As a fitness freak, the gal feels strongly that hotel owners still do not take wellness seriously enough. Why should consumers stay in hotels rather than a private home or flat, via Airbnb, or take a motorhome or pitch a tent or something like that? Well, some would say they need the comforts of a hotel, and having concierges and IT support, one hopes 24/7. Others do, apparently, like having their Tumi cases, which are the sizes of small houses, unpacked by personal butlers. And then there are travellers who, as well as some of these hotel pluses, also appreciate having a gym. Best of all is when a hotel is integral with a big commercial fitness concern, as at Four Seasons San Francisco, or Ritz-Carltons in Boston and Washington DC. InterContinental Malta guests have access to fitness that is equally enormous.
I need good equipment. My favourite is Technogym, but I also quite like Precor. Anything else is not up to par. The equipment must be in full working order, and that includes the televisions which need decent channels, without fuzz, and please have a clear list of what channel is what. The sudoku that I encountered the other day in The Lanesborough in London was definitely a first and I spent twice as long on the machines as I normally do. Clocks on screens are invariably the wrong time – as I have said many times, fitness centres, or whatever you call them, seem to be the pariah of any hotel’s operations. Please, give a properly inflated Pilates ball, and, if you must, a single Kinesis, though do not expect many to use it. Power Plates are good to ease tired muscles. A bit of art helps: I love the climbing figures, from Bali, in the gym of Four Seasons Pudong West Shanghai.
And then I realised I had seen these little fellows before – they are also in the gym at Four Seasons Johannesburg, a marvellous new spa-wellness building replacing what were tennis courts and car parking. This leads the train of thought on to views. Which hotels’ gyms have amazing views? Mandarin Oriental New York and Park Hyatt New York, both overlooking Central Park, and Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, for the toytown-like things you see, down there, from up in the 118th floor gym. In Marrakech, both Four Seasons and Palais Namaskar allow you to look into pleasant gardens, as do, in Los Angeles, Four Seasons Beverly Hills and Peninsula Beverly Hills, while at Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire you look out at the pool, as you do at Ritz-Carlton Millenia, Singapore. At the fourth floor gym at Fairmont Jakarta you look right out over Senayan Golf Course – at St Regis Bangkok, it is Royal Bangkok Sports Club and Golf Course.
Of course I want a gym that stays open 24/7, and has masses of just-right bananas, and bottles of water. But, even on top of all these requirements, there are so many opportunities for bringing more humour and amusement into luxury hotels’ gyms, however. At The Saxon, Johannesburg, the gym has lifesize human forms, of open mesh, hanging overhead. At One&Only‘s Mazagan, 50 miles from Casablanca, you feel as if you are sharing the gym with Al Jezeera’s pundits – come to think of it I need to get back to Mazagan, if only to have another Moroccan dinner, in Morjana, with the hotel’s GM, Stephan Killinger.