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Photo of Gstaad Palace/Roy Emerson Tennis Weeks, CH-3780 Gstaad, , Switzerland
©Roger cox

Gstaad Palace
Roy Emerson Tennis Weeks

CH-3780 Gstaad, Switzerland

For almost as long as I've written about tennis vacations, I have dreamed of taking part in one of the Roy Emerson Tennis Weeks at the Gstaad Palace in Switzerland. Every summer for more than 40 years, this legendary winner of 12 Grand Slam singles titles has taken up residence on the red-clay courts at this historic luxury hotel, dispensing tennis wisdom and tales from the tour to an assembled band of tennis enthusiasts from all over the world.

It's not hard to appreciate why this was on my bucket list. Who wouldn't want to spend a week with one of the greatest tennis players ever? But there was something more: opportunities like this are becoming increasingly rare. It is unthinkable that any of this generation's crop of Grand Slam title-holders will ever devote whole weeks to teaching and entertaining hackers after they leave the tour. Once Emmo retires—and at age 86 with bad knees, he will eventually—there is no one with anything remotely like his tennis accomplishments waiting in the wings to take his place.
empty pixelEmmo aside, part of the allure of these tennis weeks is their location in Europe. After an overnight flight to Geneva, I boarded a train at the airport for the scenic two-plus hour ride, first climbing above the vineyards lining Lake Geneva and then, after changing trains at Montreux, ascending into the Alps and eventually pulling into the station at Gstaad. From there, I could look up and see the turreted Gstaad Palace perched on a hillside above, my home for the next week.
empty pixelOne of the Leading Hotels of the World, the 150-room Gstaad Palace manages to be at once elegant and unpretentious. It dates to 1913 but more importantly it has been managed since 1938 (and owned since 1947) by the Scherz family. The service is unfailingly gracious and professional, from the bellman who picks you up at the train station to the waiters in the dining room. Recent renovations have kept the rooms—each seemingly a little different—thoroughly up to date. And the creature comforts continue with an indoor/outdoor swimming pool, spa, fitness center, and array of upscale shops.
empty pixelEmerson's weeklong program, which runs five hours a day in a setting at 3,000 feet, may seem more rigorous than you'd expect to find at a luxury hotel in the Swiss Alps. Yet he has developed an extraordinarily loyal international following, some of whom come if not every year then every few years. The appeal may begin on the courts; however, because the campers, Emerson, his wife Joy, and several of the pros have many of their meals together (most dining is included in the package price), a genuine camaraderie develops, spurred on by the Emersons' wealth of stories (they met when, according to Roy, he ball-boyed for one of her matches and was smitten) from the days when Aussie players were legendary for their work ethic, rigorous training, and booze-fueled partying, though Emerson himself no longer drinks.

empty pixelCamps sizes vary from 15 to 40 (he has access to other courts in town if necessary). Divided into groups of three or four by level, we spent every morning and afternoon working on technique, doing drills, and playing doubles with members of his accomplished staff. Emmo himself roamed from court to court, making sure every one of us benefited from his expertise—and cajolery. When I lost concentration in the middle of a doubles point, he was quick to poke fun, saying, "Try to do your sleeping at night."
empty pixelRoughly midweek the routine is broken as everyone goes off with Emmo on a picnic at Ruedi and Helen Wehren's farm in the Alps, where everyone dines on a sumptuous lunch catered by the Palace chef and supplemented by the Wehrens' raclette and Alp cheeses. And one evening during the week Emmo rounds everyone up for dinner out at a typical Swiss restaurant.
empty pixelThe holiday comes to an end all too quickly. The final evening, everyone gathers for a farewell dinner, capped off with everyone singing along with Roy as h belts out singing "Waltzing Matilda." A fitting end to a fabulous week.




Ratings

(249 Reviewers)
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Cuisine
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Roy Emerson Tennis Weeks Ratings
( 178 Reviewers)
Tennis Overall
5-Ball Rating
Tennis
Staff
5-Ball Rating
Instruction
5-Ball Rating
Junior Tennis
5-Ball Rating

Ratings

(249 Reviewers)
Tennis Overall
5-Ball Rating Instruction
5-Ball Rating Tennis Staff
5-Ball Rating Lodging
5-Ball Rating Spa & Fitness
5-Ball Rating Dollar Value
5-Ball Rating Kids' Programs
5-Ball Rating Solo Travelers
5-Ball Rating
Game Matching
5-Ball Rating Junior Tennis
5-Ball Rating Cuisine
5-Ball Rating Other Recreation
5-Ball Rating Setting
5-Ball Rating Romance
5-Ball Rating


Roy Emerson Tennis Weeks Ratings
( 178 Reviewers)
Tennis Overall
5-Ball Rating Instruction
5-Ball Rating Tennis Staff
5-Ball Rating
Junior Tennis
5-Ball Rating

See Also

If looking for other luxury resorts with programs by a former touring pro, check out:

Rates and Reservations

Gstaad Palace

The prices for the Emerson weeks include lodging for six nights, instruction, all meals, one massage, use of the swimming pool and gymnasium, and taxes. The camp fills up quickly, but the Emersons keep a waiting list. For information and reservations, email Roy Emerson Tennis Weeks.

CH-3780 Gstaad, Switzerland

Travel Essentials

Seasons. June-September.

Travel Instructions. The nearest airports are Geneva Airport (GVA) in Geneva, which is 2 hours away by car and 3 by train, and Zurich Airport (ZRH) in Zurich, which is 2½ hours by car and 3 hours on the fastest train though 3¾ is more typical.

General Tourist Information. For general information about travel to Switzerland, check out the Swiss National Tourist Office website.