The spa tradition dates to Roman days, back when powerful men dropped toga to go for a spritz. In recent centuries, though, spa-going has been seen as more of a female affair, particularly around North America. But now, in Century XXI, the boys are back. Spas around the world are reporting increases in the percentages of men attending their facilities. As modern men focus more on well-being and appearances, spas are catering to this growing clientele by introducing new services, renaming old ones with more masculine monikers, and making the spa experience more gender-neutral. Out with scents of patchouli and rose petals, and in with cinnamon and pine. Separate waiting and relaxation areas for men are also becoming more common.
You can even find men-only spas – most likely either day spas in large cities like London or New York, or hotel spas throughout the Middle East. The All-Men’s Spa at the Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh is considered among the best single-sex spas in the world.
While many spa menus are claiming to add men-only treatments to the roster, the fact is, most of these are just the standard bill of fare with more macho names. For example, facials may be called a men’s grooming experience (or like the Men's Focus Facial at Mandarin Oriental New York), rubdowns are called sports massages instead of Swedish massages, or – even brawnier – Kohler Waters Spa at the American Club in Wisconsin has a Woodsman Massage. The same spa has also designed a gender-specific hydrotherapy treatment called Rain Man. It includes hot stones and full-body exfoliation, along with the drenching.
Treatments focusing on aches and pains – especially those acquired from indulging in sports – are particularly popular. While the dilemma of a male versus a female therapist providing the massage is still an issue for many men, the actual idea of getting sore muscles rubbed out has become a much less threatening option.
Spas at resorts where outdoor recreation and sports are a large part of the focus have been among the leaders in introducing treatments. In appealing to golfers, Eaglewood Resort & Spa in Itasca, Illinois calls a massage “Golfer’s Therapy”. Pinehurst in North Carolina calls its golfer-oriented rubdown “Golfer’s Massage”. Several resorts specializing in rugged outdoor sports have spas with a range of athletic massages. For example, Red Mountain in Utah encourages men, after taking part in outdoor excursions like kayaking, canyoneering, and rock climbing, to go for a “Red Rock’s Hiker Massage” in its Sagestone Spa.