Growing up on the East End, I’ve always loved Montauk. Among all our special Long Island places, Montauk’s beautiful beaches make it a standout. And me being me, no getaway would be complete without a super spa for some truly pampered relaxation. We booked a room at Gurney’s Inn Resort Spa and Conference Center, a perfect choice for our brief respite, and set off on the scenic drive to “The End.”
Resting literally on the brink of the Atlantic, Gurney’s Inn has a history almost as colorful as the region itself. During the summer of 1955, Brooklyn restaurateur Nick Monte visited the Inn, which was established in 1926 by Mrs. Maude Gurney. A Christian Scientist, Mrs. Gurney did not believe in the consumption of alcohol, and Monte missed his usual glass of wine with lunch as he took in the glorious ocean view. The story goes that he offered to buy the hotel and restaurant on the spot, and in 1956, Nick Monte embarked on a journey that would eventually see Gurney’s grow into the resort it has become today, with 109 suites, a conference center and a world-class spa.
We checked in late in the day and, after settling into our oceanfront suite and watching the sun set over the sea, we headed over to Café Monte, one of the Inn’s two restaurants. This small, retro/contemporary/nautical eatery brought to mind the days of the Rat Pack. With standards from the 50s and 60s playing softly, the cozy atmosphere was so complete that I found myself imagining the likes of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin lounging over cocktails in a booth across the way. We shared crab cake appetizers, and I added ravioli with goat cheese, spinach and just the right touch of sun-dried tomatoes, all covered in a perfect truffle cream sauce.
The next day, while my husband set out to explore, I headed over to the Sea Water Spa at Gurney’s. I was eager to check out the only Thalasso Spa in the country. In a Thalasso spa program, all treatments and activities are centered on the ocean. Monte traveled the world researching European spas and was such a great believer in its health benefits that he even took a daily shot of seawater.
Tile floors, statues that echo those of ancient Rome, lush robes and friendly, intuitive service all contribute to a feeling of old-world luxury. From the heated indoor seawater pool and Roman baths, to treatments with marine ingredients, to the seaside panorama, this unique spa is an excellent way to revel in the sights, sounds and scents of the ocean while enjoying its healing powers.
My day began with a sea salt body scrub deftly applied by Emma in a softly lighted room. After she gently massaged me with the scrub, she led me to a Swiss shower, where I enjoyed warm sprays coming at me from all directions. I lingered after rinsing off just because it felt so, so good.
Next up was a Swedish massage by Nicole, who had a warm, healing energy and was extremely skillful at coaxing out the many knots worrying my tense muscles. This was one of the most relaxing and soothing massages I’d had in a long time.
For my final treatment of the day, I moved into the salon area, where guests can enjoy a luxurious pedicure while appreciating the ocean view through a wall of windows. Alba led me into a treatment room where she set me up on a comfy, heated table and gave me Gurney’s signature Ocean Radiance facial. She used her skilled, strong hands to apply cleanser, masks and other healing skin treatments with a soothing massage. At the end of the day my skin looked indeed radiant, I felt rejuvenated and all my worries were like a distant dream.
After all this delicious indulgence, I grabbed a late lunch from La Pasticceria, a small shop that includes a lunch menu, a juice bar and Starbucks coffee, and brought it back to the room. I was so relaxed after my heavenly treatments that my planned walk on the beach was quickly forgotten and I dozed off to the comforting sounds of the ever-present ocean.
That night we dined in the much larger, more nautical-themed Sea Grille. On a Friday evening it was quite busy, yet each table had two quick and friendly waiters, and once again, our dinners, grilled salmon and duck l’orange, were cooked to perfection.
Free wi-fi was a handy perk, but there was no cell-phone reception at all unless you went out on the beach or near the road. For a true getaway, this was really a blessing. And there is, of course, that archaic tool, the landline, if you really need to be in touch.
Of special note was the superb service. Everywhere we went on the premises, we were treated with warmth and a clear desire to make our stay as special as possible, which it undoubtedly was. I realized Nick Monte understood not only the value of the ocean’s healing powers, but its magic, too. As we drove away, I held onto the sight of the water as long as I could, knowing I’d be back soon. Because we all deserve a little magic in our lives now and then.