Miraj Hammam Spa - A nod to French wine and Moroccan wellness

Guests who visit Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie Paris, as Spa Inc. magazine did in June, may notice that the Moroccan-inspired spa looks a little different. Located at Toronto’s Shangri-la Hotel, the luxury spa blends the ornate decor and traditional hammam experience of Morocco with the natural vine-based wellness of Bordeaux, France, all with a clean, modern feel. That aesthetic remained consistent when the spa officially reopened in May, unveiling its renovated space.
The manicure and pedicure bar is no longer tucked into the main spa area behind a glass door, but out in front near the entrance, adjacent to the new gift shop. Moving those services outside the spa allows guests with group reservations to be a little chattier, says spa manager Andrea Dunham. The spa has also converted one of its two private hammams into three additional treatment rooms, bringing the total to 12 treatment rooms. But the improvement that Dunham is most excited for guests to see is the newly renovated Alhambra relaxation room, which is now more spacious and freshly decorated with new furniture, artwork and an ornate Moroccan chandelier, and its adjoining patio area. “We went through a few stages of the renovations with the lounge, having to do the renovation in sections, because when you’re in a hotel it’s very tricky to find time to do this type of work,” Dunham says.

Altogether, she says, it took 11 months to complete the renovations, 11 months of doing piecemeal construction during the day – a few hours here, a few hours there – so as not to disturb hotel and spa guests. “At night we can’t work because guests are obviously sleeping and during the day it’s difficult because I have guests and no one wants to hear a jackhammer going during their massage.”
It has been worth it, Dunham says. The Moroccan style of the spa remains consistent throughout the expansion of the space, in part because of the effort to hire the same designers and find the same materials that were used in the original 2012 construction.
The Miraj Hammam Spa brand began in Vancouver in the early 2000s, where owner Surinder Bains first opened a small spa business. “It’s not in a hotel, but she had such great success that [Shangri-La Hotel] wanted her to bring the hammam to Toronto,” Dunham says. Toronto has another hammam, but it’s a little different in that it’s a communal experience whereas this one is privately booked, she adds.
The hammam is the cornerstone of the spa and its popular Hammam, Gommage and Rhassoul Clay Body Masque is the spa’s signature treatment. It begins with 15 minutes of high-intensity heat (110 C) in a eucalyptus steam room, followed by a rub down with black Moroccan soap, a full-body exfoliation with a textured kessa glove, and the application of Rhassoul clay from the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. As in its decor, so too in its treatments, Miraj Hammam Spa has taken the traditional Moroccan hammam treatment and put a modern twist on it. “With the traditional Moroccan hammam, usually it is buckets of water that are sort of thrown at you, but here we actually use a hose so it’s a little bit more comfortable for the guests,” Dunham says. “We’ve taken few little things and tweaked it to suit our audience.”

Facial and body treatments that do not take place in the hammam use Caudalie’s vinotherapy products, such as the Vinoperfect facial. “Vinoperfect is a facial that targets lightening, brightening and evening of the skin tone,” Dunham explains. “It uses a patent from Caudalie, Viniferine, which targets dark spots.” The product traces its origins to women working in the vineyards of Bordeaux who, many years ago, realized that the sap they had been rubbing on their hands from the grapevine stock was causing their sunspots to disappear. “Vinoperfect Serum from Caudalie is their number one selling product because it gives you that lightened, brightened, lively, dewy look,” Dunham says. With the new and improved spa comes a brand new treatment, which debuted at the end of June: the Aromatherapy Hot Stone Manicure and Pedicure. It’s all about bringing aromatherapy and essential oils – elements that have traditionally been associated with facials and body treatments – to the manicure and pedicure services. Guests will be given an opportunity to choose an essential oil that suits their mood and reflects the type of experience they want, and the esthetician will apply that oil to hot basalt stones that are used to massage the hands and feet.
“It’s really going to be everything that our guests have come to expect but better,” Dunham says proudly. “We’ve taken their feedback over the years and it’s so important that we give our guests what they want and meet those expectations. The fact that we were able to finally able to address some of the concerns we’ve had over the years is wonderful, and we’re happy that our guests have seen us through the journey and now they’ll be able to see the new and improved spa.”  

by Caudalie Paris | Summer 2018