The Best Hotel Gym
are good gyms, excellent gyms and truly remarkable gyms. And then
there is the gym at the Shilla hotel in Seoul. This is not so much
an exercise center as a lifestyle statement. Covering an area of
nearly 8,500 square meters of indoor and outdoor space, the gym
boasts the usual running machines, treadmills, exercise bikes and
weight devices. And then there are the extras the indoor
golf driving range, covered and open swimming pools, two outdoor
tennis courts and a walking/jogging track. For those with a more
punishing sense of what constitutes a run, the hotel has mapped
out two routes one of 3 km and the other 1.8 km through
surrounding woodlands. There's also a quiet, sculptured garden for
a spot of post-exercise meditation. Solar, steamed and dry sauna
rooms are a big hit with the wives of wealthy local businessmen,
who also swear by the restorative powers of the calcium-carbonated
spa, filled with stones imported from hot springs in Japan. Staff
galore are on hand to assist every level of gym-goer, from the nervous
novice to the obsessive veteran.
By Laxmi Nakarmi
Ley for Asiaweek Pictures.
Odd ideas abound at Tokyo Hands.
may not yet know this, but there is a gap in your life that
can be filled only by the Handy Wonder View a video camera
that will give you a look at those parts of the body that you
never get to see, no matter how much you wriggle and twist in
front of the mirror. The camera, which is held like a shower
head, transmits an image onto a TV screen. It will cost you
about $118 from the best and oddest store in Asia: Tokyu Hands
Billed as a place that sells anything that can be used by hand,
Tokyu Hands is in fact a huge novelty store, with products designed
to enhance the creative side of shoppers' lives. Each Tokyu
Hands shop stocks about 200,000 items, Divided into six sections:
do-it-yourself; interiors; hobbies and crafts; miscellaneous;
health and outdoor; stationery. In practice, this covers everything
from lengths of mahogany to shoe polish to high-tech paper.
The first branch opened in the Shibuya section of Tokyo in 1976
as a new type of do-it-yourself outlet. Since then Tokyu Hands
has grown to 14 stores across Japan, with a total of 40 million
customers a year and an annual turnover of nearly $1 billion.
The chain is now a Japanese institution. The Shibuya store remains
the flagship. Spread over seven floors, with each story organized
into three tiers, it stocks a range of products to satisfy even
the most committed gadget fan. How many ways can you peel a
carrot? Visit the kitchen zone to find devices that offer you
12 different methods, some ingenious, some plain eccentric.
True to the shop's DIY roots, the basement includes a display
of different types of wood. The stores are patrolled by sales
clerks whose breadth of knowledge on the minutiae of the laser-beam
pointer or the humble lampshade will astound you and leave you
anxious to fill your home with a hundred things you never knew
Available at Tokyu Hands
Beauty Smile Trainer. A curved plastic bar that, held
in the mouth, enables the user to form and keep the perfect
smile. Price: $8.
Portable Mini-Toilet. For those awkward moments when
traffic is heavy and you can't wait. Urine is instantly solidified
and deodorized. For male or female use. Two bags for $3.
Portable Changing Room. An instant, easy-to-assemble
tent with a hole at the top, enabling the user to get changed
in public. For those occasions when modesty outweighs dignity.
Bear Costume. Fullsized, with eye-holes, the perfect out
fit for . . . well, for when you have to look like a bear. $350.
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