The Spa Spy blog

Dad Spa Tribes

Last year for Fathers' Day and Men’s Health Week we let the men take over The Good Spa Guide for an entire week, with spa reviews by men, a hilarious tweet chat (blokes do like their bants) and some musings from our spa hero The Spa Man.

We’re so happy that more men are heading to spas and think their presence is changing the industry. Design is less twee and fluffy: new spas especially are more gender-neutral – for example, the funky Mondrain in London, the functional Lifehouse Spa in Essex, and the Scandi-style Brimstone Spa in The Lake District. Also, spa and health have fused together through Wellness, where relaxation and healing as well as exercise and nutrition are key.

Do you think you can convince your husband, father, best male friend or son to head to a spa? They certainly won’t be alone: here are some of the male tribes we have spotted on our spa days.

The Spa Man

Man in spa

The Spa Man is totally spa, even more so than his girlfriends and mum. He knows all the latest treatments and products, everything about nutrition and health, and is forever in pursuit of the latest wellness trend. Easy to spot as he has great skin, probably a nicely trimmed beard thanks to the spa barbershop, and if you find yourself looking down there, perfectly pedicured toes. (PS more men should have pedicures, especially in thong season). He is totally at ease in this environment, doesn’t have to prove himself and lowers his voice to a gentle timbre when talking about the latest wellness issues with his spa-buddy.

The Accidental Spa-ist

Mr A.S. is staying at a hotel to enjoy a bit of golf, or more traditional pursuits, when he decides he’ll pop to the spa to try the steam room. While he’s there, he books in for a manly treatment involving golf balls (yes, this exists). He is still in denial as he slips on his fluffy robe and enters a den of peace and serenity. He’ll just try the steam room, sauna, and – what the hell – the spa pool. And before he knows it, he’s dozing blissfully on the lounger, all his stresses and strains evaporated. He will wake transformed, and go forth with an inner glow; maybe not tell his golf buddies just yet. It’s his little secret.

The New Dad

Mens feet in pool

He’s the tired-but-happy man with the gurgling baby in the pool while his wife goes off for a well-earned treatment. In the olden days, new mums were expected to get on with it, and have his tea ready when he got home. Thankfully, times have changed. These days, the new dad will have more of an insight of what his partner is going through and will do anything to make her happy: the best treat being a spa day. We love the New Dad, he’s a sign of how far we’ve all come.

The Manspreader

He’s sitting in the hot-tub bubbling away with his arms spread out wide as though embracing many imaginary girlfriends. This is the Jacuzzi version of ‘manspreading’, when a chap sits with his legs wide apart (usually on public transport), his knees intruding upon your personal space. In this case, the Jacuzzi Manspreader will extend both legs and arms, leaving you very little room. So, what do you do? Snuggle into his arms and give him a big smile? ‘Ladyspread’ your own arms until he backs down? Perhaps spas should introduce an anti-manspreading sign, as did the Metropolitan Transit Authority in New York last year – “Dude… Stop the Spread Please. It’s a space issue.” We spotted a certain male celebrity not only manspreading in the Jacuzzi, but singing loudly, too. Way to mark your territory, dude.

Mr I’m-in-heaven

Happy man in spa

I love the way some men can just lie back in the spa pool with a HUGE GRIN on their faces, clearly thinking, “This is utter bliss.” I’ve noticed how some chaps don’t hold back on utter joy the way we women often do. When I go with a man who doesn’t spa too often (aka my husband), it’s lovely to hear his exclamations of sheer happiness, like he really can’t believe his luck in being there. I think I either take spas for granted or am too busy doing the “I’m so cool, I come here all the time” face. It’s nice to be reminded that it’s okay to grin like a kid in a sweet shop. Mindfulness gurus are always telling us to see the world with the wonder of a child: re-word that as 'the wonder of a man-child'.

Mr Alpha Spa

Most men seem okay with the happy, chilled out vibe of spas, accepting of the fact you come here to do nothing except flop about in robes having a nice time. But some treat spa-ing like a competitive sport. They often come in groups, or pairs, possibly in teams: they will book a sports massage and demand the firmest pressure known to humanity (while biting down on the treatment bed), plough up and down the swimming pool slicing up the ladies-who-chat, then sit in the sauna so long they turn purple. In one Alpine spa, I noticed men sitting in insanely hot saunas with gritted teeth, breathing like women having contractions. Spa is not a pleasure, it’s an endurance sport. I imagine they would be perfectly happy in a Russian Banya, being whipped with birch leaves in searing heat, then plunged in icy pools. Banya hats off to them – we’ll just watch and admire from our pool loungers.