MONTAUK, NEW YORK
Experience diverse wellness treatments steeped in the
spirit of this seaside location.
Goal: To revisit a much-loved resort from your past, pairing childhood memories with adult needs and desires.
The minute you pull off Montauk Highway and descend the road to Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa, it’s likely your overall mood is going to shift a little bit—and I attribute that feeling to the rush of salty ocean air mixed with a dazzling Atlantic Ocean vista that suddenly comes into view.
I’ve experienced this feeling since 1981. My first trip to Gurney’s took place one year after the spa opened. I was a lucky tween on a mother/daughter getaway, and, at the time, I had zero idea that I would return to this peaceful oasis overlooking 2,000 feet of pristine sand over and over again through the years.
In fact, I also had no idea how I would be reconnecting with that tender time in my tweens when I returned to the spa this month. Even though the resort looks nothing like it did then—it was a bit more homespun then (to say the least) and even had a cigarette machine in what was then called the Skipper’s Dining Room, filled, as I recall, with lots of over-the-top nautical décor.
I remember feeling skeptical about spending a day pampering yourself. Sure, I was a mani/pedi veteran already, but I remember looking at the menu of treatment options and seeing a listing for a salt wrap and starting to sweat. (Did you have to take off all of your clothes for that? The very thought seemed terrifying at the time!)
On the flip side, I felt this incredible closeness to my mom, who was just 40 years old at the time, as we settled into our seats in our starched white robes and waited for our appointments (she was having said salt wrap and I opted for something safe—a manicure).
She was (and is) a force, but back then she was the epitome of an ’80s divorce lawyer right out of a TV show, with her shoulder-padded suits, frosted hair, whip smart knowledge of seemingly everything and ability to put on mascara while she was behind the wheel in Manhattan traffic (true story). I needed her then in a way that, today, feels like the warmest of hugs.
That visit to Gurney’s was filled with the tiniest memories of time together and it struck me in a very profound way that I’m a little older than my mom was when she took me all the way “out east” to Montauk all those years ago. And, like the resort, I’ve gone through my own very epic bits of growth now that I’m deep into middle age (and, in the years since my native voyage to Gurney’s, I’ve become an experienced spa goer along the way).
What blew me away upon arriving at Gurney’s this time was seeing the spa’s $20 million facelift up close. In 2022, the spa got a refresh and it shows. There’s a gorgeous glassed-in overlook to the Seawater Pool (the only one to use actual ocean water in North America) that’s called The Bathhouse—a set of four plunge pools set to very specific temperatures (there are two frigidariums: one is 50 degrees; the other is 57 degrees), a thermae bath (95 degrees) and a caldarium (104 degrees) that aim to either heat or cool the body.
There’s also an oversized dry sauna and eucalyptus steam room and a heated bench on which to rest and relax after doing this circuit of invigorating experiences.
The 30,000-square-foot Seawater Spa itself specializes in marine-based wellness, which makes sense given its location in Montauk. One of the signature treatments that guests rave about is the Sea & Salt Glow Body Scrub, which quite literally uses organic seaweed on the skin to leave you feeling all aglow.
The reno also means a brand-new, wood-paneled waiting room filled with luxurious leather seating and plush blankets if you get cold, tea at the ready while you await your treatment and even an outdoor space replete with firepit, if you prefer. It’s all very luxurious and peaceful and, believe it or not, isn’t that different from the earliest incarnations of Gurney’s—a smell of the sea permeates the space and it feels like time is standing still.
Speaking of time, the first thing I did when I got home was call my mom to tell her all about my latest Gurney’s adventure. Her words: “Did you book something fabulous? You’ve got to go all in!”
Just like a mom to know just the right things to do—at a spa and in life. Thank you, mom, for the memories and for the time with me, which is more precious than anything in the world, even a lengthy outdoor massage with the most gorgeous of oceanfront views. gurneysresorts.com