Can the King reclaim his Kingdom in Monaco?

IMG_0041Welcome to Tennis & Travels, a new column that applauds the readers who do decide to combine business with pleasure. Because life is short, and you should travel and play tennis—maybe even do both at once.

It’s almost as if these things write themselves. While one part of the world is generally busy living in a great and awesome climate, I’m stuck in Canada.

More importantly, I’m stuck in Quebec. This is the place where, not coincidentally, the joke goes that we know two seasons: winter and July. (It’s funny, because it’s true.) Put another way—it snowed in Montreal on March 30, 2014, and it is snowing on March 30, 2015, as I am writing this.

Meanwhile, would you look at this? It’s currently 19 C warmer in Monte-Carlo than Montreal right now… even though it’s the evening in Monaco!

I’ll step down from my soapbox just long enough to write that you should definitely and absolutely find a way to attend this season’s Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, from April 12-19, 2015—if only for the fact that, should you be a fellow Canadian, you may get a merciful break from Mother Nature’s winter.

But because there are more than just Canadians in this world (i.e. Canadians would be the first to tell you this), I do have plenty more reasons for why you should attend the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters and it starts, as everything does on clay, with Rafael Nadal.

Once upon a time, the Monte-Carlo Masters 1000 event was the one event, even more than Roland Garros, where the Spaniard and actual ruler of clay dominated. At this event that celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2006, Nadal has effectively rewritten the record book.

What is noteworthy about this highlight video? Oh, I don’t know. How about the part where the narrator says something to the effect that in 2008 Nadal “was looking to become the first player in the Open era, and the first in almost 100 years, to win four consecutive titles in Monaco”… and that he won another four consecutive titles after that 2008 final.

Nadal captured every Monte-Carlo title between 2005 and 2012, a record that isn’t likely to fall at any point. And yet, the Spaniard has traveled to Monaco in each of the previous two years only to come back home empty handed. Wouldn’t you love to be there if/when he does regain his kingdom?

Now, maybe Nadal isn’t quite your favourite player and that you don’t particularly care to see whether the King can step on his throne one more time. I wouldn’t fault you for that. Thankfully, there are plenty of other reasons to visit the Principality of Monaco. One thing you may have noticed from that video is the star power of the Nadal victims in those eight finals: Federer, Ferrer and Djokovic. What this says is that the Monte-Carlo main draws tend to be star-studded affairs.

There are other stars too. According to its Wikipedia page, a whole bunch of celebrity, athletes and generally rich people live in Monte Carlo. Perhaps this is the chance you were always looking for to finally rub elbows with some of our biggest celebrities. Send us a postcard with Bono, if you do so!

Maybe the Monaco setting of the Monte-Carlo Country Club is enough to convince you, by which I mean that there is certainly some charm to watching great tennis under the bright lights of the sun and sitting by the mountainside of, yes, Monte Carlo… or Mount Charles.

Likewise, the waterfront alongside Avenue Princesse Grace is but a few steps away—you could technically manage the good life of watching Nadal play tennis, then take a 13-minute walk to the Larvotto public beach.

My words can only work so well of course, considering that I am sitting in the cold and snowy winter of Montreal. But maybe photos of both the Monte-Carlo Masters 1000 and the Monte Carlo/Spélugues ward can help.

But you know what they say, right? There’s nothing like a video.

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG

Escape winter and head to the Miami Open with Grand Slam Tennis Tours

unnamedWelcome to Tennis & Travels, a new column that applauds the readers who do decide to combine business with pleasure. Because life is short, and you should travel and play tennis—maybe even do both at once.

The 2015 tennis season has started in earnest.

Oh, it’s already three months old, I know, and we even have a Grand Slam champion (i.e. Novak Djokovic for the men and Serena Williams for the women), but it’s in March every year that the season unofficially starts.

Just look at the ATP World Tour and the WTA Tour calendars. Really, do it and as you do, please find the week(s) off. There are some, of course, but the weeks off are few and far between at this time of the year—from March until, for North American folks at least, the end of the US Open in September, this is the meat of the tennis season.

Coincidentally, March is also the time where most (North American) folks might start to get nostalgic about the end of winter and the start of something new. You see, spring is supposed to start on March 20, but that’s never really indicative of our reality—as I type this, I know that it’s currently -15 C, or 5 F, outside in Montreal. Maybe it’s not quite the depths of the winter cold that we see in December, but it’s also certainly not spring.

In other words, the month of March is the time where some (all?) of us might start to feel the urge to go somewhere warm.

In terms of such warmth destinations, a tennis fan could definitely do worse than traveling to Miami for the 2015 Miami Open, presented by Itau. Of course, I’m underselling it here and by no means intend to do so—if you happen to be a tennis fan (check) who happens to love the sun and the warmth (check) and who happens to have the financial capacity to take a few days off (d’oh!), then Miami is the perfect destination for you.

Every year, the Miami Open starts only a few days after the conclusion of the BNP Paribas Open. This gives the tennis world about 20 days of excellence at the two events. The first two Masters 1000 events of the season are also the only two that unfold over more than one week because of a larger draw than other non-Grand Slam tournaments. They have increasingly large prize money and are non-Grand Slams only in name.

There are plenty of reasons to visit Miami at this time, beyond the warmth and the sun. The organizing committee of the Miami Open is proud, this year, to introduce the Miami Open Experience for the folks who love the little things in life—and by little things, I mean “the ultimate beach party.”

Really. Just look at the details on the website. Travel to Miami for world-class tennis and stay for the cooking of chef Tom Colicchio, for the Tori Praver Fashion Show and for the beach volleyball exhibition tournament.

But of course, do stay for the excellent tennis as well, all of which unfolds in a facility where the 13,800-seat Stadium Court is the crown jewel. (Here, let noted tennis hitting partner Johnny “Blaze” Valenti show you what it feels like.)

By now, you’ve already missed out on Indian Wells, Larry Ellison’s billions and all the Hawkeye in the world. Please don’t make that mistake with the Miami Open.

The tournament has a hype video—with a shirtless Rafael Nadal!—because every good tournament needs and deserves a hype video.

 

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG

BNP Paribas Packages – Last Chance

BNP Paribas Open Packages - Indian Wells

Our phones have been ringing off the hook for last minute BNP Paribas packages.

And we get it…

Who wouldn’t want to head to the California desert in March to the hottest tournament on the tennis calendar?

All the top players (including Serena this year!) compete at this event, and the Indian Wells Tennis Garden is home to the second largest stadium in the world, several topnotch dining options, beautifully landscaped grounds, and state-of-the-art practice courts that offer unparalleled access to the players.

The BNP Paribas Open is the premier destination for tennis fans.

Due to the demand, we’ve had to turn away a lot of last minute requests for the first weekend because we were sold out.

But not anymore…

We have LIMITED AVAILABILITY on a new Early Rounds package.

The new Early Rounds Package includes:

  • Accommodations at the Hyatt in Palm Springs: Friday, March 13 – Tuesday, March 17 (4 nights)
  • Parking pass for easy access to the grounds
  • Combination of courtside/stadium box seats and suite tickets for Saturday day, Sunday day and night, and Monday night sessions (4 sessions total)
  • Hosted dinner at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden
  • Commemorative gift

Click here to see all of our remaining packages. 

If you’re interested, CALL TODAY. 888.910.2714. These packages won’t last much longer!

Your Solution To Relaxing: A Tennis Vacation at Curtain Bluff

Do you have trouble relaxing? Is the line between your professional and personal life nonexistent?

If you answered “yes” to either (or both) questions, you aren’t alone. If fact, most people suffer from the inability to relax. This isn’t surprising since the demands of everyday life are intense and never ending.

We all know that relaxation helps reduce stress and anxiety, improving your overall health and mental well being. Yet we still don’t award ourselves the opportunity to turn off and find our “happy place”.

Maybe you feel guilty about doing nothing, say you don’t have the time, or don’t think you deserve it.

But you do…

…And we have a solution…

Take a vacation! We all need to get away physically and mentally every now and then. It’s one of the best ways to relax and recharge our batteries.

Even though we (our team at Grand Slam Tennis Tours) travel around the world hosting tennis enthusiasts at all the Grand Slams, we also need a break. And we found our favorite place to getaway from it all–Curtain Bluff in Antigua.

cbCurtain Bluff is a rare gem that’s sophisticated and luxurious, yet it maintains a casual and relaxed atmosphere. Its breathtaking property sits on a bluff that juts into the sea between two beautiful beaches. There are 4 tennis courts, 2 restaurants, a spa, fitness center, a pool, tons of water activities, and of course, an amazing beach that always has a lounge chair open to take in the view or soak up the sun.

What makes Curtain Bluff so exceptional and stand out amongst all the other Caribbean options is how intimate and personable the property feels. There are only 72 rooms–all with ocean views–so you’ll see a lot of familiar faces after a few days. And most of the staff come from the local town and neighboring villages, so they love nothing more than sharing their home of Antigua with people from all over the world. You’ll leave feeling a part of a community.

We’ve been to Curtain Bluff 2 years in a row and it already feels like a second home to us. Some of our favorite things to do are…

Play tennis with Rennie or Nigel on the courts that face the bay…

Join Marlene for some sun salutations and downward-facing dogs on a peaceful, open-air deck overlooking the sea….

cb2Take a sunrise walk with Jason around the local village…

Sail around the bluff on a hobie cat with Junior…

Or simply grab a cocktail from Al and lounge on the beach…

Those are only a few of the many amazing things to fill your time there!

Curtain Bluff has two upcoming tennis events that we thought you would be interested in. They are a great opportunity to enjoy a vacation and tune up your game at the same time.

The Curtain Bluff Fantasy Tennis Camp: April 15-20, featuring Tracy Austin, Johan Kriek and Tom Gullikson.

The Antigua Tennis Week from May 2-9, featuring our good friends, Fred Stolle and Owen “Davo” Davidson.

Both weeks will be filled with world-class instruction, pro-am events, off-court fitness activities, and of course, plenty of time to enjoy their award winning resort.

But since they want to keep the instruction personal, there are a limited number of spots available.

Think a tennis vacation at Curtain Bluff will help you getaway from the daily grind and finally relax? I guarantee it will.

Discover Our New & Improved Wimbledon Packages

2015-Wimbledon-PackagesBefore the New Year, we took a long, hard look at all our 2014 tennis tours. We asked for feedback from our clients and mulled over how we can make our offerings even better in 2015.

Out of this came our new and improved Wimbledon packages.

We’ve been taking tennis fans all over the world for over two decades, and have hosted over 3,000 people at Wimbledon alone. We’ve tried different hotels, hospitality options, restaurants, etc. Through our vast experience, we think this year we have our best offering yet.

A 2015 tour with Grand Slam Tennis Tours includes…

Accommodations at the chic, 5 star boutique hotel Belgraves, a Thompson Hotel, in the neighborhood of Belgravia. Despite its calm and serene setting, Belgravia is near London’s City Center. Even closer are numerous internationally renowned shops, restaurants, and London attractions. While you’re not at tennis, you’ll be steps away from all the happening spots.

Incredible tickets in Centre Court and Court #1. We offer debenture seats for Centre Court and Court #1 so you can see your favorite players up close and personal. After all, you go to Wimbledon for the tennis! We’ll put you in the best seats available to make sure your experience is unforgettable.

A private hospitality house exclusive to Grand Slam Tennis Tours guests. Each day of tennis we’ll escort you from the hotel to our hospitality house, only a short stroll to the All England Club. We’ll serve you a catered lunch, and then walk you over to tennis. The house is open throughout the day for our guests to come hang out and relax in between matches.

Choice of two London excursions. On a day you don’t have tennis you can enjoy a private walking tour which will include visits inside St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, and The Tower of London. Or if majestic castles, lush gardens, and stately homes are more your ‘thing’ we offer a private day trip outside of London too.

Are you convinced that this is the year you should plan your Wimbledon vacation?

Click here to see all our Wimbledon package options. Let us put our experience and knowledge to work for you. Join us for Wimbledon 2015

Email Megan or give us a call today 888.910.2714.

Don’t wait because we only have a limited number of spots!

The Sooner You Go To The Australian Open, The Better

We get tons of calls at Grand Slam Tennis Tours….

A common thing we hear is, “I want tickets to see (insert either Rafa, Federer, or Djokovic)”.

Although we don’t know the day and time they’re playing until closer to the event, one thing we know for sure is that they won’t be playing the Australian Open forever.

Roger Federer is 33….

Rafael Nadal is plagued with injuries….

And Novak Djokovic is thriving, but there’s only a certain amount of time in everything.

Are you one of the people who want to see Rafa, Fed, and/or Djokovic before they retire?

Do you especially want to see them play at the Australian Open?

We can make that happen for you…

Australian-Open-Tennis-PackagesWhen you’re sitting in our front row seats in Rod Laver Arena, you’ll be thanking yourself for finally making the decision to go.

Don’t wait another year! See your favorite players at the Australian Open before it’s too late.

We have limited Australian Open packages remaining.

Call us ASAP to reserve your spot!

London or Paris? Plan Your French Open or Wimbledon Package

Wimbledon-Roland-Garros-Packages
London or Paris?
Have you started thinking about your summer vacation? With Roland Garros and Wimbledon back to back during the summer months, why not build tennis into a visit to one of the most beautiful cities in the world?
But you’re asking yourself; which one would suit me better next year? Below are the highlights of each city so you can decide which one is best for you and your family.
Attractions
Both cities are renowned for some of the most recognizable tourist landmarks in the world. London boasts the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, The Shard and the London Eye, while Paris has the Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, the Opera and Sacré-Cœur.
Museums and Galleries
Paris is home to one of the world’s most famous art galleries, The Louvre. You can also visit Centre Pompidou and the Musée d’Orsay. In London see the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert, the Natural History Museum, the National Gallery, the Science Museum, the Tate – and they are all free to enter.
Day Trips
The impressive chateaux of Versailles and Fontainebleau await visitors just outside of Paris, along with short rides out to the Loire Valley or the Champagne Province to do some tastings. From London you can plan easy day trips to Stonehenge, Oxford, Bath, Canterbury, and Leeds Castle, only to name a few of the many historic landmarks not far outside of London.
Restaurants
Paris is known for its fine French cuisine, while in London you’ll find more varied options. For the foodies there are 11 restaurants with 3 Michelin stars in the French capital, or you can find a wonderful meal at the corner brasserie or at a bistro on a small side street of Paris. London has also become a mecca of good eats from traditional English food to celebrity chef creations.
Style of Tennis
Roland Garros and Wimbledon showcase two very different styles of tennis. The red clay at Roland Garros slows down the ball, resulting in long rallies and even longer matches. It’s not uncommon to see the titans of tennis go five sets. The speed of the ball on the grass at Wimbledon leads to shorter, faster points and favors those who come to the net.
Tennis Grounds
Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament and is considered to be the most prestigious one on the tennis calendar, although Roland Garros has a long history itself dating back to the late 1800s. Both the grounds at Wimbledon and Roland Garros are intimate and breathtaking to any true tennis fan.
Learn more about our Roland Garros packages and Wimbledon packages.
Call 888.910.2894 or email Susan or Megan today to start planning your vacation.

Why You Should Travel to Monte-Carlo to Watch Tennis

Monte-Carlo-Rolex-Masters-Tennis
Why travel to Monte-Carlo?

The bigger question; why wouldn’t you? The tennis calendar allows us to see the best tennis in some of the world’s most beautiful cities–and Monte-Carlo is no exception. Located at the base of the Maritime Alps along the French Riviera, the beautiful landscape alone is worth the trip. The average temperature in April is in the mid 70s and the sites, both modern and medieval, will fill your time in between exciting sessions of tennis.

The Prince's Palace of MonacoMonte-Carlo-Coastline

 

 

 

 

 

Why go to the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters?

This annual ATP 1000 event attracts all the top men on tour as a warm up for Roland Garros. It takes place at the Monte-Carlo Country Club, an intimate venue that includes mountain and Mediterranean Sea views. It’s a great opportunity (and excuse) to visit Monte-Carlo, one of the most beautiful places in the world. Click here to see for yourself.

Why use Topnotch Tennis Tours?

Monte Carlo Rolex Masters Seating ChartOur reserved Category 1 seats for Center Court are located in S1 and S2 in Row 5. For the Quarters, Semifinals, and Finals we are also offering seats in Super Category J2 Row 3 and Super Category S1 Row 3.

If you decide to book a package, we’ll take care of your accommodation, tickets, airport transfers, city tour, and a tour of the neighboring village of Eze. Most of all, convenience.

Ready to Book Your Package or Want More Information?

This tournament is getting more and more popular each year. To get the best seats and ensure your spot at the 2015 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, don’t wait until last minute!

Click here to see all our Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters Packages and Tours.

Call 888.910.2714 or email Susan or Megan to start planning your vacation.

 

 

Where Can You Taste Vegemite and Toss a Boomerang?

australian-open-tennis-packages

When tennis fans think of the Australian Open, they think of fun. The anticipation of a new tennis year, Melbourne as a popular tourist destination, the summer sun, and the animated, enthusiastic crowds all combine to make a fantastic event.

A tour to the Australian Open with Grand Slam Tennis Tours goes beyond that. As an official Australian Open tour operator, our packages feature luxury hotels, the best seats to watch the tennis, amazing hospitality, and so much more. Here’s a sample itinerary of a Grand Slam Tennis Tours package:

Day 1: Arrive at the Langham Hotel, a 5-Star property which is nestled amongst an abundance of al fresco cafés, restaurants, and boutiques–and is walking distance to Melbourne Park where all the tennis action takes place! On your first night you’ll enjoy a welcome dinner and tour orientation at The Deck, a popular Melbourne haunt known for its modern Australian cuisine and stunning views of the city. You’ll have an opportunity to bump elbows with past Grand Slam champions, our staff, and other tennis enthusiasts from around the world.

Day 2: After your good night’s rest, you’ll spend the next day touring the city of Melbourne where you will learn about the history of the city and its people. Take advantage of plentiful photo opportunities, including stops at the Botanical Gardens, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the Shrine of Remembrance. Your last stop will be Kooyong Lawn and Tennis Club, the former site of the Australian Open. If you’re a tennis player, you’ll have the opportunity to stay and play on the grass.

Day 3, 4 and 5: You’ll spend your next few days enjoying what you primarily came to Australia for – watch world-class tennis! From your courtside or lower level seats in both Rod Laver and Margaret Court Arenas, you’ll have a chance to see all your favorite players battle it out at the first Grand Slam of the year. On your final day of tennis we’ll host a farewell dinner on site at Melbourne Park.

Want to add days of tennis or hotel nights to your package? We’d love to customize your tour to create your ideal travel itinerary!

Want to add excursions before or after your tennis tour to Sydney, Tasmania, New Zealand, and beyond? No problem! We’ve been doing tours to Australia for over two decades and know the best places to visit. Just ask us and we’ll make it happen.

Nervous about traveling in a foreign country? Grand Slam Tennis Tours staff is there for the duration of your stay throughout the Australian Open. We’re a phone call away for anything you need.

There’s still time to plan your Australian Open package. Email Susan or Megan  or call 888.910.2714.

Click here to view our remaining packages.

MELBOURNE - JANUARY 27: Rod Laver Arena and Melbourne skyline on

Rogers Cup in Toronto and Montreal

This week sees the start of the Rogers Cup in Toronto and Montreal, Canada, featuring both the men’s and women’s game. What was initially looking like a strong line up for each event, both have been hit by some withdrawals, most notably that of Rafael Nadal and Li Na. Two time major winner Na has been forced to pull out of both the Rogers Cup and US Open with Nadal out for two to three weeks, putting his US Open place under threat.

However, rather then seeing this as a disappointment, the withdrawals could open the series up completely, making for a close, well fought contest right the way up to the US Open itself. Last year, Nadal took the US Open series by storm, winning in Montreal, Cincinnati and of course Flushing Meadows. Meanwhile, the withdrawal of Li Na, along with that of Yvonne Meusburger, has given an opportunity to America’s Alison Riske. Further good news for US tennis sees four American players receiving wildcard entries in to the Western and Southern Open, with Jack Sock, Steve Johnson, Sam Querrey and Robby Ginepri now entering the main draw for the tournament.

Following the Citi Open event last week, winner Milos Raonic now ties John Isner at the top of the men’s series standings with 70 points each. Isner was been disappointed with his performance and made reference to the fact his match was played on a secondary court instead of the main arena.    Steve Johnson, his victor, also commented on how the schedule has been set for international television audiences. Nonetheless, Johnson managed to progress to the quarter final where he lost out to fellow American Donald Young, who reached his first ATP tournament semi-final for the first time since 2011. So, despite Isner’s criticism, US players featured right up to the semi-final stage of the event.

Meanwhile, Serena Williams captured her fourth title of of 2014, winning the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford and in doing so climbed to the top of the US Open Series Challenge standings with 70 points. Other US players making the current ladies standings are Varvara Lepchenko, Sachia Vickery and Venus Williams. In the men’s series, Jack Sock, Donald Young and Steve Johnson all join John Isner on the leaderboard.

Moving on to the Rogers cup, the draw for both events looks very strong indeed.  With one side of the men’s draw featuring Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, Grigor Dimitrov and Andy Murray, there are some very tasty matches in prospect throughout the tournament.  Donald Young will be hoping to push on from his performance at the Citi Open and use the momentum to do well in Toronto.

Serena Williams will be reunited with coach Patrick Mouratoglou in Montreal, however, the American representatives have been given a tough draw with Madison Keys facing Citi Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round and the possibility of Sloane Stephens meeting Jelena Jankovic in the second round. Serena Williams finds herself in the half of the draw that includes her sister, Venus plus Eugenie Bouchard and Maria Sharapova, a very difficult route to the final.

Having said that, tennis fans want to see the best players playing each other and they will certainly get their wish over the course of the next week. With worldwide television coverage really starting to pick up and Flushing Meadows drawing ever closer, excitement is sure to reach a new high with the worlds best on show this week.