Tourism Review Online Magazine - Spa: Traditional and Local

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Spa: TradiTional and local

                  Spa and wellness resorts can be
                  found in all the corners of the
                  world. The offer of spa treat-
                  ments of each country how-
                  ever includes a unique touch of
                  the local culture and traditions.
                  Learn more about Japanese
                  onsens, Thai massage or even
                  Turkish hammams.
                                                               SPA   sp a : Tr a d i t i o n a l a n d l o c a l

                 TrAdiTionAl spA TreATmenTs:
                 hiloT, lomi lomi, shirodhArA…
Traditional spa treatments are commonly
practiced in spas today and help generate a
lot of spa visits, particularly to hotel and resort
spas. Many tourists like to experience the local
therapies and treatments of their travel des-
tination to take away a unique memory and
to gain knowledge relating to how traditional
treatments have been used for centuries to
assist the wellbeing of local residents.
  A selection of popular traditional spa treat-
ments which spas confirmed they promote on
their spa menus are described below (source:
Intelligent Spas, Global Spa Benchmark Pro-
  • Thai massage is one of the most popular
      and successful, traditional spa therapies
      offered. It is not only a popular choice
      of locals and tourists in Thailand, but is
      also practiced widely across the world,
      enabling many Thai spa therapists to be
      employed in foreign countries. It also
      effectively promotes Thailand as a poten-
      tial travel destination to those who expe-
      rience Thai massage outside of Thailand.
  • In Indonesia, the Balinese massage is a
      very popular traditional spa treatment as
      is the Javanese massage.
  • Philippines’ national massage is called
      Hilot massage and is practiced widely
      across the country.

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                                                                                                       SPA    sp a : Tr a d i t i o n a l a n d l o c a l

 • Some more unusual traditional spa thera-      • In comparison, spas in the Middle East              now becoming more popular across the
   pies are gaining popularity including the       are known for the Hammam treatment,                 world, with many large scale bathing
   heated sand treatment in Japan, where           which includes the spa guest spending               developments, as well as extensive aqua-
   the spa guest is dressed in a special suit,     some time in a large, public steam room             medic or specially designed circuit pools,
   lies down in a sand box and is covered          and receiving body scrubs performed by              being developed in various luxury spas
   with heated sand for around 15 minutes.         spa therapists.                                     within the Asia Pacific and North America
   This is a detoxifying treatment and is also   • African Wood massage is commonly                    regions.
   being practiced now in other countries          offered in South African spas and is known     The majority of spas offer “signature treat-
   including Taiwan.                               to mimic rhythmical patterns of African      ments” which usually combine elements of
 • Traditional Chinese massage and medi-           dance using Swarthout dumbbells.             traditional treatments and ingredients found
   cine are both widely offered in spas          •                                              in the spa’s local area. These signature treat-
   across the Asian region, and are gradu-                                                      ments are generally used to entice guests to
   ally becoming available in other regions                                                     visit the spa and are typically a package of mul-
   including North America. These treat-                                                        tiple treatments, which provides higher reve-
   ments enable spa guests to experience                                                        nue compared to standard spa treatments.
   ancient Chinese culture without neces-                                                         Intelligent Spas’ last consumer research enti-
   sarily travelling to China.                                                                  tled “Female Versus Male Spa Consumers”
 • Simiarly, Ayurvedic medicine is also prac-                                                   found spa guests preferred both facial and body
   ticed in many spas around the world,                                                         treatment products to be made from fresh,
   with the Indian head massage called Shi-                                                     local ingredients, as opposed to internationally
   rodhara, widely promoted in many spa                                                         known skin care brands or the spa’s self-branded
   destinations. This traditional treatment                                                     skin care range. This is good news for spas that
   involves hot oil being gently poured over                                                    are on tight budgets and do not have the cash
   the forehead of the spa guest.                                                               flow to stock volumes of expensive brands.
 • The korean bathhouse is a well-known                                                           Given the nature of spas which is “healing
   tradition whereby the spa guest typi-         •                                              through water”, it is important they embrace
   cally alternates the use of plunge pools,                                                    traditional therapies, not only to help maxi-
   steam room and sauna at their own pace        • Hawaii’s popular traditional massage is      mise visits, but to also carry on the important
   and completes the experience by scrub-          the Lomi Lomi, which is also widely prac-    traditions of their culture.
   bing and washing themselves in adjoining        ticed in spas across the globe.
   public shower areas containing individual     • Bathing rituals across Europe have been      By Julie Garrow (managing director, Intelligent Spas)
   stools and hand-held shower hoses.              common for many centuries and are  

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                                                              SPA   sp a : Tr a d i t i o n a l a n d l o c a l

                   JApAnese onsen TherApy:
                 reCuperATion of weAry Body
In the hot-spring heaven that is Japan, there
are a countless number of onsen from Hok-
kaido to okinawa, from those of luxurious spas
in nondescript concrete buildings to rotenburo
set in pristine natural surroundings.
  Obviously what lures millions of onsen bath-
ers back again and again is that wonderful feel-
ing of just being able to close your eyes and
forget about life’s daily hassles – the boss, the
crowds, the headaches. The relaxation effect
of onsen, however, is just the tip of the iceberg.
  “onsen therapy has various medical effects,”
says yuko Agishi, a 71-year-old physician and
honorary professor at Hokkaido university. “It
is a type of alternative or complementary med-
icine, not directly curing the cause of the dis-
ease but treating the body as a whole; assist-
ing in recuperation, rehabilitation and disease
  These medical benefits have given onsen a
central role in balneotherapy, which is a com-
prehensive bathing treatment conducted to
maintain health, normalize dysfunctions and
prevent illness. Generally, the elements in this
therapy are onsen, gases and climatic and geo-
graphical factors.
  In the Edo Period (1603-1867), onsen ther-
apy, then called toji, was widely practiced by
the common people. For work-wearied farm-
ers, toji was an especially valued feature of

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                                                                                                           SPA    sp a : Tr a d i t i o n a l a n d l o c a l

their hard lives. After a long day’s work, they      “According to Archimedes’ principle, a per-
would go to an onsen to relieve their mental       son experiences just one-ninth of their weight                   what is onsen?
and physical strains as well as to ready their     when underwater,” says Agishi. “Therefore, it        Because of Japan’s volcanic terrain, natural hot
bodies for the next day’s toil.                    is a lot easier to move around and do exercises      springs are found throughout country. Known
  Just as those sons (and daughters) of the soil   in the water. Aquatic therapy is most effective      as onsen, they are one of the highlights of any
used toji to recuperate, so today’s stressed-out   for those who need rehabilitation, whether           visit to Japan. There are more than 3,000 onsen
workers are turning to “onsen therapy” (nowa-      because of a car accident or neurological dis-       in Japan. Although most hot springs baths are
                                                   orders.”                                             developed inside, many hot springs baths also
days, generally termed “balneotherapy”) as                                                              have an outdoor bath known as a rotenburo
well.                                                The onsen’s chemical makeup is one of the          or notenburo (also called open-air hot springs
  Balneotherapy is often conducted in combi-       key elements of balneotherapy. According to          bath). Baths may be publicly run by a munici-
nation with other treatments such as aquatic       the 1979 revision of the 1948 onsen Law, nine        pality or privately run by a local ryokan.
therapy and massages.                              types of onsen water are recognized as having,

                                                                                                     proven medical benefits. These are nisanka-
                                                                                                     tanso-sen (spring water high in carbon diox-
                                                                                                     ide), tansansuisoen-sen (hydrogen carbonate),
                                                                                                     enkabutsu-sen (chloride), ryusan-sen (sulfate),
                                                                                                     tetsu-sen (iron), io-sen (sulfur), sansei-sen
                                                                                                     (acidic), hoshano-sen (radioactive) and tanjun
                                                                                                     (spring water that lacks these attributes but
                                                                                                     has a temperature of over 24 degrees).
                                                                                                       “For example, sulfur onsen are quite effective
                                                                                                     for chronic articular rheumatism,” says Agishi.
                                                                                                       Bathing in these various types of onsen is
                                                                                                     used to treat other illnesses, such as arthral-
                                                                                                     gia, chronic skin diseases, diabetes, constipa-
                                                                                                     tion, menstrual disorders and so on. And by
                                                                                                     partaking of this natural therapy instead of
                                                                                                     using conventional medication, it is believed
                                                                                                     that people can also strengthen their immune
                                                                                                     system and thus enhance their ability to heal
                                                                                                       There is, however, another way to absorb
                                                                                                     these minerals – insen (drinking medicinal
                                                                                                     spring water).

march, 2011                                                          — 31 —
                                                                                                                SPA    sp a : Tr a d i t i o n a l a n d l o c a l

  of course, people don’t drink the water they                                                            cialists in the field so that readers can contact
bathe in. Spring water specifically suited for                                                            them for advice. The book also lists 509 onsen
insen is certified by the prefecture to be drunk                                                          resorts with onsen therapy facilities, and their
unfiltered.                                                                                               prices.
  “Drinking onsen water has a stronger effect                                                               By disseminating information about balneo-
on the body than just bathing in it,” says Agishi,                                                        therapy to the public, Minkatsu also aims to
“because the stomach and intestines directly                                                              encourage both local governments and pri-
absorb the water.”                                                                                        vate companies to build facilities for long-term
  In Japan, however, the concentration of chem-                                                           onsen therapy.
icals in spring water tends to be relatively low,                                                           “With the aging society, onsen therapy is
so balneotherapy is focused mainly on bathing.                                                            what we need now,” says Agishi. “It builds the
By contrast, in many European countries spring                                                            confidence of old people because they can
water sources are rich in chemicals, and so peo-                                                          move around more freely in the water. This
ple there tend to favor insen over onsen.                                                                 therapy will treat them without strain – and
  Among European countries, Germany has one                                                               they’ll enjoy it.”
of the most established systems for balneother-                                                             It is thought that the imminent graying of
apy, and there are many facilities dedicated to                                                           Japan is just what the ailing onsen industry
onsen therapy. Typically, patients will stay there                                                        needs.
for three to four weeks, with the cost of their                                                             According to Health, Labor and Welfare
treatments often covered by insurance.                                                                    Ministry data, there are at present 23 million
  Similarly in Japan, onsen therapy may also be                                                           Japanese aged 65 and over. Toshiyuki Sato, the
covered by insurance if a doctor’s prescription        However, in 1996 the government-approved           73-year-old chairman of Minkatsu, estimates
states that a patient is in need of the treatment    Minkan katsuryoku kaihatsu kiko, known as            that when members of the dankai no sedai
for a certain illness. But in practice, this con-    Minkatsu (organization for Development of            (baby-boom generation), who are now in their
stitutes a tiny proportion of the total, because     Private Participation in Public Projects), was       mid-50s, hits 65, there will be more than 30
onsen stays are generally regarded as a fun trip     asked for assistance to promote onsen resorts        million elderly people in Japan.
to be combined with eating good food, rather         at a time when many were going bankrupt.               “In the near future, the elderly are going
than as a part of medical therapy.                     Instead of concentrating on tourism, the           to be the key to Japan’s vitality,” says Sato.
  “In Japan, people generally visit onsen for one    association, to which Agishi belongs, focused        “With onsen therapy, the government can
night only as a break from their daily routines,”    on the medical aspects of onsen, and from            keep health insurance from rising, and the
says Agishi. “And that is certainly refreshing.      2000, Minkatsu officially started to take action.    elderly can keep their health in order to
But from a medical viewpoint, onsen therapy            one of their first accomplishments was the         work.”
takes at least three weeks.”                         publication of “onsen Ryoho no Techo (The
  unlike in Europe, though, at present there         Book of onsen Therapy)” in 2002. This contains       Photos: JNTO
are very few facilities in Japan offering such       detailed explanations of onsen therapy and its       By Masami Ito (The Japan Times)
long-term therapy.                                   effects, as well as a list of 310 doctors and spe-

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                                                                                                           SPA    sp a : Tr a d i t i o n a l a n d l o c a l

                        ThAi mAssAGe:
                 experienCe your whole Body
Thai Massage, like most Asian methods, is a                                                          deficiencies along the energy lines. In con-
technique used to give the massaged person                                                           trast to traditional Chinese medicine, which
an experience of the total body. It is similar                                                       uses acupuncture to manipulate the pres-
to acupressure and Shiatsu combined with                                                             sure points, Thai Massage stimulates these
stretches and yogic Asanas. Its nickname has                                                         same points with healing touch. Therefore,
become, “yoga for the lazy”.                                                                         the points suffer less stress, and life energy, or
   The best thing about Thai massage is that,                                                        Prana, is allowed to freely circulate.
like yoga you get flexibility, inner organ mas-                                                        Through application of pressure on energy
sage, oxygenation of the blood and quieting                                                          lines and points, and a vast array of passive
of the mind. Through deep muscle stretching,                                                         stretching movements performed with the
joint release and emphasis on the breath, Thai                                                       hands, feet, knees and elbows, the body expe-
massage offers many of the same benefits as                                                          riences profound relaxation, peripheral stimu-
yoga.                                                                                                lation of internal organs, increased flexibility
   An ingenious system of movements allows                                                           and increased flow of energy.
the therapist to manipulate the client without                                                         Along with influencing the energetic side,
much effort. Every movement is designed to                                                           Thai Massage also works on the physical body.
support the client as well as the therapist. It’s                                                    Starting at the feet and progressing up to the
amazing how much more we are able to move                                                            head, the client’s body will be moved, loos-
when another person is providing assistance                                                          ened and stretched. The combination of ener-
and encouraging us to relax. It is an interac-                                                       getic and physical aspects is unique to Thai
tive form of bodywork, quite unlike any other                                                        Massage, and so are its effects.
Western or Eastern forms. While it does include                                                        Thai Massage is a way to prevent sickness.
work by the practitioner kneading muscles,                                                           It helps to dissolve blocks before they mani-
what makes it particularly helpful is its unique    pies such as Trigger Point Therapy, Myofacial    fest psychologically or physically, and it also
stretching. you remain passive while the prac-      Release Techniques and Neuro Muscular Ther-      improves flexibility. Injured athletes, as well
titioner does the movements to you.                 apy.                                             as those suffering from handicaps or stress are
   Thai Massage will strengthen the client phys-      Thai Massage works on the major meridians,     another target group. Essentially, anyone will
ically and harmonize their energy so a new life     also called energy lines or Nadis, which run     benefit from this powerful technique.
experience can arise. It combines techniques        throughout the human body. It aims to harmo-       It is a meditative practice for both client
often used separately in western physiothera-       nize the body, to loosen blocks, and to recoup   and practitioner, reflecting the states of lov-

march, 2011                                                          — 33 —
                             SPA    sp a : Tr a d i t i o n a l a n d l o c a l
                       ing kindness and compassion. Thai massage
                       has always been taught as a spiritual prac-
                       tice done with prayers and as a meditation.
                       A typical Thai massage is 2 hours covering
                       the body quite completely. It is a unique and
                       deep massage that transforms the body to a
                       more flexible, relaxed, lighter and less pain-
                       ful being.
                         Concerning the treatment, Thai Massage is a
                       floor massage. The fully dressed client lies on
                       a pad or light mattress. The massage is given
                       in silence to allow the therapist to understand
                       the client and to give the client a chance to
                       focus and learn about himself without distrac-
                       tion. To give and to experience Thai Massage is
                       a meditative practice. At the end of the treat-
                       ment, both the client and the therapist will feel
                       relaxed and energized.


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                                                                      SPA    sp a : Tr a d i t i o n a l a n d l o c a l

   wellness Tourism:                                            offer traditional Chinese medication services,
                                                                and even have in-house Chinese physicians.
                                                                These physicians can prescribe food cooked

spA pACkAGes ATTrACTive
                                                                with herbs for customers to eat after their
                                                                spa. Sometimes the hot baths are infused with
                                                                herbs which offer different healing or medici-
                                                                nal effects. The selling point is to offer a total
  noT only To loCAls                                            wellness package which starts from within the
                                                                body, and not just external wellbeing.
              Health and wellness tourism has been gaining                        indonesiA
              popularity all around the world – not only in
              the western countries but the less developed        Health and wellness tourism in Indonesia is
              one as well. China, Indonesia, Philippines and    still a relatively new area. While the concept
              Turkey are some of the countries where well-      of a relaxing holiday itself is not new, visiting
              ness packages are quickly drawing the atten-      a spa for relaxation is a relatively recent trend,
              tion of local consumers.                          especially among urban tourists
                                                                  up to 2009, hotel/resort spas are still the most
                                 ChinA                          popular form of spas, followed by destination
                Spas contributed 96% of the total value sales   spas. The trend towards spas has indeed been
              in health and wellness tourism in 2009. Hotels    driven by its offering in hotels and resorts,
              and resorts pushed spa packages, as declining     and the concept was then picked up by
              numbers of guests affected hotels’ revenue        other players as
              due to increased competition from budget          well. Despite the
              hotels. These spa packages were also used         growth of desti-
              to attract guests to stay at luxury hotels, and
              guests were usually given free spa treatments.
              The free spa treatments were used as bait, and
              allowed hotel guests to get a preview of the
              services offered, and hopefully be persuaded
              to sign up for spa packages.
                Most spa resorts are pure imitations of the
              Japanese hot springs in terms of decor and
              layout. However, there is a growing trend to
              revert to the traditional Tang dynasty imperial
              spring bath decor in a bid for outlets to dif-
              ferentiate themselves. Some spa outlets even

march, 2011                     — 35 —
                                                                                                               SPA   sp a : Tr a d i t i o n a l a n d l o c a l

nation spas and other spas up to 2009, hotel/                                                                               Turkey
resort spas still performed well as new con-
sumers looking for spa holidays tend to choose                                                             Consumers in Turkey started to be more
hotel/resort spa packages. Meanwhile, with                                                               careful about their health and wellness, and
                                                                                                         this trend increased sales. When they took a
the still emerging stage of spa holidays, other
                                                                                                         holiday, people demanded more sophisticated
health & wellness tourism is still negligible in
                                                                                                         packages, which tended to include a spa and
Indonesia up to 2009.
                                                                                                         wellness theme. A new health and wellbeing
  Indeed, there is a growing presence of day spa                                                         trend in Europe swept across Turkey, with the
outlets seen in the bigger cities from Jakarta to                                                        advent of spa resorts and hotels focused on
Surabaya and Bandung. The demand for such                                                                providing relaxation and detoxing treatments
day spas come from the urban dwellers who                                                                ranging from massages to dietary detoxing
cannot afford a dedicated spa holiday but still                                                          plans for health-conscious high income con-
want to experience a spa package. Popular day                                                            sumers. Many 5-star hotels started to offer
spa outlets are usually fully booked through-                                                            treatment packages and introduced spas into
out the weekend and also enjoy high occu-                                                                their portfolio of services to attract custom-
pancy rates during weekdays. Products varied                                                             ers.
from foot massages to full body massages and                                                               There are massage, saunas and herbal ther-
other spa treatments. With this trend, other                                                             apy rooms in many hotels, and some of them
spas have grown the fastest in value terms in                                                            have natural water fountains to better stress
2009.                                                                                                    the theme of wellness. These places are com-
                                                    in 2009. However, average sales per outlet in
                                                    the hotel/resort spas category grew by 20%           petitive in two respects, because they are
                philippines                                                                              luxury and also use natural healthy resources.
                                                    in current value terms. This increase reflected
  There are five main categories of spa in the      the closure of 10 outlets due to difficult trading   Most of these are run by large companies, and
Philippines, namely hotel/resort spas, desti-       conditions.                                          smaller companies have not yet discovered
nation spas, medical spas, day spas and club          Nonetheless, rising health awareness and the       this potential. Hotel/resort spas are grow-
spas. Hotels/resort spas remained the largest       global trend towards increasingly hectic life-       ing because of their luxury, and foreign tour-
in 2009, representing 61% of total spas current     styles ensured that spas remained very popu-         ists and high income domestic tourists prefer
value sales thanks to the popularity of luxury      lar among many domestic and foreign tourists         them. other spas, including traditional natural
travel services in the Philippines, particularly    in the Philippines in 2009. Popular spa treat-       spring water spas, are growing due to their
among foreign tourists.                             ments on offer in the country include hilot, a       popularity amongst citizens.
  Foreign tourists accounted for 62% of the         traditional Filipino deep-tissue therapeutic
total number of spa visitors. The numbers of        massage, and dagdagay, a traditional foot mas-
domestic and foreign spa visitors both declined     sage.                                      

march, 2011                                                            — 36 —
                                                                                                      SPA    sp a : Tr a d i t i o n a l a n d l o c a l

            Turkish hAmmAm:
    physiCAl And menTAl reGenerATion
                                                                                                         enJoy The TreATmenT
                                                                                                  There are a number of accessories that are
                                                                                                specific to the Turkish bath and are still used.
                                                                                                Bath gloves that are made of palm root and the
                                                                                                Turkish pestemals (bath towels) are the most
                                                                                                important ones. Also the pumice stone which
                                                                                                is used to rub the feet is always available in
                                                                                                the hammam package. Inlaid copper, silver or
                                                                                                brass bath bowl is one of the most beautiful
                                                                                                examples of handwork.
                                                                                                  Hammams in Turkey are open from very
                                                                                                early times in the morning until late at nights.
                                                                                                The time of stay in the Hammam is not limited.
                                                                                                Customers can stay there as long as they want.
                                                                                                  After undressing in small cells at the entrance
                                                                                                of hammam, people pass to the hot room for
                                                                                                taking Turkish bath. The keeper of Turkish ham-
                                                                                                mam asks the customers if they want to have
                                                                                                a massage or bath glove. usually the correct
                                                                                                procedure is to have both of them. If massage
                                                                                                and bath glove is asked to be provided, after
For centuries Turkish hammam continues to       people gather and organize social activi-       the process of sweating for half an hour, the
exist as one of the major components of the     ties.                                           customer is washed by a masseur or a rubber.
ottoman and Turkish culture with its peste-                                                     Dry pestemals are given to the customers who
                                                  Hammam is the home of the tradition of        wish to enjoy sauna after the bath.
mal, rubber, large and bright dome and unique   physical and spiritual purification. The body
architectural beauty.                           and skin are cleaned and purified from tox-       Also a spread of a dry pestemal is necessary
  Hammam was built not only as a place for      ins, the blood circulation increases, immune    to lie on the heated marble slab (gobek tashi).
washing oneself. Turkish hammam is also         system is stimulated so that the physical and     The Turkish Bath temperature varies between
health and entertainment center where           mental system are regenerated                   35-45 centigrade degrees according to the

march, 2011                                                      — 37 —
                                                                 SPA    sp a : Tr a d i t i o n a l a n d l o c a l

season. As for the temperature of sauna, it is             use of continuous hot water and the ambient
between 55-60 centigrade degrees. Firstly rub-             temperature of 35-45 centigrade degrees cre-
bers wash their customers and then rub them                ate an environment of high humidity.
with the help of a thick bath glove and wash                 This ambience raises the body temperature
them again.                                                and activates all the organs. This change is very
  Lastly, depending on the customer’s request,             beneficial to the human body.
rubber lets the customer to lie on the heated                Rubbing the body by the bath glove (after
marble slab. Then, begin to massage with his/              staying at the high-humidity environment for
her skillful hands.                                        a long time), accelerates the skin renewal by
  After ending the operations of bathing, rub-             removing the dead skin cells. This process
bing, massage and sauna, the customer passes               keeps the skin fresh.
to the cool room (sogukluk) wrapping himself                 Doctors have been explaining the positive
or herself the a dry pestemal given by the rub-            effects of sweating on the human health for
ber.                                                       centuries. Sweating is as important as breath-
  There is an attendant waiting to change the              ing for the body. In the historical Turkish bath
pestemals and the towels of the customer.                  people sweat approximately 1.5 liters within
After that the customer goes to the rest room.             15 minutes, which helps the kidneys. Toxins
Here, customers sip delicious drinks that are              constitute ten percent of the sweat. Sweating
served to them while resting on the sofa.                  in the Turkish hammam opens the pores of
                                                           the skin. Therefore it is frequently used in the
       whAT Are The effeCTs?                               treatment of cellulite.
  Turkish hammam is the home of physical and                 In addition, this method is good for arthri-
spiritual purification. There are two types of             tis and many other diseases. It speeds up the
Turkish baths. These are Turkish baths that are            heart beat and blood circulation.
working with artificially heated water and the               To go to the hammam can be risky for the car-
spas that are working with natural hot water.              diac patients and the people with blood pres-
The healing hot spring water contains sulfur               sure problems. These people should consult a
and salt. That’s why thermal spas are used in              doctor before going to the hammam.
the treatment of rheumatic diseases, skin dis-
eases and nervous breakdown. However, the        

march, 2011                                       — 38 —

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Description: Spa and wellness resorts can be found in all the corners of the world. The offer of spa treatments of each country however includes a unique touch of the local culture and traditions. Learn more about Japanese onsens, Thai massage or even Turkish hammams.