Sunday, January 20, 2013

Traditional Hammam or Luxury Spa?

Recent articles in some Moroccan journals have highlighted the changing nature of the Moroccan bathhouse, the hammam. While the traditional hammam is still available, many tourists opt for the "spa". However, some "spa and hammam" establishments are pushing the boundaries of acceptable behaviour.
A genuine non-mixed hammam experience is traditional

The legitimate "wellness" industry has promoted spa treatments as a health and relaxation where various treatments are available including massage. Of course massage is available in a traditional hammam, yet there is a vast difference between some of the spas and a hammam. Most markedly the issue of gender separation. Traditional hammams have specific times for women and times for men. A large number of the newer spas allow mixed bathing and it is this aspect that has been raised as a problem by some commentators.

The magazine Metropolis (Le Magazine chic at urbain) comments, not totally approvingly, that there has been a growth of mixed hammams. "These new style of institutions will revolutionize the habits of Moroccans have appeared recently in several cities across the country but especially in Marrakech".

The magazine points out that behind the signs "Hammam & Spa", these baths nothing in common with traditional hammams. 'The new wellness temples are hiding places of encounters between men and women who operate as prostitutes who come to sell their charms.' without being worried in the least. The magazine claims that the vice squad avoids intervention for fear of scaring away tourists who contribute much to the economy of the entire region.

Entry prices are expensive while extras can reach heights depending on the services provided by the girls who work in what has become the favorite places for sex tourists from the Gulf States
Receipts of these establishments are so substantial that many hotels and riads have succumbed to the merits of this approach to develop their own mixed spas and hammams so their customers can avoid venturing into unknown places ~ Metropolis. 
A genuine traditional hammam in the Fez Medina

Fortunately there are still many traditional hammams and a large number of "spa and hammam" establishments which are purely and simply about having an enjoyable non-sexual experience.

For all you need to know about a traditional hammam experience click here


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