Heading to the spa is always a treat, and having enjoyed sauna and massage treatments in the past, I thought I’d branch out and give a Hammam experience a try. I expected to simply relax and enjoy a little time out, but what I experienced and the results that followed were nothing short of amazing.
A Hammam is a Middle Eastern public bathhouse following the centuries-old tradition of communal bathing associated with the Ottoman Empire. Similar to Roman or Greek baths, the Hammam traditionally involves bathing, steaming, and scrubbing to clean the body for ritual purification and was often a place of social interaction dating as far back as 600AD.
Depending on the region or city, the traditional Hammam would incorporate unique experiences, artwork, and architecture. With the advent of modern plumbing and most households equipped with their own bathrooms, the traditional public bathhouses may be left as historic monuments, but the practices have not been lost, and luckily for us, they are available as extraordinary spa treatments in many countries across the globe.
My experience at Amatara Phuket was a new, luxurious take on the traditional Middle Eastern practice with an infusion of Thai massage, Thai natural products, herbs, and aromas, plus specific Hammam treatment products from Morocco.
My Thai Hammam Journey followed a series of stages for cleansing, rejuvenating, and relaxing. I experienced the hot and cold contrast moving between cool and warm temperatures with steam, heated stone beds, ice application, and a sauna. The session was complete with a mudroom soak and a salt room meditation.
While it might sound like I ran my finger down the spa menu and selected options in a happy-go-lucky fashion, what I experienced was a well-planned treatment giving just the right amount of time for each element. The specific order in which they were presented seemed to answer the needs of my body before I knew I had a need, giving contrast in a pleasant fashion and allowing the release of physical, emotional, and mental stress. I felt like I got the complete works deal, treating my body from every angle in perfect balance.
While some traditional Hammam experiences can be described as intense, the Thai take on this healing ritual is far more gentle.
What I Felt
While thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing, I felt a definite shift in my body with the contrasting temperatures ‘shocking’ my body into a healthy reset mode.
Each stage of the treatment was like I was unlocking a new level in my body, going deeper, truly cleansing, releasing what didn’t serve me and then repairing and rebuilding.
At the end of the treatment journey, my mind was calm and felt like the daily buzzing of ideas had quieted having released all worries and stressors, yet my body was strangely energized and I felt lighter on foot. Parts of my body that I didn’t realize were previously tense, in pain, or inflamed, felt remarkably relaxed and I even felt like I could stand taller and breath more fully.
My muscles were relaxed and my skin (though a little flushed) was radiant. I couldn’t stop stroking hands and face because I was so soft!
Stepping out of the Amatara Wellness Resort, I knew I was not the same person who walked in. I felt like I could gently float through the streets with a new, fresh mentality and a rejuvenated body to experience my next adventure in Phuket.
How It Works
The Hammam treatment stimulates detoxification by activating the lymphatic system through raising the body temperature with sauna and steam and contrasting with cold to effectively ‘pump’ the lymph system of stagnant fluid. Toxins are released via the body’s largest organ, the skin, with sweat aiding a reduction of inflammation. Plus, the full body exfoliation not only removes dead skin cells but promotes blood circulation to the skin’s surface, aiding in the toxin elimination.
Raising the body temperature through sauna and steam also aids in stimulating the immune system to increase the production of antibodies, significantly reducing cardiovascular mortality, improving circulation, and having an all-around soothing and relaxing effect on the mind and body.
Adding mineral-rich mud and a Himalayan salt room to the treatment mix provides deeper cleansing, immune boosting, and anti-inflammatory benefits for complete body rejuvenation.
All in all, this Thai version of the Hammam experience was one I will never forget and will definitely do again. If you're in Phuket, this is certainly a must-do!