5 Must-Take Tennis Trips for 2013
1. Longboat Key Club
What to Do: Longboat Key Resort offers the perfect mix of quiet, laid-back charm and full service tennis, with 20 intensively manicured Har-Tru courts and an expansive game-matching and clinic operation. Get a lesson from one of the award-winning instructors on staff, or get plugged into one of the dozens of doubles matches regularly scheduled throughout the week—all at a resort known for its views, restaurants and five-star spa.
How to Get There: Longboat Key is just west of Sarasota, Fla. Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport has direct flights from Washington DC and New York City, and connections from Miami and Orlando. Tampa International Airport is a 90-minute drive.
Where to Stay: Longboat Key Resort just completed a $10 million renovation, and the seaside rooms are spectacular. They range from less than $200 in the offseason to $450 per night.
Where to Eat: The Beach Bistro in nearby Holmes Beach is annually rated one of the finest restaurants in the Southeast—on par with the best in Miami. Reserve a beachside table at sunset and enjoy the gulf coast grouper and lobsterscargots—spiny lobster cooked in a small crock of herbed butter, spinach and garlic.
When to Go: When the weather is cold in other parts of the country, south Florida is at its most popular. High season runs from October to early May. Find the best combination of deals and weather in the shoulder seasons—just after Memorial Day and just before Labor Day. The Key gets a breeze off the Gulf in the summer months, but it’s still 95 degrees and humid during the day.
2. Monte Carlo
What to Do: Star in your own personal James Bond movie on the French Riviera, but with professional tennis to go with. Grand Slam Tennis Tours offers fan packages for the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters ranging from four to eight nights. Included are hotel, terrific seats to the tennis, city tours, access to hospitality areas and helicopter transfers to and from the airport. First week packages range from $4,700 to $5,600, while a full eight-day package is $8,795—$7,475 for USTA members. There’s no better way to watch professional tennis.
How to Get There: Nice-Cote d’Azur International Airport is 25 miles away, and is a direct connection from most major European cities—London, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome. Monte Carlo is also accessible from Paris by high-speed train. Tour operators like Grand Slam Tennis Tours offer packages that include helicopter transfers from the Nice airport.
Where to Stay: Nothing in Monaco could ever be construed as a “bargain,” but the Hotel Victoria comes close. Located two bus stops from Monaco in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, it offers easy access and small hotel charm for about $150 a night.
Where to Eat: The food served at the Hotel Metropole’s bar is fantastic—it comes from the same kitchen as the adjoining Joel Robuchon Monte Carlo—but it’s almost an afterthought. Go for the glorious people watching during the most elegant cocktail hour in Europe. But leave the flip flops in your room.
When to Go: The Rolex Masters are played from April 15-21. The busiest times in the French Riviera are the traditional summer months from June to August, but the sun shines more than 300 days per year. In April and October, temperatures are consistently in the 60s. December is generally the slowest month.
3. Sun Valley, Idaho
What to Do: Refine your game with personal instruction from former World No. 1 Mats Wilander at his WOW clinics, either on the road at various locations throughout the year or at the super-luxe Zenergy Health Club and Spa in Sun Valley. A 90-minute group lesson starts at about $250. The 7-time major champion will also bring his mobile tennis instruction motor coach to your event. Clinics for 16 start at $4,800.
How to Get There: Friedman Memorial Airport in nearby Hailey has daily connections to Seattle, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City (as well as plenty of room for private planes), and Sun Valley is an easy 150-mile drive from Boise by car or the Sun Valley Express bus ($65 per trip).
Where to Stay: The Sun Valley Lodge has been hosting guests since 1936 for both play and work—Ernest Hemingway finished For Whom the Bell Tolls in Suite 206. Rooms start at about $200 a night.
Where to Eat: The Cornerstone Bar and Grill in Ketchum serves what it calls Urban Western cuisine. You’ll just call the buffalo strip loin with brussels and bacon delicious. Call ahead and reserve the Mafia table in the grotto.
When to Go: Idaho is a four-season destination, as in four separate and distinct season. Sun Valley has some of the finest skiing in North America, available October until April or May depending on snowfall. Summers are warm during the day and cool at night.
4. La Quinta, CA
What to Do: La Quinta Resort in greater Palm Springs is famous for its tennis—the BNP Paribas Open was previously held here, and the resort is still the official hotel for the event—the “other” activities available on property make it a must-visit. After a lesson at the Tom Gorman Tennis Academy, pick from a menu of services at the spa or book a tee time on one of the five championship courses at LaQuinta or neighboring PGA West, including the TPC Stadium Course.
How to Get There: Palm Springs has direct flights from many West Coast cities, including San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. It’s also a roughly two-hour drive from both San Diego and Los Angeles. The drive from San Diego over the Pines to Palms Highway is particularly stunning.
Where to Stay: Rooms at the La Quinta Resort start at about $250. A less-expensive option is the the boutique Movie Colony Hotel in Palm Springs—a hideway 1930s-era property with charming bungalow-style rooms for about $125.
Where to Eat: Cheeky’s offers what might be the best breakfast in Southern California—bacon seasoned and aged in-house, and a collection of creative entrees with fresh local eggs, fruits and vegetables. Sit outside on the patio.
When to Go: Locals say summer’s dry heat is tolerable, but prepare for 110-degrees plus in months May to August. The best weather is in December, January and February, with daytime highs in the 70s and 80s.
5. New York, NY
What to Do: If watching a match courtside in Monte Carlo is the epitome of elegance, taking in a night session at Arthur Ashe Stadium during the U.S. Open is the equivalent of watching a tennis rock concert. Spot celebrities galore—and see the greatest players in the game—after an easy subway ride from the heart of Manhattan. Grand Slam Tennis Tours offers a variety of customized packages that include hotel, tickets and VIP access to hospitality and special events. Packages start at about $1,500.
How to Get There: If you can’t find a flight to one of New York City’s three airports—or catch a train in from destinations on the East Coast—you’re not trying, or you don’t have internet where you live. Delta and American are the main carriers at LaGuardia, while JFK serves longer routes from the West Coast and international airlines. Newark Liberty Airport is a 30-minute drive to midtown, and is also a Delta and JetBlue hub.
Where to Stay: You have infinite options at virtually every price point. Staying out of Manhattan and closer to the tennis in Queens will be far less expensive, but plan on $20-$50 per day in travel costs if you’re interested in going back into Manhattan. In Manhattan, access to subway lines—including the 7 train to Flushing Meadows and the National Tennis Center—is helpful. Le Parker Meridien is centrally located on 56th street, with plenty of parking and easy subway access. Rooms start at about $350.
Where to Eat: Again, unlimited choices. The only limitations are your particular tastes. Eataly is a fantastic one-stop culinary extravaganza, with a dozen boutique eateries and a huge fresh food market complete with fresh baked goods, imported meats, artisan cheese and premium coffee.
When to Go: The 2013 U.S. Open is August 26-September 8, but New York City is a year-round destination. The best weather is in May, June, September and October. If you’re aren’t there for the Open and are a USTA member, you can play where the pros play by booking court time at the National Tennis Center. An hour on one of the outdoor stadium courts is $22 during the week and $32 on weekends and holidays.