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Council may OK couples massages

Old ordinance was created to inhibit prostitution, but local resorts shouldn’t have problems, officer says.

November 08, 2008|By Brianna Bailey

The Newport Beach City Council is poised to rub out city restrictions that bar men and women from getting massages in the same room.

An ordinance the council will consider at its next meeting Wednesday would pave the way for local resorts to offer the latest trend in the spa industry — couples massages.

“Couples massage is one of those increasingly popular trend in terms of spa treatments,” said Gary Sherwin, president and chief executive of the Newport Beach Conference and Visitors Bureau. “You see more married couples going on weekend getaways at spas where they can recharge and reconnect. That’s why the spa technicians have come up with this service. This will allow us to compete with other places that are currently offering this type of treatment.”

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Spas across the country have begun offering massage treatments aimed at couples with special suites, fireplaces and romantic music.

Most of Newport’s luxury hotels offer spa treatments of some type, Sherwin said, including the Balboa Bay Club & Resort and the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa.

The Newport Beach Planning Commission approved plans earlier this week for the Hyatt Regency to build a new 10,000-square-foot spa, Sherwin said.

Newport Beach municipal code prohibits men and women from getting massages in the same room. As written, the code requires spas to provide separate rooms for men and women. The new ordinance would allow Newport’s many resort hotels to obtain city licenses for couples massage.

The restrictions date back to a time when massage parlors in Newport Beach offered more than just rub downs, Newport Beach Police Sgt. Evan Sailor said.

“There was quite a number of independent massage parlors that were the scene of acts of prostitution. They started being strict in the city codes and thought that if they kept men and women out of the same room, it would cut down on that,” Sailor said. “I think the city realizes they don’t have to worry about that with the legitimacy of its resort hotels.”


BRIANNA BAILEY may be reached at (714) 966-4625 or at brianna.bailey@latimes.com.

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