Leisure mixed with luxury as Belfast's new Olympia boasts day spa
The first leisure centre in Belfast to feature a luxury spa has opened.
The new Olympia Leisure Centre is almost double the size of its predecessor, which dates back to 1983.
Outdoor works are still ongoing at the centre, situated beside Windsor Park, and will include a 3G football pitch, play area and a tree-lined promenade when completed next year.
It is the first of a number of new leisure centres Belfast City Council is planning to roll out under its £105m leisure transformation programme by 2019, including replacements for the Robinson Centre in east Belfast, and Andersonstown Leisure Centre and the Brook Activity Centre in the west of the city.
The new Olympia includes a 25m pool and learner pool; 120-station fitness suite; a four-court sports hall and a luxury day spa - with sanarium, ice-room and treatment rooms.
It was funded through a £19m investment by the council along with £2.75m from the Department for Communities as part of the Executive's stadium redevelopment programme.
The council's chief executive Suzanne Wylie said many of the existing council leisure centres across Belfast were built in the 1970s with the help of the UK Government.
With many past their sell-by date, the council decided to modernise the facilities, each with its own unique attraction.
Lord Mayor Brian Kingston officially opened the new Olympia yesterday.
He reminisced about playing football on outdoor pitches at the old centre as a young man, adding that he was delighted to open the new centre.
"This stunning state-of-the-art facility will help deliver our aim of improving the health and wellbeing of our city by providing a quality service that meets the needs of our communities," he said.
"Not only will it offer the most modern and advanced leisure amenities, but also the first luxury day spa of its kind within such a public facility in Belfast.
"This is one of its key attractions, just like the plans for our other three leisure centres in the city - 'family fun' leisure waters at Andersonstown; top outdoor sports provision at Brook, and a key aquatic centre for the city at the Robinson Centre site."
Sports Minister Paul Givan was unable to attend the official opening yesterday, but in a statement described the facilities as a "tremendous boost for the social, leisure and economic wellbeing of those from the local community".
Leisure operator GLL will run Olympia Leisure Centre.
Regional director Gareth Kirk said it aimed to "deliver unrivalled health and wellbeing opportunities".
GLL runs all of the council's leisure centres across the city under the 'Better' brand.
Mr Kirk said since GLL was taken on by the council in January 2015, the overall use of leisure facilities had increased by 20% and the uptake in the number of children in the city learning to swim in its lessons each week had doubled.
"The opening of this fantastic new building will see further opportunities for more local people to become more active more often," he said.
There are a number of membership options which include concessionary rates for pensioners, students and some who are in receipt of benefits.
To celebrate the official opening of the new Olympia Leisure Centre, a free launch party will take place on Saturday and Sunday with fitness class taster sessions plus tours, and face-painting and a bouncy castle for children.
For more information, visit www.better.org.uk/olympia