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Taking the Plunge into a Seawater Spa

Sara Bliss
Senior Writer
August 15, 2014

Photo: ACP/Trunk Archive

The Treatment: Marine Kur Thalassotherapy at Gurney's Montauk Resort and Seawater Spa.  

The Promise: Thalassotherapy, a seawater-based spa treatment that originated in France in the 19th century, promises to increase circulation, detox the body, and promote relaxation by harnessing the healing power of the sea to restore and re-mineralize the body. Seawater is full of minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium, and phosphorous that heal and purify the skin when absorbed. 

The Destination: Thalassotherapy’s popular in Europe, but Gurney’s is the only spot in the continental U.S, that offers the healing seawater experience. When the spa opened in the 1970s, ocean-based treatments were their cornerstone. Now a multi-million dollar renovation of the beachfront hotel is introducing a new generation to its famed spa. (While the rooms have been revamped, the spa gets its facelift in January— the treatments will remain the same.)

The Guinea Pig: Growing up in my family, the very mention of the word “Gurney’s” was accompanied by cult-like enthusiasm. Whether my parents were heading out for massages and beachtime in its 80s heyday, or my older sister Alyssa was escaping for a milestone birthday, everyone returned glowing, happy, and raving. After years of wondering about this magical mecca with expansive ocean views, I jumped at the chance to try the spa myself and see what all the fuss was about.

The Experience: The 90-minute Marine Kur treatment is divided into three parts, each lasting about 30-minutes. If you are at all self-conscious, pack a bikini bottom!

Part 1 Thalasso: Hop into a Jacuzzi filled with 50% filtered seawater and 50% fresh water heated to a perfect 94 degrees. While the seawater works its magic, your technician does a targeted water massage on your back, legs, and arms with a spray nozzle. After about 15 minutes, they toss in a cupful of healing sea salts, the lights go down and the jets get turned up. While you’re relaxing in the dark, the jacuzzi’s lights start changing color—red to purple to pink to white; it feels like a tub-based techno rave.   

Part 2 Exfoliation: Hop onto a massage table for an exfoliating massage with organic algae-based sea salts. You rinse off in the shower after the rub down.

Part 3 Wrap: Back on the massage table for a full-body application of a thick mineral rich seaweed body mask accompanied by a wrap to enhance the absorption. Your technician gives you a soothing scalp massage and after another shower, you finish with an application of seaweed body cream. 

The Results: I figured that this would be one of those experiences that would be interesting to try and fun while experiencing it, but that’s it. I wasn’t necessarily expecting to feel the benefits—increased circulation and detoxification are hard ones to pin down. But I am a convert. If given the chance I would absolutely do it again, maybe over a massage. I left with glowing super smooth skin and I really did feel renewed and invigorated.