Extreme wide shot of senior friends playing doubles pickleball on sunny summer evening
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As Pickleball's Popularity Grows, US Hotels Are Serving Up More Courts

A hybrid of tennis, ping pong, and badminton, pickleball has become the fastest-growing sport in America, according to a 2022 report from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. Nearly 5 million people nationwide are playing, a roughly 40 percent increase from 2020. There is even a rumor pickleball will be added to the 2028 Olympics as a demonstration sport. 

Pickleball is a miniature form of doubles tennis, played with a whiffle-like ball on a court about one-fourth the size. The sport's popularity comes from the fact that it is relatively easy to learn and play. For example, the game's perorated ball does not bounce or move as fast as a tennis ball, making it easier to hit. There is also less running around and ground to cover when playing pickleball. Four pickleball courts can fit on a tennis court, assuming that the tennis court is at least 60 feet wide. When playing pickleball, you are physically closer to your teammate (most people play doubles in pickleball) and your opponent. Pickleball is also social, attracting people of all ages and races. Games go to 11 points, so they end quicker than tennis games giving players time to socialize and a chance to play more games with different players. 

As the popularity of pickleball explodes, U.S. hotels are taking notice. Many hotels have lined their existing tennis courts for pickleball while others are constructing new dedicated pickleball courts. Many hotels are also adding to their daily activities agenda pickleball clinics and private and group lessons with on-staff pickleball pros. 

Curtis Bova, general manager of the Hilton Denver Inverness, located about 20 miles from downtown Denver, saw the meteoric rise of pickleball's popularity and decided to convert the property's existing tennis court area into pickleball courts. Hotel guests can rent pickleball paddles and balls from the hotel and sign up for one-hour time slots to use the courts. In 2023, the hotel plans on starting pickleball programming, including clinics, lessons, and round-robin tournaments. "By adding pickleball courts to Hilton Denver Inverness' robust list of amenities, we have had the opportunity to introduce this new sport to our hotel guests," said Bova. "The courts have been very busy during the weekend for leisure travel guests. We anticipate that demand will continue to grow as more programming is offered."

Hotel McCoy, located in Tucson, Arizona, and Pullman, Washington, is also serving pickleball. "In the past year, guests have requested pickleball court information at least five times as often as they did last year, and more so at our Tucson location, alerting us to the fact that pickleball is picking up speed, especially with travelers in warm weather locations," said Nicole Dahl, president and creative director at Hotel McCoy. The hotel collection's newest property, which opens in the spring of 2023 in College Station, Texas, will also sport pickleball. "When escrow closed on our Texas location, and the amenity planning began, pickleball was the first idea on the board," said Dahl. Like its sister properties in Arizona and Washington, the College Station hotel will supply guests with equipment for pick-up games and run tournaments for guests and locals. The hotel is also going to host an annual event called "In a Pickle at Hotel McCoy.'"

The Plaza Hotel & Casino in downtown Las Vegas bet big on pickleball. The hotel has the most pickleball courts of any resort in Las Vegas, with 12 permanent courts and one grandstand-style championship court, which can be converted into four temporary tournament-level courts. The courts were added during a multimillion-dollar renovation of the hotel in 2016. Previously, the space was used for tennis and basketball.

"We saw back in 2016 how popular pickleball was becoming as a leisure sport," said Jonathan Jossel, the hotel's CEO. "When we decided to upgrade our rooftop pool and recreation deck, we wanted to get ahead of the trend and add pickleball courts to distinguish the Plaza as the premier destination for the sport in Las Vegas. Now, we welcome amateur and professional players from around the world to play on the courts, whether it is at a weekly clinic, for fun during a vacation, or as part of an organized tournament."

The hotel offers free pickleball lessons on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings; each session has about 30 players. In September, the hotel hosts the annual Las Vegas Pickleball Open, which attracts hundreds of professional players worldwide.

In Arizona, the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale re-striped its tennis courts and now has four pickleball courts with ProBounce technology, designed to reduce stress on the body and keep players cool. Pickleball balls and paddles are provided complimentary to guests. Private instruction and weekly clinics are also available. The pickleball trend can also be found at the ADERO Scottsdale Resort, which features six pickleball courts and rental equipment for daily play, and at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, which has 17 new professionally-surfaced pickleball courts, and full-time pickleball certified instructors on staff for private and semi-private lessons. Players can take their pickleball game up a notch and use the resort's custom paddles from Recess Pickleball, created exclusively for the property. (If you are local to the area, the resort has new pickleball monthly and annual memberships that include complimentary lessons and rating assessments, paddle demos, 50 percent off guest room rates, and more.)

Florida is considered by many to be the hotspot for pickleball because of its good weather and abundance of courts. The Boca Raton on Florida's east coast, about 20 miles north of Ft. Lauderdale, recently underwent a $65 million transformation and now houses four pickleball courts for clinics, open play, organized evening socials, and tournaments. Guests can book lessons with the hotel's Director of Pickleball. New pickleball courts can also be found at the Hawk Cay Resort in the Florida Keys on the 60-acre island of Duck Key, which opened eight new courts in January at its Cliff Drysdale Tennis facility.

As pickleball's popularity soars, staying active on your next vacation won't be hard. As long as pickleball continues to be easy to learn, low impact, and appealing to a wide range of people, from kids to senior citizens, the trend of hotels adding pickleball courts or converting existing tennis courts into pickleball will be long-lived. The next time you book a hotel stay, pickleball will likely be a standard amenity, like a pool or fitness center.

Want Your Own Pickleball Concierge? 

Pickleball at The Tryall Club in Jamaica is so popular that the property has launched a new pickleball concierge program. When you book your stay, you can request a pickleball concierge who will assist with court reservations and lesson bookings. The concierge will also deliver equipment to your room, from paddles and balls to personally-sized athletic attire like skirts, tops and visors. Post-game, the pickleball concierge will work with your in-villa chef to curate nutritious food and beverages you can enjoy off-court.