Summer 2021 is shaping up to be among the busiest travel seasons in recent memory, with borders (cautiously) reopening and anyone who’s been housebound for 16 months itching to satisfy his or her wanderlust.
After this stressful year, any thoughtful vacation plans should include a spa destination, a well-deserved opportunity to relax and rejuvenate as you ease into post-pandemic life. From an authentic hammam in Istanbul to an oceanfront spa in Miami Beach, this roundup of resorts near and far highlights cool treatments amid luxe locales, with experts offering tips on men’s-specific services.
Turkey: Çiragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul
Built as an Ottoman palace in the 19th century, the Ciragan is now part of the five-star Kempinski family of hotels, though it retains an abundance of authentic Turkish details. That extends to the genuine Turkish bath known as a hammam, designed in floor-to-ceiling marble; once considered a men-only ritual that attracted sultans and royalty, Turkish baths are prized for their relaxation and wellness benefits (these days, of course, Turkish-bath experiences are also designed with women in mind).
At the Ciragan, opt for the 55-minute Sehrazat treatment, a head-to-toe intensive massage designed to revitalize the muscles and joints. Guests are invited to lie on the hot marble at the heart of the bath, known as the göbek tasi; as heat envelops the body, a rubdown with an exfoliating glove and scented soap revitalizes and cleanses. A massage with scented foam and oil follows. “We use lotions and oils formulated with woody scents [that] provide a long-lasting feeling of freshness and do not weigh on your skin with their natural content,” adds spa manager Sebnem Akman Balta. “The treatment continues with an aromatic oil massage for the head, neck, and the shoulder area. The beneficial properties of the Sehrazat treatment can help men suffering from localized aches and pains, since better blood circulation carries more oxygen to damaged areas and inevitably brings about an immediate reduction in pain and more rapid healing.”
South Carolina: Montage Palmetto Bluff
Combine a golf holiday in Hilton Head with a side trip to the acclaimed Spa Montage in South Carolina’s scenic Lowcountry. Cottages along the May River, a nature preserve, Southern dining and a Jack Nicklaus-designed course are among the offerings at the five-star Montage Palmetto Bluff.
At Spa Montage, opt for the 60- or 90-minute HydraFacial Deep Cleansing Treatment. “Men like the technology element of the HydraFacial, which is the deepest pore-cleansing treatment available,” explains spa director Livia Reddington. “Specific tips are used to target men’s thicker skin and provide a deeper exfoliation experience. Extractions are performed with the machine; the vacuuming action makes for a deeper extraction versus a manual extraction. Based on the gentleman’s skin type, Valmont products are customized, including the cleanser, moisturizer and eye treatment. A product favorite is the Valmont Deto2x cream, a lightweight oxygenated moisturizer that detoxifies the skin and purifies gray complexions caused by urban life.”
Dubai: Bulgari Hotel Dubai
Branded hotels from the legendary Italian jewelry house continue to pop up around the globe, and among the most isolated is the Bulgari Hotel Dubai, set on an island with prime views of both the Middle Eastern capital and the Persian Gulf. This is also the first Bulgari resort to include a yacht club, which overlooks a 46-boat harbor, while the 1,700-square-meter Bulgari Spa and Workshop Gymnasium offers seven treatment rooms, a couples suite, hammam and a 25-meter indoor pool.
Spa director Arkadius Paszkowski recommends the Ultimate Face and Body Treatment. “The experience begins with a back cleanse and exfoliation that restores clarity to the skin, followed by a stress-relieving back massage and Ayurvedic scalp massage to relieve tired or aching muscles in specific areas,” he says. “Then, a deep-cleansing facial rebalances the skin, leaving it brighter and refreshed through the finest essential oils from the Refinery range [of skincare products] … highly concentrated with essential oils and plant extracts, the products and treatment leave the skin clean, clear and invigorated while creating the perfect scent for men.”
Miami: Carillon Miami Wellness Resort
Located in Miami’s North Beach neighborhood, the 70,000-square-foot spa at the oceanfront Carillon will work with a guest to design a wellness program based on his specific needs, addressed through a variety of approaches that blend ancient techniques with forward-thinking technologies.
“Men are taking a holistic approach to their health, and we wanted to introduce a program that treated some of the top issues we were noticing men come in for, such as burnout and muscle recovery,” says Tammy Pahel, VP of spa and wellness operations. “The Restorative Health Program for Men is a new offering from our partner, Advanced Holistic Center, which utilizes traditional Chinese Medicine methods such as acupuncture, gua sha massage and cupping to release built-up stress and tension from the body and restore the male energy flow. Each session is 100 percent customizable, which allows men to utilize this program in a way that makes most sense to their specific needs. Our men’s Thermal Experience is also popular among our clients to enjoy after a workout or before a treatment. The Thermal Experience is connected to the men’s locker room and features a selection of different thermal chambers, including saunas and steam rooms, which allow men to further relax and unwind.”
Turks and Caicos: Wymara Resort & Villas
Turquoise waters are instantly calming, and that’s the first thing you’ll notice about Wymara, located directly on Grace Bay Beach. Book one of the oceanfront studios or suites or one of the more secluded villas, then plan tranquil days of tennis, swimming, meditation in the relaxation garden and treatments at the poolside Spa at Wymara, which blends indoor and outdoor features, from open-air fitness classes to private shower gardens adjacent to treatment rooms.
“We’ve seen a steady growth in male clientele, and in turn, the spa has become a more gender-neutral space,” says spa coordinator Katrina Wilson, who recommends the 50-minute Gentlemen’s Facial, which cleanses clogged pores and targets ingrown hairs using organic ingredients like stonecrop, finely ground olive seeds and rosehip. “The Gentlemen’s Facial comprises a well-balanced roster of ingredients that hyper-focus on the issues usually identified as ‘problem areas’ of the skin,” Wilson adds. “For instance, stonecrop is used to heal irritation and helps to reduce pigmentation, which then translates to an increase of water content in the epidermis. Rosehip is our weapon against those free radicals that deplete and dull the skin. It also provides a nice boost of collagen and elastin while firming and hydrating the skin.”
San Marcos, California: Golden Door Spa & Resort
For the ultimate in a guy-focused getaway, book a spot during Men’s Week at the renowned Golden Door, the 40-room retreat located an hour outside San Diego in the scenic valley of San Marcos. Golden Door hosts six men-only weeks per year for just 40 men each, and they always sell out, so reserve your space early.
Envision a luxe version of the sleepaway camp you loved as a teenager, then fold in holistic wellness and Asian-infused design details, and you’ll begin to get a sense of seven days at Golden Door. The exclusive week attracts billionaire and corporate bigwigs alike, says Kathy Van Ness, general manager and COO of the 600-acre resort. “You’re doing everything from archery to fencing, hiking and mountain biking alongside the powerbrokers of the world,” she notes.
Your camp schedule might start with a morning hike up a mountain for a meditation session once you reach the top, while a spa treatment like the Deep Herbal Toning Wrap is ideal for removing toxins. “We recommend a treatment like this after you’ve been here for a few days, from midweek on,” Van Ness notes. “You’ve been eating the food served here and your stress level has decreased, so it’s a perfect time to release the toxins in your body. Layers of eucalyptus and linen are layered over you while they’re steaming, and in addition to releasing toxins through a good sweat, it also softens your skin. We have many men who are repeat visitors—one just celebrated his 100th visit to Golden Door—and some of them will do this treatment every day.”
Cancun: Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach
If you’re seeking an upscale resort that’s also family-friendly, consider booking an all-inclusive Infinity Luxury stay at Cancun’s Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach. Oceanfront suites in the Infinite Club category come with the ability to arrange activities like cooking classes, a private barbecue with a resort chef on your terrace and access to the resort’s beach club, where you can enjoy everything from cocktails to snorkeling and kayaking in the Caribbean Sea.
As its name implies, the resort’s 40,000-square-foot Gem Spa has been designed with chakra-balancing gems in mind, while the healing properties of the area’s famed clay—including a Chaya-based mud, made using the native medicinal plant from the Yucatan Peninsula—also rank high among the spa menu’s highlights. “Our Mayan Prince Massage is a relaxing therapy that utilizes a mixture of locally sourced Chaya clay and oil, which is smoothly applied to the skin,” says Gem Spa manager Carla Villarreal of the treatment, which can be scheduled for 50 or 80 minutes. “We developed this massage specifically for men who seek relief from sunburned skin or simply more hydrated skin while receiving a relaxing therapy. Afterward, the gentleman rinses off the clay during a refreshing rain shower, which is located within the treatment room.”
Seattle: Le Spa at Lotte Hotel
Among the newest entries from the Korea-based Lotte family of hotels and resorts is this glam destination in downtown Seattle, which debuted in September 2020 and is only the third Lotte hotel in the U.S., after New York City and Guam. The 189-room resort is a unique blend of design styles, from the Philippe Starck interiors (originally designed when SLS owned the property) to the Beaux Arts-style hotel ballroom, located in a former church sanctuary, and the all-new and all-white Le Spa de l’hôtel Lotte, conceptualized to blend a tranquil vibe with holistic treatments.
“It’s a very minimalistic design, which I think is appealing to both men and women,” says spa owner Angela Rosen. “Men are definitely embracing the idea of a spa day to a greater degree, wanting to escape and taking the time to unplug and relax, so we wanted to create a space that felt welcoming and unisex.”
Rosen recommends the spa’s Ritual package, which combines an 80-minute Recover massage to soothe tense muscles with the 50-minute Restore facial. “We’re pretty famous for our facials, and this is a really advanced, results-driven treatment, especially for men who experience skin irritation from shaving,” she says of the Restore treatment. “Clients are also offered a variety of scents in their essential oils as part of the treatment; there’s a forest blend that’s really nice and feels ideal for the Northwest, or they may choose relaxing lavender or rosemary and chamomile for a feeling that’s refreshing and calming at the same time.”