Orlando’s only Turkish bath offers a high-tech take on relaxation.
As a youngster in Iran, Happy Farshid often went with his father to the local bathhouse: “I grew up going to the public baths; it was a tradition.”Those early memories stayed with Farshid, and he dreamed of opening a luxury Turkish bath one day. That dream became a reality in 2012 when he moved Shala Salon & Spa, which he and his family have owned since 2001, into larger quarters. Shala expanded its traditional spa and salon services by adding a unique steam and treatment experience in a room Farshid calls “Heaven on Earth.”
It’s an apt description: The cobalt-blue room features a domed ceiling—punctuated with twinkling white lights—that looks positively celestial. The room is modeled after a traditional Turkish bath, also known as a hamman, but with high-tech touches not found elsewhere, says Farshid. “I wanted to do something no one else has ever done; I was told it was impossible, but I’m a computer programmer by profession and knew it could be accomplished.”
The result is a harmonious convergence of Old World aesthetics and 21st-century comforts, with computer-controlled lights, music, heat and water. It’s a multi-sensory experience that takes the pleasures of sight, sound and touch into account.
Visitors to Heaven on Earth begin with a 25-minute steam session while LED lights change color overhead and soothing music plays. Metal bowls are on hand, ready to be filled at one of the sinks and poured over your skin to cool off if the heat becomes too intense.
After the steam, a refreshing mist fills the room and cooling water rains down from above. Then, recline on the heated treatment table for an exfoliating session with a special soap made with olive oil and eucalyptus. The soap is applied with Turkish mitts called kese, which remove dead cells and leave skin smooth and glowing.
It’s an invigorating, pampering treatment, and there are real benefits, according to the Massage and Natural Therapies Association. A steam bath can relieve stress, muscle tension and stiff joints; stimulate circulation; refresh the skin; release toxins and even improve sinus congestion.
Farshid says the bath draws a number of regular customers who swear by its positive effects. Among them is Rachel Lewe, a martial arts instructor: “It’s an all-over relaxing experience; when you’re done, you feel amazingly clean and purified.”
The room comfortably accommodates up to seven people on its heated benches, and it’s a popular site for girls’ night out events. But solo steamers and smaller groups can also book the space, and Farshid is bringing back Shala’s popular Valentine’s Day chocolate treatment this year. Now through February 14, couples can indulge in a steam bath session that culminates in a soothing chocolate masque. The cost is $125 per person for a 30-minute steam bath and masque.
With or without chocolate, a Heaven on Earth session lives up to its name. It can be paired with a variety of other treatments, including a massage, manicure or pedicure. For additional treatment options, pricing and details, go to shalasalon.com or call 407-248-8828.