A Mediterranean abode of health and wellness situated on The Palm Jumeirah, Rixos Royal Spa offers an ambiance which recalls the pristine and natural atmosphere of the Turkish coast. The Turkish chain’s first hotel in the UAE, the relaxing Palm Jumeirah is a quick and easy escapade from the traffic-driven streets of Dubai. The Royal Spa’s Turkish hammam couldn’t be a more signature treatment as well as effective way to relax and revitalize.
Having lived in the Middle East now for nearly five years with many trips throughout the Mediterranean, I am well familiar with the importance of the hammam. In existence for centuries, like its Roman predecessor, the Turkish hammam was a place not only to bath, but a place to socialize with friends and colleagues. The tradition of the Turkish hammam dates back to a time before the Turks had reached Anatolia – to rituals common in Roman and Byzantine culture. Cleansing traditions merged as the cultures increasingly interacted and soon encompassed the Muslim concern for cleanliness. The concept of the Turkish bath emerged and became an institution in itself for cleanliness, health and wellness.
I thought of all this as I changed and entered into a magnificent setting recalling the decor of the Ottoman period. I was partaking in a ritual which was nearly 1000 years old. More than the rest and relaxation which my body needed, the benefits of the hammam were what attracted me. My therapist explained how the heat first dilates the blood vessels to improve circulation while the skin pores also dilate making deep cleansing of the skin possible. The steam promotes cell renewal as well as reduces acne and dermatitis. The bath can also help those suffering from localized back aches and pain since the promotion of blood circulation helps to carry more oxygen to damaged areas of the body. The heat can also help to relieve cold symptoms such as decongestion. It’s an experience which is beneficial all around and one which, as the therapist added, should be done regularly. During the Ottoman period Sultan’s Harem would gather in the hammam for leisure. There they would spend hours rejuvenating, socializing and releasing tension – the hammam was the place from where they escaped everyday life.
Escape. Yes, the hammam still constitutes a form of escape even hundreds of years later. It is a place where we leave our phones, our daily tasks and hopefully, our mental woes behind. This is what I certainly tried to do. My smiling therapist first led me to the steam warm where my skin was prepared softened from the heat in preparation for the hammam ritual. I was then taken to a brilliantly decorated area in regal Ottoman style where I lay on a towel placed on the marble circular slab in the center of the space. Hot water was poured over my body from my head to toes and then I was scrubbed with a traditional Turkish Kesse. Next a cloud of soapy foam covered me like a garment and was pushed away as the therapist began her massage and deep hair wash and finally, I was told to sit while warm water was pour over me in a final cleansing gesture.
I was very clean. That’s the point of the hammam and this one certainly worked wonders. I came out feeling utterly revitalized and relaxed. My therapist escorted me to a relaxation area dressed in the same regal decor as the rest of the hotel and one which made me feel pleasantly at home – as if I were a guest in someone’s house yet in a foreign land, like Turkey. Soft traditional music played while I drank my Aryan, a Turkish yogurt-based drink soothing like the hammam itself. This was worth another visit.
Rixos is located on The Palm Jumeirah. Tel: +971 44575455