It goes without saying that sun holidays during the winter months shift into the realm of paradise when paired with spectacular ocean views. But when one holiday isn’t enough — and when is it, really? — a weekend getaway to a seaside retreat isn’t a possibility lost with the setting of the summer sun. See Gurney’s Inn Resort & Spa in Montauk for proof.
Sat on a stunning 11 acre stretch of pristine beach property, Gurney’s is a perennial escape for travellers in search of a calming break from their hectic city life. Located just a short two and half hour journey from Manhattan, the resort is conveniently situated for those from the city, or those planning a New York bound jaunt with time enough to add on a couple days in Montauk, before heading home.
When booking travel arrangements from New York, do as regulars to the Hamptons do and hop aboard a Hampton Jitney motorcoach to get you over to Montauk, the final stop on the Jitney’s route. We decided to ride in luxury and opted for the Ambassador Class motorcoach, which travels between the city and the Hamptons seven days a week, offering patrons upgraded service including a variety of tasty snacks and wine onboard. With passengers collectively looking like something of a traveling Ralph Lauren ad (there were an impressive array of luxurious cable knit sweaters worn under down vests on the days I traveled), the motorcoach is a stylish way to arrive into town. Plus, for those looking to catch up on a little work before officially switching into “vacation mode,” the quiet of the motorcoach (onboard cell phone use is strictly for emergencies only) allows passengers the chance to tie up lose ends at the office or, as comfortably, rest their eyes during the journey to the coast.
I arrive in Montauk after sunset, just in time for dinner. As I settle into the room and peruse the amenities of the plush two-bed room suite, I pull the drapes back to discover a spacious balcony overlooking an endless ocean. Beneath the evening sky’s blanket of stars, the view is breath stopping, enjoyed to the soft whisper of crashing waves. The stunning vista follows me to dinner, where sat in the resort’s nautical-themed dinning room, a menu loaded with fresh seafood dishes is served at tables starring out onto the beach.
In the morning, the vacation truly begins. Having booked Gurney’s special Seawater Spa Getaway package — on offer until December 31 and paired together with ocean view accommodations, breakfast and dinner — the spa is what I have been waiting to experience.
Maybe it was the fact that Gurney’s boasts the only seawater spa in the continental United States that features signature Thalassatherapy (a treatment that centres around immersion in warm seawater, clay, and algae to help restore the body’s chemical balance), or that it has an Olympic-sized indoor heated pool and roman baths filled with ocean water, or perhaps it was after browsing through treatment offerings including the head-to-toe Ocean Radiance Treatment, the Montauk Stone Therapy and the Organic Seaweed Facial, that my anticipation should have reached such great heights. Whatever it was, I had been counting down the days till my spa visit.
As recommended, I begin my visit with a dip into the roman baths, hopping in and out to pop into both the steam room and the sauna. By the time I’m scheduled to move into my treatment, my body has already begun shedding its tension. Looking to both be rid of tight muscles and perk up my skin (the cold air isn’t a friend to one’s face), I decide on one of the Gurney’s popular signature therapies, the Head-to-Toe Ocean Radiance Treatment, which promises to soothe tired bodies with a one hour Swedish massage, while healing worn spirits with thoughtful aromatherapy and reflexology, plus perk up skin with a facial rejuvenation massage that uses a marine plasma serum and a cool cryogenic seaweed facial mask to get your face looking firm and moisturized. If long hours at the office combined with frosty winds have deflated your spirit on top of your complexion — thereby sparking a case of the winter blues (especially prevalent during the holiday season when stress levels often rise) — this 120 minute treatment is what you want.
Or, should stress leading to muscle aches and back pain be your greatest woe, than opt instead for another head-to-toe treatment listed under the spa’s aromatherapy treatments called the Ultimate Muscle Soother Face & Body with Deep Tissue. An intensive 140 minute treatment that focuses on relieving muscle tension and mental stress, a mix of products that borrow the healing and calming properties of tea tree, lavender and neroli water are used during a deep tissue massage that ends with a rejuvenating hot towel wrap.
After emerging from your treatment fresh and tranquil, pamper yourself with the spa’s Hair Restoration treatment, which uses a MoroccanOil mask — a favourite of mine — to penetrates the hair in order to repair and revive the natural elasticity and shine of your locks. Or, add on a hot sea shell mani-pedi — it’s not everyday you can get your nails done (and by done, I mean sea salt exfoliation, extended hand and arm massage using hot sea shells to soothe and hydrate, followed by a paraffin mask) while soaking in an ocean scene. It’s seascape for as far as the eye can see outside the spa windows. A view that loses nothing of its majesty as the summer sun gives way to the winter chill.
Nick Monte, the Inn’s keeper, famously drank a shot of sea water everyday as a demonstration of his belief in it’s restorative powers; after a weekend at Gurney’s, I too am a believer. (I even try one of the complimentary shots of seawater on display at the spa’s front desk before leaving.) Tucked under a toque and a wool blanket, watching the sun sink down into the sea, after spending the daylight hours immersed in seawater treatments, I understand — and feel from my head to my toes — why Monte placed his faith in the restorative powers of the sea. Spring, summer, fall or winter, the healing Thalassatherapy of Gurney’s Inn Resort & Spa awaits guests. I’ll be back, till then, I must concentrate on finding a supply of fresh sea water for daily shots.