School holiday breaks are almost here. If you have a little Serena Williams or a budding Roger Federer in your family – or if you’d like to – where are the best places for a family vacation that will be luxurious and entertaining for you and the rest of the family, and also provide your tennis prodigy with a few solid days of excellent tennis instruction?
Whether your kids are just learning to play, or if they’re seeking some intense practice and coaching over spring break, there are hundreds of resorts around the world that promise to deliver for the entire family. To help you narrow the options, we surveyed our far-flung correspondents to develop this Dandelion Chandelier curated list of luxury resorts with great tennis programs for kids and teenagers. Special thanks to our friend the Tennis Pro, who helped us narrow down this list and come up with some lesser-known options.
We’ve categorized our picks based on how committed the entire family is to tennis. If just one family member is ready to be the next Andy Murray, we’ve found a couple of spots that will keep him busy, and the rest of the family happy. But if you’re one of those all-tennis all-the-time families, we’ve also found some places that will be equally appropriate for adults and kids.
One caveat before we begin: if you’re fully committed to having your offspring become superior tennis players, of course you know that one spring break trip won’t get that done – the most it can do is jump-start the process. Our friends who are serious about tennis instruction have their kids enrolled in local programs starting at age 4, where they take private or group lessons a minimum of once a week. Members of the jet set will either have a tennis court of their own at home (and the instructor will teach the kids there), or they will have a membership at a private club with extensive tennis facilities (or both). Junior tournament play becomes the norm as kids get to the upper grades in elementary school. There are week-long and summer-long tennis programs for children starting at age 9, and most private schools have tennis teams for middle-school aged kids and older. So think of these vacation resorts as just one component of a comprehensive game plan for your budding Caroline Wozniacki.
Now, on to the list!
Baseline: If your kids are just getting started, or are pretty young, three hours of tennis a day is going to be plenty, especially if they’re on an outdoor court in a hot climate. You’ll want a great beach or lots of other options to keep everyone happy. If that’s your situation, we suggest:
–Carlisle Bay, Antigua. Recommended by luxury travel agent Scott Dunn, this 5-start resort on Antigua’s south coast is known for being family-friendly; it has 5 tennis courts, three of which are lit for night-time play, when temperatures are more moderate. The property also has an award-winning spa, a tropical yoga pavilion, four restaurants, a film screening room with daily family-friendly movies, nature trails and helicopter tours.
–Topnotch at Stowe, Vermont. The resort’s award-winning Tennis Center operates year-round, with 6 outdoor courts and 4 indoor courts; it’s equipped with an Intelligent Ball Machine and Dartfish Video Analysis. Plus, you’re only a 10-minute drive to Mount Mansfield and all of the snow sports at the Stowe ski resort, so this is an ideal choice if half the family wants to play tennis and the other half wants to ski. The farm-to-table local restaurants are outstanding, and the town of Stowe is absolutely charming.
–The Four Seasons Punta Mita on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. This 5-star resort has a 10-court Peter Burwash International (PBI) tennis facility. Lessons and clinics are offered daily, and player matching is available for anyone looking for a singles or doubles match. Even better news? There are bountiful non-tennis options: cooking classes; a “premium tequila excursion” to the family-run Jose Cuervo distillery in Tequila; two golf courses; a spa; and star-gazing. Special programs are offered for kids 5-12 and 13-18, and private villas are available.
–Thanyapura, Phuket, a 57-acre property set in the middle of the Phuket National Park in northern Phuket, has been voted the Best Tennis Resort in Asia. The sports hotel has week-long performance camps for kids 9-19, and individual and group classes are offered for kids as young as 3. The resort has 6 tennis courts, 4 of which are inside. Only 15 minutes away from the airport, the resort attracts both families and pro athletes – reportedly, Maria Sharapova trains there.
–The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida is a great option for families who want some tennis time, but also want to pursue other activities. The 5-star historic hotel has 10 Har-Tru courts and offers clinics and private court sessions for kids aged 6 and older. Lighted courts are available for play after dark. There’s also a terrific spa, bike trails, numerous pools, two championship golf courses, and upscale shopping options all around town.
Challenger: If you have one or two kids who are 9 or older who are making a serious commitment to sharpening up their tennis games before the spring season begins, but the rest of the family is looking for relaxation and fun off the court, here are some options to consider:
–La Quinta Resort & Club in Palm Springs, California is a Waldorf-Astoria property with a world-class tennis program. This year from March 4-20, the resort is offering its BNP Paribas Open program, with intense daily clinics for players 9 years and older. There are plenty of other activities on-site and nearby, including bike rides, a “junior” spa for kids 10-17, junior golfing, Jeep tours of the desert, shopping in town, and “Dive-in Movies” on Friday and Saturday nights where family-friendly movies can be viewed from the pool.
–The Four Seasons Nevis has 10 tennis courts, 4 of which are red clay (two lit for night play) and six hard courts (three lit for night play), all of which are outdoors. PBI runs the tennis program, which is ranked in the top five Best Junior Tennis programs in the world. You can also play a round of family beach golf, take a volcano tour by helicopter, or join the “Dine and Dive” program, catching your own lobster and then having a chef prepare it for you immediately afterward at a table near the beach.
–Bio-Hotel Stanglwirt, Austria, located 90 minutes away from Salzburg, at the foot of the majestic Wilder Kaiser Mountain, has a PBI tennis program with 8 outdoor and 6 indoor courts. Junior lessons start at age 4. The hotel also has its own children’s farm, and a stable of Lipizzaner horses; it made Condé Nast Traveler’s “Gold List” of the best hotels in the world in 2016. This is a lovely part of the world to vacation in, whether it’s winter or summer, so the family can ski, take in cultural events, golf or go boating, depending on the time of year.
–Stoke Park Hotel, Buckinghamshire, England is only 35 minutes away from London and only 7 miles away from London Heathrow airport. The award-winning 300 acre private estate has 13 tennis courts (indoor, artificial clay and grass), and offers junior camps for kids aged 5 to 14 to learn both golf and tennis. The English mansion hosts an annual pre-Wimbledon tennis tournament called “The Boodles;” last year, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic attended. The 5-star hotel also offers golfing on a 27-hole championship course, three restaurants and a spa. All of London awaits if you’re seeking even more.
If you’re in search of La Dolce Vita, the 5-Star Villa La Massa Hotel in Florence offers tennis holidays in Tuscany; guests take a short walk from the hotel to a tennis club with sixteen red clay courts. You can also jog along the Arno, go mountain biking, or go horseback riding. The culturally-minded can take drawing or painting lessons at the villa, or explore the beauties of Florence’s many museums. Foodies will love the Chianti tour. Want something more secluded? On nearby Elba Island, the Tenuta Delle Ripalte Sea, Country and Wine Resort offers four options for accommodations: a boutique hotel, a room in a farmhouse; a standalone villa or a glamping tent. The property has clay tennis courts and in July offers an intense summer tennis camp for kids and adults. In addition, there’s a riding center, diving courses, yoga, bike trails, swimming pools, and beach volleyball.
–Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the big island in Hawaii is a 4-star hotel rated as one of the top 5 tennis resorts in the world. It boasts 11 courts at the ocean’s edge. The junior tennis program starts with kids aged 4, and there are private lessons, clinics and round robins offered for adults. There are two golf courses, pools, and a spa. Art lovers take note: nearly sixteen hundred pieces of museum-quality Pacific and Asian art, collected by hotel-founder Laurance S. Rockefeller, are on display throughout the property.
Grand Slam: If your entire family is up for a tennis vacation, there are options where adults and kids can both get intensive coaching and training. These resorts are also fun because they’ll allow you to meet like-minded guests. Who knows? You may see some of the same families there next year:
–Kiawah Island Golf & Tennis Resort, South Carolina is currently ranked as the number one tennis resort in the world and the number one for overall tennis instruction. The resort has two tennis facilities with a total of 24 courts: the Roy Barth Tennis Center—featuring nine Har-Tru clay courts and three hard courts— and the West Beach Tennis Club, with 10 Har-Tru courts and two lighted hard courts. There are daily clinics for adults, and programs exclusively for women; the grounds are lovely, with courts bordered by oleander, palmettos, pampas grass and flowers. This year the property will host two junior tennis championships for kids age 10 and up. From the end of May through the beginning of September, kids can enroll in Junior Tennis Camp or in the more intense Junior Tennis Academy. Kids 10 and up can also enroll in the Junior Tough Workout. The resort also has five golf courses and has hosted several PGA championships. There’s a wonderful beach (you can hear the ocean from the tennis courts). It’s very close to downtown Charleston, where you’ll find charming shops and restaurants and history to explore once your court time ends. You can book a room at the 5-star Sanctuary Hotel, or rent a villa nearby.
–Gstaad Palace, Switzerland. This glamorous Alpine ski mecca also has four outdoor clay tennis courts and three indoor ones nearby. In summer, the ATP Allianz Swiss Tennis Open is held here. From August 13-19, 2017, Olympic gold medalist Marc Rosset will host a one-week intense “tennis and mountain” camp tailored for kids aged 7-16. Grand Slam champion Roy Emerson hosts week-long camps throughout the year for kids 16 and up and adults – there are eight sessions to choose from, and the program has been voted the number 1 tennis camp in the world. When you’re not on the court, there’s a spa, a charming village full of great shopping, mountain biking, and rafting – and you can also take a magnificent ride in a hot air balloon at dawn.
–Boca Raton Resort & Club, Florida has a tennis concierge to make arrangements for the use of its 30 clay courts. The “ultimate experience” package starts at $23,875, and includes a half-day lesson with Jimmy Conners, an airport transfer in a Maserati, and a gourmet dinner at the hotel. Other resort activities include a top-rated spa, 11 restaurants and lounges, seven swimming pools, two golf courses and a surf school.
–The Omni Resort Amelia Island, Florida has a tennis program during the summer, and the winter holidays, for all ages organized by Cliff Drysdale Tennis. The beginner program is for kids aged 5-12; there are also junior tennis clinics and a family tennis cardio workout. For adults, there are boot camps lasting 2 or 3 days, plus daily strategy and drill clinics, private lessons and “cardio tennis” workouts. The resort has 23 clay courts.
–Hotel Puento Romano, Andalucia, Spain offers a Tennis Escape Package for three nights that includes tennis coaching, match play and video analysis. There are 10 tennis courts on the property, and there is also a nearby tennis academy that’s open to hotel guests. If you’re willing to forego a bit of luxury for more intensity, the La Manga Club in Murcia, Spain has 28 tennis courts, with daily clinics for juniors and a high-performance camp for advanced junior players under the age of 19.
Before you go, be sure that you know the rules about attire – some of these destinations still require tennis whites and prohibit dark-soled shoes. You can rent racquets at most of these resorts. Before you know it, you’ll be hosting your own family tennis Open! Have fun. And be sure to wear something cute. That’s part of the fun!