The best gay-owned spas in the U.S.: with the phenomenal growth in spas, how can a traveler tell the true-blue homosexual establishments from the merely metrosexual ones? Our top picks
Adam H. Graham
1. INDIGO ECO SPA Mendocino, Calif. (800-421-2810)
Acquired by gay couple Seth Kelman and Michael Webster in 2004, Stevenswood Resort was transformed from a rustic lodge to a world-class resort complete with 10 luxury suites (with wood-burning fireplaces) and a restaurant that consistently ranks among Zagat’s top 40 California eateries. Surrounded on three sides by the redwood groves of the 2,400-acre Van Damme State Park and close to the ocean, the resort also harbors the five-star Indigo Eco Spa, which uses organic, local, and natural botanicals-based treatments. The Pacific Detox utilizing Redwood and eucalyptus extracts and ocean lipids, the Gentleman’s Choice Facial, and the Complete Body Chemical Analysis have earned the facility Top Ten World Spa status by Spa Tracker.
2. EAST CANYON HOTEL AND SPA, Palm Springs, Calif. (760-320-1928)
Enjoying the fruits of a recent expensive renovation, this upscale gem of a retreat distinguishes itself from other Palm Springs gay resorts with its no-nudity policy and a highly experienced staff of professionally trained massage therapists working a full-service spa on the premises (making it one of only a handful of gay spa resorts in the world). Fifteen tasteful rooms and suites (with Italian Frette linens, Gilchrist & Soames bath amenities, large LCD flat-panel TVs, his-and-his vanities, and oversize showers) enclose a quiet swimming pool and whirlpool, with the San Jacinto Mountains looming beyond. Treatments range from heated stone massages to reiki to two masseurs working on you at once!
3. SENSPA San Francisco (415-441-4777)
San Francisco’s largest day spa is not only partly gay-owned and gay-managed, it’s set in a renovated 13,000-square-foot World War I Army barracks in the city’s woodsy Presidio. A $4.8 million makeover transformed its interior into a lush Zen-like world with 14 treatment rooms (including two VIP rooms), an education center, an indoor garden meditation sanctuary, and a cozy soundproof lounge with a floor-to-ceiling cylinder fireplace. Spa treatments come with a free assessment by a wellness coach, and a master healer can treat you to ancient Chinese practices like Tui Na, cupping, and acupuncture. Other, less traditional treatments include a workout recovery massage for gym rats, and a Fanny Facial that cleanses the skin of the back and buttocks!
4. THE GENDARMERIE West Hollywood (310-858-9009)
Just off West Hollywood’s main gay drag of Santa Monica Boulevard, this cozy, social spa feels more like a friend’s house; it’s hidden away in a quaint 1928 stucco cottage. A rear courtyard invites guests to lounge about drinking martinis infused with fruit from the spa’s own lemon tree. The spa offers an ionized water treatment process–a mineral footbath that detoxes the Botox and any other SoCal chemicals you may ingest during your stay in La-La Land–or go for the whole shebang with a haircut, manicure, facial, pedicure, and chiropractic massage. Don’t miss the full steam shower after a deep tissue massage–close to heaven.
5. FACE TO FACE New York City (212-633-0404)
Hidden on the sixth floor of a nondescript office building in Chelsea is this uber-private modern spa founded by Mexican-born gay skin care guru Enrique Ramirez, who personally works on clients and tailors his approach to the needs of male skin. Their body wax, an Australian import, is infused with essential oils that remove unwanted hair but leave your back intact. Check out the Y-chromosome Facial, which targets razor burn and ingrown hairs, or the Fully-Charged Facial, an antigravity treatment using a minute electrical current to lift and tone facial muscles. Women should inquire about the Mommie Dearest Massage to relieve edema and back pain during pregnancy (don’t worry, no wire hangers are used).
6. THE BLUE MED SPA Atlanta (414-815-8880)
Downtown Atlanta boasts a spa so hot it needed to borrow Miami modern architecture for its imposing three-story building, which doubles as a party space for those who feel their last birthday or corporate affair was a little light on the lotion. A true one-stop shop, the Blue Meal is physician-supervised, so on top of hair, nails, and facials, it can perform procedures such as Thermage–a kind of weekend facelift in which radio frequencies pulsed into the skin produce long-term collagen growth with zero downtime. Or get nutrition advice and exercise direction, or simply chill in the meditation den.
7. THE GRAND RESORT AND SPA Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (800-818-1211)
A late-2007 spa makeover added extra panache to this already distinguished 33-room gay men’s retreat nestled in a garden of palms and bamboo two blocks from the Atlantic Ocean. An equal mix of overnight guests and area day-spa devotees seek out the Grand’s well-trained, friendly staff, who manage a smorgasbord of services such as newly added outdoor cabana massage. Recover from a day on gay Sebastian Street beach (six blocks south) with the Couple’s Escape package, which includes a Swedish massage and Hydrating Facial for two, or prep for a night out in the Wilton Manors gayborhood bars courtesy of the spa’s new full-service hair salon.
8. SIR SPA Chicago (773-271-7000)
Located in Chicago’s queer enclave of Andersonville, the sleek new spa facility (aimed squarely at men) stresses relaxation, fitness, and performance. The gay-owned, 4,500-square-foot space features a fully appointed locker suite, steam room, rain showers, relaxation lounge, and grooming club room. The Ashiatsu and Athlete’s massages are designed to help increase the body’s fitness levels, while the Backne Treatment and Ab Wrap are for slightly more vain parts of the body. Take someone there for the spa’s Date Night package, with his-and-his massages along with wine and dinner coupons.
9. SHUI SPA Provincetown, MA (877-276-9631)
By turns salty and grand, the 140 year-old former sea captain’s estate of Crowne Point Inn is not only gay-owned but has 40 tastefully designed rooms (suites come with fireplaces and whirlpool tubs), a highly regarded fine-dining restaurant, and one of the best spas on Cape Cod. Adroitly trained therapists offer an extensive menu of body, skin, and massage treatments like Sea Lime Citrus Sigh, Distinguished Gentleman’s Facial, or Men’s Back Waxing. A mineral therapy tub, sauna, and steam room are a few of the places you can relax afterward. Or head out for a cocktail, since you’re within walking distance of the center of town.
10. HAWAII HEALING OHANA SPA Kailua Kona, Hawaii (808-331-1050)
Owned by a long-term gay couple, this is the largest spa on the western coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. The spa is elegantly festooned with water fountains, tropical plants, and original art, creating a healing atmosphere the minute you walk in. Its distinctive treatments include Photofacial Rejuvenation (using light-emitting diodes to penetrate skin), a 100% pure organic island sugar, coconut oil, and sweet ginger oil massage, not to mention the Eminence Chocolate Truffle Body Wrap. The spa is also the exclusive manufacturer of its own brand of body and bath products containing no chemical parabens or unnatural preservatives.
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