Paddle in Paradise

Elite Island Resorts, Caribbean’s pickleball pioneers

Emerging from the inventive minds of fathers Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum in 1965 as they searched for a way to entertain their children, pickleball has evolved into a global sensation, blending elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong.

The inclusion of pickleball in Caribbean resorts marks a notable change in leisure preferences, merging physical activity with holiday relaxation. Its increasing popularity reflects the sport’s allure and the changing desires of travellers who crave immersive experiences during their vacations.

Elite Island Resorts has capitalized on the allure of the sport, offering a blend of leisure, competition, and tropical atmosphere. Set against a backdrop of palm trees and an ocean breeze, the rhythmic sound of paddles fills the air as players engage in spirited matches on Elite’s meticulously maintained courts.

“Whether you’re a seasoned player or trying it out for the first time, pickleball adds an extra element of enjoyment to your vacation, allowing you to stay active, socialize, and create unforgettable experiences,” said Valerie Gordon, Director of Communications at Elite Island Resorts.

“Imagine rallying on the court with stunning ocean vistas and lush tropical surroundings as your backdrop.”

From exhilarating rallies to moments of relaxation amidst paradise, playing pickleball at a Caribbean retreat is a marriage of athleticism and indulgence that can’t be beat!

The draw lies in the simplicity of the game, requiring minimal equipment and space. But beyond its accessibility, pickleball offers a list of health benefits, promoting cardiovascular fitness, agility, and hand-eye coordination. Its social nature makes it an ideal activity for those seeking physical engagement and social interaction.

Antigua: Pickleball Capital of the Caribbean

Elite Island Resorts takes credit for leading the surge in Caribbean pickleball growth, as it was the first to introduce courts crafted by Agile Courts, a Florida-based construction company that designs, constructs and renovates courts across the U.S. and the Caribbean.

The meticulously maintained courts include all-inclusive daytime play. And if there’s a wait, tennis is also available. The courts are open and available seven days a week, with equipment provided upon request.

To get the pickleball rolling, Hammock Cove Antigua was the first resort on the island to add two US Pickleball regulation courts in 2021. Leading Elite Island Resort to be named the pickleball pioneer of the Caribbean. The success of Hammock Cove’s courts led to the installment of St. James’s Club pickleball courts – and the rest is part of “pickler” history.

“2024 will be a huge year for pickleball,” says Rob Barrett, Chairman of Elite Island Resorts.

Barrett discovered pickleball through an article in the Wall Street Journal. His interest grew after a conversation with a hotel guest who happened to be involved with the North American Pickleball Federation. Recognizing the potential, Barrett decided to incorporate pickleball courts into his new luxury, adults-only, all-inclusive resort, as the space was ideal for the sport.

“As the first Caribbean resort group to install pickleball courts at our resorts, we are proud to offer two pickleball courts at Hammock Cove Antigua, six at Pineapple Beach Club Antigua, four at The Verandah Antigua, three at St. James’s Club & Villas, Antigua—and one at our 5-star Los Establos Boutique Resort in Panama. There’s nothing better than a terrific pickleball match in a spectacular tropical setting,” Barrett adds.

Lit for evening play, each Elite resort in Antigua offers “the ideal setting to indulge” in a team sport “while relishing the luxuries of an all-inclusive vacation experience.”

As pickleball continues to make waves in the Caribbean leisure scene, Elite Island Resorts is ahead of the game as the premier destination for enthusiasts and newbies alike to experience the thrill of serving, volleying, and smashing against the backdrop of sun-drenched courts.

Serve a rally in paradise at four Elite Island Resorts in Antigua:

Hammock Cove Antigua – 2 courts

Pineapple Beach Club Antigua – 6 courts

St. James’s Club & Villas, Antigua – 3 courts

The Verandah Antigua – 4 courts


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