Spa Review: Inside The World’s First Thai Hammam
For anyone who’s tried a Turkish hammam, you know that it can be rough (and we’re not just talking about the state of your skin).
Traditional Turkish baths are a hot and steamy affair that involves an intense full-body exfoliation and foam bath while you lay practically naked on a heated slab of marble. Depending on the strength of your therapist, it can be a gruff experience that leaves you feeling raw.
But for those who want the benefits of Turkish hammam with the soft touch of Thai spa therapy, Amatara Wellness Resort in Phuket has introduced the world’s first Thai hammam.
Available in either a 105 or 165-minute treatment, the Thai hammam is a 16-step process that will leave you rejuvenated, detoxed and energised. We recently tried it out at Amatara Wellness Resort and here's how it went:
Hot and cold therapy
After changing into our hammam outfit, which consisted of a barely-there black mesh bandeau and booty shorts, we were guided into a dry sauna heated to 80 degrees Celsius for five minutes.
Next, we cooled off under a rain shower to stimulate blood circulation and boost the immune system, and were then guided into a very hot Thai floral steam sauna for 10 minutes.
The black soap massage was next, which took place in the main hammam room on a heated marble bed. The natural, organic black soap—made with olive, argan oil and essential oils—softens the skin and has many nourishing benefits. Once that was applied, it was back into the Thai floral steam sauna for another five minutes.
The scrub down
After that, it was time to get scrubbed. Back on the hot stone bed, the therapist used a bristly Kessa glove to exfoliate our bodies, to the point where we could actually see and feel the dead skin cells get sloughed off (TMI, perhaps).
Once the scrubbing was complete, the therapists rinsed us down with warm water and proceeded to shampoo and condition our hair.
Next, it was time for the ice cool down, which helps improve blood circulation. Sitting down on a heated bench, the therapists gave us each a bowl of crushed ice to apply to our bodies, one handful at a time. Although we were invited to refill our bowls, a few handfuls of ice were all we could take, really.
Mud therapy was next. Before our treatment, we had chosen between a Hungarian Moor mud, which is just five percent clay and the rest an organic residue of herbs, flowers, and grasses, or Moroccan Ghassoul clay, which is 90 percent clay with a high silica and magnesium content.
The Hungarian mud is highly detoxifying and nourishing with anti-inflammatory, anti-ageing properties, while the Ghassoul clay is better for drawing toxins and impurities from the skin. With both being highly beneficial for the body, you can't really go wrong.
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The mud was applied all over our bodies, even on our faces, while we laid on the hot stone bed. The therapists then covered us with a thin sarong and left us in the steamy room to 'bake' for about 10-15 minutes.
After what felt like an eternity, the therapists returned to the room and led us into a shared shower to wash off all the mud, which was quite difficult as we didn’t have any loofahs. It took a while to remove the mud completely but felt great to be finally out of the hot and steamy room.
After toweling off and changing into a bathrobe, we were invited to the salt cave to relax for 15 minutes, while a very fine mist of pure salt was infused into the room to help clean our respiratory systems.
The last steps of the Thai hammam were the application of body cream in a massage room (those who opt for the 165-minute treatment will also enjoy the signature Amatara massage at the end of the hammam), followed by herbal tea and snacks in the spa library.
The Thai hammam treatment at Amatara Wellness Resort is a highly effective spa treatment for detoxifying, cleansing and rejuvenating the body—one that is comparatively more gentle, relaxing and private than a traditional Turkish bath.
However, it is still quite an intense, multi-step process that can feel a bit long and grueling—so make sure you're doing it with someone you can chat with and/or be comfortable being (almost) naked with.
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As one of Asia's largest hammam centres fitted with world-class facilities (including the sauna, Thai herbal steam room, hammam room, rain showers and salt cave), the Amatara Spa is an impressive venue that also offers a variety of other treatments such as Thai massage, Ayurvedic therapy and various kinds of body wraps.
This article first appeared on hk.asiatatler.com.