Wellness is an essential part of any holiday for me. Whether it’s a relaxing massage or a soothing beauty treatment, a visit to the spa area is a little luxury I always indulge in while on holiday – even if it’s just for twenty minutes. During my stay at the Turkish TUI BLUE Palm Garden hotel, I not only got a wonderfully relaxing day, but I also got some insight into Levantine wellness culture.
After checking in at the very friendly reception desk, I went to my room and noticed a rectangular, blue card on my pillow. In addition to personal greetings from the team, I found a voucher for one wellness treatment. I had to choose between a classic back massage or a visit to the BLUE Spa’s hamam. Hooray! It was exactly what I needed after the exhausting journey. But before I went toward the wellness area, I stopped in at The Restaurant for a light breakfast, because the treatment would only be half as relaxing with a growling stomach.
Pure Relaxation at the BLUE Spa
Now fed, I returned to my room briefly to shower and wash off the last remnants of travelling. I was in a hurry! The BLUE Spa wasn’t located in the main building, but set back from the wide hotel promenade. I had to walk about three minutes from my bungalow, and I immediately found the right building thanks to the large signs. I had hardly stepped into the BLUE Spa when a profound sense of tranquility came over me. The windows of the round entrance area were covered with bright curtains, Levantine lamps hung from the wood-paneled ceiling at varying heights, and discreet speakers emitted a gentle, soothing ambiance. The only one full of energy was Ali, the head of the BLUE Spa. He popped out from behind a wooden counter and greeted me with a bright smile. “Hi, I’m Ali. What can I do for you?” I flashed my voucher and asked for a back massage appointment – and I got lucky, because they were able to get me in right away. Here we go!
A small, Asian woman guided me from the entrance to the back of the building. We took a few steps through a circular passage decorated with small bamboo plants, which was completely dark except for a few tealights. I was hit with a wave of hot, humid air and a pleasant, flowery fragrance wafted into my nostrils – a mixture of roses and jasmine, as I learned later. I was led into a darkened massage room, where a wide massage table was waiting. I had twenty minutes of deep relaxation ahead of me, and I enjoyed every one of them. With soft yet powerful motions, the masseuse worked my tense back muscles and loosened up my shoulders and spine. Crack! That was probably my back… It was only through the massage that I noticed how tense I actually was, and I quietly decided to pay better attention to my posture in the office.
Tradition for Wellbeing: The Turkish Hamam Ritual
Fifteen minutes later, I entered the hall again feeling like a new person. Ali pointed to a dark leather seat and served me a steaming cup of herbal tea. “Relax a while – I hope, you like it.” That hit the spot! So well, in fact, that I was also considering booking the hamam treatment. I still hadn’t gotten over my curiosity about the Turkish bathing ritual. “If you want, I can show you the hamam bath once,” Ali offered. He didn’t have to ask me twice, and I followed him down the dark corridor again to a bright marble room. There was a wide lounge area in the middle surrounded by wash basins decorated with turquoise mosaics and filled with warm and cold water. On the edge were jars for skimming the water. There was no one in the hamam when we entered, which gave me a serene first impression. Meanwhile, Ali explained the hamam ritual as it was traditionally practised in Turkish culture. “Public hamams in the Arab and Turkish regions are used separately by men and women,” he explained, “In principle, it’s a kind of steam bath.” Wrapped in a special towel (pestemal), guests lie on their stomachs on the stone in the middle. The water in the basin isn’t used for cooling, but for regular washing during the ritual – the hamam is also about body care. I learned what hamam treatments were available at the BLUE Spa: from the full-body peeling to the classic soap foam massage, to coffee rituals and facial masks, everything was there. “The steam and heat prepare your skin perfectly for the soapy foam massage. With a sort of soaked cotton bag, the tellak, the masseur scrubs the skin so that it lathers nicely,” Ali said. “At the same time, little tensions are worked out and the circulation of the skin is promoted – afterwards you feel like newborn.” I liked that idea, and I wanted to try it myself. The whole procedure takes two and a half to four hours, so I set my appointment for the afternoon.
When I entered the BLUE Spa again a few hours later, I was pretty excited – after all, this was my first hamam ritual ever. After just a few minutes of being on the marble slab, I fell back into a state of relaxation that would stay with me for the next three hours. My tip for the girls: The hamam is a perfect place to treat your hair if it’s been stressed by the sun and sea water. 😉
If you’re looking to try a Turkish wellness ritual, the hamam is waiting for you at the chic TUI BLUE hotels on the Riviera and the Aegean – and say “hi” to Ali for me!