FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow’s Quantum Spa

by Kristy Alpert

Dec 1, 2016
December 2016

It wasn’t even cold in Moscow when I made my way back to the Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow that night, the temperature only lazily falling below 70 degrees Fahrenheit as the setting sun disappeared into the crimson skyline of cathedrals and the Kremlin.

I had spent two weeks touring around the country with Travel All Russia, gaining exclusive access to the museums of St. Petersburg and enjoying insider tips from the guides as they whisked the group back to Moscow on the high-speed Sapsan train. But now I was alone in Moscow and ready to turn up the heat on my solo adventure in the city.

Literally.

The entire trip I heard teases about the amazing health benefits of a Russian banya. “It will detoxify your body inside and out,” one guide told me. “It takes years off your complexion,” a cosmopolitan Russian added. “It leaves your skin as smooth as stone,” yet another said. “The whipping with branches doesn’t hurt that bad,” an eager passerby threw out.

I had no idea what the process entailed. I only knew I was intrigued and wanted to see what all the buzz was about for myself, so I booked a two-hour treatment at one of the city’s best spas, inside the Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow.

Two doormen met me at the grand entrance of the hotel, ushering me with a smile toward two stunning Russian women holding out trays of cold towels and welcome drinks. Despite the hotel’s American branding, an Armenian-Russian family owns the Ararat Park Hyatt, and the property beautifully reflects its lineage with traditional Russian opulence and exotically stunning Armenian touches throughout.

My bellman guided me through the lobby to my guestroom (one of 208 in the hotel, including 29 suites), passing by the lobby bar and a tempting Fueguia 1833 boutique on the way to my floor. He smiled with pride while describing the hotel’s coolest features, like its chapel on the ninth floor and the panoramic views from the hotel’s rooftop bar; but when I mentioned I was there for the banya experience, all I got was a smirk and a questioning look.

“Do you know what banya is, madame?” he politely prodded.

“Not even in the slightest,” I replied.

“Ah, well you’re in for a real Russian experience then,” he added sincerely as he opened the door to my deluxe room overlooking the Bolshoi Theatre.

I paused in my room only long enough to drop my bags off and quickly look down on the busy streets below before I made my way to the Quantum Spa & Health Club to begin my “real Russian experience.”

Quantum Spa banya © ARARAT PARK HYATT MOSCOW

Quantum Spa banya © ARARAT PARK HYATT
MOSCOW

A Russian banya is similar to a Turkish sauna, a hammam or a bathhouse, only the temperature, humidity and rituals vary slightly. Almost every summer country house (dacha) in Russia has its own banya, traditionally a free-standing structure made of wood containing a small room for tea and a separate sauna space holding a furnace that can heat the interior to temperatures of more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit. The tradition is meant as a social experience, where close friends spend time chatting and detoxing in the heat before heading to dinner. Traditionally, men go with men and women with women, but in places like Siberia, it’s become more of a family bonding time.

In big cities like Moscow the experience has been elevated as a private retreat, and that’s the environment I stepped into when I entered my private banya room at the spa. The lights were dimmed, and in front of me sat a corner sofa with a table set with tea and homemade cookies. The only other features in the room were the wood sauna itself; an expansive rain shower; and a deep but narrow, black-bottomed plunge pool filled with cold water. My therapist and I were the only two in the room, and she guided me through the entire process, starting with the importance of wearing the traditional Russian sauna hat made of felt. The bell-shaped hat helps protect the head from the extreme heat and prevent any headaches or dizziness while in the sauna. So with her guidance, I took my first step of my banya experience by disrobing and entering the sauna clothed only in my felt cap.

The ritual came in three parts. I spent 10 minutes in the sauna to heat up before jumping in to the plunge pool and moving to the massage table to enjoy a detoxifying sugar scrub and massage in the main room. I then returned to the sauna for 15 minutes, and my therapist left me to shower and sip some mint tea in the quiet serenity of my private room. When she returned, she ushered me back to the sauna to apply a honey mask to my skin to remove the toxins, gently patting my body with soft, soaked eucalyptus branches. Another shower and peaceful moment with my tea, and she brought me back to the massage table for a relaxing eucalyptus soap massage.

She set a fresh cup of tea on the table and left me to relax and enjoy the room for the rest of my scheduled time. I felt completely detoxed, my complexion was glowing, my skin was smoother than stone, and believe it or not, the branch whipping was actually pleasant and didn’t hurt at all. It turned out everything I had been told about the experience was true.

With my new trust in Russian advice, I headed back to change in the locker room so I could test out my bellman’s tip on experiencing a sunset on that panoramic rooftop terrace.

QUANTUM SPA & HEALTH CLUB

Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow
4 Neglinnaya St.
Moscow, Russia 125009
tel 7 495 783 1234
moscow.park.hyatt.com

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

#globility

Insta Feed
Daily
Sep 17, 2021

Hotel del Coronado Reveals New Lobby, Front Porch

Legendary Hotel del Coronado reached another milestone in its $400 million Master Plan reimagination, with the completion of an extensive, historic restoration of the hotel’s front porch and lobby; a redesigned main entry and drive experience; new guestrooms in The Views area; and refreshed retail concepts.

Register Today for the Most Important Gathering of Business Travel Professionals

The Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) Convention 2021 will be unlike any other convention before it, as we come together in person for the first time since the business travel industry drastically changed and look forward to rebuilding and reshaping the future. GBTA Convention 2021 will bring all of us together to learn from experts and each other, in-person at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 17–19. The safety of our attendees is our top priority. View health and safety protocols.

September 2021
Sep 16, 2021

Philadelphia’s Fairmount Boasts Impressive Collections and a Friendly Vibe

As a native of the Philadelphia region, I’m quite familiar with the drive in and out of the City of Brotherly Love. Even as the city’s skyline continually transforms, my favorite views of Philadelphia have always been along Boathouse Row, with the Philadelphia Museum of Art rising in the background, before looping around the museum to the flag-lined Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Home to many of Philadelphia’s incredible and world-renowned museums, the Fairmount neighborhood is fittingly aesthetically pleasing and practically synonymous with fine art.

Daily
Sep 16, 2021

Rosewood San Francisco to Open in 2026

Set to open in 2026, Rosewood San Francisco will be the last skyscraper developed in the downtown region for the foreseeable future. The projected 800-foot-tall property will host a hotel, residences, office and rental spaces. The brand’s third property in California will join Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park, and Rosewood Miramar Beach in Montecito.

Greece: Destination Luxury

Since its prestige for attracting the world elite grew in the 1960s, Greece remains the go-to destination for glittering holidays. Each step of the journey is enrobed in luxury, from culinary traditions with the highest standard of execution and name-brand, high-end shopping to first-rate wellness locales and elite accommodations, like 5-star hotels, private villas and yachts.

September 2021
Sep 15, 2021

Slow Down and Unwind in Easy-Going Phuket

It’s not even 9a.m. in the sleepy fishing village of Rawai on Thailand’s famous Phuket Island, but already the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea swarm with local fishermen casting their lines and releasing their nets from the bows of rustic long-tail boats. The scents of lemongrass, incense and sweet pandan leaves season the air as the villagers slowly rise from their beachside bungalows to start their day. In just a few more hours, the fishermen will return with their catches, filling the stalls of the iconic Rawai Seafood Market with buckets of shellfish and displays of fresh filets. Visitors line up each afternoon for the catch of the day, selecting their fish with care before hauling their purchases across the well-worn road to the restaurants opposite the market to have the fish cooked for 100 Thai baht per kilo.

eFlyer Deals
Sep 15, 2021

A Master Class in Tuscan Wine at Grand Universe Lucca, Autograph Collection

Tuscany’s Lucca is home to Grand Universe Lucca, which brings the region’s best wines front and center to its guests. The hotel features three immersive Tuscan Wine tasting experiences: Montalcino, Montecarlo, and Super Tuscan and Chianti Classico.

The Future of Hamad International Airport

Without a doubt, the pandemic changed the role of airports in the travel industry. Hamad International Airport’s role evolved in many ways since the pandemic hit. Now, more than ever, airports are responsible for creating a secure passenger experience. As the gateway to Qatar and the world, the safety and wellbeing of staff and passengers has always been at the core of Hamad International Airport’s strategy.

eFlyer Lead
Sep 15, 2021

Puerto Rico Reiterates Its Commitment to LGBTQ+ Community with New Initiatives

Discover Puerto Rico reiterated its commitment to the LGBTQ+ community with strong participation at the 2021 International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association Annual Global Convention, where it provided insight into a variety of new efforts to foster inclusion on a local and global scale.