FX Excursions

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

The Marmara Park Avenue

by Kimberly Inlander

Nov 1, 2017
November 2017

THE MARMARA GROUP, a well-known Turkish luxury hotel chain, brings a taste of Turkish hospitality and culture to the Big Apple, operating an authentic Turkish hammam at its Marmara Park Avenue hotel, conveniently located at Park Avenue and 32nd Street. When you are enveloped in the solitude of the traditional bath, you feel far removed from the hustle and bustle of the city streets above.

The Marmara Group, in existence since 1978, operates with a philosophy of “not static, but dynamic,” and all of the group’s hotels — eight total, two in Manhattan and the others in Turkey — are individual but with consistent levels of service and a Turkish flair.

At the collection’s Marmara Park Avenue, guests enjoy an all-inclusive subterranean wellness center. The authentic Turkish Hammam is one of the highlights, offering both traditional treatments and a place to unwind in the steam. Expert masseurs and estheticians add to the on-site wellness center experience, which also includes treatment rooms, an experience shower, a state-ofthe- art fitness center and a lap pool.

In fact, everything at Marmara Park Avenue has been custom-made and thoughtfully curated. Artisans from across New York’s five boroughs crafted elements of the hotel in conjunction with New York artist and designer Joe Ginsberg. In addition to the full wellness experience, guests can enjoy three penthouse suites, more than 40 terraces, extended-stay options, event spaces and a lobby lounge serving beverages and small plates.

Meaning “spreader of warmth,” the hammam or Turkish bath tradition dates to the Roman occupation of Constantinople, modern-day İstanbul. While Roman baths were prevalent in the area, when the Ottomans occupied the city around 1450, they brought with them their own bathing traditions. These merged with their Islamic beliefs, and today you will find mosques and hammams often in close proximity to each other. Other differences between the hammam experience and Roman bath houses: Turks traditionally run water from bowls to cleanse soap and grime from the body rather than the immersive pools commonly found in Roman baths, and they use a cold room to finish the experience, as opposed to beginning the journey there as the Romans did.

Hamman © THE MARMARA PARK AVENUE

Hamman © THE MARMARA PARK AVENUE

The traditional experience begins in the entrance hall, or warm room, where patrons undress. In the hot room, hammam-goers lie on a raised marble platform, and the masseuse uses a loofah to wash away dead skin cells. Throughout the process, the body is rinsed with bowls of clean water. Next, the masseuse uses suds from a traditional soap to wash and massage the body.

While I was not in İstanbul or Ankara, I was transported there right from the heart of Midtown Manhattan during my recent visit to Marmara Park Avenue. Unique to New York City and a relatively new offering for the hotel, the gorgeous marble hammam offers a luxurious place to simply relax; the space is open daily for guests and is akin to spending time in a sauna.

I visited on a Saturday afternoon for the 45-minute ritual, which combines the tradition of the Turkish bath with modern luxury, detoxifying and purifying the body. The hammam is warm, and after my 45 minutes inside, I felt the effects of the heat, even though I was just lying on the marble platform. I sweat profusely while in there and could feel the toxins leaving my body. I wore a swimsuit during the treatment, but disposable underwear is available. Also of note: The whole body will get wet — yes, ladies, even your hair — and the room can become slippery, so take care when entering, exiting and even turning over.

This experience is truly traditional — I lay on the göbek taşı, a heated marble slab in the middle of the bath, while the therapist used a kese, a glove mitt imported from Turkey, to exfoliate my skin. He offered me a glimpse of the mitt, lined with my dead skin. Not a great visual, but incredibly therapeutic. Bowls of varying temperatures of water were poured over me from head to toe — I appreciated my therapist’s warnings when the colder bowls were coming. After the exfoliation, suds of lemon and cassius soap were squeezed over my body, much like a bubble bath, and then rubbed into my skin using massage techniques. Noting I spend most of my day at a desk, the therapist paid extra attention to working out the muscles in my neck.

As the toxins leave their bodies, hammam-goers should feel blood circulation increase, immune system stimulation and physical and mental relaxation — I felt all of those things and found myself in a tranquil state, almost near sleep, for the rest of the day. And my skin was smoother to the touch than it’s ever been. It can be a rough exfoliation, but the results are well worth it.

The Marmara Park Avenue

114 E. 32nd St.
New York, NY 10016
tel 212 603 9000
park.marmaranyc.com

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