Black Forest spa debuts treatments for men

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BADEN-BADEN, Germany -- Furthering an upgrade program that's included a spa expansion in 2000 and a revamp of banquet facilities last year, the legendary Brenner's Park Hotel and Spa here unveiled both a men's spa program and a new restaurant concept.

The debut of the Masculin menu of three "for men only" treatment packages, which caters to a growing interest in male fitness and grooming, and the extensive reworking since January of the dining experience, have brought the 130-year-old property -- a jewel set in this Black Forest spa town's tree-lined Lichtentaler Allee -- into the 21st century while remaining true to traditional strengths, said a spokeswoman.

"The tradition and atmosphere of Brenner's have been famous for more than a century, but over the last 20 years, we've developed a more mixed clientele," she said, noting that spagoers, business travelers and vacationing families have joined old-monied regulars in the guest register.

The U.S. -- Brenner's second-largest market -- accounts for 18% of stays, with travel agents handling more than half of all bookings.

For your guys only

Proving that what's good for the goose can be even more appealing to the gander, Brenner's Masculin male spa regimen offers three treatment packages varying in length, treatments and price.

The two-day Anti-Stress program -- which includes both shiatsu and Hawaiian-style lomi lomi massage, a 90-minute facial, therapeutic jet bath and two hours with a personal trainer -- costs about $635, while the express, two-hour Business Break, consisting of one hour of skin care, a manicure and a back massage, can be had for around $138.

On a recent visit, this reporter sampled the Masculin Select program, the midrange, three-and-a-half hour treatment priced at about $266.

The treatment began with a half-hour of "psammotherapy," during which guests are submerged in a bed of sand heated to 122 degrees, and left to doze off to New Age music.

Brenner's offers yoga and water gymnastics, as well as spa regimens. Above, its 53-foot heated pool. Thus warmed and "prepped," clients are given a Balinese body treatment, an hourlong, head-to-toe massage with scented scrubs and oils.

Next on the menu is a half-hour spent in a multi-jet, theratpeutic bath filled with scented mineral waters, while underwater lights administer a dose of color therapy.

The program comes to a soothing close with guests being rubbed down with aromatic oils; wrapped in fluffy, warm towels; and treated to an intensive foot massage.

A word of warning: Like most European spas, the facility at Brenner's is unisex, and guests will encounter spagoers of both genders in various states of undress in common areas such as steambaths, showers and plunge pools.

However, more modest clients shouldn't feel shy about asking spa staff for towels or string tangas for use during massage therapies.

Unlike room rates, which pay 12%, Brenner's spa packages are not commissionable.

Dining delights

In early May, Brenner's put the finishing touches on a three-month revamp of its drinking and dining venues.

The redecorated "night bar" has been redubbed the Oleander Bar; a former terrace was enclosed to create the all-weather, more casual Wintergarten restaurant (open daily from noon to 11 p.m.); and the Salon Lichtental, a separate breakfast buffet room with its own kitchen, was constructed so as to best take advantage of early morning sunshine.

Meanwhile, the more formal, 45-seat Park Restaurant -- open only for dinner -- now offers a new gourmet menu of classic Continental cuisine "with a Mediterranean flair."

However, "guests can still get a schnitzel if they want one," said the spokeswoman.

Dishes sampled on a recent stay, from the Salon Lichtentaler's excellent gourmet omelets at breakfast to the Wintergarten's tender Beelitz white asparagus accompanying supper, confirmed that the more things change, the more they're sure to gain.

For more information, visit www.brenners.com on line, send an e-mail to [email protected] or phone direct to (011) 49-72 219000.

To book, contact Leading Hotels of the World at (800) 223-6800 or www.lhw.com.

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