What makes a perfect gym? Well, daylight is a big plus – and being outside, as at Four Seasons Beverly Hills in Los Angeles, or at Taj Campton Place in San Francisco (when the wind is not blowing) is lovely. Without daylight, create an atmosphere. The gym – sorry, the Talise Fitness facility at the luxury Jumeirah Emirates Towers hotel in Dubai – is a designer space into which gym equipment seems to have, well, landed. The gal loves it.
You enter the area via reception with a wavy wall of blackboard slates with hand-written messages, special classes, profile of one of the trainers, things like that. You go through the lounging area, with a wall of ‘books’ and high wood tables, high stools and magazines, and make your own coffee from the Nespresso machine. You finally get to the equipment, lots of it. All this is the concept of Cedric Betis, the French sports scientist who heads Jumeirah’s wellness. He was literally up Kilimanjaro, with seven colleagues, when he realized all wellness needs collaboration.
So at Jumeirah, now, there are not only Talise spas but gyms are becoming Talise, and a chef called Gabi Kurz is adding healthy food. She comes from Berchtesgaden, the German mountain town that is a haven for fitness enthusiasts – I remember the air, some of the cleanest in the world, as I pedaled steeply uphill for what seemed like hours on a Scott Scale Concept 40 bike from the InterContinental Resort Berchtesgaden. Some of Gabi’s snacks are already in a deli on the floor above the Talise Fitness in Jumeirah Emirates Towers. She believes, she says, in plenty of greens and other vegetables, and fruit, and a little wholesome carbs and unsaturated fats, and lots of water.
This is an amazing hotel, by the way, in the lower of two towers that, when they were finished in 2000, were the tallest in Dubai. Now the 56-floor hotel tower, at a mere 1,014 ft, is the 47th tallest in the world – the higher tower is offices, and at 1,165 ft, the 23rd tallest. At their base is the two-floor retail complex of The Boulevard, with lovely names like Montblanc, and Talise Fitness. The entire footprint is some 42 acres, with parking for 1,800 cars, which could be confusing as so many in Dubai go for white cars. I stayed on the 40th floor of the hotel, which has a Chopard wing for ladies-only. A glass door allows entry of only those with the correct keys, and bathroom toiletries are Chopard (nice smell, and very easy to get the tops off the bottles).
Stay here and you seem to have access to dozens of restaurants, both in the hotel and in The Boulevard. Eat healthy, too – see the salad shown, from Hakkasan. There is an Ivy, and a Rib Room. Of course there is Arabic and Italian. New additions include Alfie’s, named for Alfred Dunhill. Sit in the lobby of the hotel, looking up at a soaring open atrium, and within seconds a chic attendant in cream-edged black will come by to offer you coffee, or whatever. This is a business meeting place, by the way, which because of its proximity to so many offices, people actually use.
This luxury hotel has 400 rooms, and the 850 people who make it all happen are overseen by Grant Ruddiman, born in Scotland, brought up in South Africa and now an Australian resident. It is, in fact, his birthday this very day. After he had done his daily workout (Talise, of course) he was breakfasting in the hotel’s 24/7 club lounge on the 42nd floor, some of his team come to surprise him.