FORGET GYM. IT'S NOW 'SPA.'

When Jack O'Kelley was planning his firm's Florida work retreat, he knew what he wanted: "a large, lovely spa." (Well, who wouldn't?) As a scout for Katzenbach Partners' annual off-site, he sought out all the crucial business amenities: conference rooms, work space and the obvious high-tech fixings. That was the easy part. The Loews Miami was expanding its spa, but wouldn't let O'Kelley see it in advance. The spa at Miami's South Beach Ritz-Carlton was going to be closed for renovations. Then he found the Ritz-Carlton in Key Biscayne. Not only was the spa open--which seemed like an accomplishment at that point--it had stunning views, the service was excellent and it offered treatments ranging from champagne facials to "mango raw-sugar body scrubs." Hello, Ritz. The 110 Katzenbach employees and significant others had a blast. "We're inclined to go back," says O'Kelley.

The word "spa" usually evokes lavish pampering of well-to-do globe-trotters. But resort destinations and downtown hotels alike are building up their spa facilities to cater to a different class of guest--the business traveler. "You don't hear the word 'gym' knocked around much," says Jeff Weinstein, editor in chief of the industry magazine Hotels. "You hear 'spa.' If you don't have a spa and you're considered an upper-market hotel, you're not in the game."

When he's not planning a retreat, O'Kelley travels 15 days a month to consult with clients. Spas, he says, can be a tool to beat back jet lag and stay focused. "A massage is not to be decadent," says O'Kelley. "You sleep in a seat on a coast-to-coast flight, your body's going to hurt." He's apparently not the only one who feels that way. In 2000 only 473 hotels reported having a spa with their fitness offerings, according to the International Spa Association. Last year that number had risen to 1,662.

And the services offered suggest a degree of luxury once unheard of: $90 buys you a 55-minute Executive Stress Reliever session at Stoweflake Mountain Resort and Spa in Vermont. Executives from Proctor & Gamble frequent Wisconsin's Sundara Inn & Spa, where they can treat themselves to a "purifying bath ritual." The Mandarin Oriental in Miami reports that 35 percent of its business comes from the corporate market; perhaps it's for the two-and-a-half-hour, $500 Executive Balinese Influence treatment, complete with full-body exfoliation and something called "purva karma four-handed synchronized massage."

Are we that stressed out? Starwood Hotels is betting $25 million on it. The chain, which owns Sheraton, Westin and St. Regis, acquired Bliss spas and will start introducing them into its W Hotels later this year. It's a smart gamble, says Judy Siguaw, a professor at the Cornell Hotel School. "In most cases, the gym is offered to hotel residents free. If you throw a spa in, there are services you can charge for."

Not everyone is buying into the trend. "Who has time?" asks Karen Sandler, a securities lawyer who travels frequently and has stayed in resort hotels for business in places like Rio. And, "I'm cheap." It's that kind of thinking that leads Marriott's Anna Mancebo to see business travelers as an "untapped market." She says all future resorts will have spas and older properties will get renovations. Marriott's Camelback Inn in Scottsdale, Ariz. recently completed an $8 million overhaul. The new spa has 32 treatment rooms (where a 60-minute "adobe clay purification treatment" runs $115). In targeting the business traveler, Mancebo says the chain's goal is to make spas about "rejuvenation" rather than vanity cosmetic treatments like Botox or teeth whitening. C'mon: if executives are willing to pay for purva karma, how far can they be from wanting Vanna White pearlies?