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Smooth OPERATOR : Spas Are Luring More Men, Who Are Learning the Joys of Being Pampered

June 01, 1995

"We have attorneys; we have salesmen, and we have cowboys," Bennett says. "One man brings his 9-year-old son with him. The boy only has a 30-minute massage. He gets bored after that."

Sometimes a guy will be dragged into the spa by his mate and come out a changed man.

"Men realize this is not froufrou stuff," Bennett says. "They feel de-stressed. Their muscle soreness is gone."

For men, a typical visit to Murrieta might involve a private mineral bath and body wrap ($35), followed by a Swedish massage ($55).

"Men are learning [that] even manly men go do these things," Bennett says. "There's nothing effeminate about it."

To lure men, many spas offer special treatment packages that go by manly sounding names.

At Bellezza Salon/Day Spa in Laguna Niguel, men can opt for the "Executive Get-Away," an $85 service that includes a Swedish body massage and haircut--or the works, a $245 package called "A Day Off" that features an herbal steam or sauna and shower, massage, facial, paraffin hand and foot treatment with manicure and pedicure, scalp massage, haircut, styling and a light lunch. There's a similar package for grooms called "Here Comes the Groom" ($225 with haircut).

"Society has made it more comfortable for men to take care of themselves as women have for years," says Elena DeSimone, manager of Bellezza.

Men have learned the importance of good skin care, DeSimone says. They're even comfortable having facials.

"Before, they felt they couldn't have one because they felt they were being too vain or because of their hair growth. Now they're learning that facials can improve their skin."

The Spa offers a "Men's Revitalizer," a $117-package that includes a 30-minute Turkish Salt Glo bath, an hour sports massage and use of the fitness facilities, swimming pool, sauna, steam room and whirlpool. "The Executive Retreat" includes such stress-busters as an hour massage, a facial and use of the spa facilities ($155).

There's also a "Gentleman's Facial" ($70) that's designed especially for a man's skin.

"We use products that don't have a lot of scent on men," Matheson says. "If it's floral, a man's going to say, 'You're not putting that on my face.' "

Stress-relieving packages have proved especially popular with grooms who head to spas to prepare both body and mind for their big day. Among the services a groom wants: a massage to reduce stress; manicure and pedicure; facial; hairstyle, and body scrub.

"They want to look good in their swim trunks" on their honeymoon, Matheson says.

While booking appointments for an entire wedding party recently, Matheson was surprised when the father of the bride--a somewhat stern character whose generation has been less receptive than baby boomers to spas--gruffly asked if the spa was going to pamper him too.

"He asked if the father of the bride should get some special consideration," Matheson says. "So we scheduled him for a workout and a massage."

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