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October 01, 2014
By Francisco Alvarado | sports
Life After Lebron
Illustration by Leif Parsons

Surely the rebounding economy powered the median sale prices of condos in Miami Beach, which increased by 35.4 percent from 2010 to 2012. But what about the LeBron Effect? After all, he was there the same years.

Certainly, the allure of watching an NBA dynasty unfold from a balcony overlooking Biscayne Boulevard convinced a few high rollers to buy luxury condos. For instance, high-tech defense contractor Russell Wright plunked down $4.2 million on a penthouse in the Marquis Residences, one block from the Heat’s arena, the same day James decided to sign with the team. Moreover, downtown condo sales in July 2010 doubled from the previous month (The Decision, the ESPN special featuring LeBron’s announcement, aired July 8), recalls Fortune International Realty’s Edgardo Defortuna. Sales at the Marquis were up during the Heat’s first playoff run in 2011, says Wendy Marks Pine, an executive with Cervera Realty. But Defortuna insists the market won’t cool now that James bolted back to Ohio. “Miami is the world’s next major metropolitan city,” he says. “And not just because of LeBron.”

August 27, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Fitness, sports

Three Luxe Athletic Training Vacations
Photo courtesy of Eric Orton

These days vacations are not just for lounging—they’re opportunities for truly dedicated athletes to hone their skills. This fall, running, cycling and tennis devotees have the chance to indulge their passion with these three luxe athletic training vacations, which promise access to experts in three of the world’s most beautiful locales.

  • Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, celebrated running coach Eric Orton (Born to Run) and Hotel Terra and Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa have partnered to launch a four-day running camp in the Teton Mountains of Wyoming. From September 10 to 13, participants will receive personalized coaching from Orton on trail running and training in world-class terrain. Campers should be able to run a minimum of two to three hours comfortably upon arrival. $899; runningwitheric.com.
  • The Viceroy Snowmass (130 Wood Rd.;970-923-8000; viceroyhotelsandresorts.com) partners with sports concierge service Pros in Motion (aspenprosinmotion.com) all year-round to create custom itineraries for its guests, but there’s no better time than autumn to hop on a bike in Colorado. Bespoke private packages can include guided road or mountain bike tours complemented by post-ride clinics and massages, as well as gourmet picnics and protein breakfasts. Rooms start at $175; biking packages start at $611 a day.
  • From November 18 to 22, Rosewood Little Dix Bay (Lee Rd.; 284-495-5555; rosewoodhotels.com) in Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands hosts The Legends Camp, a five-day tennis clinic taught by renowned tennis pros Wayne Bryan, Murphy Jensen and Brad Gilbert. The package includes transportation to Richard Branson’s Necker Island to watch tennis stars Björn Borg, Boris Becker, Kim Clijsters and others compete at the Necker Cup Charity Exhibition and entrance to the “End of the World” charity dinner, auction and party. Starts at $7,645; 800-376-0975; premiertennis.com.
August 11, 2014
By Sasha Levine | sports, Hotels

A Polo Event in Wine Country
Photo courtesy of Billy Farrell Agency

Get your opera glasses ready: On September 20, the St. Regis San Francisco (125 Third St.; 415-284-4000; stregissanfrancisco.com) will host its first-ever Polo Cup in Sonoma Valley’s Wild Oak Saddle Club (550 White Oak Dr.; 707-539-8629; wildoaksaddleclub.com), adding yet another destination to the property’s sporting tradition around the world.

Like previous events held abroad—the brand has hosted championships in Brazil, the UK, China, Thailand and other locales—the event will kick off with an afternoon match, starring acclaimed Argentine polo player (and St. Regis–brand ambassador) “Nacho” Figueras. While watching, guests can dig into a catered gourmet picnic of Argentine asado (barbecue) from the hotel’s executive chef, Oliver Belliard, and—for a little local flair—sip California wines from Hamel Family Wines. A silent auction will also take place, with travel packages from St. Regis Hotels & Resorts from across the globe. Proceeds will go to Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center, the only year-round premier accredited therapeutic riding program in the Northern Bay Area.

Die-hard fans should reserve the St. Regis Polo Cup Aficionado Package now, which includes two nights at the hotel’s San Francisco location, spa treatments at Remede Spa and Bentley transportation to the match (starts at $6,750). General admission tickets start at $350 per person; purchase at stregissanfrancisco.com.

 

March 26, 2014
By Sasha Levine | sports

Play Tennis Like a Pro on Mustique
Courtesy of Mustique

Mustique—the Caribbean island tucked between St. Vincent and the Grenadines—is launching its first-ever five-day tennis clinic (May 5–9), run by resident professional coach Richard Schaffer and former tennis pro Slaven Ovuka.

The 20-hour clinic offers one-on-one attention from the experts. Players will take part in the same drills that are used to coach professionals and receive elite advice and attention while learning new stroke techniques, developing creative thinking on the court and increasing mental and physical flexibility.

“The goal of Mustique Tennis Week was to create the best tennis-coaching week in the world,” says Schaffer, “giving regular tennis fans access to a coach who works with some of the best world-ranked ATP/WTA players.”

Between sessions, players can recuperate with private beach-yoga classes, spa treatments and massage therapy and complement their workout with traditional water sports like sailing, scuba diving, snorkeling and paddleboarding. Accommodation options range from one of the island’s 75 fully staffed private villas (from $5,000 a week; 855-261-1316) to the venerable Cotton House (rooms, from $450; 784-456-4777; cottonhouse.net), a historic boutique hotel, whose two restaurants are run by Michelin-starred chef Tristan Welch.

“We want them [guests] to walk away from Mustique having experienced one of the most beautiful destinations in the world,” Schaffer says, “as well as a new concept on how to play the game of tennis.” Mustique Tennis Week, $2,500 a person; to reserve a spot or a villa, contact Victoria Hawbecker at 855-261-1316 or victoria@mustique.vc; mustique-island.com.

December 04, 2013
By Sasha Levine | sports

Ping-Pong’s Extravagant Upgrade
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.

August 14, 2013
By Erin Schumaker | sports

A Boutique Surfing Competition in the Maldives
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.

July 17, 2013
By Ingrid Skjong | sports

Saratoga Race Course Celebrates
Adam Coglianese

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.

December 12, 2012
By Sarah Gold | sports

201212-b-ski-with-a-pro.jpg
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.

December 06, 2012
By Erin Schumaker | sports, Gifts

Gift of the Day: High-Design Etro Surfboard
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.

July 02, 2012
By Ingrid Skjong | sports

Tennis Lessons at the Gstaad Palace
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.

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