Luxury Hotels


SIX SENSES ISTANBUL has charming cartoons painted on its wellness walls – see one, above.  Actually the hotel has two gyms.  Cliffs immediately behind the hotel rise almost vertically, but there is a cobbled lane, and the hotel’s vehicles also transport you to the top – where there’s a second gym, and a second spa.  Don’t ask why. It’s theatre.

Gyms are so often boring places, as Girlahead says many times.  Continuing the theatrical theme from yesterday, let’s make them fun, and a joy to work out in. Let’s celebrate gyms that are a joy.

THE SAXON in Johannesburg has a lifesize black wire sculpture of a man with bended knees in its gym.  Across town at FOUR SEASONS JOHANNESBURG, THE WESTCLIFF, there’s a yellow wall panel with a total of 24, 20cm-high black metal climbers going up thin ropes. Six ropes, four climbers apiece. Across the room there are 12 black-framed sports cartoons, black ink on white card. One shows rugger above. A scrum. Soccer, below, is represented by three upright guys trying to head off a ball.

Johannesburg, by the way, does have some stunning gyms. At the new VOCO JOHANNESBURG ROSEBANK – the first voco in the whole continent – the three-floor wellness facility is reached through a plush deep teal velvet curtain, sheer Broadway. The interiors of all three spaces are dark, with black iron fittings.Floors are wood.  The effect is akin to New York’s THE GREENWICH facility, though that has touches of scarlet. Here, you have Gold’s equipment, a sizeable outdoor yoga space. As you go up and down the floors – black staircase, natch – you pass neon outlines of homo sapiens.

In Sicily, SAN DOMENICO PALACE TAORMINA, A FOUR SEASONS HOTEL became a theatre for an entire month in 2022 while cult HBO show White Lotus shot its second series. Writer-director Mike White and his crew had visited over 70 properties in southern Europe but somehow the chemistry of this former convent was just right.  The contract was finalised in a week and White started writing the script.

The 111-key hotel, which normally closes January and February, remained open, as a buy-out for the entire crew. The ballroom was turned into the White Lotus hub, for meetings and eating.  Since the hotel’s restaurant was needed for shooting, meals were an elevated ‘staff canteen’. Many of the stars used the hotel’s fitness facility late into the night. Theatre in a gym.