- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 21, 2003

Todd Beckman has never been to a spa. But that’s about to change for the U.S. Marine Corps major, who is stationed in Baghdad.

Earlier this month he sent an e-mail to Spa Finder, a consumer magazine and Web site that details spas around the world in search of a romantic spa getaway in Virginia for him and his wife when he returns home next month.

“I have never been to a spa myself, but the reaction that my wife has from a visit to the spa has made me realize that it is something that I would like to experience,” Maj. Beckman wrote in an e-mail.

Five years ago, Spa Finder would not have received a request like that from a man, said Susie Ellis, Spa Finder’s president.

“It’s not women dragging their men to spas anymore,” she said. “It’s men desiring to go.”

In fact, about 13 million men — or 29 percent of all spa goers — visited a spa in the year ended in June, according to the International Spa Association. That’s a 5 percent increase from a year ago. From June 2002 to June 2003, 44.9 million people over the age of 16 visited spas in the United States.

As the $11 billion industry continues to grow, more spas are tapping into the men’s world, adding everything from masculine-named services and male-oriented products to televisions airing ESPN.

Spas around the world have created male-targeted treatments such as the “Emperor” facial at the spa at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa in Arizona, the “NFL (Nice Fellow League) Treatment” at the Parlor Spa in New York, and the “King of Siam” at the Wellness Spa in Oklahoma.

Spa Fusion & Health Club at the Hilton San Francisco, for example, offers a “Gentlemen’s Facial,” that cleans, steams and exfoliates and incorporates a neck, scalp and shoulder rub. The spa, which opened in March, was designed to attract the hotel’s male business clientele.

“Spas have become a place to rejuvenate more than a place to pamper yourself,” said Laurie Smith, spa director at Spa Fusion.

Robert Andrew Salon & Spa in Gambrills, Md., offers spa packages such as “The Royal Treatment,” which consists of a fitness facial, deep-tissue full-body massage and a sport manicure and pedicure.

In fact, Robert Andrew has its own Men’s Spa, which serves as a lounge that separates the men from the women, complete with televisions. About 30 percent of the salon and spa business comes from men.

“Some macho men still like to be in their own area,” said Bob Zupko, owner of the 22,000-square-foot salon and spa. “There’s a lot of men that feel like [a spa] is too feminine. Having this facility makes it easier.”

Mr. Zupko said the current location, which he moved to in July 2002, was a result of the demand for more space for services catering to men.

“The men’s business was trying to grow but we didn’t have a separate men’s area,” he said. “It was a little too much of a women’s world.”

Ms. Ellis said the surge in male spa clients can be attributed to the increase in spas at resorts, as well as better male-oriented treatments and services. Gift certificates also have played a big part in introducing new people, particularly men, to spas.

She says the increase is driven by demand, not by the spas. More people — especially men — are realizing the benefits of a spa visit.

“The spa experience is something people love,” she said. “You leave a spa and you feel terrific. Stress levels are a real driver.”

Industry officials agree men are an untapped market. As a result, spas are doing all they can to break down the barriers to get more men into a place that once was regarded only for women.

“Men are realizing on a societal level that pampering and stress management is not in the exclusive domain of the female gender,” said Julie Smalfelt, owner of Comfort & Joy Wellness Spa in Fairfax.

Ms. Smalfelt said about 20 percent to 25 percent of her business comes from men. Massages, manicures, pedicures and facials are the spa’s most popular services.

“For men, often they come in when something hurts,” Ms. Smalfelt said.

“They start to see the benefit and they return.”

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