Hammam Experience in Fethiye, Turkey

As an experienced spa-lady, I thought that I had pretty much experienced all of the joys of spa life, that is until my authentic hammam experience yesterday in Fethiye. Usually, when I’m scheduling a massage, I request a male therapist, as I’m a lifelong jockette and have tremendous muscle memory knots that never seem to relinquish their hold on my muscles. Male therapists are generally much stronger and therefore more effective for my stubborn body. Thankfully, I opted for a woman hammam guide yesterday, as I had no idea what lay in store for me.

 Upon my arrival at the hammam, I felt as if I was in any lovely spa anywhere. I was handed a key to a locker, guided to the changing area and asked to undress, to don the towel (which was MUCH SMALLER than I had anticipated- thankfully, I’m a size 2….truly, I don’t know how larger women could fit in the towel) and to wait for my hammam therapist to come back for me. My therapist named Melissa arrived and guided me to a sauna, gave me water and let me bake for about 20 minutes. Again, this all was rote for me. 

 Next, Melissa asked me to follow her from the sauna to the wet area- which was a beautiful, round room- completely finished in white and grey marble. There was a large circular marble slab in the center of the room, and there were marble sinks lining the walls around the slab…here, the experience took on an all new experience for me. I was asked to leave my towel on a side bench and to lay on my back, completely naked and uncovered. This felt odd at first, but quickly felt completely natural and human- I forgot that I was completely naked and gave myself to the moment. Melissa poured warm water all over me, then took a scrubbing mitt and rubbed an exfoliating cream from head to toe, turned me over and began the routine again. 

I was then flipped over on my back again, and was covered with the most voluptuous bubbles I’ve ever felt…the sensation was lovely. Again, water was poured over my body to rinse the bubbles and I was flipped over for the same process on my backside. Melissa, then washed and conditioned my hair and toweled my hair and body dry (she even scrubbed inside my ears). The experience made me feel as if I was an infant being bathed by my mother in the kitchen sink. I wanted to hug Melissa.

Finally, I was brought into another room for a 30 minute, deep tissue massage. Melissa was very in-tuned and aware of my muscular needs without my having to inform her. She had such wise, intuitive hands and such a loving touch, that I felt completely comfortable and at once kindred with this woman. At the end, Melissa gave me a big hug, which I readily returned- as I had wanted to hug her, but hadn’t wanted to make her uncomfortable or to break any cultural rules or protocol. The entire experience filled me with such unexpected joy and peace. It was lovely to connect with a woman from the other side of the world, with whom I could barely communicate with a language other than the unspoken language of two kind women just being women together.

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