Palm Heights Athletics Redefines Hospitality’s Approach to Fitness

The resort, located in Grand Cayman, aims to build a global community that connects creators and athletes with its Turf Series program.

Two people on a beach wearing sweatshirts with "Palm Angels Athletica" branding, facing away from the camera
Two people on a beach wearing sweatshirts with "Palm Angels Athletica" branding, facing away from the camera

It’s not uncommon for a high-end resort to have a top notch gym facility. But Palm Heights is taking a more holistic approach to fitness that combines curation, physical movement, and community.

Founded by Gabriella Khalil in 2019, the resort, which is located on Seven Mile Beach, has become a haven for a diverse set of guests who range from celebrities like Bella Hadid to creatives working in various industries to athletes across all sports.

“We launched in 2019 in tandem with our sports and movement programming. Originally launched as an anthem collection for those who had experienced our gym and the joy of our “Tropical Fitness” programming it has since expanded to include sports performance apparel,” says Jenn O'Reilly, brand director and athlete curator for Palm Heights Athletics who used to work at Nike. “We are continuing to innovate scientifically through use of new materials and research in the field, and creatively through authentic sports immersions. We are excited to launch sports-specific capsule collections early in the new year.”

Boxer getting hands wrapped, focused expression, in a gym preparing for training or a match

The resort opened with sports and movement courses and its Tropical Fitness programming. Eventually they introduced the Palm Heights Athletics apparel brand, and by June 2022 they opened the Palm Heights Athletics Club, a 10,000-square-foot space that’s not only meant to service guests staying at the resort, but also caters to elite athletes who need professional training.

According to Khalil, they are collaborating directly with athletes. This spring more than 20 Olympic athletes will be based at Palm Heights Athletics to prepare for the Paris Olympics in 2024. But they also aim to make their movement programming accessible for beginners. 

“Elite performance training is coupled with adaptability so that all our programming is scalable for those new to human movement or encouraged to give it a try through the environmental circumstances of finding yourself in a welcoming space,” says Khalil. “We work hard to ensure that through trainer know-how every workout and programmed retreat is suitable for both professional athletes and those entering a gym for the first time.”

A group of individuals performing a crouching dance move on a dusty surface with onlookers in the background

With the Turf Series, which connects athletes and creators outside of the Palm Heights resort, Palm Heights Athletics is extending its community and curating an experience that ties sport to culture and home. The first series launched last October in Accra, Ghana. Ghanaian boxer Joshua Buatsi helped curate the event along with Kenny Annan-Jonathan, founder of the sports marketing agency The Mailroom, Antoinette Ama, and O'Reilly. The series brought together artists and creators to experience Accra’s rich boxing community in Bukom, an area that’s dotted with many boxing gyms (boxing in Ghana has produced the most world boxing champions from Africa, which is depicted in Scilla Owusu’s City of Bokum documentary). 

“The power of the collective mix is essential to creating the kinetic energy our sports programming fosters at PHA,” says O'Reilly. “Expanding these opportunities through athlete-led exploration of the home of a particular sport, and its culture, means we have the opportunity to amplify the message of the power of sport.”

O'Reilly believes the Turf Series function is multipronged. It provides creatives with a new, meaningful experience and an opportunity to connect with other artists, and it allows athletes to collaborate with creatives, which can be a challenge due to their full-time training schedule. 

Two men practicing boxing in a gym, one in defensive stance

“We continue to support athletes as they transition into retirement and to explore creative opportunities with them by empowering them to fuel their impact on the collective,” says O'Reilly.

Going forward, there are plans to expand the Palm Heights Athletic apparel brand, continue the Turf Series, and further develop the movement programming. O'Reilly says they’ve just completed their first Palm Heights Athletic Academy intake, a school for coaches and trainers, and are moving into dance by collaborating with people like Cami Arboles, a Yale graduate and entrepreneur who built a business around pole dancing, and Maasai dancer Fernando Anuanga.

“Connecting with hyper-local human stories and curating insider knowledge is something we are excited to expand on,” says O'Reilly. “Our curation journey for Palm Heights Athletics has taken us all over the globe and we are excited to share these connections.”

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