Across the globe, many cultures and societies adopt and adapt bathing rituals from the days of old and continue the traditions of purification and connection to the world that surrounds them. Aman destinations are renowned for their incorporation into the natural landscapes, using the environment and meticulous design to create beauty and a sense of belonging to local community. It is innate that Aman’s hotels and resorts embrace bathing rituals of cultural significance to further connect to the diverse and historical landscapes they call home.
Amankora’s Gangtey lodge offers guests the opportunity to experience traditional Himalayan Hot Stone Bathing whilst exposed to the humbling elements of the Bhutanese mountains. In Tokha village, a fifteen-minute walk from the lodge, a time-honoured wooden tub sits in a stone hut doused in candlelight. With a bamboo door for privacy, guests can revel in the breathtaking views of Phobjikha Valley during the bathing experience.
Mineral river stones are collected by hand from the valley then warmed on the outdoor fire and deposited in a adjacent chamber to heat the water. As the stones give off their heat slowly, the temperature continues to rise for the duration of the bathing experience. With local knowledge from Amankora’s Bhutanese hosts, stones with a red hue are favoured as they posses a higher mineral content. Alongside the healing effects of carefully chosen local herbs, such as Khempa, a natural analgesic, the bathing ritual encourages ultimate relaxation.
Thuy Lien and An Son, Amanoi’s two Spa Houses are situated along the coast of Vinh Hy Bay, immersed in the rich green foliage of Nui Chua National Park. Offering an entirely private spa experience with personal therapists, a 15m swimming pool, both indoor and outdoor dining areas and extensive spa facilities, the Spa Houses provide serene spaces in which to escape daily life.
The wooden-clad Aman Banya at An Son Spa House, with views of the spectacular park, combines Russian cleansing rituals with oriental healing techniques to create a spa experience exclusive to Aman guests. The Banya Treatment begins with the sauna, to ease muscles and encourage detoxification within. This is followed by the gentle percussion of Venik (the stroke of bath brushes made of oak and eucalyptus leaves) and a facial mud mask to cleanse the skin, culminating with an ice shower to boost circulation and the immune system.
Thuy Lien Spa House is carefully located overlooking Lotus Lake, its namesake, and offers a contemporary stone-clad Hammam treatment, complementing its aquatic surroundings. Influenced by Turkish and Moroccan bathing culture, guests are taken on a journey of deep relaxation and rejuvenation, for mind and body. Beginning with a steam to open the pores, the treatment follows with a full body scrub, exfoliating and cleansing to allow for further nourishment of the skin with a mud wrap.
Following either treatment, stresses and anxieties melt away when guests are taken through a carefully considered hydrotherapy course. Interchanging between ice showers, hot and cold plunge pools and a steam, relieves sore muscles and revitalizes the skin. Finishing with a soothing swim in the infinity pool, and herbal tea on a relaxation deck, guests can relish in the matchless spa encounters at Amanoi.
Following the traditions found in Navajo culture, the healing powers of the four elements; earth, wind fire and water, are explored through many treatments at the resorts 2,322 square metre spa, including a stimulating Floatation Therapy. Beginning with a sensory five minutes of soft light and music, salt water and air temperatures are tailored to match the body’s natural temperature, which eases guests into a meditative state. Renouncing control, guests experience a lightness of body and mind whilst the lights are dimed to darkness and the music is silenced; breathing becomes the focus. Inspired by the same principals used in St Paul’s Cathedral’s Whispering Gallery, the floatation tank’s cylindrical dome allows for guests to explore a mantra as the architecture gives one-thousand points of echo, with voice reverberating back. A gradual reintroduction to light and sound brings back awareness and welcomes guests to reflect on the sensations of being one with water.
Aman Kyoto, Japan
Opening in November 2019, Aman Kyoto continues Japanese bathing culture dating back to the sixth century, through treatments available at the Aman Spa and in the surrounding once-forgotten secret garden. The resorts Onsen has separate pools for men and women, both indoors and out, with breath-taking views of the surrounding forest.
The 72 acres of permanent forest and eight acres of exquisite gardens form an ethereal landscape that acts as an extension of the Aman Spa and serves as a serene setting for guided yoga and meditation sessions, as well as forest bathing or Shinrin-yoku experiences. A Japanese term coined in 1982, Shinrin-yoku means ‘taking in the forest atmosphere’, and the practice is said to combine the healing benefits of mindfulness and nature. Shinrin-Yoku sessions at Aman Kyoto involve walking through the forest in a mindful way whilst absorbing the tranquillity and drama of nature and the resort’s setting.
Amangalla, Sri Lanka
Situated in the heart of Galle fort, Amangalla reigns steeped in history, as does its unique spa: The Baths. Defined by tall ceilings and dramatic archways, The Baths house two hydrotherapy suites, which in turn are each home to a sauna, steam room and hot and cold plunge pools. Keeping alive the memory of ‘taking the waters’, a historical pastime where bathing was used for relaxation and meditation, Amangalla tailors’ experiences to the guest to restore the body and soothe the mind.
Onsen bathing dates back through the centuries, becoming popular amongst the population of Japan during the Edo period (1603 – 1868). At Amanemu the tradition of bathing in the natural hot springs is available in the privacy of a guest’s room as well as in the two private onsen pavilions at the 2,000 square-metre Aman Spa, which has been designed around its own large onsen.
The resort’s Wellness Immersions focus around the onsen, targeting recovery, recuperation and wellbeing whilst utilising the stunning natural surroundings of Amanemu and the intrinsic traditions of the local culture.
Naturally heated, the salt-infused spring water feeding the onsens has a range of remedial properties. If utilised daily they can ease a number of ailments such as muscle, joint and nerve pain alongside giving soft and regenerated skin.
For more than 2000 years Morocco has embraced Roman bathhouses of old, welcoming the pastime and making it a ritual for the whole community. The Hammam (Turkish bath) became a gathering point, a place to meet and talk with friends, to make new ones and to enjoy a purifying experience of cleanliness and relaxation.
At Amanjena the Hammam Ritual is performed in a heated steam room. Whilst situated on heated marble, skilled therapists apply Sabon Beldi Blacksoap, a unique black olive oil soap, which is then followed by an intensive exfoliating process with a kiis (washcloth) that leaves the skin fresh, with a natural glow. The traditional and local Rhassoul, a natural clay sourced from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, is then applied as a full-body mask for sixty minutes to nourish and hydrate the skin. Guests delve into further relaxation on heated marble as a therapist washes the body, removing the mask along with toxins and stresses.
As evening falls and guests return from tiger-tracking in the jungle, aromatic baths are drawn in every tent to allow the option to bask in the warmth of candlelight and relish in the calm fragrant water. Honeymooners can enjoy a surprise sprinkling of rose petals taken from the wilderness resort’s own organic flower garden, and all can experience a plethora of holistic therapies at the spa’s two treatment rooms, where a vast history of healing arts are revealed through massages, scrubs, wraps and the wonders of Reiki, an energy healing practice. With choices of scents from basil and thyme to rose and milk, as well as a herbal neem bath, guests are given a truly sensory bathing experience.
Amandari welcomes guests to begin their morning, and their spiritual journey, with a purification ritual, led by Jero Priestess Luh Manis, at a sacred site in the Kintamani region around the breath-taking volcano, Mount Batur. At the Mengening water temple, the morning session begins with water purification, with guests bathing in the natural springs that have existed at the resort since the 11th Century. This is followed by meditation in an area of intense spirituality, where all five elements (earth, air, fire, water and spirit) come together to enable an otherworldly connection with the surrounding land. Breakfast is enjoyed at the resort where the awakening journey is continued with a numerology shaman session, where guests delve deep into the mind to reflect and work towards unfolding their life’s purpose.
Aman Tokyo, Japan
The Aman Spa at Aman Tokyo is the largest and most comprehensive spa in Japan’s capital – a tranquil, light-filled oasis set high above the city, spaced over two floors and with a 30-metre heated pool. Japanese wellness traditions of old have influenced treatments available at the spa, including the Misogi experience; an act of purification and meditation based on historic bathing practices. The Aman Spa also includes traditional Japanese showers, steam rooms and Japanese hot baths, which are accompanied by exquisite views across the skyline of the busy capital.
The Cinta Therapy, an exclusive speciality at Amankila, is inspired by love; its direct translation from Bahasa Indonesian. A full-body exfoliation with a rose body scrub cleanses and purifies the body before a rose and flower essence infused bath opens the heart chakra, allowing total harmony to be achieved. After follows an aromatherapy full-body massage tailored to the individual. Guests can choose to experience the therapy in the privacy of their own suite or in the massage pavilion.