The revival of the Ancient Hamman Ritual
Fancy a steam bath with an exotic twist? Hammams are back in fashion with many resorts adding them to their wellness offerings and treatment menus.
A Hamman conjures up visions of bathers lounging around in towels draped haphazardly over their naked bodies in steamy rooms featuring lavish architecture, built in marble. In times gone by they were used by Kings and Queens of the Ottoman Empire who would host their key social engagements within these ornate bathhouses.
Also known as a Turkish bath, a hammam is the Middle Eastern variant of a steam bath, or a wet relative of the sauna. Although the first ones originated in Arabia, bath culture was a central part of Roman life, Turkey popularized the tradition by making hammams available to people of all statuses.
The advent of the modern spa and the convenience of baths at home have defeated this old concept. Today modern-day hammams often reflect the rich design features of the original bathhouses and continue the tradition of water, air & heat-based body treatments. The benefits include removing dead skin cells, deeply cleansing the skin, ridding it of impurities while stimulating the body’s blood circulation and lymphatic system in remedial heat.
Various resorts and hotels such as The Anantara Spa group offer a number of hammams in various destinations with treatments that follow the traditional ritual procedure.
The Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara, located in the heart of Abu Dhabi’s Liwa Desert, houses the Royal Moroccan Hammam and offers the traditional journey in the ritual experiences – first steam which purifies the skin, followed by lying on a heated marble bed for a cleansing and polishing ritual using traditional black olive soap and a kessa mitt. The skin soaks up the natural goodness of a mineral-rich rhassoul mask, followed by a hair treatment and mini facial. After time in the heated jacuzzi and ice room, a back massage completes the ritual.
Other hammams include Banana Island Resort in Doha and the Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa close to Abu Dhabi City which offers both Turkish and Moroccan Hammam Experiences.
So, if you fancy a steamy treatment, don’t expect to be pampered with soothing oils and gentle music to lull you to a sub-conscious state. This tip-to-toe indulgence, sheathed in warm water while lying on a heated marble bed will most certainly prove an invigorating experience and one that was once enjoyed by the Kings and Queens of the Ottoman Empire.
Jane Wilson, editor of The Healthcare Holiday www.thehealthcareholiday.com