Ocean breezes, harbor views, and a cabana massage are only a smattering of the amenities awaiting visitors to Wentworth by the Sea Hotel and Spa (New Castle Island, NH), a resort that offers an experience firmly rooted in the Victorian ideal of rest and relaxation for the body and mind. "This is the last remaining grand hotel on the New Hampshire seacoast," says Derek Hofmann, spa director for the Wentworth by the Sea Spa. "The original guests back in the nineteenth century were here for the healing ocean air and experience, which is still the reason why so many people come to visit us."
With the nearby ocean serving as such a predominant factor when visiting Wentworth, the spa works to keep it integrated in the overall therapeutic experience. For example, the massage cabana provides guests with a view of the harbor, and treatments, such as the Seaweed Body Wrap ($150, 75 minutes), incorporate vitamins and minerals derived from the seaweed to detoxify the body and mineralize the skin. There is also the Parafango Body Masque ($175, 90 minutes), in which warm mineral-rich sea mud mixed with paraffin is painted on the body. Another guest favorite is the Body Polish ($135, 75 minutes), which invigorates the skin with an aromatherapy massage and an exfoliation using Dead Sea salts. By incorporating these treatments into the spa's menu, the Wentworth takes advantage of the ocean's revitalizing and healing components. "We really try to stay true to the idea that much from the sea is beneficial to us," says Hofmann.
Left: Staff at the spa's reception area book approximately 10 guests an hour during peak season. top: The Wentworth by the Sea resort, which is home to the 8,500-square-foot spa, is more than 100 years old. above: Recommended skincare regimens are available in the spa boutique.
The spa offers services á la carte, as opposed to packages, which Hofmann says is a conscious effort to let guests create the exact combination of treatments they seek. "I feel it allows guests to tailor a treatment package to suit them specifically," he says. "It was not a decision that stemmed from cost analysis but more a decision based on our desire to treat each customer individually and help them find the best treatments for their spa visit."
This strategy seems to have paid off for the spa, which treats an array of clients. "We really have every type of client that a spa would see," says Hofmann. "We have world travelers and savvy spa-goers who know what they want and have a high expectation for their experience. And there are others without any or much previous knowledge who do not know what to expect. It is our goal to blow away all of our guests with the experience."
To enjoy the scenic ocean setting and fresh air, guests can partake in outdoor massages and body treatments.
In an effort to meet guests' luxury expectations, the pricing for therapies tends to be higher than local spa prices. For example, a 50-minute massage is $100, manicures and pedicures range from $45 to $95, and facials and other therapies climb as high as $135 for an Alpha/Beta Peel and $175 for a Parafango Body Masque. "We are hitting the higher end of pricing, and we look to provide a value-driven price, which means topnotch service by topnotch professionals," says Hofmann.
As in any seasonal business, the spa is constantly trying to market itself both locally and to its many hotel guests. The challenge is to balance the two. During the summer and fall, the hotel is generally full, and the majority of spa clients are hotel guests. In the off-season, the spa seeks to attract local clientele with a number of advertising strategies, such as hitting media outlets in the Boston area (only 90 minutes away) and hosting open houses. The open houses, says Hofmann, give local residents the opportunity to visit the spa, sip some wine, and nibble on sushi while enjoying complimentary foot massages and other treatments.
Although accommodating to locals, the spa is designed to fully integrate with the hotel experience. It is centrally located just off the main entrance and lobby of the hotel and offers easy access to the various restaurants and available services such as the indoor and outdoor pools and spa tubs. "My goal is to make as seamless and smooth a transition for hotel guests as is possible," says Hofmann. "We will also perform in-room services and provide side-by-side massages for guests, if they so desire."
With 161 rooms and 17 marina suites in the hotel, it is sometimes a struggle for the spa to serve all of its customers. Currently it can handle about 10 guests per hour, which means when the hotel is at capacity, it can be tough to accommodate everyone. To address client demand, the spa is planning an expansion. However, because it hosted the delegates to the 1905 Portsmouth Peace Treaty, which ended the Russo-Japanese War and earned the Nobel Peace Prize for President Theodore Roosevelt, the hotel is on the National Registry of Historic Places. This makes renovations difficult, especially if they require changing the original footprint.
In all, the hotel and spa offer a unique and elegant experience to the seasoned traveler and spa devotee. New Castle Island and the city of Portsmouth, which is only a few miles away, are beautiful and interesting destinations. Partaking in a high-end spa visit only makes the experience that much more enjoyable.