10 gyms with the most amazing views
Basement fitness centers be damned. There are some places around the world that make your intentions to lace up the runners and don the spandex a whole lot more inviting.
1. MV Stella Australis, Chile
Ever wanted to jog around Cape Horn but thought it was impossible? Well, it’s not.
Brand-new ship (well, in cruise ship terms any ship just past her first birthday is still brand-new) Stella Australis plies the glacier-lined route between Punta Arenas (Chile) and Ushuaia (Argentina).
The gym is positioned on the top deck with full-height double-glazed windows providing an ever-changing view of snow-dusted mountains and glaciers amid forest-clad fjords. The double glazing is important, as summer temperatures barely reach double figures in South American Patagonia.
There’s no problem getting warmed up, however, on modern treadmills, steppers and bikes, as albatross soar on the Furious Fifties winds that buffets the land at the "end of the world".
Cruceros Australis, Ave El Bosque Norte 0440, Santiago, Chile; +56 2 442 3115; www.australis.com
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2. Andaman Hotel, Langkawi, Malaysia
National Geographic film crews know a good location when they see one. So it’s no surprise to find out that the same ancient rainforest that treadmill pounders gaze at from the Andaman Hotel is a favoured habitat for filming wildlife documentaries.
Located on the northwest coast of Langkawi, the region abounds in rare wildlife on land and kaleidoscopic fringing coral reef beyond the beach.
Hotel designers didn’t quite get it right for water babies but for those who find inspiration in lush plush jungle, you won’t be disappointed with French windows allowing heady tropical aromas to waft around the gym.
Andaman Hotel, Jalan Teluk Datai, Langkawi 07000, Malaysia; +60 4 959 1088; www.theandaman.com
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3. Sasakwa Lodge, Tanzania
Unleash your inner safari man (or woman) when you drop into your own personal piece of African indulgence on a privately held 137,000-hectare concession of Singita Grumeti Reserve.
Incongruously rising above the plains in the style of an Edwardian manor house, the main lodge is surrounded by a handful of secluded cottages, each with its own infinity pool and dreamy heat-haze views all the way to the horizon.
If you can drag yourself beyond poolside tranquilized stupor, the gym is a revelation for such a remote location. Equipped with modern machines, it’s easy to imagine running across the sun-kissed plains, with bounding zebras kicking up their hooves beside you.
Sasakwa Lodge, Singita Grumeti Reserve, Tanzania; +27 21 683 3424; www.singita.com
4. Aqua Expeditions, Peru
If cruising little-accessible waters of the Amazon floats your boat, step onto the treadmill aboard luxury river expedition vessel MV Aria, departing from the forest-clad port of Iquitos.
Launched in the spring of 2011, MV Aria plies the upper reaches and tributaries of the Andes-fed Amazon, allowing up to 32 guests to immerse themselves in wildlife and wild landscapes of 20,000 square kilometers of Pacaya Samira Reserve encased in floating luxury.
Hitting the treadmill daily is recommended, given that menus are designed by renowned chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, otherwise known as the jungle chef, for his creative use of Amazonian wild foods.
More an exercise room bathed in natural light from immense picture windows rather than a fully blown gym, there’s no denying the inspirational "in-your-face" view gliding by.
Aqua Expeditions, Calle Iquitos 1167, Punchana Maynas, Loreto, Peru; +51 65 60 1053; www.aquaexpeditions.com
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5. Chobe Safari Lodge, Uganda
Recently restored to her former 1950s elegance and perched above the bank of the River Nile, water is the main focus of Chobe Safari Lodge.
That is, of course, once you’ve had your fill of the elephants, hippos and buffalo that hang out around this legendary waterway. Attracting wildlife by the safari-load, the three-level swimming pool, spa and gym all overlook the rushing, gushing Nile.
Within the largest National Park in Uganda, Murchison Falls National Parkis not a bad spot for fishos to drop a line once they’ve finished buffing their biceps in the Chobe Health Club and Spa.
Chobe Safari Lodge, MurchisonFallsNational Park, Northwest Uganda; +256 312 259 390; www.chobelodgeuganda.com
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6. Sheraton Anchorage Hotel & Spa, United States
It’s unlikely that master mariner Captain James Cook would recognize much about Anchorage these days. Things have changed a bit since he anchored in the bay, now known as Cook Inlet, beneath a couple of active volcanoes and a mountain affectionately known by locals as Sleeping Lady.
On a clear day Redoubt and Spurr mountains, all 3,000 meters of them, poke out above the clouds, all theatrical summits and look-at-me attitude.
Gazing out from the 15th floor gym to the street below, gym junkies shouldn’t be surprised to see one of the 1,000-odd moose who also call Anchorage home wandering the streets.
Sheraton Anchorage Hotel, 401 East 6th Ave., Anchorage, Alaska, United States; + 907 276 8700; www.starwoodhotels.com
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7. Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, United States
Any hotel that puts step machines front and center behind frameless glass walls that overlook the Pacific Ocean gets my vote.
Add a crystal chandelier to enhance the theatrical movie star opulence, and you'll be seriously motivated to get your butt camera-ready.
Naturally, equipment is top-of-the-line Precor and Icarian with individual screens and multimedia connectivity. The team at Ritz-Carlton seem to know just how to prop up a narcissistic gym junkie’s habit.
Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel; 1 Ritz Carlton Drive, Dana Point, California, United States; +949 240 2000; www.ritzcarlton.com
8. Wickaninnish Inn, Canada
The favored destination for storm chasers, those climate-crazy souls who time their holidays to encounter the worst weather, Wickaninnish Inn sits tall, proud and somewhat weather-beaten on a point jutting seaward. Beachcombers and surfer dudes also find their way to wild tumbled Chesterman Beach.
Looking west across the Pacific Ocean from Vancouver Island, 10 years ago the inn built a new wing to capitalize on their beachfront location, thrilling gym junkies no end by placing the workout room center stage.
Wickaninnish Inn, 500 Osprey Lane, Tofino, BC, Canada; +1 250 725 3100; www.wickinn.com
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9. Paresa Resort Phuket, Thailand
Phuket is home to sea gypsies who live on floating villages earning a living from ever depleting fish stocks, as well as the seething, writhing, pumping tourism hub of Patong Beach which attracts modern-day travelers.
Treadmill joggers who bother to look south from the gym at Paresa can catch a glimpse of the ever-present partying integral to the beachfront strip.
But for my money, the real attraction is the uninterrupted cliff top view from high above the Andaman Sea, particularly at dusk as the blazing tropical sun disappears below the salt-laden horizon.
Paresa Resort, 49 Moo 6, Layi-Nakalay Rd, Kamala, Phuket, Thailand; +66 76 302 000; www.paresaresorts.com
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10. Hotel Icon, Hong Kong
Opened just two months ago, Hotel Icon represents the combined efforts of Hong Kong’s most creative geniuses.
Clearly health-conscious designers who appreciate the benefits of positioning the pool and gym on the rooftop, it’s hard to imagine a more exciting cityscape than Hong Kong's.
Particularly so at night, when all bets are off when it comes to conserving energy and the city lights up like the a Christmas tree.
Naturally, being a brand-new luxuriously appointed hotel with a heavy focus on glamour, gym equipment is state of the art and open 24 hours.
Hotel ICON, 17 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon, Hong Kong; +852 3400 1688; www.hotel-icon.com
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