August 04, 2011
Like the tremendous swells the competitors hope for, the Nike U.S. Open of Surfing rolls into town this week through August 7, taking over a 14-acre waterfront stretch in Huntington Beach, California. Event organizers predict that more than 500,000 people will attend the competition, making it the world's biggest surf festival. It's a free-for-all of fun, with BMX bikes, skateboards and new Nike gear. "Essentially, it's like action-sports Mardi Gras," event organizer James Leitz told the Los Angeles Times. While surfers make a run for the U.S. Open title, land fans can unwind with performances by MGMT, Jimmy Eats World and The Sounds in what's being billed as the largest summer concert of the year. Through August 7, no tickets required. Huntington Beach Pier, Huntington Beach, California; usopenofsurfing.com. usopenofsurfing.com.
Next step: Learn how to surf in Rio, Bali, Hawaii, and San Diego and Montauk. Plus! Brazil's Surfing Paradise and good surfing vibrations along Northern California's old Hippie Highway
Going for the gold at Huntington Beach, California. Photo courtesy of Nike U.S. Open of Surfing
August 25, 2011
You've been served. Photo courtesy of iStock.
Oh, hello. We know you. You're that country club tennis player who gloats that you could return Andy Roddick's 155-mph serve. Well, start beefing up your return game: The United States Tennis Association is giving you a chance to play the pros. Now in its second year, the USTA's men's and women's US Open National Playoffs tournament grants the tournament winner a wild card into the US Open qualifying round, which started August 23. Winning qualifiers end up in the main draw, which starts August 29. "I'm just really glad they have this, because it's gotten me into the US Open twice now," says Blake Strode, who has won the men's playoffs the last two years. If you're too afraid to walk the walk (and having hit with Andy Murray, this author advises not attempting to return a pro's serve), purchase a US Open Supreme Package, which offers Arthur Ashe loge-level seating. While the package doesn't include seats in Section 54, which is closest to the USTA President's box for good people watching, it does come with breakfast in the player's dining room. Then you can brag to your country club companions that you at least talked to Roddick about his kicker. US Open, August 29-September 11; Supreme Ticket Package, $700-$1,600; Flushing, New York; 718/760-6363; usopen.org.
Did you know: New York City cult hairstylist Julien Farel has a VIP salon at the US Open
July 05, 2012
Courtesy Gstaad Palace
With the French Open wrapping up in early June, Wimbledon continuing through July 8 in London and the US Open just around the corner, it is high tennis season. For those wanting to up their game in style, the Gstaad Palace in Gstaad, Switzerland, is taking to the court with week-long clinics led by tennis legend Roy Emerson.
Emerson—the winner of 12 Grand Slam tournament singles titles and 16 Grand Slam men’s doubles titles, and the only man to win singles and doubles titles at all four Grand Slam events—has been a fan of the hotel since 1974, when he held his first camp here. Participants will enjoy first-rate service, but the highlight is 25 hours of tennis instruction on the Palace’s four clay courts that offer panoramic views of the Bernese Alps. Emerson and a cadre of tennis pros (including his son, Anthony Emerson) demonstrate techniques and collaborate with players to strengthen their skills. The instruction is focused; one pro works with groups of three to four guests at a time. (Players fall into advanced, intermediate or advanced-beginner levels.)
Off the court, participants have access to a 25-minute sports massage at the spa and unlimited visits to the indoor and outdoor pools, sauna, gym and steam bath, as well as select social events. The week kicks off with a welcome cocktail party—and ends with a much-improved game. $4,255 per person; Palacestrasse 28; 41-33/748-5000; palace.ch.
December 12, 2012
Photo courtesy of Etro
Italian fashion house Etro brings its signature paisley design to the shore in the form of these gorgeously colorful surfboards, available in red ($2,225) and orange ($2,490). Available at 720 Madison Ave., New York; 212-317-9096; 461 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills; 310-248-2855; Village of Merrick Park, 342 Ave. San Lorenzo, Coral Gables, Florida; 305-569-1669; Americana Manhasset, 1986 Northern Blvd., Manhasset, New York; 516-365-0101; etro.com.
December 12, 2012
Courtesy of Robb Gordon
You are an experienced skier, with years of season-pass practice under your belt. You might even consider yourself an expert. Still, each winter a day comes—maybe when you’re stiff and fatigued from carving through glades or after a punishing mogul run that makes your knees ache—when you can’t help but wonder if taking a few lessons would be worth it.
It can be tough to admit that your ski technique could stand some improvement. But what if you could pair up with an expert instructor—say, a former Olympian? For the first time this winter skiers at Montage Deer Valley will be able to do just that. The resort’s new Ski With a Pro program takes full advantage of the 50-plus Olympic athletes who live and train in the surrounding ski community of Park City, Utah—among them three-time giant slalom Olympian Erik Schlopy, two-time snowboarding Olympian Graham Watanabe and Phil McNichol, former head coach of the men’s Olympic Alpine team.
Skiers who sign on for the three-day program get a full day of personalized instruction with an Olympic skier; the resort assesses each participant’s ability and schedule and matches accordingly. Daily lift tickets, accommodations, breakfast and guided pre- and post-ski stretching sessions at the resort’s wellness center are also included.
According to Andy Damman, Montage Deer Valley’s director of resort activities, Ski With a Pro doesn’t just allow guests the opportunity to ski alongside some of the world’s finest practitioners of the sport—it also gives them the chance to ask questions. “What does an Olympic athlete’s training routine entail? How can children who aspire to be Olympians start to prepare? What are hints and tips to skiing that only Olympians know?” says Damman. “These are the kinds of conversations that will take place while hanging out on the chairlifts with true ski celebrities.” How’s that for bragging rights? Through April 15, 2013; three-day program, from $2,575; 9100 Marsac Ave.; 435-604-1300; montagedeervalley.com.
July 18, 2013
While pro baseball players might take top sports billing this time of year, another group of elite athletes—thoroughbred racehorses—are the undeniable stars of summer in one New York town. Saratoga Springs, home of the legendary Saratoga Race Course, is helping its storied landmark celebrate 150 years with a 40-day race meet (July 20 to August 25) that puts the institution’s history on display.
“The 150th anniversary season is a celebration of not only the history of thoroughbred racing but the history of the Saratoga Springs community as a whole,” says Rodnell Workman, vice president and CMO of the New York Racing Association. “The track and the city are intrinsically linked with one another.”
Iconic horses like Secretariat, Seabiscuit and Man o’ War have raced in Saratoga, which is one of the most successful thoroughbred race meets in the United States, drawing more than 900,000 fans each summer. The Race Course’s official birthday (August 3) will feature special events and the Whitney Handicap. The 144th running of the illustrious Travers Stakes—the oldest major graded stakes in the country for three-year-olds—happens on August 24, promising a possible showdown between the winners of this year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
And in between, city festivals, parades and special events take over the town of Saratoga itself, home to renowned mineral baths, elevated restaurants and a vibrant cultural scene (the New York City Ballet and the Philadelphia Orchestra spend their summers there). But when all is said and done, those 40 days belong to the horses. 267 Union Ave.; 518-584-6200; nyra.com/saratoga.
August 15, 2013
Courtesy of Four Seasons Maldives
Despite its balmy air and mid-80-degree water temperatures, the Maldives has never been known as a surfing destination. But Four Seasons Maldives at Kuda Huraa and luxury surf-safari outfitter Tropicsurf are out to change that, hosting the Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy (August 26 to September 2)—a boutique surfing competition on the coast of Kuda Huraa—for the third year.
Six former world champions—including the defending 2012 winner, Aussie Damien “Dooma” Hardman—will battle for $25,000 in prize money distributed across three surfboard divisions: retro single fins, twin fins and triple-fin thrusters. It’s a relaxed atmosphere, explains hotel general manager Tulio Hochkoeppler. “But don’t get me wrong,” he says, “when you get these guys together, they are as competitive as you can be out on the water.”
Adventurous types needn’t leave the surfing to the professionals. Hotel guests can purchase day passes to board the Four Seasons Explorer, a 128-foot yacht stationed just off the surf break during the tournament. And available packages include Surf’s Up (from $1,300) or the Group Surf & Stay (from $6,590 for five nights), which includes surf safaris, intensive lessons and round-trip airport transfers by speedboat. Rest assured the fun is for everyone. “I’m really enthused to see folks in their forties who consistently come and vacation at our resort for the surf,” Hochkoeppler says. “It’s not just for teenagers and twentysomethings.” Rooms start at $900 (including breakfast); North Malé Atoll; 960/664-4888; fourseasons.com.
December 05, 2013
Courtesy of The Standard
After decades of enduring a less than elegant reputation in basements and rec rooms, Ping-Pong returns to its luxe roots, thanks to The Standard hotel and SPiN Galactic’s exclusive table ($5,995).
Like every custom table The Standard features at its properties—an amenity that has become an integral part of the hotel’s culture since it opened in 1999—the SPiN Standard Table has a solid-wood, black-matte base; a custom STIGA playing surface in signature Standard red; a sleek white centerline; a removable net; and solid steel hardware.
The elements reintroduce refinement to a sport that began as a sophisticated after-dinner tradition in 19th-century Britain, when paddles were made from the lids of cigar boxes and balls were carved from Champagne corks. Using innovative craftsmanship and modern design, this new table upholds the game’s civilized origins while offering a state-of-the-art playing experience—a win by any measure. standardhotels.myshopify.com.