a quick introduction: my name is James and earlier this year I joined Active Away on a 12 month internship after graduating from the University of Nottingham. During my time at Uni I was fortunate to spend a large portion of time training alongside, playing with and observing some of the top talents in University and college tennis. In addition to this, when back home, I’ve spent the last 8 years working as a tennis coach at my local club Kenilworth Tennis Club in Warwickshire, eventually hearing about Active Away through clients of the company who play at Kenilworth.
Having been fortunate enough over the last couple of months to sample some of Greece’s highest rated resorts I felt this was the perfect opportunity to kickstart this blog series by revisiting some of my personal highlights with Active Away from 2018 whilst also providing an insight into my thoughts on the resorts I visited.
I began my autumn season at one of the smaller resorts that Active Away tennis holidays frequents – Grecotel Daphnila Bay, Corfu. What this resort lacks in size it more than makes up for with its natural beauty. Corfu has long been regarded as one of the more beautiful Greek islands and
Daphnila Bay, situated on the Eastern Coast, is no exception with lush greenery throughout the resort right down to the water’s edge. The resort’s well-maintained tennis courts are situated on slightly higher ground to the side of the hotel, providing fantastic vistas. The close nature of the tennis set up at Daphnila Bay made for great social afternoon sessions, with the banter flying from court to court as scores got close and friendly rivalries were born. That said, my standout point of my time in Corfu came away from the tennis court. The resort has recently moved up to 5* and one key area its improved in has been the food. A sprawling buffet and 2 beachfront “speciality” restaurants, one Greek and one Italian, mean that guests have plenty of options to choose from. However, it would be foolish to think that this quantity negatively affects the quality and, on more than one occasion, I heard our guests remark that this was the best catered tennis holiday they’d ever experienced. A highlight of mine, which I feel encapsulates the Corfu Active Away tennis holiday experience, was sitting down as a group after an action packed doubles social afternoon at
the beachside Greek restaurant to sample the endless meze options whilst overlooking the tranquil Daphnila Bay. Great views, good food and a delightful tennis holiday set up. What more could you want from your tennis holiday?
What makes for the best tennis holiday is a question we often debate in the office. However, it goes without saying that the tennis facilities themselves are a vital part of any Active Away holiday. This brings us onto Lyttos beach, a 4* resort based in Crete with big ambitions in the tennis world. Offering 27 courts across 3 surfaces of acrylic, artificial grass and artificial clay it’s easy to see why the ITF circuit is also a regular visitor to this venue. I was lucky enough to spend 3 weeks of this season at Lyttos Beach and can honestly say I never tired of the setup there. The variety of surfaces meant a new experience for many of our clients at the beginning of the week and it was always great to end the week with our Champagne Social and see so many big smiles as people, having adapted to a new surface, began to put into practice their newly learnt doubles tactics! The end of the week also meant a trip to the vibrant local town of Hersonnisos. Stepping outside of the all-inclusive bubble for the first time in a while meant I had my initial reservations. These could not have been more wide of the mark. Active Away has visited Kymata restaurant for years and it’s not hard to see why. A superb array of food was washed down with a glass of wine and a couple of ouzos and, before you knew it, the whole group was on their feet singing along toNeil Diamond, Whitney Houston and other classics. The rest
aurant is positioned right on the seafront (Kymata means ‘waves’ in Greek) and it’s a fantastic end to cap off the week before dancing the evening away and enjoying a cocktail or two at nearby bar New York!
Just down the road from Lyttos Beach, along the North Coast of Crete, lies Kalimera Kriti, a new resort for Active Away in 2018. The first thing that struck me about Kalimera Kriti was the setting. Behind the resort’s 6 impeccably maintained artificial grass courts lies a stunning mountain range and gorge which provides a staggering backdrop for a morning on the courts. This venue certainly delivers a tennis holiday with a view. The resort itself was built with a traditional sense in mind, with the bungalows and rooms being laid out in a style designed to emulate that of a Cretan village. The courts lie just a stone’s throw away from the accommodation making it a short walk to your room to get changed for the evening after an absorbing social afternoon of doubles!
My travels for the season concluded with a trip to the famed Sani Resort which was recently voted within the top 5 resorts in Europe and number 6 in the world! I’d heard much about Sani before travelling there, both in the office and from our clients, but the resort still managed to exceed my expectations. The attention to detail and service is incredible, with everything right down to the daily room supply of teabags accounted for. The resort offers 6 Canadian clay courts, which are well maintained daily and present a new experience to many of our clients. My week in Sani took place during one of Active Away’s popular family weeks and the fact that all the courts were so close together meant for a brilliant tennis experience whereby the adult sessions could be spread across 3 courts and the kids, separated by their relevant levels and abilities, played on the adjacent 3 courts. Looking back on my Sani experience, there were two particular moments that stood out for me as highlights. Firstly, partying the evening away at the infamous Sani ‘White Party’ for which guests are encouraged to dress all in white, order a cocktail and take in the relaxing ambience of beachfront Bousolas bar. Reaching the middle of the week and seeing so many newly made friends dancing and laughing the night away was a fantastic experience. My second highlight would have to be the end of week tournament. With it being a family week, this provided a great opportunity for parents to join forces with their kids and face off against other families and the
light hearted nature and good feeling that encapsulated this tournament was the perfect way tosign off a season of delivering 5* tennis holidays!
This Wednesday marked an important date in the Active Away diary for several reasons. Firstly, it was the launch of our Corporate Tennis Events, an occasion attended by a variety of highly regarded figures from a wealth of professional backgrounds. Secondly, the launch coincided with our filming with the BBC for Pitches to Riches, their popular follow up show to Dragons Den.
The day began with a light brunch and a chance to get to know everyone before guests were treated to a hilarious performance by impressionist Josh Berry, who served up impersonations of Federer, McEnroe, Murray and more!
With everyone here and in good spirits, it was time to hit some balls and all the guests made their way to the courts for a fast paced morning session focusing on doubles gameplay and tactics led by Josh, Charlie and Sean. As always, the team brought a fantastic energy to court and it was great to see so many smiles and such a positive atmosphere as everyone really bought into the session.
For Steve and Matt, the morning began with an interview in front of the cameras, discussing Active Away and the progress the company has made since its Dragons Den appearance. After this, the BBC wanted some on court action shots and with this being the follow up show to Dragons Den, what better way to do this than set up a doubles match between Steve and Matt and Dragon investor Peter Jones and his son, Will. A personal highlight of my day was watching this doubles match as not only was it really interesting watching the BBC at work courtside but it was also nice to see Peter and his son having such a great time on court and experiencing what Active Away is all about.
Just before we broke for lunch, Peter addressed the group thanking everyone for attending before introducing Josh as a new director of the company and giving credit to the hard work of the team behind the scenes.
It was then time for a well-earned bite to eat and Virgin Active Riverside Chiswick laid on a superb lunch of healthy nibbles and refreshments for those in attendance. The lunch also allowed chance for those in attendance to have some time to get to know each other and network amongst the group. Active Away prides itself on the social aspect of these occasions and our Corporate Launch was no exception with the team having chance to catch up with familiar faces as well as becoming familiar with some of the newer ones in attendance.
After lunch, everyone gathered round and listened as the teams were read out for the afternoon’s Pro AM tournament. Guests were organised into teams with a selection of famous names from the tennis world such as Dom Inglot, Marcus Willis, Greg Whitecross and Matt Short all playing in and captaining teams. With timed, quick-fire rounds and sudden death deuces aplenty, the tournament made for enjoyable watching and the banter flew as our guests battled away alongside and against players they’d more often than not only seen on the TV.
Following on from 5 rounds of exciting matches, it was time to find out the winners and for the presentation to begin. After some closely contested matches, Matt’s Moroccans were eventually crowned victorious and each were presented with trophies by Josh in front of the assembled guests and BBC cameras. With that done, there was time for Steve to say a few words of thanks and to present each guest with a goodie bag before it was time to wrap up Active Away’s first ever corporate day! All in all the day was a total success and I think I speak for all of the Active Away team when I say we can’t wait until our next Corporate Tennis Event.
Catch us on the new series of Pitches to Riches!