Constantina Demos uncovers the beauty secrets of ancient Morocco

Traditions and practices that stand the test of time usually do so because even when they’re measured against modern technology, they still come out on top. That’s why the centuries-old hammam spa is more popular than ever. These old-world spas are commonly found in Morocco, Turkey and throughout Europe, but you needn’t travel that far for the experience.

You’ll find the Moroccan Hammam Ritual Treatment right in the heart of Sydney, at
The Darling Spa at The Star. If you were to go through history books, hammam spas, or variations of the hammam spa we know today, have existed since the Roman Empire. At the time, they were known as bathing houses and were used for practical reasons, rather than therapeutic. While we now consider bathing a private activity, back then the public bath was a place for people to not only cleanse their bodies and relax, but also to socialise. As the popularity of the Roman bath slowly declined, it boomed throughout the Middle East instead. It’s during this time that a name for the East’s take on the Roman bath was coined: hammam.

An Arabic word, hammam means ‘spreader of warmth,’ which is fitting considering one of the idiosyncratic features of a hammam is that the treatment room is heated to a toasty 40 degrees. “The intense heat helps to expel toxins from the body,” explains Cecilia Ferreyra, spa manager at The Darling Spa who has been trained by Moroccan beauty brand, Mira’s Hand, on how to provide guests with an authentic Moroccan experience. “Heat also helps relieve any tension in the body and allows muscles to relax. Because of this high heat, we suggest that you don’t eat beforehand as it could make you a little queasy.” This is a traditional eastern treatment, so don’t go in expecting cucumber eye patches and face masks.

The Darling Spa’s hammam treatment takes cue from orthodox Moroccan hammams, so the standard spa soundtrack of calming waves is replaced with soothing ethnic music, while the cushy treatment bed is swapped out for a heated marble slab. Earthy mosaic tiles complete the scene. “We want guests to be transported to Morocco,” Ferreyra says. “All the product we use are Moroccan. It’s a complete different experience to any other spa in Sydney. It’s often very new and different for guests. So it’s also educational. The more comfortable a guest feels the more they’ll enjoy the process.”

Which leads me to my next point: push any inhibitions you may have aside. This is a two-and-a-half-hour full-body treatment where you’ll spend most of the time stripped down to disposable underwear so that the therapist can exfoliate your whole body. “It’s an intense treatment because of the deep exfoliation you receive,” Ferreyra says. “We use Moroccan savon noir, known as black soap, which is rubbed into the skin and over the whole body with an exfoliating mitt. Even if you’re a regular exfoliator, you’ll still see rolls of skin come off.” But don’t freak out – the more dead skin that comes off, the better. “It means the skin can rejuvenate. For people who have regular spray tans or extremely dry skin, this treatment will transform their skin,” Ferreyra adds.

The deep scrub is followed by an application of rhassoul clay, along with rose water from the Moroccan Atlas Mountains. You are then wrapped in cloth and left to rest while the clay and heat draws toxins from your body. To help you unwind, you’re treated to a scalp massage with argan oil, making this a total head-to-toe treatment. Finally, once the clay is rinsed off, your body is coated in rich oils and the treatment is wound up with a one-hour full-body massage. Hello, bliss!

Click here for more information on treatments at The Darling Spa – your body will thank you for it.