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What is a Hammam ritual like at the best spa in the world, the Serenity SPA in the Algarve?

Of all the luxurious treatments at Serenity Spa – The Art of Well Being, I chose to try the Hammam. The hammam is a bathing ritual with deep exfoliation of the body’s skin and application of clay, performed in a special room with a hot stone bed (the hammam) and steam. Originating in ancient Constatinopla, this is one of the oldest bathing and purification protocols in the world, preceding even the Greek and Roman baths. At the Pine Cliffs Resort SPA, the ritual is signed by Charme D’Orient, a French brand of reference in professional oriental beauty treatments and cosmetics.



The first time I experienced a hammam was at the thousand-year-old Cemberlitas bathing hall in Turkey, next to Istanbul’s Grand Market. A unique experience that I will never forget, a bath of history and tradition. However, this treatment as typical as it was, there was nothing luxurious about it. I still remember feeling scrubbed like a load of dirty laundry and beaten mercilessly by a giant, hyper-efficient Turkish woman. I always wondered whether the violence of the scrubbing was due to the treatment or to the extreme zeal of the therapist. Until now I had never experienced a hammam in a luxury SPA and so I was very curious to know what the ritual is like in the “best SPA in the world”.



After the guided tour of the SPA, where I was amazed by the design and technology, I finally entered the hammam. Diana, my therapist, explained to me that the Serenity Spa’s hammam room is a hybrid between Turkish and Moroccan tradition. It consists of a 15 m2 resort with heated marble walls and the central bed (hammam) of hot stone. After all the other technological rooms I’ve known in this spa, this one seemed at first sight, comfortably analogue. Little did I know the complicated, remotely programmed technical installation that was hidden behind the walls. Plim! In the blink of an eye and at the touch of a button, the hammam room fills with water steam… and Plum! At the touch of another, all the fog disappears, as if by magic.

The Hammam’s cleansing and purification ritual takes 60 minutes and begins with a shower. I am given a special product (Douche Nacrée, with black soap and argan oil) designed to remove any residue of body cream. Then I lie with my naked body and only a disposable panty on the hot marble table. Between the stone and the skin is the foutha, a cotton pareo traditional to oriental baths. Diana enters the room and spreads on my whole body a preparation of black soap with eucalyptus oil and olive oil, which will prepare the skin for the deep exfoliation. Then I’m left alone. Outside, Diana pushes those magic buttons and the room fills with water vapour. The warm, humid mist makes me breathe slowly, and I feel embraced by clouds of well-being.


After about 15 minutes, the therapist comes back with a natural Kassa glove and starts rubbing it vigorously on my skin. “This is it,” I thought to myself, “now the dreaded rubbing will begin!” However, the movements were done smoothly, erasing the memory of the brusqueness of Istanbul. Even without much force, the skin began to exfoliate like a cataduple of dry leaves. The dead skin rolled off revealing new, young and smooth skin. Diana applied this procedure to her feet and legs and worked her way up, going methodically over her entire body. Inch by inch, my skin was polished and exfoliated, freeing itself from a veil of old cells. I was even bothered by the amount of exfoliated skin, but the therapist assured me that it’s normal, especially if you don’t exfoliate often.



After the deep exfoliation, Diana mixed a special geranium-scented clay Rassoul (or Ghassoul) with orange oil and applied it with a gentle massage all over my body. Again I was in a period of pose and rest under the warm bed. The damp mist again filled the room with oriental mysteries as my mind travelled through the trapeze of Time. At this point in the treatment, I felt completely at peace, and could have stayed there, in that protected atmosphere, away from everything and everyone, for a little eternity.


The treatment ends with a shower with water enriched with argan oil, a very high quality product originating in Essaouira-Agadir, Morocco. Charme D’Orient has a special fair trade agreement with a village in Morocco for the harvesting of the argan fruit. I was unaware that the traditional methods of collecting the argan fruit involve collecting the fruit from goat droppings, and only after washing and drying by the women of Agadir is it pressed to remove the oil.


After this ritual of over an hour, I was left with a completely smooth and spotless body skin. But best of all was the well-being of body, mind and spirit that lasted all weekend and made me sleep like a baby without any worry.


Price: The hammam treatment is affordable for 150 euros and includes the use of the “Thermal Oasis”. The Charme D’Orient products used in this ritual can then be purchased in the SPA shop to continue the treatment at home.


Diana, the therapist at Serenity Spa who made my hammam experience memorable. Thank you!


For more information and reservations, please visit:


Pine Cliffs Resort


Address: Pinhal do Concelho, Apartado 887 8200-912 Albufeira, Portugal.

Phone: (+351) 289 500 300




Serenity Spa – The Art of Well Being




Photo credits: Algarvist

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