High-tech museum tells tale of tennis

The Lawn Tennis Museum, included in many of the Wimbledon hotel packages, has already made a splash since its opening in 2006. This year, the museum has been tapped at a candidate for the 2008 European Museum of the Year Award, to be announced in May in Dublin.

The museum was recently awarded the Gold Visit London Best Tourism Experience Award 2007 and the Bronze Visit London Accessible Tourism Award 2007.

The museum features hands-on and interactive exhibits as well as artifacts and championship trophies from the tournaments over the years.

Highlights include a 3-D film called "Science of Tennis" with computer generated graphics that put the viewer behind the net.

Also featured is a re-creation of the 1980s Gentlemen's Dressing Room inhabited by a "ghostlike," special-effects image of former tennis great John McEnroe, who leads a tour of the normally off-limits area. -- F.L.

Seats at the annual Wimbledon tennis championships are hard to come by, but that doesn't deter dedicated tennis buffs. Adding to the popularity of the event, considered the holy grail of Grand Slam tennis since 1877, is the hoopla expected during the build-up to the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, for which Wimbledon will be an official venue.

Clients looking for good seats at the tournament, which drew nearly 500,000 spectators last year, can take advantage of hotel and event packages offered through Keith Prowse, an official tour operator for the matches. The deals, for travel from June 23 to July 6, are commissionable at 9%.

The key to getting tickets, according to Tracy Schiller, managing director at Keith Prowse, is to encourage clients to book early, as Wimbledon typically sells out every year.

"Some clients leave it until they get to London to try and pick up tickets and are either disappointed by lack of availability or pay too much," she said. "We stress the importance of booking in advance to secure the best seats and to save money."

WimbledonOne package, the Experience Tours deal, includes one night's accommodations with full English breakfast; roundtrip transfers between the London Underground station at Southfields and the Championship Club, where participants receive free admission and refreshments; and a reserved seat for one day at the championships.

Other features include a one-day London Travelcard with related travel and event information as well as admission to the Lawn Tennis Museum (see story at right).

The package is priced from $730 per day per person, double, for a three-star hotel; from $900 for four-star accommodations; and from $1,295 for five-star digs.

Rates, which include all taxes, vary according to date and by seat location, with premium prices for center court seats.

The Championship Tours package, meanwhile, substitutes the reserved seat with two days at the championships, three nights’ accommodations in a four- or five-star hotel and a ticket to a choice of top West End theatrical shows. 

Package prices start at $2,615 per person, based on dates and hotel category.

Clients looking to get in on the semifinal and final matches, scheduled for July 3 and 4 and July 5 and 6, respectively, can opt for a package that includes a center court seat for two days, three nights’ accommodations in a four- or five-star hotel and two-day membership to the posh Gatsby Club.

These packages, which also include all the features of the Experience Tours, are priced from $6,625 per person for the semifinals and $8,240 for the finals.

Participating hotels for the Wimbledon packages include the three-star Millennium Chelsea and Ibis Hotel; the four-star Cumberland and Millennium Gloucester; and the five-star May Fair and the Ritz Hotel.

For more, call (800) 669-8687 or visit www.keithprowse.com.

To contact reporter Felicity Long, send e-mail to [email protected].

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