As far as tennis goes, Wimbledon is pretty much the be-all and end-all for true fans of the game. And since the annual headline-making championships only take up two weeks of the year, visitors have 50 weeks to explore the grounds and see where all the magic happens.
We headed up to Wimbledon from London on our last day in town, and assuming there's no traffic, the trip is about 30 minutes by car or a quick ride on the tube and the bus. We were met by Travel Trade and Marketing Manager Eric White, who took us into the Centre Court and showed us the retractable roof, grass-dryer and hawks that are all regularly used. (The hawks, White explained, are good for keeping pigeons away...and foxes, which apparently like to sneak in. Who knew?)
There are several venues throughout Wimbledon for dining and relaxing, and one can get some very tasty soup and sandwiches at the cafeteria. (We did not, alas, have strawberries and cream, since strawberries are not in season.) Good to know: The Wingfield Restaurant is now open for bookings for this year’s Championships matches—probably a good idea to make reservations now for any clients who might be headed over.
After touring the press boxes, courts and surrounding spots (including the court where the longest-ever tennis match occurred in 2010 between American John Isner and Nicolas Mahut of France), we headed downstairs to the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum, which goes into the history of the game, the Championships and the club itself. Fans should prepare to spend at least an hour looking over the exhibits.
Contact White or Commercial Manager Ashley Jones with any questions, or to arrange private tours. (Tours can also be booked at the Visit Britain Shop.) While there are plenty of tours available throughout the day, it’s good to see if your clients can get a more exclusive experience that will focus exactly on what interests them.
Good to know: Grounds Admission passes allow access to unreserved seating and standing on Courts 3-19. The Grounds are open from 10:30 am until one hour after the close of play or 10 pm, whichever is earlier. Play is scheduled to begin on the outside courts at 11:30 am. Best of all, admission is far from prohibitively expensive: The most expensive ticket is £20, and prices go down significantly after 5 pm.
A limited number of tickets for Centre, No. 1 and No. 2 Courts and Grounds Admission can be purchased same-day at the turnstiles. These tickets cannot be booked in advance and can be purchased only via The Queue. Play is scheduled to begin at 1pm on Centre Court on days 1-11, and at 2pm on the final Saturday and Sunday. On No.1 Court, play is scheduled to begin at 1pm on all 13 days.
Heading back into London, we stopped by Harrods to see what one of the world’s most famous stores looks like. And it’s impressive. Really, really impressive. It even has a high-end grocery store for getting all kinds of meats (including game) and fancy store-brand jellies. Good to know: Top clients will absolutely want to book Harrods By Appointment, a personal shopping service.
And for something even more special at Harrods, book The Penthouse, where clients get private access to top designers and other top-notch fashion professionals. (Think exclusive couture fashion presentations and one-to-one designer appointments, or even launches for fine jewelry and watches and bespoke creation consultations...or just a super-swank private dinner).