The Resort at Pelican Hill has seen a steady demand for coed rub downs since Newport Beach lifted a decades-long ban on couple’s massage at local resort hotels last month.
“Couple’s massage is one of the most popular treatments now,” said Kasia Mays, spa director for the Resort at Pelican Hill, which opened in November in Newport Coast.
Mays estimates that 12% to 15% of the clientele at Pelican Hill’s new 23,000-square-foot spa are requesting couple’s spa treatments.
“We’re definitely seeing the spectrum of couples,” Mays said. “There are guests who are a bit older who simply enjoy spending time together, younger married couples, or some that are in the process of just dating.”
For decades, Newport Beach municipal code prohibited men and women from getting massages in the same room. The code required spas to provide separate facilities for men and women.
The Newport Beach City Council voted to lift the ban in December, and allow men and women to receive massages in the same room at resort hotel spas.
The restrictions dated back to a time when massage parlors in Newport Beach offered more than just rub downs. Independent massage parlors in the city used to be hotbeds for prostitution, said Newport Beach Police Sgt. Evan Sailor.
The city does not require special permits for the now-legal couples massages, Sailor said, so there are no figures for how many local resorts plan to offer the services.
The ordinance was enacted primarily because the Irvine Co.-owned Resort at Pelican Hill and a local Marriott hotel asked the city to allow the practice, he said.
“I think one of the pivotal reasons why we really took the initiative and the Irvine Co. approached the city with regards to this ordinance is to bring attention to the fact that the industry has really evolved,” Mays said.
Spas across the country have begun offering massage treatments aimed at couples with special suites, fireplaces and romantic music.
Day spas were not included in the ordinance, and only a few local resort hotels are offering couples services. A few resorts said space limitations prohibited them from offering couple’s rub downs.
“Right now, we do not have facilities that would accommodate two people — our rooms just aren’t big enough,” said George Lysak, executive director for sales and marketing for the Balboa Bay Club & Resort.
The Balboa Bay Club & Resort hasn’t had a lot of requests for couple’s massage, but it is offering special Valentine’s Day packages where guests can take advantage of separate spa treatments at the resort, Lysak said.
Local day spas still have to provide separate facilities for men and women.
“Even though day spas are omitted, hopefully that’s a good step toward being able to someday provide couple’s treatments,” Scott Duncan, general manager for Spa Gregorie, a Newport Beach day spa.
A massage can still be romantic if two people are in separate rooms, Duncan said.
Spa Gregorie and other day spas are preparing for Valentine’s Day by offering “Spa Date” packages.
Spa Gregorie’s date package allows couples to receive either a facial or a massage in separate rooms, and includes a $50 voucher good for dinner at a select few local restaurants.
“It’s our most popular package,” Duncan said. “We also have a common area, a quiet room where couples can lounge together.”
BRIANNA BAILEY may be reached at (714) 966-4625 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.