SF Bay Area
Food and drink that has us seeing gold
Firstly, I have to say I was not a spa guy; sure everyone likes to be pampered but I didn’t always understand the exorbitant expenses people are willing to pay for these indulgences. I can now say though that I have now been converted and understand the worth of taking a few hours and just giving control over to someone whose sole purpose is to make you feel better, when you put it that was it’s pretty obvious really. Our visit was a special surprise for my beautiful girlfriend as she visited briefly once before when they first opened and believes it to be the best spa in the world.
As I mentioned in The Full Mendoza Wine Experience, “Relaxation is the name of the game at Entre Cielos” and if you ever have the pleasure of visiting Mendoza, Argentina this hotel is a must. If you have other accommodations booked, not all is lost, the Hamam Spa is open to the public and is the perfect location for relaxation after a long day of wine tasting, or any excuse you can come up with. Spending some time at the Hamam is obviously a great way to relax ones body, but the real benefit is that after any treatment here your mind will also be relaxed and clear.
The Classic Circuit is an amazing entry level experience into the world of Hamam but when you’ve come all this way you are going to want the “works” and they certainly deliver here. Consisting of 6 stages followed by varying massage treatments designed to fully purify both mind and body, the Hamam concept has been around for over a thousand years. We amped things up to the next level though for our visit and combined the classic circuit with their Divine Package, fittingly under the title of “The Magic of Grapes”. When in one of the greatest wine regions in the world why wouldn’t you utilize the wonderfully versatile and endless supply of grapes at you disposal.
Once you enter the spa, the outside world seems to disappear from your mind and the only thing that matters is to relax and give yourself over to the healing hands of the staff. This begins with the first steam bath, which opens your pores and prepares your body for what is to come; this stage is referred to as a Sogukluk. This is a fitting beginning as Hamam is actually the ancient Arabic word for heat. The method of the classic treatment is varied depending on the package you choose and for us that meant missing out stages 2 (Kese) and 5 (Lif) where each client gives themselves or their partner an exfoliation treatment with a special glove with the aide of an olive soap.
Next in the circuit is the Sicakluk where patrons are encouraged to simply relax and enjoy the warm waters of the temperature controlled swimming pool and clear their minds with the calming music that is playing throughout the entire building. After your time in the pool it is time for the Bingül, a second steam bath where there is a bag of specifically foraged herbs resting atop the vents that fills the room with soothing fragrances. You are left to sit in this room for around 10 minutes allowing the steam and medicinal bouquet extricates to be taken in entirely to work their magic.
Finally it is time for the Gobek Tasi; a large round stone that is heated to a precise temperature that stimulates your immune system and further relaxing the muscles and allowing time for reflection. To end the classic circuit the staff led us to a final room where you are offered tea and some oriental snacks called the Camekan room. In the brochure it mentions that the classic circuit will create “A perfect equilibrium of body, mind and soul”. At this point after experiencing the 6 classic stages of the Hamam Spa with the addition of the Camekan we were at peace and entire relaxed and anyone who isn’t may want to see someone; it doesn’t have to end here either.
This was the most relaxing experience I can remember in my life and although it was designed as a surprise for Natalie it turned out to be a great present for myself also. From the Camekan we were led to the first of our special treatments that was a part of the Divine Package and although I know how good it was for my skin/body it was a very uncomfortable experience as I had spent the day laying in the pool and my skin was fluorescent red and a full body grape seed exfoliation is something you do not want to be burnt for. But these are the life choices we make and I would do it all over again the same way, though if I were smarter I would have used more sun cream throughout the day.
After a quick shower to wash off the grape seed scrub it was time for a bath but this isn’t just any old bath, here at the Entre Cielos Hamam Spa you can literally bathe in wine. That’s right, we disrobed and fully submerged ourselves into a large bath filled with wine, not wine I would recommend drinking beforehand and certainly not afterwards but wine none the less. I did not inquire as the varietal but I think it may have been Malbec as that is the primary grape harvested here at the vineyard and it was so perfectly warmed so when we sat in our individual baths it was absolutely wonderful.
My mind was so clear at this point that I figured a little sensory deprivation was in order, so I got the hand towel and soaked it in the wine then placed it over my eyes and submerged as much as I could into the wine. The bath has a perfect incline that allows your head to rest upon it while keeping your chin just above the surface thus removing all elements of distraction from my mind except for Natalie’s voice occasionally checking that I am still alive. The wall behind the bath looked like a concrete fermentation tank and I am sure that they pump the wine straight out of the wall into your bath; pretty cool right?
A little over 2 hours after arrival at the hamam we were in absolute bliss, I was completely relaxed, my body felt restored and they had to drag me out of my wine bath for the final treatment. Another quick shower, because apparently someone who is covered from head to toe in red wine isn’t allowed to lie down on the clean sheets of the massage tables. The only way to complete this evening was with an essential oil massage and these masters of relaxation let me choose my own fragrance of oil and asked me how hard I wanted the massage then went to work. A deep tissue massage will certainly re-awaken your senses and get your mind working again but in my mind it’s the only way to go.
We had now been in the Hamam Spa for around 3 hours and it was time for dinner and tonight there was a traditional Argentinean asado underway so we headed back to the main building and partook in a different kind of indulgence. Read all about our adventures on Chowhound and be sure to follow us on the Beautiful Booze Instagram and Facebook social media accounts to see what’s going on in real time.
Full Disclosure: We were not paid for this article though to enjoy the experience entirely we did not take in any cameras or equipment. Because of this we had to politely ask Entre Cielos and their PR team to send us these images to use. Of course we prefer to use our own images whenever possible and will tell you when they are not but sometimes it's just better to enjoy an experience without work distractions.
Founder and creator of the cocktail website and blog Beautiful Booze. Natalie is a mixologist, cocktail stylist, photographer, recipe developer, and social media guru. Beautiful Booze the website features over 400 original recipes and photography that celebrate cocktails. From "DIY" bourbon tastings to simple 2-ingredient cocktails Beautiful Booze has something special shaking for everyone. Beautiful Booze has been named one of the top 5 cocktail Instagram accounts to follow and Natalie has a passion for Instagram and social media. Natalie is a regular contributor to Foodable WebTV, Drinkwire, Vinepair, and Delish. Her recipes have been featured on Liquor.com, Huffington Post, Fox News Magazine, Today Show, Latin Kitchen, Cosmopolitan, Pop Sugar, Country Living and many more.