Spa Trend #2: Year of the Hammam
Continuing down the list of the top 10 spa trends for 2010 we published a few weeks ago, the second one is what we are calling “the year of the hammam.” This one turned out to be a surprise for many however the reaction has been enthusiastically positive!
Here is the description and then some post-publishing notes: YEAR OF THE HAMMAM TREND With spa-goers increasingly seeking authenticity, tradition, and that magical spa experience that also offers true results, the Eastern European/Middle Eastern/North African hammam (hamam in Turkey) represents one of the hottest trends for 2010, albeit with a distinctly modern expression.
This is the year in which people who’ve never heard the term hammam will learn its meaning, and those already familiar with it will discover new places to experience it. Anyone who has sampled this age-old ritual of cleansing and purification will not be surprised by its rising popularity. The combination of a vigorous full-body scrub and bubbly soaping, now often capped by a full-body massage, makes for an extraordinary experience, with results that last weeks.
A traditional hammam, from an Arabic word meaning “heat,” consists of a hot room (the sıcaklık, or hararet), a warm, intermediate room, and the cool room (or soğukluk). And these are not ordinary rooms but typically architectural marvels. Spa-goers love hammams because one can extend this Eastern European/Middle Eastern/North African multicircuit bathing experience for hours.
Spa owners love them because of their photogenic “wow” design and the opportunity to make money, since the treatment requires a therapist and allows for top dollar/Euro pricing. And although traditionally they’ve been a same-sex experience, new modern twists have broadened the experience to couples.
Travel to venerable hammams like the 16th-century Çemberlita in Istanbul will increase, while brand-new spas will unveil distinctly modern incarnations.
Introduced to the modern spa scene by lavish Middle Eastern resort spas (such as Dubai’s One and Only Royal Mirage or Morocco’s La Mamounia), next-generation versions are already gaining popularity in Europe, where top spa builders and product manufacturers report a serious increase in requests for a hammam component in new spa design.
The trend is hitting North America: Ten Spa in Winnipeg, Canada opened a few years ago with a hamam and offers a variety of experiences including their “Hamam Fully Loaded” treatment. This year both the Drift Spa at Palms Place (pictured) and Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas recently rolled out hammams, as did the new InterContinental Montelucia in Arizona. Trump Soho in Manhattan (slated for early 2010) will boast separate luxury hammams for men and women.
And look for Turkish hammams to show up in the Miami area as there are some on the drawing boards.
You can also expect more floating versions on cruise ship spas soon. And delegates attending the 2010 Global Spa Summit (fittingly taking place in Istanbul next May) will sample both ancient and modern local interpretations.
In the future, look for sauna or steam rooms around the world inappropriately labeled “hammams” to be taken to task as the industry commits to higher standards of authenticity.
POST-PUBLISHING NOTES I heard from quite a few people after our trend list was published.
Some shared their own hammam experiences, others told me of a hammam they are building (there is one that will be opening in New York this year!) and I heard from Frank Flynn who actually has a company called Hammam Consultants!
Frank was particularly helpful as he has studied hammams for many years and has traveled extensively and is totally committed to authenticity for the spa experience.
He went on to answer some of my questions:
The difference between the Moroccan hammam experience is in sequence and in what is used (black soap then exfoliate then mud then rinse) versus the Turkish hamam experience (exfoliate, then soap massage, then rinse).
He also explained that the Rasul is somewhat similar to a hammam but was an adaptation to a smaller space. Therefore instead of people lying on a belly-stone and having an attendant, they are sitting and doing more of a self administered soap, exfoliation and mud treatment.
What can I say….hammams are hot and getting hotter! (But note, that doesn’t refer to the temperature because authentic hammams are much less hot and humid than steam rooms.)
More information on Hammam.