My wife, Lesley Silvester, and I decided to return to Gstaad, Switzerland this summer to spend a second week with Aussie legend Roy Emerson, his wife Joy, their son Anthony, and assorted others for a week of batting balls, swapping stories, and consuming fine food and even finer wine for several reasons:
- A year ago, we’d had a wonderful time, making new friends, exploring an area that I knew little about, and thoroughly enjoying the five or so hours we spent on the red clay courts of the Palace Hotel each day.
- We had missed the experience of actually staying at the Palace, considered one of the world’s best, because we had been loaned a chalet by a friend. For our return, we would bed down in Room 304, with its luxurious two-sink dressing room/bathroom, king bed, and 200-channel satelliteTV.
- We were going to be in Europe anyway, for a London wedding, and so the somewhat breathtaking cost of the whole venture — a little over 4,000 Swiss francs per person, not including transportation to and from the Gstaad Valley (but including all your excellent meals) — was cushioned by the fact that we’d already committed to a transatlantic flight from New York City.
- Did I mention it had been great fun?
And so we found ourselves late on the afternoon of Sunday, June 23, climbing into Happy Bus proprietor/driver Neil Fairly’s new Mercedes for a leisurely two hour drive along the shore of Lake Geneva, with side trips through old Lausanne and the neighboring Lutry marina, where Neil kept his 1937 Pirate-class sailboat, before heading up into the mountains, past the Les Diablos ski area and F1 racing mogul Bernie Ecclestone’s glacier chairlift, and pulling into the Palace drive just as the sun began to set on the year’s longest day.
Roy, Joy, and the other pros and campers — roughly 35 in all (with a couple more due to arrive today, Monday) — were on their third of five courses in the main dining room, but in a very short while, abetted by a glass of Swiss white, I’d caught up. We’d be on the courts at 9 for evaluation, and our first clinic would start at 9:30.
“Glad you made it, Blue,” grinned Roy. He calls everybody Blue. Today I’ll figure out if he remembers my name. And if I remembered to bring my backhand.