A Moroccan hammam experience
Mark Smith discovers the health benefits of being painted with algae and cleansed with black soap during a spa break to Selman Marrakech and Sirayane Boutique Hotel and Spa in Morocco
Images: Courtesy Selman Marrakech and Sirayane Boutique Hotel and Spa, Morocco
On the outskirts of Marrakech you will find the sumptuous, elegant and modern Selman Marrakech. Blending Moroccan design with a contemporary edge, it’s a vast complex with an 80 metre pool which is the centre piece of the resort. Each room has a private terrace with views over the pool and are created with fine Moroccan design and the mod cons you would expect.
Treatment rooms are situated around a central pool, with relaxation beds, hydrotherapy pool, hammam, steam and sauna. It’s a calming oasis based on the Chenot spa concept.
Henri Chenot pioneered his detox concept more than 30 years ago, and his fans are said to include Princess Caroline of Monaco and model Elle Macpherson known as The Body.
His “biontology” method promises to balance the mind, the unconscious and the physical body. You can follow the method as strictly as you wish. This includes the famous Bio-light Menu in the hotel which delivers wholesome food that’s filling and good for your body and mind.
Keen to experience the Chenot Spa at its best, I opted for the Hydro Energetic Cure Session. This began in a hydrotherapy bath with a sequence of jets, bubbles and colour therapy to stimulate muscles and detoxification.
I was then towel dried and led to another room, painted from head to toe in algae minerals and essential oils, wrapped in cling film and placed in a water massage bed. Stimulating and really rather hot, it’s designed to make you sweat and allowed the algae to work its detoxifying magic. After 25 minutes I was escorted to yet another room for hosing down with a warm jet of water. It was refreshing, revitalising and really rather amazing.
Sirayane Boutique Hotel and Spa
An oasis of calm in the semi-desert, Sirayane Boutique Hotel is an unpretentious and relaxing self-contained resort of 28 rooms and suites with private gardens and pools.
Popular with British and French guests, it offers a warm, hospitable welcome on arrival, the transfer is seamless.
The spa is small, with just two treatment rooms but for me the highlight is definitely the hammam. I loved the domed ceiling with round coloured glass tiles that allows streams of shaded light through to the room.
Using black soap that’s traditionally used in the Moroccan hammam, I was doused with warm water, cleansed with soap, doused again, scrubbed thoroughly from head to toe, doused again and then washed with a shower gel. Doused again and then it’s time to rest. A hammam is a treatment to savour – try it in Marrakesh for the true Moroccan experience.
I was then led away to experience a 30 minute back massage – using argan oil this was a treat to trial, warm oil in a simple but effective back treatment.
Rooms are modern and contemporary. Book a room with a garden terrace facing the pool and relax in seclusion in the warmth of the Moroccan sun. The restaurant serves fabulous food in the evening, western and Moroccan menu. Funky beats, Buddha bar style, mixes chill out sounds with an obvious eastern influence.
Did you know?
• The difference between the Islamic hammam and the Victorian Turkish bath is the air. The hot air in the Victorian Turkish bath is dry; in the Islamic hammam the air is often steamy. The bather in a Victorian Turkish bath will often take a plunge in a cold pool after the hot rooms; the Islamic hammam usually does not have a pool unless the water is flowing from a spring. In the Islamic hammams the bathers splash themselves with cold water.
• A Turkish bath (Turkish: hamam) is the Turkish variant of the Roman bath, steambath, sauna, or Russian banya, distinguished by a focus on water, as distinct from ambient steam.
In Western Europe, the "Turkish bath" as a method of cleansing and relaxation became popular during the Victorian era. The process involved in taking a Turkish bath is similar to that of a sauna, but is more closely related to ancient Greek and ancient Roman bathingpractices.
The Turkish bath starts with a relaxation in a room (known as the warm room) that is heated by a continuous flow of hot, dry air, allowing the bather to perspire freely. Bathers may then move to an even hotter room (known as the hot room) before they wash in cold water. After performing a full body wash and receiving a massage, bathers finally retire to the cooling-room for a period of relaxation