article that was published on jerusalem.com
"Among Turkey's most beloved exports are its sweets and its baths, with the latter only solidifying its staus as a pampering Jerusalem staple as time goes on. The hammam, or Turkish bath, is hardly new to the city, though. Until about 20 years ago, one operated in Jerusalem's historic Bukharan Quarter which was especially popular with Jerusalem's Orthodox population, as it provided separate hours for men and women.
Today, the Turkish bath is part of a larger trend of fitness tourism that has seen Jerusalem's hotels upgrading their amenities to cater to body-conscious tourists looking to include a little relaxation time in their vacation schedules. As part of this effort, the Mount Zion Hotel, which overlooks its namesake landmark hilltop, recently dismissed the outside company that has been handling their hammam since it opened in 2003. The hotel took full control of the hammam - the only such bath in central Jerusalem - in August and has been implementing numerous aesthetic changes designed to enhance the visitors' experience ever since.
The hammam is located on the site of the building's former cistern and is open to hotel guests free of charge. Visitors and those looking to enhance the hammam experience with a Turkish massage, can speak to Avi Chavi, the spa's director, who is more than happy to expound on the benefits of the hammam experience. "The high percentage of heat in a hammam [which is a wet heat, as opposed to the dry heat of a sauna] is ideal for removing toxins from the body," he recently explained to Jerusalem.com. "While just sitting in a hammam is beneficial, we also offer pressure stretching, peeling, and massages with a loofa and special soap."
Chavi belives that the Mount Zion Hotel's location helps to maximize the effectiveness of its hammam. "There is a spiritual element to it," he said. "Upon leaving the hammam, visitors can sit in the jacuzzi, which overlooks the Old City - or just walk in the hotel gardens. The fact that the Old City is there opens you up, allowing for a spiritual experience." And that is something even the oldest hammam in Turkey can't provide."
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