A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON TRAVEL FROM CLIFF DRYSDALE TENNIS
Posted on October 27, 2021
by Emilie Moeller
PACK YOUR (RACQUET) BAGS
Cliff Drysdale Tennis (CDT) is no stranger to the world of travel and events. The company started offering tennis camps 15 years ago at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami, CDT’s pioneer resort destination. While CDT’s core mission to provide memorable on-court experiences has remained the same, much has changed since the early 2000s in Miami; in particular, an unexpected global pandemic coupled with record-setting growth in the racquet sports industry.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic put an abrupt halt to tennis travel in early March, 2020, the CDT events team was gearing up for a busy year. Only a month prior, the company’s first-ever padel facility had launched at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami, while just north in Amelia Island, Fla., the annual Doubles Boot Camp experiences had hosted a
record-breaking number of participants.
Momentum and motivation was high as the team prepared for an equally successful trip to Palm Springs, Calif., for the annual Tennis with the Stars charity event and week-long Indian Wells tennis camp. Of course, as most will recall, news broke less than 24 hours prior to the tournament’s start that the 2020 BNP Paribas Open had been canceled due the COVID-19 pandemic.
Naturally, a global pandemic did not bode well for the business of travel. But in a surprising twist, the COVID-19 crisis did lead to some remarkable growth in the racquet sports industry. In 2020, more than 21 million Americans were actively playing tennis, up 22 percent over 2019. Three million were new players, a 44 percent increase from 2019. Meanwhile, pickleball and padel were making headway of their own. By the start of 2021, 17 CDT locations had pickleball facilities and Padel at The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami, was rivaling their tennis program revenue.
Armed with the understanding that Americans were more than ready to get on court, as long as they could do so safely, the CDT events team started looking at new ways to offer tennis (and racquet) vacations. First came Staycation packages. This proved the perfect tennis escape for anyone looking to visit their closest CDT resort with safety remaining at the forefront of the offerings. Staycations offered a combination of group clinics, private lessons — with or without luxury accommodations — and they were customizable to the exact detail preferences for each guest.
As customers carefully revisited the prospect of travel in the fall of 2020, CDT introduced a second new experience, Tennis & Wine Weekends, at Chateau Elan Resort in Braselton, Ga. The weekend included nine hours of tennis and instruction play, private wine tours and guided tastings with award-winning wineries, and luxury accommodations.
Due to overwhelming demand, Tennis & Wine Weekends became a staple of the 2021 events calendar, including the addition of a Tennis & Wine Weekend at The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara, as well as Pickleball & Wine Weekends at Chateau Elan. In fact, the latter marked the company’s first-ever pickleball experience, and it too reported great success as guests flocked to this quickly growing racquet sport.
In early 2021, CDT began offering family tennis vacations so members of the same household could enjoy quality time on court together. Whether a guest was seeking an active vacation for the whole family, or an opportunity to make the most of their crew’s passion for the game, custom family packages were the perfect solution for all ages and levels. Adults and advanced juniors were scheduled for morning group clinics while younger members of the family joined the resort’s summer camp sessions. These packages also include customizable add-ons such as private lessons, group lessons, and match play opportunities.
Fast forward to today. As the country emerges from the darker shadows of the COVID-19 pandemic, the CDT events team is activating its annual calendar of various signature events at all of its resort locations. In addition to new events such as Tennis & Wine Weekends, Pickleball & Wine Weekends, staycations, and family vacations, CDT is also launching a new coed retreat at Baha Mar in The Bahamas, complete with on-court instruction, group dining experiences, and dedicated time to explore the resort’s noteworthy casino scene, pristine beaches, and luxurious onsite amenities.
“COVID-19 CERTAINLY POSED SOME CHALLENGES FOR THE WORLD OF TENNIS TRAVEL, BUT IT ALSO FOSTERED FRESH, INNOVATIVE EXPERIENCES THAT SPAN NOT ONLY THE TENNIS INDUSTRY, BUT THE RACQUET INDUSTRY AS WELL.”
With a host of new experiences, as well as returning customer favorites, Cliff Drysdale Tennis is proud to offer a calendar of events that allows racquet fans of all ages and abilities find an experience that both fits their travel needs, and celebrates their passion for the sport. COVID-19 certainly posed some challenges for the world of tennis travel, but it also fostered fresh, innovative experiences that span not only the tennis industry, but the racquet industry as well.