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Hong Kong hotel health clubs an inexpensive swimming option

With country club fees high, those seeking to take a dip may find luxury hotels to their liking

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 July, 2013, 2:17am

With summer in full swing, people are craving a dip in the swimming pool. But if your apartment tower lacks a pool and you'd rather not brave the crowds at government-run facilities, hotel health club memberships are an alternative.

Hotels typically won't have the same range of facilities as the country clubs that often house tennis and squash courts, bowling alleys and the like. And unlike country clubs, members usually are charged a fee to bring in guests and it's much less kid-friendly. But if all you're looking for is a well-equipped gym and a swimming pool then a hotel health club membership might be for you, especially considering the high fees of country clubs.

Take the popular American Club for instance. An individual membership costs HK$388,000 in joining fees alone and then another HK$2,350 per month. Even if applicants are able to jump through the hoop of getting two existing members to vouch for them, they still face a waiting list that has been known to extend for years.

Those looking for the flexibility to work out at any time of the day will be happy to know that the Ritz Carlton and the Island Shangri-la have 24-hour gyms. The Island Shangri-la health club membership in particular stands out in terms of value for money. For HK$45,500 a year (for couples, HK$68,800 a year) members get access to a 24-hour gym, outdoor pool, jacuzzi, sauna, and steam rooms.

Each member can bring in up to two children under the age of 12 for free. Adult day passes are HK$480, so that's a deterrent to bringing friends. Parents with up to four young kids pay HK$68,800 a year to use the facilities. Hotel swimming pools usually boast more than your average lap pool. The one at the Island Shangri-la, outdoors, is in the heart of downtown. The pool at the W Hotel is outdoors, too, on the 76th floor, giving swimmers a view of Victoria Harbour to enjoy.

The other major benefit of joining a hotel health club lies in the additional discounts for other hotel services. Most will give between 10 and 25 per cent off on spa, laundry, and food and drinks. While none of these are particularly cheap options, they are less expensive than club memberships.

For something more affordable, the Sheraton has a fitness centre and pool operated by Fitness First. The Fitness First membership is completely separate from the hotel so members don't receive dining, spa, and other discounts from Sheraton, but it does have an outdoor rooftop pool complete with three jacuzzis, barbeque area, sauna and steam room. Costing HK$400 in joining fees and then HK$838 per month, it's the best deal of the bunch.

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impala
I don't know what kind of salary SCMP writers are on these days, but to classify these 5-star hotel swimming deals as 'inexpensive' is quite a leap. Even the 'best buy' 900 dollar per month Sheraton offer is hardly a bargain.

Perhaps some readers won't blink at a 12,000 dollar joining fee, or a multi-thousand monthly pool fee for which you can send a child to international school, but I would definitely not consider any such offers as anywhere near 'inexpensive,' and suspect the majority of SCMP readers would agree.

It is quite frankly hard to imagine how anybody in their right state of mind would pay HKD 4,000 per month for the privilege to swim at the Ritz-Carlton's pool, which is spectacularly situated, but otherwise unremarkable. How often would the average person use such a subscription? 5 times per month? 10 times a month perhaps if you are an avid swimmer? That would still make it 400 dollar per dip... ouch.
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