Forty Polar Bears took part in a icy dip at Gurney's Inn Resort & Spa on New Year's Day. Photos by Maria Rampinelli
- To get the new year started with a splash, a group of about 40 at Gurney's Inn Resort & Spa
in Montauk held their annual Polar Bear Dip under the watchful eye of the Spa's resident registered nurse, Susan Yunker.
The chilly splash was the finale of a thermalism treatment at the spa where participants raise their metabolism and increase circulation through a series of alternating hot and cold experiences. The treatment is part of the spa menu but on New Year's Day it takes on much more excitement as spa and resort guests, as well as area residents join in the fun. Yunker said the treatment is "invigorating" and that for the rest of the day you are "just filled with energy."
Gurney's own Ingrid Lemme led the cheering crowd of well wishers armed with warmed robes and towels and plenty of hot cider. She laughed, "We picked up a few polar bears from other locations this year. They came from Westhampton and East Hampton and Amagansett. Those plunges were canceled. The polar bears were determined to do this plunge for New Years Day."
Susan Yunker and Dick Rampinelli said the experience was invigorating.
"With Susan," noted Lemme, "its not just a Polar Bear Plunge - it's the true Northern European way. The was they do it in Scandinavia and Norway, and I know what I'm talking about, I'm from that part of the woods." Lemme was born in Germany and lived in the northern regions of Europe for many years.
Early in the day Lemme made the rounds in the restaurant and the general response was that it was "much too cold" as temperatures hovered in the teens. At 10:30 a.m. a group of 40 had assembled near the front desk at the spa for detailed instructions and a primer on the history of thermalism by Yunker, which is touted to be very good for the immune system. Armed and ready the participants began the treatment with a 10-minute dip in the Roman Bath or the sauna, raising their internal temperature, then they went from hot to cold in a chilly shower. This was repeated until it was time to take to the ocean.
"People were on the porches of the resort watching the guests come out of the pool area and they were steaming. They were hot as they started running down the wooden stairway. They were not wearing any shoes and when they hit the sand they really started running," said Lemme. "Like crazy we were screaming and cheering as everybody ran into the ocean."
Lemme was surprised to see that a few people stayed there and swam. As she passed out robes and cider she asked the swimmers how it was and they replied, "awesome!" and followed up with saying they would most definitely do it again.
Montauk photographer James Katsipis
remarked that he had, "participated in the Polar Bear Club for my first time this year. It was amazing!"
"It gives you this amazing jump almost like adrenaline all day. They were all on Cloud 9 all day long. [Even watching] did something to everybody's spirit," finished Lemme.
Nicole, an award-winning journalist, is Executive Editor & Publisher of Hamptons.com where she focuses on celebrity interviews, fine living and design, social events, fashion and beauty. She lives on the North Fork with her husband, their two daughters, and Bernese Mountain dog, Cooper. www.hamptons.com