On the road and in shape Spas: More and more men who are traveling on business follow example of women and make time for exercise.


Under stress and often overweight, businessmen who are on the road are carving out extra time for visits to spas -- at hotels, resorts and retreats -- in record numbers.

Ten years ago, women were the main spa visitors. Men accounted for only 9 percent of the customers nationwide, according to Spa Finders, a travel agency that helps match people with the right fitness facilities both in the United States and abroad.

Today, businessmen are big-time spa buffs, constituting 27 percent of the clients and readily booking a massage, a luffa scrub, an herbal wrap, a sports-medicine rubdown or even a facial -- often accompanied by fat-free, low-calorie snacks and meals. Workouts on machines and recreational sports are also part of some of the chilling-out agendas.

Typical of the new facilities available at some chain hotels across the country, the Hilton at Short Hills, N.J., just opened a 16,000-square-foot spa with a fitness room, 12 massage rooms (for Swedish, shiatsu and sports rubdowns), a Jacuzzi, three wet treatment rooms, indoor and outdoor pools, an aerobic studio and spa cuisine.

Among the top-rated spas at luxury hotels and resorts nationwide, according to the International Spa and Fitness Association, are the ones at the Peninsula Hotel in New York, the Crescent Court in Dallas, the Peaks at Telluride in Colorado, the Phoenician in Phoenix, and the Marriott Desert Springs near Palm Springs, Calif.

But many of the 600 or so "day" spas like Silicon Valley's Preston Wynne in Saratoga, Calif., and Channing's in downtown Chicago are also getting a lot of traffic from the male contingent.

"People used to call them 'fat farms,' but now spas are getting respect," said Frank van Putten, president of Spa Finders.

"More and more companies are giving gift certificates to their hard-traveling employees for a day's treatment. Employers think the pampering is worth the money to keep their travelers sane and healthy," he said.

Pub Date: 9/07/97

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