The Hottest Hotel in Montauk Just Opened a $20-million Spa — With One of the Only Ocean-fed Pools in the U.S.

And, of course, we got the first look inside.

The pool at the Seawater Spa at Gurney's Montauk
Photo: Courtesy of Maya Kachroo-Levine

In 1980, Seawater Spa opened in what was then the little-known surf town of Montauk, New York. It was technically part of Gurney's Montauk, though the resort as we now know it didn't exist. It was just a small timeshare property in the '80s. And Montauk was a far cry from the idyllic, see-and-be-seen beach town now synonymous with oversized bottles of rosé served at the "end of the world." In the '80s, spa patrons soaked in the seawater baths, filled with Atlantic Ocean water pumped in by the well system. Spa-goers even took shots of seawater while visiting the baths (how's that for a holistic and hilariously retro spa experience?).

Forty-one years after Seawater Spa opened, in January 2021, I stood in the gutted spa, wearing two masks and standing a safe six feet from Michael Nenner, executive vice president of Gurney's Resorts. The spa had closed a year earlier for a complete overhaul. I toured the construction zone with Nenner, which left something to be desired — as most hard-hat areas do. There was a large hole where the new pool would go, and a single, beach-facing window cut through a concrete slab, representing the windows that would one day flood light into the indoor-outdoor treatment rooms to come. Nonetheless, I was captivated by the story of Seawater Spa — especially its wellness influence in the '80s, long before Montauk was, shall we say, a thing. When Travel + Leisure turned 50, I covered the spa as a representation of how travel has evolved in the last five decades.

Standing in the open-air construction site, on a frigid January day in 2021 — when it still felt like the pandemic was going to swallow the entire wellness industry whole — Nenner promised he'd have me back to see the finished product.

And that's how — 16 months, three jabs in the arm, and $20 million later — I got the very first treatment at Gurney's brand-new Seawater Spa when it opened on Friday, May 13. The stunning, 30,000-square-foot wellness space now offers, as it did in the '80s, the complete bathhouse experience. There's a caldarium (104 degrees Fahrenheit), thermae baths (95 degrees), and two frigidariums (one is 50 degrees, the other 57 degrees). The baths face Gurney's private beach and the Atlantic Ocean beyond, giving the enclosed communal baths the distinctly hygge feel of a Scandinavian spa you might find along the Baltic Sea.

Pools at the Seawater Spa at Gurney's Montauk
Courtesy of Maya Kachroo-Levine

Perhaps the best way to describe the baths' luxurious, coastal-cozy aesthetic is to say that they are designed by architect Ignacio Alonso, who is known for his work on New York City's Aire Ancient Baths. Anyone who has visited the space (my sister and I are longtime fans) knows the underground, candle-lined baths transport you not just to serenity, but also to a scene that feels very vintage European. The new Seawater Spa baths have a similar quality — and even the sauna has an ocean view.

The sauna at the Seawater Spa at Gurney's Montauk
Courtesy of Maya Kachroo-Levine

The spa baths have floor-to-ceiling windows that gaze out to a sprawling pool on the lower level — one of the only ocean-fed pools in the U.S. Much like the sauna and baths, the pool also has a view of the ocean (few things are more meta than admiring the ocean while soaking in its waters). The pool area opens out onto the spa deck, with loungers lined up on light-colored wood, facing the beach.

The pool at the Seawater Spa at Gurney's Montauk
Courtesy of Maya Kachroo-Levine

"Everywhere you go in this spa, you have an ocean view," Nenner said, as we walked through the space on opening day.

Offering those coveted Montauk beach views was actually one of the main reasons for overhauling the spa. In the first iteration of Seawater Spa, the structure was built such that none of the facilities faced the water. Nenner and his team set out to change that. It's not just the spa's myriad water features that face the ocean; the indoor-outdoor treatment rooms, which are outfitted with outdoor showers and soaking tubs, have gorgeous windows that also capitalize on the view.

"When the spa originally opened as the Seawater Spa, in 1980, it was the first international spa in New York," Nenner said. "What differentiates the place is we actually have a well off the beach that we've been able to [use to] feed all of our pools with actual seawater."

They wanted to keep the original concept, but modernize and elevate it significantly — which is exactly what the $20-million renovation did. Today, the pool itself is filled with seawater, the four baths are not, but almost every area — including the Peloton- and Technogym-outfitted workout studio — faces the ocean, a 180 from the original spa concept.

The only exceptions to the ocean-facing rule are a few tucked-away treatment rooms, including a salt room, where even the massage bed sits on a stack of salt bricks. The treatment menu offers just as much innovation as the baths, bringing in coveted Biologique Recherche products and tapping some of the best names in wellness and skin care (including Dr. Dennis Gross) to advise on treatments. When I visited, Seawater Spa was still in its soft opening phase, but a number of treatments (including the salt stone therapy massage I tried) are already available. In the coming weeks, Seawater Spa will roll out the full menu, as well as food and beverage programming. I suppose I'll just have to go back — though if the new space and interest from the New York community is any indication, it may well be hard to get a reservation this summer.

Seawater Spa is now open at Gurney's Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa. You can book your treatment, or become a spa member, here.

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