Sports travel blog

Guide to sports travel and hotel accommodation

Ashes 2009: Swalec Stadium, Cardiff

Posted in  Cricket by Paul on the June 24th, 2009

ashes-swalecIf you know cricket then you know that the rivalry between England and Australia is unparalleled in any other sport. The rivalry dates back to 1882, when Australia beat England on English grounds for the first time. The Sporting Times published a satirical obituary stating that English cricket had died, and “the body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia.” England and Australia continue this rivalry in a series known as The Ashes where the prize is an urn, supposedly containing the remains of burnt cricket equipment. Watch this 127 year-old rivalry open in 2009 at SWALEC Stadium in Wales.

Set in beautiful parklands, the stadium is just a short walk from Cardiff’s town center. Make your trip really something to remember by signing up for the Dragon’s Hospitality package. Along with premier match tickets, program and free gift, you will start the day off with coffee or tea and a fresh breakfast roll. Then you will enjoy a champagne reception and four-course luncheon. Afternoon tea will help keep you alert, or opt to indulge in the complimentary bar. This is a thrilling way to enjoy the match, entertain clients, or make lasting memories with family and friends.

Continue your extravagant day and stay at the St. Davids Hotel and Spa. This 5 star hotel boasts the ultimate in quality hospitality and has all the amenities including babysitting. Rooms overlook the bay and its distinctive sail-topped roof has become a landmark. If you are looking for something a little more Welsh but still luxurious, the Copthorne Hotel Cardiff is the place to stay. Located on the picturesque lakeside, the Copthorne is close to the Cardiff Castle, Welsh Folk Museum, and Cardiff Bay. There is a sports bar to enjoy all the cricket action and a delicious restaurant offering up traditionally Welsh meals.

For a real sense of history, stay at the Miskin Manor Country House that dates all the way back to the 10th century and is proud to have been a resting place for Edward VIII before he was king. The restored building is situated on 22 acres of gardens with glass-backed squash courts, badminton, swimming pool, gymnasium and helicopter pad. The rooms are individually decorated with all the modern facilities. A few nights here and you may forget you came to see cricket at all.

While there is certainly no shortage of luxury in the historic town of Cardiff, those on a budget will not be left out. Directly across from Cardiff Castle is the Barcel Cardiff Angel House. Built in 1833, the magnificently refurbished interior includes marble floors, crystal chandeliers and a grand, sweeping staircase. Its central location and excellent facilities seem like they should demand top dollar, but the room rates are very reasonable. It seems Wales likes to spoil her guests.

Epsom Downs – The Derby Meeting: Where You Should Stay

Posted in  Horse Racing by Paul on the June 19th, 2009

747928_jockeyIt’s known as a difficult and undulating course and it poses a serious challenge to amateur horses and riders. Fifty-percent longer than the 2,000 Guineas Stakes, the Epsom Downs racecourse has been run since 1780, and is the most prestigious, and wealthiest, horse race is England.

The race has inspired many State-side competitions to take the name Derby. The most famous is the Kentucky Derby, held annually in Louisville, Kentucky. Although the start of the Epsom Derby has been changed multiple times, it currently takes place between Epsom, Tadworth, and Langly Vale. Because the course goes through public areas, spectators can watch the Derby for free along much of the track. This has made it increasingly difficult to actually watch the race freely with so many people vying for good view.

There are many other events at the Epsom Downs throughout the year besides the Derby Festival. There are also other races throughout the year, as well as the popular Live! Music Nights. This year the Derby Festival is sponsored by the leading specialist bank Investec, following an almost 38 million pound redevelopment program.

The Epsom downs is a grade-one racecourse available by rail and road. Both Heathrow Airport and Gatwick airport are approximately 23 miles from the track. From either airport you can use the underground, taxis, or rent a car. There are plenty of signs marking a path to the Derby Festival during the racing season.

There are multiple car parks near the Epsom Downs racetrack. Most maps of the Epsom Downs area will provide you with many car park options. If you are traveling by train, you can arrive at either the Epsom Downs station, or the Tattenham Corner station. From the Epsom Downs station, it’s approximately a Kilometer. From Tattenham, it’s around a half kilometer. Both stations offer taxi services to bring you to the events.

It’s recommended to share a car to the Derby events. If you are driving and have extra room in the car, or if you need a spot in someone else’s, you can sign up on www.surreycarshare.com. It’s easy to car share, and saves on gas, time, and ultimately money.

There are many quality hotels in Epsom, Surrey. Options include the Chalk Lane Hotel. This hotel is in a quiet part of Epsom, and features two restaurants and lies between the Derby tracks and the Epsom town center. It’s conveniently located off the M25, equidistant to both Gatwick and Heathrow airports.

One further recommendation is the Nonsuch Park Hotel. This hotel is directly across from the historic Nonsuch Park, and is an attractive, family-owned accommodation. It is both luxurious and affordable, with a stunning restaurant and a comfortable atmosphere.

Wimbledon Tennis Hotels

Posted in  Tennis by Paul on the June 18th, 2009

1181224_tennis_time_2Make sure to bring your strawberries when visiting the most famous tennis tournament in the world. Perhaps as old as the event itself, eating strawberries at this competition is a long tradition that both players and spectators enjoy.

Some call it Wimbledon. Other’s simply refer to it as “the Championships.” It’s the oldest, and perhaps most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, and it is held every year in small part of London, called Wimbledon.

Since 1877, the All England Club has hosted this tremendously popular event, among other well-known tournaments. Besides the fame, the location, and the long list of famous athletes who have competed on it’s courts, one special fact about Wimbledon drives many to play here. It is the only Grand Slam tennis tournament that touts grass courts.

The event takes place over one fortnight, and consists of five different divisions: the Gentlemen’s Singles, Ladies’ Singles, Gentlemen’s Doubles, Ladies’ Doubles, and finally the Mixed Doubles. Prize money has been given to the winners since 1968, which was the first year that professional players were eligible to compete in this tournament. This year, at the 2009 Wimbledon Championships, the total prize fund is over 12 million pounds (about 20 million dollars). The singles champions themselves receive around 1.5 million for a first place victory.

Although it’s not recommended to show up without tickets to Wimbledon, it is the only grand slam tourney where spectators and fans can try and get seats without reservations. There is a queue at the entrance where a few lucky people can hope to get in, but usually the line begins to form before midnight.

Whether it’s the 2004 Wimbledon movie starring Paul Bettany and Kirsten Dunst, or the growing interest for Tennis in general, the Wimbledon Championships have become increasingly popular over the years. Hotels in the area are being booked quickly and officials in the area are preparing for the influx of tourists.

This year, the 2009 Wimbledon Tennis Championships begins on June 22nd, and runs until July 5th. Don’t expect to be able to park on the streets near the tournament, as signs will indicate street parked vehicles will be towed away. There are a few car parks nearby, but it’s recommended that one parks at their hotel, or takes public transportation or taxi to the event.

If you are traveling to the event from afar, make your way to Wimbledon station. From here you can catch a Taxi, and marshals who represent local taxis will direct you to shared taxis, which helps cut the cost of the fare. There are regular public transport connections at both the Wimbledon and Southfields stations.

The best place to stay is at a hotel near Wimbledon championships. Don’t let a bad hotel stay ruin your Wimbledon adventures. A good hotel will allow you provide parking and offer easy transport to the competition directly from the hotel.

The Antoinette Hotel Wimbledon is a popular hotel in the heart of Wimbledon and is within walking distance from the station. This hotel has luxury restaurants, roof gardens and cafes. It’s also a convenient hotel if you’d like to visit central London, which is only 15 minutes away. And most importantly it’s near to the Wimbledon Championships.

Another option for accommodation is Anna’s Bed and Breakfast Wimbledon. It’s a small, friendly Victorian guest house. Built in 1872, this house sports polished wooden floors, elegant furnishings, and a perfect location, also only 15 minutes from the heart of London. Anna’s house is a perfect location, run by Anna, who used to be a tour guide and has known the city for over 40 years.

If you haven’t purchased tickets yet, you can do so easily at www.wimbledon.org. Buy your tickets soon, before they’re sold out!

Accommodation for Royal Ascot near Windsor

Posted in  Horse Racing by Paul on the June 17th, 2009

647934_the_raceHosting nine of the United Kingdom’s thirty-two annual Group 1 races, the Royal Ascot Racecourse is prestigious track located in the village of Ascot, Berkshire. Only six miles from Windsor Castle, the Ascot Racecourse is closely associated with the British Royal Family. It was founded in 1711 by Queen Anne, and since 1813 when Parliament passed an act, it has remained a public racetrack, and has become a very popular venue for tourism.

The Royal Ascot events sell out quickly. You can book tickets online at ascot.co.uk or by calling the Ascot center personally. You can even book groups using the group booking form on their web site. Children are welcome at the Ascot racecourse, and children under the age of 16 are admitted free. Seating is generally first come first served for the Concourse Level and 4th Level of the Grandstand.

Like most other elite racecourses, there is a dress code that guests should be aware of. The Ascot web site says fans should wear “smart” attire, no ripped jeans, shorts, or sportswear. Fancy clothes and dresses are welcome as well.

Her Majesty The Queen and the Royal Party usually attend every day of the Royal Ascot races. The Royal procession takes place before the races each day, at around 2:00 p.m. Before the races start you can make bets at any tote-pool counters located inside the facilities. There are even betting shops at the concourse level, and bookmakers are located in front of Silver Ring areas and Grandstand Admission.

The Ascot Racecourse is located in the pristine woods alongside the Windsor Great Park and it’s about 50 minutes from Central London. Ascot is easily accessed by most major motor-ways and is close to London Heathrow airport. Using trains to get to Ascot is easy, as there is a frequent service to the racecourse from Reading (about 30 minutes) and Waterloo (about 50 minutes).

Windsor is to the west of London, and easily accessible from Train, Bus, Car, or Taxi. Access is convenient from M3, M4, M25 and M40. London and Gatwick airports are under an hour’s drive, and Heathrow is just 15 minutes away. Car parking is available at Ascot for about 16 pounds.

In the Windsor area you can visit Windsor Castle, watch the changing of the guard, or visit the Savill Garden. There are plenty of accommodation options available in the Windsor area including Bed and Breakfasts, Guest Houses, and Hotels. The Tun Cottage is a four star, beautiful country home converted into a bed and breakfast. It’s close to both Ascot and Windsor, and the nightly rates are reasonable, at around 60 pounds a night. There are only three spacious bedrooms here, but if you book early you may be able to reserve one now.

If you are looking for an elegant hotel near the Ascot, try the Coppid Beech hotel. This is one of the best four star hotels available in the area. Elegant architecture, spacious bedrooms and gourmet food put this hotel in high demand.

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Hotels for British Grand Prix at Silverstone

Posted in  Motorsport by Paul on the June 17th, 2009

985284_racing_flag_1If you have always dreamed of attending a Formula 1 Grand Prix at Silverstone, this may be your last chance. Due to the fact that this is the last year that Silverstone will be hosting the Grand Prix, spectators from around the world are lining up to witness this historical event. And Silverstone is planning a sendoff like no other. Not only can spectators expect entertainment on the track, but off the track as well. Legends of F1 past and present are expected to attend and the after race party is sure to go down in history as one of the most spectacular. This year, 250 very lucky fans will also have the opportunity to meet their favorite F1 driver and have autographs signed. With live music schedule for all three days, this is sure to be one of the biggest and best Grand Prix events Silverstone has ever hosted.

Where to Stay

There are many hotels, bed and breakfasts, and campsites in the area depending on your budget and how you like to travel. Soak in all the English countryside has to offer by staying in true British luxury at the Hellidon Lakes, a 110-room hotel set amidst 220 acres of rolling countryside including a 27-hole golf course, award winning restaurant, relaxing spa. To get a rural and welcoming experience, visit Sheena and Peter at the Kings Head Syresham. All rooms in this converted barn are en suite and the restaurant superb. There are also many chains like Holiday Inn, Comfort Inn, and Best Western willing to accommodate race fans.

If a romantic bed and breakfast is what you like, the closet one is the Silverstone Bed and Breakfast. Just 600 meters from the track, this stone built barn conversion has a beautiful garden and ample off road parking. You will enjoy a full English breakfast in the bright, vaulted dining room. The Old Vicarage is an historic luxury B&B named in the top 5 by the BBC’s Homes and Antiques and the venue of the British GP House Party. There are 6 rooms and an apartment for parties of up to 8 people.

Just across from the Silverstone entrance you will find the lively Litchlake Farm campsite, only open for events in July, with shopping and hot food on site. From this proximity you are sure to never miss any of the excitement. For a quiet night’s sleep, walk 40 minutes from the track to Cavalier Fields and enjoy a friendly welcome with lovely views. This campsite is peaceful, has hot showers and catering. For easier traveling and light packing, try renting camping equipment at Praxis Tent, or stay in one of their pre-erected tents. This family-run business is also within walking distance of Silverstone and can accommodate any size group.

For those wanting the whole English countryside side, you can rent holiday cottages from the working Stoke Lyne Farm. Grange Farm Country Cottages and the Vale Farm House are traditionally decorated with all the modern conveniences. Staying at any of the self-serve cottages is sure to offer peaceful evenings after the excitement of Silverstone.

Assen Moto GP and nearby accommodation

Posted in  Motorsport by Paul on the June 16th, 2009

motorbikeMotorbike fans are in for a real treat at the Assen Moto GP. Here, the whole town of Assen in the Netherlands becomes one big street party on Friday nights with music, beer and bikes. The racing is done on Saturday, giving you Sunday to recover. Staying in town for the races is sure to be a fun and lively time for race fans.

Where to Stay

To get the whole experience, and safe transportation, sign up for the package deal with Pole Position Travel. You will stay in Adelhof Park in a bungalow that sleeps up to six. Solo travelers get one room in the 3-room bungalows. Dinner is provided for each of the 3 nights as well as breakfast every morning. A coach takes you and other travelers to the street party on Friday and the race on Saturday, and gets you home safely provided you remember where it parked. There is an optional beer trolley tour on Sunday.

For a little more luxury, there is a package where you can stay in a private room at the best hotel in Groningen for 3 nights. The package comes with breakfast and track transfers for Friday and Saturday. The street party is optional as is the self-pedal beer trolley. Upgrade your race experience to the VIP Village. Next to the paddock, overlooking the curve, you will enjoy the full excitement of race with other fans. The pit lane walks, paddock tours, luxury catering, open bar and race reports will get you saying what the regulars here say, “once you go VIP you never go back.”

If you’d like to leave some of the excitement behind, stay a few minutes away at the 4-star Golden Tulip Drenthe in Zeegse. Located in the midst of the forest, its quiet and beautiful natural atmosphere are sure to help you relax. An affordable option is the Tulip Inn Brinkhotel situated on one of seven village squares in Zuidlaren. Recently renovated, this hotel offers all the hospitality and facilities you need for vacation or business.

You can camp at the family-friendly Zilverberk Park Witterzomer. Stay in a bungalow or pack your own tent and enjoy the many leisure activities. There is ping-pong, tennis, regular and mini golf, bicycle rentals, heated pool and even a library to keep you busy when not at the track. Open year-round, this is a fun way to bring the family and enjoy the races.

John Smith’s Northumberland Plate Meeting, Newcastle

Posted in  Horse Racing by Paul on the June 16th, 2009

183381_point_to_point_racing_1The Newcastle racecourse hosts both hunt and flat races throughout the year, but the biggest competition is the Northumberland Plate which is held every year in June. Some refer to it as the Pitman’s Derby, and other’s just call it “The Plate”. The track is 2 miles long and flat.

It was first run way back in 1833, where local mining families could enjoy a brief holiday. The course today houses a Premier enclosure called the Branding House, as well as The Grandstand and Paddock. The Branding House facilities have bars and restaurants, with outside seating areas, and a cocktail lounge. The Grandstand and Paddock house bars and food outlets as well. Both have viewing terraces

There is an all inclusive hospitality package that includes Premier Enclosure Admission, race cards, 3 course luncheon, tea, and unlimited beer, wine, and soft drinks. Like most other elite racecourses, there is a dress code that guests should be aware of. The Newcastle web site says fans should wear “smart” attire, no ripped jeans, shorts, or sportswear. Fancy clothes and dresses are welcome as well.

There are multiple betting facilities available inside most of the main buildings, and close to the racetracks, but alcohol is not allowed in betting areas. No alcohol can be taken in to the actual racecourse and only alcohol that was bought at the Northumberland Plate is allowed on the premises.

Getting to the Northumberland Plate in Newcastle, England is easy by car, taxi, and public transport. There are free shuttle busses from the nearby stations, Four Lane Ends and Regent Centre. Many busses run to the track and stop directly across from the Newcastle racecourse. Taxi’s can use the west entrance and cost about fifteen pounds. Driving to the station by car is also an option. Guests can park at the east entrance for general admission, or the west entrance for hospitality guests. There are a total of twelve thousand free parking spots available.

If you are like me and want the best quality for the lowest cost, check out the Caledonian Hotel. Reasonable rates here will get you a perfect location, with spacious rooms, beautiful architecture and fully equipped TV and wifi. The hotel also offers a wide range of dining options and a bistro along with the happening Billabong Bar.

If you are looking for something a little more ritzy, you may enjoy the Hardwick Hall Hotel. Built in the 1700s, this giant manor is located in the popular Hardwick Hall County Park. This hotel is worth it just for the night lights that illuminate the regal architecture after dark.

Recommended hotels for Nurburgring F1

Posted in  Motorsport by Paul on the June 15th, 2009

f1 carThe Nurburgring in Germany, known simply as “the Ring” by enthusiasts, is considered the toughest, most dangerous and most demanding racetrack in the world. About an hour drive northwest from Frankfurt, the track is set against the endless dark green trees of the Eifel mountains. Nicknamed “the Green Hell” by Jackie Stewart the track was built in the 1920’s. Up to 290,000 spectators visit the 24 Hours Nurburgring weekend in mid-June, so if you are considering going, better book your hotel early.

Where to Stay

Luckily the nearest hotel is the luxurious 4-star Dorint Am Nurburgring Hocheifel. The Ring’s start/finish line is at the hotel’s front doorstep so you will never miss any of the excitement. Enjoy views of the beautiful Hocheifel countryside and 207 innovatively decorated rooms, many with racing themes, as well as meeting rooms that often host car and product presentations. Just 10 minutes away is another 4-star treat, the Linder Congress and Motorsports Hotel. This is a fast-paced hotel that is the ideal pit-stop for race enthusiasts. With its soundproof rooms, spa and sauna you are sure to get a good night’s rest.

5 km away is the affordable Hotel Haus Sonneck, a secluded but modern ranch with child-friendly horse-riding programs and a variety of animals including guinea pigs, rabbits, chickens, goats, deer and cattle. You and your family can take horse or biking tours on well-established paths and really feel the relaxed western German lifestyle. Still affordable is the family-run Hotel Rieder, with bright, cozy rooms and satellite tv. Their rustic restaurant offers healthy, international dishes prepared from fresh, local ingredients. Located 10 minutes from the track, this hotel is also near the Belgium and Luxembourg borders and is a great base to explore the region.

Treat yourself to a more traditionally German stay at one of the several guesthouses in the area. Sliders guesthouse is geared towards those traveling by motorcycle and motor sports fan. Here you can enjoy secure bike parking and a friendly, cheerful atmosphere with like-minded travelers. A little more secluded, the Pension Muhlenhardt’s back door opens straight into the woods where you can go hiking or mountain biking. They have a secure garage for both cars and bikes.

If you choose, you can even camp right at the track or with other race fans at Mullenbach campgrounds. Many visitors to Nurburgring like to stay in the forest and sleep under the stars; it’s best to do so at one of the designated campgrounds.

ICC World Twenty20 Venues & Accommodation

Posted in  Cricket by Paul on the June 9th, 2009

cricket playerThe ICC World Twenty20 is the international championship for the newest form of cricket organized by the International Cricket Council. 12 teams will now compete every 2 years to claim themselves world champs. The 2009 men’s championship is hosted by England at 3 locations: Lord’s, the Oval and Trent Bridge. The women’s tournament will be held at Taunton.

Lord’s, known as The Home of Cricket will host the opening and final games. Opened in 1814, these grounds have a long history and tradition in the game of Cricket. Stay at the 4 star Danubius Regents Park hotel that is just a 5 minute stroll from the grounds, some rooms even overlook the grounds. It is a large modern hotel with easy access to the London underground and Regent’s park with reasonable rates. Also nearby is the staunchly British Dorset Square Hotel, overlooking the site of Sir Thomas Lord’s first cricket pitch. Small and luxurious, they offer fresh cheeses, ales and jams.

Semi-finals will be held at The Oval and Trent Bridge. Despite not being as famous as Lord’s, the Oval dates back to 1845 and hosted the first FA Cup Final for rugby in 1872. Nearby is the luxurious Plaza on the River Club and Residence offering modern suites and superb service along with views of the River Thames, House of Parliament and Big Ben. Save some money and stay at the Belgrave Hotel in central London. The friendly staff and homely atmosphere make this an enjoyable place to relax after the games.

Trent Bridge is the world’s third oldest Test ground, having hosted country and Test cricket since 1838. Trent Bridge hosted its first international cricket match in 1899 and has recently been upgraded. Enjoy a comfortable stay in Nottingham at the Rufford or Balmoral Hotels and walk to Trent Bridge for the matches. The Ibis Hotel in Nottingham Centre is a short taxi ride away and close to the main nightlife areas.

Taunton will host the Women’s championship. Known as the “Home of Women’s Cricket”, Taunton will stage 12 games before the semi-finals at the Oval and Trent Bridge, and the final will be played at Lord’s all on the same ticket as the men’s matches. Treat yourself to a stay at The Castle at Taunton and enjoy their local produce and delicious muesli. The lovely Salisbury House Hotel offers a great breakfast, is very comfortable and reasonably priced. If romance is in store while visiting, The Mount Somerset Hotel offers plenty of private luxury that is sure to make a lasting impression.

For fans of cricket the world over, the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 international championships couldn’t be hosted at more deserving grounds. Whether you like to travel and enjoy all the modern conveniences or are looking for a more rural British experience, there are many hotels within walking distance of all these grounds to suit your needs.

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