A commercial gym owner has criticised Auckland Council for operating the upgraded Tepid Baths in the CBD and spending so much on the building.
Paul Richards, founder of Club Physical with 11 gyms of which 10 are in Auckland, said for the $15.8 million spent on the new gym and pools, he could build at least 10 gyms.
"I could change New Zealand for that. That's a shocking amount to have spent. They've got nothing to lose," he said of the council's financial outlay, which meant private operators could not compete.
He estimated the true cost of membership there would be about $10,000 a person if real costs were to be recouped. Instead, the Teps was offering full annual gym and pool membership for $1090, plus a $50 joining fee.
Richards said any new competition just made his business harder. Only one of his gyms has a pool.
A spokeswoman said the council was developing a new strategy and policy for its pools and recreation facilities.
"We have inherited a range of different arrangements for these with some being operated in-house, while the running of others is contracted out. So we're taking a fresh look at how best to deliver our services in this area.
"A number of contracts will be coming up in the next two years. So we may well go out to the market for operators for facilities, which may include the Tepid Baths, from 2014 onwards," she said.
Phillip Mills, chief executive of Les Mills International, welcomed the return of the Teps. Les Mills had plans to develop a pool at its Victoria St site and Mills said these were still on the table.
Mills said he did not consider it a drawback that the council would operate the Teps.
"On balance I'm okay with the council running businesses that the city needs and private operators aren't offering.
"The city needs recreation facilities and private operators aren't jumping in and developing pools at this stage."
A partial glass floor has been inserted in the new mezzanine-level gym. That feature highlights interaction between swimmers on one level and those exercising above. Glazed panels in separate bays are the centrepiece of the new gym, overlooking the learners' pool below.
The job, designed by Jasmax and built by NZ Strong, is nearing an end as gym equipment is installed and fine-tuned and VIPs and special guests get an early plunge in the pools.
The Teps, at the Lower Hobson St/Sturdee St/Customs St intersection, reopen to the public on June 24, and special membership deals are being offered.
IN THE SWIM
* New 7-lane, 25m lap pool for lane swimming.
* 15m learners pool alongside with graduated depth.
* Main pool 27C, learners pool: 31C, spa pool: 39C.
* Pool: Adult $6.50/visit, child $4 or $59.50/10 adult visits.
* Gym: 12-months $1090, one month $97.50, weekly $19.20.
* Reopening on Sunday, June 24.
* Open 5.30am-9pm weekdays, 7am-7pm weekends.
* Ph 379 4745, visit www.tepidbaths.co.nz or 100 Customs St West
Source: Tepid Baths. For full pricing details and conditions, see Tepid website