Gurney's Inn & Spa in Montauk

gurney's saltwater pool
••• Gurney's Resort & Seawater Spa

Set on the eastern tip of Long Island, Gurney's is a Montauk institution, and the closest thing America has to a thalassotherapy spa. Gurney's is known for its spectacular views of the ocean, gorgeous beach, and famous neighbors such as Robert DeNiro and Ralph Lauren.

Gurney's public spaces and rooms have been updated in contemporary beach style, and all of its rooms, suites, and cottages have ocean views and private decks for sunning yourself. (Warning: Keep your clothes on if you're on the ground floor -- there's a sidewalk!)

What Makes Gurney's a Thalassotherapy Spa

Thalassotherapy is the therapeutic use of the seawater and marine products like algae, seaweed and marine mud to promote health and wellness. It's most popular in France and Spain. The U.S. has just as much coastline, but the development of true thalassotherapy has been inhibited by a lack of tradition and regulations that require the addition of chlorine to swimming pools -- even seawater pools where the water is changed daily.  

Gurney's indoor seawater pool is the only one of its kind in America, filled with local ocean water that has been sand-filtered and warmed to a pleasant temperature.  Floor-to-ceiling windows afford expansive ocean views, and in the summer, glass doors open onto an outdoor lounge deck.  Alas for purists, they do have to add chlorine to comply with state laws, but add as little as possible.\

Additional Spa Services

The thalassotherapy theme continues in the spa, which was built in 1978 and is dated but has some pluses. Where most spas just add powdered algae or minerals to their tap water, Gurney's can use real seawater in a modern hydrotherapy tub.

Detoxifying seaweed wraps are done with very pure, marine-based products from Spa Technologies, which harvests seaweed in Britanny, France. There are no parabens, artificial fragrances, or dyes in their products.

Gurney's 90-minute signature Marine Kur includes a seawater bath, exfoliation with seaweed toning gel followed by a Swiss shower, seaweed wrap and head massage followed by another Swiss shower, and an application of seaweed body lotion. It's done by "body therapists" who have many years experience but aren't licensed for massage.

For Swedish, deep tissue massage, or hot stone massage, ask for Gene Hamilton. He's a massage veteran who has a passion for his work and extremely skilled hands. You can get a massage on the beach. Inhaling the fresh ocean air actually has thalassotherapy benefits.

Its Finnish-style rock sauna delivers dry heat, letting you enjoy high temperatures and deep physical benefits. As you loosen up, you can splash aromatherapy water on the heated rocks to raise the humidity temporarily and deliver moisture to the skin. Health perks of saunas include pain relief, improved circulation, and lower blood pressure.

Moist heat (120 degrees Fahrenheit, 100 percent humidity) has been used for centuries to release impurities through perspiration. The heat and humidity of the eucalyptus-infused steam room open pores and peripheral capillaries and lubricates the upper respiratory tract. After taking a steam, invigorate your body with an aquatic massage in the Swiss shower.

Other Amenities

Its fitness center is open 24 hours a day for resort guests and members. It is outfitted with treadmills, circuit equipment, elliptical machines, stationary bikes, and an array of weight-training equipment. Classes are complimentary for hotel guests, subject to availability. Personal training sessions are also offered.

Most people come to Gurney's resort spa from New York City to spend their time basking on the beach. But take some time to explore Montauk. It has lots of state parks with hiking trails, the famous Montauk Lighthouse, a charming downtown, and even horseback riding on the first cattle ranch in America.