Trump Spa's Turkish Hammam Has Suds Appeal
Is your skin in need of a little TLC after a long hot summer of gelatinous humidity and city soot? The spa at the Trump Soho has just the cure.
The newly opened spa has nine treatment rooms within its well-appointed 11,000 square feet, but what really sets it apart is its take on the hammam - the traditional bathhouses of Morocco and Turkey. The Trump folks claim it is one of just two authentic luxury hammams in the U.S. (the first being at the Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas) and the only one in New York. Ok, apparently there are other hammams in the Big Apple, but none whose tiles and materials have been sourced exclusively from Turkey and Morocco or that feature a domed ceiling and tiny pinhole lights that mimic the pin pricks of natural light found in many traditional hammams.
So, on a late summer day, I headed to Soho to check it out. Stefan Drobel, assistant spa director for The Spa At Trump, led me through the spa, stopping at the Tepidarium, a chamber where one is supposed to warm up before entering the baths. The steam and sauna facilities, alas, are still awaiting a final green light from city health inspectors. Then it was on to my Turkish hammam treatment, which Stefan assured me would detoxify and purify my skin. I changed into a robe and was led to a black- and white-tiled room - one of two hammams at the spa. Wearing nothing but the disposable mesh undies provided, I was instructed to sit down on a heated marble "belly slab" (which is big enough to accommodate couples, if you so desire). The mosaic tiles shimmered in the dim light and the little pinholes of light glittered like stars in the sky. My "hammam attache," Jenny, was wrapped in a towel from the waist down -- my first clue to what was to come. She promptly commenced filling silver bowls with warm water and pouring them all over me. That simple act elicited a surprisingly soothing, almost primal, sensation of warmth, and I felt the tension in my body melting away. I laid down and more bowls of water cascaded upon me. Then she donned a slightly coarse "kesa" mitt and gently exfoliated my skin, first front, then back, and always followed by more nurturing water.
But nothing prepared me for the bubbles. Out of nowhere, it seemed, a big marshmallow cloud appeared above me, and silky bubbles began tumbling down upon on me. It is an altogether unique feeling to be covered in an ethereal cloud of silken orbs (generated, I later learned, from coconut and palm oil-based castille soap). I felt like the woman on the cover of my parents' Tijuana Brass album that always fascinated me as a child, except the woman was naked and covered in whipped cream, and me, slowly dissolving bubbles (and no brass band). Then came more bowls of warm water, washing it all away. The water temperature grew gradually cooler, so I was left feeling refreshed and renewed - not to mention squeaky clean. Baptism by bubbles!
While the hammam lived up to its billing, the spa seems to be working out some kinks still. The doors leading to the outdoor decks that were pointed out to me in my tour were locked, and a security guard had to be called to open them. As I was sun-drying my hair on the deck (no hair dryers in the locker room!) another hotel employee approached and told me the area was off limits. And the tranquility was somewhat marred by a tv screen in the women's locker playing an endless loop of infomercials.
The Turkish hammam treatment is typically 45 minutes, and makes a great prelude to one of the spa's other services, like a massage or Kate Somerville facial. Through Sept. 30, the Trump spa is offering a free 30-minute Turkish hammam treatment (regularly $100) with the purchase of a one-hour or more spa treatment. There's also a Moroccan hammam treatment that uses olive-based soap and clay to detoxify. Either way, the hammam is a great way to wash away the sins of summer and go forth into the fall with a glowing aura.
The Spa At Trump, 246 Spring Street, New York.