean sprouts and lettuce leaves of traditional spa cuisine. Jesse and I feasted upon sashimi, scallops, short ribs, prime rib, and Meyer lemon tart. After dinner we watched a DVD curled up by the fire with a bottle of local wine—not our usual night at home in front of the TV.
At the Bathhouse spa the next day, gracious staff members answered questions before we even asked them and our Sensuous Soak was pure relaxation. After nibbling fruit in a private heated pool—at sunset, no less—and experiencing side-by-side massages, even Mr. No Frills was sold.
Calistogaranch.com; (707) 254-2800; 90-minute Sensuous Soak, $220 per person; 60-minute couples massage, $150 per person.