Spas: Its A Guy Thing

The attitudes of men are changing when it comes to spa treatments, as our intrepid reporter discovers. Isn’t that spa-cial…

Bob Jones
Wednesday - February 01, 2006
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Max Sword receives a facial mask from Sandra Mondragon
Max Sword receives a facial
mask from Sandra

America must be one of the few countries where ordinary people can afford to pop in for $390 worth of massage, facial, manicure, pedicure, shampoo, hairstyling, a makeup lesson and a light lunch in a darkened room to lower your stress.

It’s the spa phenomenon, and if you haven’t noticed, the competition in Hawaii is now as fierce as in New York, San Francisco or Chicago.

What exactly is a spa in modern parlance in the American Heritage Dictionary?

(n.) A resort providing therapeutic baths.

(n.) A resort area having mineral springs.

The author’s feet get some TLC from Satoko Kubota at Aveda
The author’s feet get some TLC from Satoko Kubota
at Aveda

(n.) A fashionable hotel or resort.

But not all of today’s spas are in hotels or resorts or have mineral springs, and so the others distinguish themselves as salons-slash-spas.

Noun: su’lón [N. Amer], ‘salón [Brit]

A shop where hairdressers and beauticians work

“You can’t really call yourself a hotel anymore if you don’t have a spa,” says Honolulu PR woman Mona Wood, who represents Aveda, which defines itself as a salon and spa in the Ala Moana Center.

And no, she says, the clients are not mainly Japanese tourists. They’re heavily local.

Maybe you can’t even call yourself a civilized society anymore if you don’t offer such pampered treatment to the hoi polloi.

What’s most interesting to me is that so many men are using spas and salons - and yes, even for body waxings, body wraps and fragrant-oil rubdowns!

Writers on the subject such as Eve Joseph of Body Health Online Magazine point out that just a couple of years ago most men thought spa treatments were strictly a chick thing. Now they’re even substantial customers for the beauty products sold at salons and spas.

Intrigued, I tried an Elemental Nature Pedicure, complete with inhaled peppermint vapors to, I guess, relax me while former ANA flight attendant Satoko Kubota tried to salvage one of the worst pair of crack-skin local feet she must have ever met.

Shantel Botelho gives a masked customer a foot massage
Shantel Botelho gives a masked customer a foot

I do love my feet and I’d like to give them the care I give my hair and face, but I’m not sure I love them $75 worth. I could have done an Essential Pedicure, without those Elemental Nature additives of oils and inhalants, for $55. Maybe I don’t love my feet that much, either.

What I would like to try, if my wife would buy it for me and it didn’t come out of our strained-after-Christmas bank account, would be the Self-Renewal Face and Body Experience at $175. God knows I need some face and body renewal!

Health writer Joseph recommends that “men have a distress massage monthly and do a detox program perhaps once every two to three months.”

I could certainly use a little detox, too!

Maybe a little hair coloring ($105 at Aveda), but no brow shaping ($25) or bikini waxing ($40), thank you.

Settings and prices vary greatly under the current competitive conditions in Honolulu, so I’d suggest looking around before you leap. Do a site visit and see if the ambiance does it for you - or increases your stress.

Some men, like Outrigger Enterprises vice president Max Sword, go regularly for the relaxing haircuts. I do the $14 kind at Supercuts. Some men, like Cox Radio executive John Aeto, go for the massage. (I wait for the $5 specials when I visit Vietnam.)

Writer Paul Licata recently said in the New York Times that “women have encouraged their men to take advantage of salon services. The popularity of day spas and spa vacation destinations has exposed men to the pleasures of body treatments like facials, masks and massages.”

Well, my woman hasn’t yet gotten me to the facial or mask stage, but I might be up to some more work on my poor feet.

The question is whether Satoko is up to seeing those feet again.

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