I’m watching road signs in Slovak pass by the windows of the airport shuttle, Austria, Vienna, an hour behind me in the rearview mirror. In what can be safely labeled as Eastern Europe, beyond the city of Bratislava, on a road that is home to a working class neighborhood and a huge field of wilting sunflowers, it seems unlikely that there is much more to be found out here. But just as the sunflowers begin to seem like the biggest attraction in the otherwise nondescript town of Šamorín, Slovakia, the driver makes a right turn into a sleek complex that rises up out of nowhere.

Slovakian investor Mario Hoffmann dreamt up this global epicenter for sporting events and built it from start to finish in all of three years. This summer, the sweeping facility known as X-Bionic Sphere (XBS) is attracting well-deserved attention along with participants from many sports, who are flocking here to train, compete, and pursue their personal best in their sport of choice.

Far from just a horse show, this is a sports center, with the capacity to train in 27 Olympic events. Just as it is at every Olympic Games, where equestrians find themselves pursuing their sport alongside world-class athletes in soccer, swimming, and so on, Šamorín plays host to a similarly eclectic group of competitors.

For months, talk about XBS has been building. Here are just five reasons why the X-Bionic Summer Tour deserves its hype:

  1. You can’t enter the equestrian facility of X-Bionic Sphere (XBS) without passing under the legs of an enormous, steel horse statue. Pointed towards the city of Šamorín, the structure commands attention, giving an unforgettable first impression of the grounds.

2. Along with truly superior features (rubber bricks on all walkways, a permanent veterinary clinic in the stabling, a stone water trough with infinity pool edges), the permanent stabling at Šamorín makes its own bold statement. Every barn is named after an edition of the World Equestrian Games (Stockholm 1990; Aachen 2006). It couldn’t be more clear that Šamorín intends to add its name to the list of WEG host venues—XBS is currently the only bidder for the 2022 WEG—and, after seeing the venue, believe me, it more than fits the bill.

3. I can see the arenas and second story VIP from my hotel window. Combined with more athletic facilities (a long hallway from the rooms to the reception area is lined with lockers and strategy rooms bearing inspirational names), the XBS full service hotel, completed just one year ago, is within eyesight of the showgrounds, making it possible to stay within the complex without leaving during the event. Multiple restaurants, a gym, access to the Olympic-size swimming pool, and even a cinema (today they are playing Dunkirk) are available to riders and lucky members of the press who are attending the X-Bionic Summer Tour.

4. It’s huge. Did I say that already? This is the biggest showgrounds in Europe, and if you can think of one in the world that is bigger than this, good on you. If you don’t have a bike, scooter, or other wheeled people-mover to get around on, you’ll get more than enough exercise walking to and from the stables, show arenas, hotel, show office, indoor arena, and so on. The sheer size of XBS makes it easy to envision a WEG here. They have the real estate—and then some.

5. This may seem small, but in the midst of top of the line VIP facilities, grass arenas and a nice hotel, XBS has made a point to be 100 percent dog-friendly. Dogs playing on the grass berms, dogs walking with their owners on the broad pathways, dogs in the VIP, and friendly signs to warn housekeeping that your dog might be sleeping in your hotel room, all add up to one more reason to make the drive out here beyond Bratislava, past the sunflower fields, to X-Bionic Sphere.

NoelleFloyd.com is on the ground at X-Bionic Sphere in Šamorín, Slovakia, all week long during the X-Bionic Sphere CSI4* Summer Tour. Check back often at NoelleFloyd.com for updates and photos.