I’m a hotel fitness hater.
Whether traveling for work or pleasure, I always avoid what I consider to be sweaty basements with poor lighting, worse music, and enough elbow-to-elbow devices to suck the enjoyment out of any short break.
However, as I stand in the new Power Gym at The Dean in Galway, I’m tempted to rethink. The Dean is a lifestyle hotel brand from Ireland’s Press Up Group, and the Galway edition joins others in Dublin and Cork in offering features such as Sophie’s rooftop bar, dime coffee and in-room Vinyl and Smeg fridges the city brings.
The gym is different too. “I think we’re the only hotel in the world with a railway tunnel in its gym,” says manager Cian Ó Broin. In fact, a boxing studio occupies a section of the old Galway-Clifden railway tunnel, with strip lights and giant punching bags hanging from the newly-pointed brickwork (‘Punch & Brunch’ is an offering they’re talking about).
Elsewhere there are Eleiko weights, TechnoGym treadmills, and other state-of-the-art equipment I don’t understand, but also welcome splashes of greenery, natural light, and a small outdoor pool where guests can work on cocktails rather than cross-trainers.
This goes way beyond a treadmill and some dumbbells. Press Up’s head of fitness, Ben Leonard-Kane, calls it a “first club of its kind in the west of Ireland, more akin to what you find in New York or London” (it reminded me of the Third Space under the Marylebone Hotel in the Doyle Collection).
The idea is to attract both guests and Galwegians with a premium atmosphere and unique class concepts, whether you want to run, do killer cardio or “burn body fat” (classes are free for guests; membership starts at €149 per month) .
Oh, and there are even Dyson hair dryers and GHD straighteners in the changing rooms.
The dean isn’t the only one rethinking his fitness offerings in the wake of the pandemic. As the way we exercise, apps and wearables allow us to fit into fitness schedules as we travel, and wellness and experience trends continue to motivate, hotels around the world are designing and developing spaces that can help them differentiate.. .and of course add to the bottom line.
Hilton plans to put a Peloton bike in the fitness centers of its 5,400 hotels across the US (they already have a “Five Feet to Fitness” program that brings in-room gyms to guests).
Hyatt is testing StayFit Private fitness suites that guests can book by the hour, while fitness brand Equinox is going in the opposite direction, opening its first branded hotel in New York’s Hudson Yards. Aimed at “those who rest and play as hard as they work,” it includes 60,000 square feet of workout space, SoulCycle spinning, four pools and personal fitness sessions.
Closer to home, the newly launched Cashel Palace in Co Tipperary offers a softer sale – an elegant walnut paneled room with picture windows overlooking the gardens. Guests have a selection of wooden exercise machines at their disposal, including a NOHrD treadmill, WaterRower and Kenko weights with elegant wooden handles. It’s an old-school look coupled with the latest technology, and it makes a real difference.
Whether all of this will make me pack some gym equipment and get on a hotel HIIT list, or just another way to ruin a great vacation, I’m not sure.
But it definitely got me talking.
https://www.independent.ie/life/travel/a-first-of-its-kind-club-in-galway-shows-hotel-gyms-have-been-doing-some-heavy-lifting-42066849.html A unique club in Galway shows hotel gyms have come a long way