The Sporting Life in Monte Carlo
From spellbinding spectator sports to premier recreation facilities, the Principality of Monaco, with its warm Mediterranean climate and annual average of 300 sunny days, lives up to its reputation as a year-round destination for sports connoisseurs. Whether they come to tee off, set sail or savour the thrill of Formula One racing in a setting of unparalleled glamour and enchantment, visitors to Monte Carlo enjoy luxurious facilities alongside exhilarating sport in the world’s most coveted playground.
Feel the Roar
Nothing evokes the spirit of Monte Carlo like the Grand Prix de Monaco, the legendary auto race considered the most technically challenging of the Formula One courses. Racing’s most celebrated drivers careen the 3.3 km (2 mile) route for 78 laps through Monaco’s winding streets at speeds approaching 290kph (180 mph).
The Fairmont Hairpin is the race’s tightest curve, and there’s no better way to view the action than from the private terrace of a Grand Prix Suite at Fairmont Monte Carlo. Choose one of four themed suites, including a newly-inaugurated suite dedicated to Formula One legend Ayrton Senna, winner of a record six Grand Prix de Monaco. Complete with specially commissioned artwork, mementos from Senna’s career and three terraces (one overlooking the hairpin and two the Mediterranean Sea), the suite celebrates the Grand Prix in style. You can also view the race from a Fairmont Hairpin Room, a catered hospitality suite, or poolside at the rooftop Nikki Beach Club.
Need for Speed
If witnessing the daring manoeuvres on the raceway leaves you wanting a more adrenaline-spiked experience, get behind the wheel with Fairmont Monte Carlo’s Room and Vroom package, which includes a one-hour race course drive in a Ferrari 430 convertible, the ultimate supercar experience.
Clay Court Superstars
Murray. Djokivic. Nadal. They’re among the tennis legends scheduled to compete at the 2018 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters tournament. The annual April event, at the prestigious Monte Carlo Country Club, is one of three Masters tourneys played on clay courts, and the only one where centre court seats also have views of the Bay of Monte Carlo.
Tennis aficionados can play like the Masters on one of the country club’s 21 clay courts, which are set like stairs leading down to the glimmering sea. The Fairmont Monte Carlo’s concierge can reserve court time for guests, get them matched with opponents or doubles partners and arrange private or group lessons.
Tee with a View
With lush fairways, distant views of yachts and a setting 900 metres (2,953 feet) above sea level on the slopes of Mount Agel, the storied Monte Carlo Golf Club affords guests the occasion to tee off in a spectacular setting, including the fifth hole, with its vistas of the French, Italian and Monegasque rivieras.
When simply gazing at the sparkling bay isn’t enough, options abound for getting your feet wet or at least feeling salt spray on your face. The Fairmont Monte Carlo concierge can secure gear and guides for scuba divers to explore eight named dive sites near Monaco, including natural caves and canyons, concrete structures and wrecks. There’s even a diving and snorkeling site underneath the Fairmont Monte Carlo, called Le Tombant du Pigeon, named for a former clay pigeon shooting range.
Alternatively, ask the concierge to book you time on the water with Skivol Watersports. Commune with the sea on a stand up paddleboard or a Schiller water bike, which allows you to gently pedal across the water's surface. Or go for a big splash and test your equilibrium on a tube, wakeboard, water-skis or Jet Skis. For even bigger thrills, jump into the future on a Jetboard or hoverboard hydroflight device, which uses water pressure to propel riders into the air.
Skivol also rents easy-to-handle Mastercraft motorboats for self-guided tours along the coast. If you’d rather someone else take the wheel, custom-tailored experiences are the specialty of Mediterranean Yacht Services, which offers high-end outings aboard one of its luxury fleet, from a sexy vintage Riva runabout to a posh 26-metre (85 foot) Falcon Leonida that sleeps up to 10 guests.
The Monaco Yacht Show is held each September at Port Hercules, Monaco’s only deep-water port. With more than 125 one-of-a-kind superyachts moored near shore and nearly 600 exhibitors, the show captivates the yachting world and attracts luxury lovers and the glitterati to the four-day event. One-day passes to the exhibit area can be booked through the Fairmont Monte Carlo concierge; serious investors can arrange for on-board visits.
From December to February, Monaco averages 6-8 hours of daily sunshine and daytime temperatures around 10-12 C (50-55F). Yet the ski domains of the Maritime Alps, with snowfall and open pistes from December into late spring, are only 60-90 minutes from Monte Carlo. Parc National du Mercantour is home to the Isola 2000 ski domain, among the highest in the Southern Alps. It’s a long-time venue for the French Ski Cup and a frequent stopover on the Tour de France. Nearby Auron 1600 is a favourite of Monegasques, in no small part for its buzzy après-ski scene in a charming, traditional Alpine village.
Enquire with the Fairmont Monte Carlo concierge about snow conditions and to arrange lift tickets and sedan or helicopter transfers to the domain of your choice.
Renew and Relax
After a day of challenging sport, Fairmont Spa provides a serene setting for a bit of pampering. With eight treatment rooms, including two couples’ rooms with double whirlpool tubs, men’s and women’s lounges, a hammam, a sauna and a customizable menu of soothing treatments, there’s simply no better place in Monte Carlo to relax and renew.
Prolong that post-spa vibe at Nikki Beach at Fairmont Monte Carlo, the hotel's rooftop pool and club. Lounge on a reserved, shaded sun bed, which seems to hover over the sparkling Mediterranean. Toast an incredible sunset and nibble delectable cuisine while a DJ spins music made to celebrate a perfect seaside vacation.
For an active vacation or a vacation spent watching the action, no place offers the excitement, exclusivity and effortless luxury like Monte Carlo.
Elizabeth Heath is a US-born writer and editor with a lifelong passion for travel and adventure. She now lives in Umbria, Italy, from where she writes about la bella vita in Italy, Europe and beyond. She contributes to Frommer’s travel guides and Frommers.com, and has written for several luxury lifestyle magazines
Sunset over Monte Carlo, by Xantana
Luxury yachts in harbour of Monaco, Cote d’Azur, France by Xantana
Monte Carlo in Monaco by RossHelen
Alps Landscape in Auron, France by BargotiPhotography