Tennis Destinations On a Shoestring Budget
Look for Low-Cost Lodging
With a little research (the Tennis Resorts Online search form can help), you can track down resorts with the most economically priced rooms. For example:
???? Litchfield Beach & Golf Resort, Pawleys Island (near Myrtle Beach), SC. Lodging from as little as $114/night in high season (and as little as $59 in low) plus an active 17-court tennis complex in a park-like setting.
???? Taos Tennis at the Quail Ridge Inn, Taos, NM. A courtside room with kitchenette starts at $85, and the 10 hard courts draw guests and locals alike during the May-to-October season with well-run weekly adult and junior programs and sanctioned tournaments.
Stay Outside the Resort
Although you often get a price break by booking a hotel-and-tennis package, you may be able to save more by staying outside the resort and opting for only the tennis program. Among the programs offering that option are:
???? Van der Meer Tennis, at both its Shipyard and Tennis Center locations, on Hilton Head Island.?
???? Vic Braden Tennis College, Green Valley Spa, St. George, UT
College Campus Programs or Dedicated Camps
When it comes to tennis camps, the most economical options are generally the programs that take place on college campuses during the summer, where lodging is most likely to be a dormitory and dining the school cafeteria.
???? Nike Amherst Tennis College, Amherst, MA
???? Swarthmore Tennis Camps, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA
Alternatively, look at dedicated facilities that bundle tennis with lodging and meals. For instance:
???? John Newcombe Tennis Ranch, New Braunfels, TX
???? Total Tennis, Saugerties, NY
Avoid High Season
High season at a tennis resort or camp commands the highest tariffs, so if your schedule allows it, look to the weeks and months on either side of high season for a break on rates. For example:
???? The Buccaneer, St. Croix, U.S.V.I. The deluxe oceanfront room that goes for $695/night in January is $460/night in May.
???? Palm Springs, CA. conditions for tennis during the fall can be delightful and yet room rates are typically 15 percent lower than they are in winter.
???? Hilton Head Island, SC. A one-bedroom condo in Sea Pines Resort that goes for $170 from early June to mid August, drops to $145/night from mid August to late October and then to just $120 from late October to the end of February.
Midweek vs. Weekend
Broadly speaking, if you're headed for a hotel that caters to large convention groups, like the Desert Springs, A JW Marriott Resort & Spa, in Rancho Mirage, CA, then you're likely to get a better rate on weekends than during the week. By contrast, resorts and camps that whose clientele are primarily vacationers may have better rates midweek than on weekends. If your plans are flexible, check both to see what you can save. Ask, too, whether the hotel or resort offers discounts to members of AAA, AARP, government employees, military, or any other affiliation that applies.
If you do plan to stay at the resort, look into their tennis packages, which usually bundle in a discounted room rate. Be skeptical, however, of any package that does not include unlimited free court time—or at least as many hours a day as you hope to play. Court fees of $25 or more an hour are not unusual and can add significantly to the cost of your vacation. And if the packages you find online aren't what you're looking for, call the tennis pro shop to see whether they can do better. If you're a family or group of four or more, you may be able to negotiate a tailor-made package better than any generic tennis package the resort offers.
Veteran travel journalist Roger Cox is the editor and founder of TennisResortsOnline.com, the web's leading source of tennis-travel information. On the site you can search an extensive international database for tennis resorts and camps based on your particular needs.