Hotel Online  Special Report



An American Original Celebrates 80th Anniversary: 
Gurney's Inn Brought Thalassotherapy to New York
Special to Hotel Online
By Bernard Burt,

September 7, 2006 - Perched on dunes at the tip of Long Island, Gurney's Inn grew from the Monte family's Brooklyn restaurant into a New York legend. When their International Health & Beauty Sea Water Spa opened in 1979, it was dedicated by then Lt. Governor of New York State Mario Cuomo. To this day, its Olympic-size heated seawater indoor swimming pool, Roman baths, and thalasso therapies are unique among American spas. 

Gurney's secret source of seawater, says spa director Cheryl Hartsough, is deep under the Atlantic Ocean beach that frames the resort. Before environmental laws restricted use of ocean resources, Gurney's had a solid base of spagoers. Inspired by European natural health traditions, innkeeper Nick Monte plunged into thalassotherapy. Now 92, his daily drink of seawater is shipped fresh from the Atlantic to his home in Las Vegas.

The original inn built in 1926 by Maude Gurney, acquired by Nick Monte in 1956 for $200,000, now is the centerpiece of a sprawling resort facing Long Island Sound near Montauk. The spa has doubled in size, with 40 treatment rooms, seaview beauty salon, and staff of 130. 

Program director Susan Yunker, R.N., arrived 22 years ago. "Medical checkups were required then," Susan told me. "We still have repeat visits from older, European-born lovers of seawater therapy, but thalassotherapy doesn't motivate most guests." The restorative therapies range from Argilite mud wrap to ultimate detox with seawater hydro massage. Exclusive oils derived from seaweed by Dan Fryda at Spa Technologies are featured. Coordinating herbal teas and dietary supplements, Gina Molinari of Scarangello Co. recommends tisane, Italian therapeutic beverages, to enhance treatments. Produced at Il Laboratorio dell Erborista in Tuscany, near Terme di Saturnia, tisane teas stimulate metabolism, aid regularity, and provide a caffeine alternative. 

Built before the nearby Hamptons became fashionable, Gurney's Inn attracts Manhattan families with its colorful mix of 'The Sopranos' and 'Love Raymond' types. Vacation interval owners keep the spa busy year-round. Frozen in time, Gurney's is a trip to the good old days.


Bernard Burt

Also See: Royal Spa at Le Royal Meridien Bahrain Pays Homage to Thalassotherapy / July 2002

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