The cold and dull winter weather I left behind in Moscow 9.5 hours earlier was replaced with an unforgettable hit of humidity as I poked my head around the opened door of the plane. With a temperature change of 45 degrees Celsius…I was in my element. Amanpuri training could commence!
Having been fortunate enough to have stayed at the hotel just over four years ago, the lush surroundings and layout were reassuringly familiar. Passing through the main hotel entrance, the rolling driveway was again interspersed with smiling staff waving as I cruised by. However, arriving at my villa, it soon occurred to me that I was further away from the gym than my previous visit – a whopping twenty-seven metres further away to be precise. Villa 602 would be my home for the week!
After getting settled, I headed up towards the fitness complex. Separated from the Spa (by two hundred metres and a serious incline) the building is perched on the top of the hill with spectacular views over the Andaman Sea to the West and North, and around to Bangtao Bay and beyond looking East. Perfection!
30 Years Old and Still Going Strong
Like with most things at this exquisite resort, they thoroughly considered the location and design when planning the facility back in the mid-1980s. Now, celebrating their 30 year anniversary, you would be hard-pressed to improve on this, to be honest. A stroke of genius by Adrian Zecha and his team to maximise the natural surroundings to create an environment to inspire their health-conscious guests and entice those with a little less enthusiasm through curiosity.
With the glass walls surrounding the mahogany structure, the entrance had a welcoming feel and I was soon greeted by Ooh, one of the Personal Trainers on hand to put you through your paces if up for the challenge.
After a quick re-introduction, grabbing a towel and water, I headed off to shock the body back into action. At the apparent dismay of those heading off for the Thai Boxing session who tried to recruit me, I quickly clarified that my swollen eyes were down to an overnight flight and not some previous encounter with their soon-to-be instructor.
Off to the left was an area for cardio with a nice array of LifeFitness machines. Consisting of three treadmills, two bikes, one stepper and two elliptical trainers, all these are up-to-date versions, although having the large fixed television screens on top of the consoles has never been a favourite addition of mine – they’re just too close to watch comfortably and, especially in this gym, blocked any outside view you might want to zone out to. There was also one Powerplate and one new Concept II rower to complete this spacious area nicely.
The main central area consists of more cardio equipment, a large mirror, TRX, Bosu, stretching mats, a rack of free weights (a selection for the general user) and some rollers. All the machines are Technogym and consist of two more treadmills, two more bikes, two Cardio Waves, two more elliptical trainers and one Excite Vario. All these were again up-to-date versions with paddle controls or handle buttons for smooth transitions. All have the less invasive built-in television access for the leisurely user who just can’t stay away from the outside world.
- Personal Training – 3,900 THB (110 USD)
- Powerplate – 3,900 THB
- Thai Boxing from 1,950 THB (55 USD)
- Taekwondo from 1,750 THB (50 USD)
- Kid’s Boxing & Taekwondo (6-14 Years Old) – 2,100 THB (60 USD)
Resistance Machines & Free Weights
This area offers a good selection of solid LifeFitness machines, but for me, it is all too crowded. Slightly restricted in space by the wooden structural pillars, but a more thought-through layout would resolve the issue. With one or two users in the area then one wouldn’t really notice, but more than that and it’s cramped and off-putting. This isn’t a ‘normal’ members gym of course, but resistance training has become far more prevalent for both sexes, and facilities need to move with the times to accommodate these trends and demands. And with an abundance of cardio equipment in two of the three main areas, I would reduce these to relocate some of the resistance machines and create a safer working area for the free weights equipment.
The list of equipment consisted of:
- Assisted Pull/Chin up
- Smith Machine
- Bench Press
- Fly Press
- Lateral Pull Down
- Cable Crossover
- Combined Leg Extension/Curl
- Adjustable Sit-Up Bench
- Adjustable Bench
- Olympic Bar
- Preacher Curl
- Dumbbell Rack
All these were in good condition, easy to use, except the Smith Machine as it was far too close to the adjacent unit and pillar, and therefore virtually impossible to access the weight plates safely – a back injury waiting to happen I’m afraid!
Heading downstairs you will find a large Thai Boxing area. Although covered and shaded from the elements, this room has open sides so prepare to sweat! With protective rubber flooring across a large portion, one large mirror, a good punch/kick bag and numerous gloves and protective gear, this area is for the serious exerciser who enjoys the local humidity levels.
Usually quiet and empty during the day (but maybe that was to do my strange choice of training times), this is a great area for body weight exercises, core training and any balancing exercises you are currently trying to perfect without inflicting damage on yourself. Water and towels are on hand of course. All-in-all a great area, although I never did find the switch for the ceiling fans.
Changing & Rest Rooms
Extremely clean and in keeping with the rest of the building. Dedicated staff were attentive with ensuring everything was kept in order.
Yoga and Pilates Room
A fantastic room with a plethora of equipment to accommodate all standards. With 5 Allegro Reformers, numerous mats, balls, blocks and rollers, the Pilates classes can be enjoyed individually, in a small group or as a class.
They also offer a Gyrotonic Expansion System unit to help joint mobility – perfect after a long flight!
The Important Six
- Equipment Selection 7/10
- Layout 7/10
- Cleanliness 10/10
- Staff 10/10
- Towels/Drinks 7/10
- Inspiring Environment 9/10
- Increase the air conditioning capability in the main exercise areas. With the glass walling, the direct sunlight did increase the temperature and made it slightly uncomfortable for some users.
- Reduce the amount of cardio equipment and increase the space available for the current resistance machines.
- Increase the rollers, medicine balls, Kettlebells, etc.
- Increase the dumbbells, barbells, bars and weight plates. Provide a safer place to use them.
- Provide a more obvious Juice Bar with protein shakes and rehydration drinks as this was apparently on offer but nowhere to be seen. An additional money maker for any gym, so they should be advertising this far more.
- Offer a music dock for the Thai Boxing area for individual users to plug in to. Restrict the maximum volume, but having this as an option would complete the area nicely.
All-in-all, this is a beautiful facility in lush surroundings and only a few small changes are required to create perfection. With tennis lessons and bike rides also available, the majority of guests would be nicely entertained throughout their stay. They cater to numerous activities and do so very well, even for the younger guests. Reassuringly, and unlike many other hotels, a friendly member of staff was always on duty for safety reasons, advice or just to hand you another bottle of water and a new towel.