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New Opening: The Campus

Luxury resort Quinta do Lago, in The Algarve, Portugal, has recently opened a new state-of-the-art multi-sports complex, designed to attract both elite sports teams and holidaying families. Steph Eaves visited The Campus to find out more

by Steph Eaves, Health Club Management and Sports Management | Published in Sports Management 2019 issue 1
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Sean Moriarty (L) 
with general manager of The Campus, 
Craig Goodwin (R)
Sean Moriarty (L) with general manager of The Campus, Craig Goodwin (R)

Quinta do Lago’s new facility, The Campus, officially opened in October 2018 after being built in two phases. Designed by Essência Criativa, the first phase – finished in summer 2017 – included tennis and padel courts and a cycling hub, The Bike Shed. The second phase added a high-performance sports and fitness training centre.

Explaining the decision to create this multi-sports fitness facility, Sean Moriarty, chief executive of Quinta do Lago, says: “Since its founding 46 years ago, Quinta has been encouraging an active, outdoor lifestyle at the resort, and we’re committed to providing the very best experience to every person who spends time with us – from the family here on holiday to the champion athlete here to rehabilitate.

“The Campus is part of the evolution of that – it’s an exciting new facility that adds a unique lifestyle experience for our regular guests, but that will also attract a completely new audience to the elite training venue.”

State-of-the-art facilities
The sports and fitness training centre has certainly been designed to appeal to the professional athlete. The centre encompasses a stadium-quality DESSO GrassMaster hybrid pitch, high performance gymnasiums, dedicated studio space, a recovery suite with hot and cold plunge pools, and sports medicine and rehabilitation facilities.

“We went to a lot of grounds,” says Moriarty. “Football grounds and rugby grounds throughout Europe and other parts of the world. We spoke to nutritionists, physiotherapists and health and wellness professionals and asked them what’s good and what they’re missing. We captured all of that and tried to get it all in here. We got as much as we could. We always have a big wish list though!

“When we’ve got big football teams visiting, the ground floor gym is usually closed off for them. We’ve got two dressing rooms for home and away teams or for males and females. Then upstairs we’ve got another gym with a view of the pitch. The pitch is the very same pitch they use at Manchester City or Aviva or Twickenham.”

Indeed, the team seems to have hit the mark with The Campus, which has already been utilised for specialist training by the British Paratriathlon Team, footballers Rio Ferdinand and John Terry, padel champion Diogo Rocha, athletes Lily Partridge and Susie Chan, as well as football teams Beijing Sinobo Guoan, the Croatian national team, S.L Benfica, Olympique de Marseille and Wolfsberger AC.

Sport for all
Moriarty stresses, however, that the elite facilities are not aimed solely at professionals, and that the centre is just as much there for visitors of any fitness level or sporting ability.

“The philosophy at The Campus is to be elite, whatever your level,” he says. “It’s a very inclusive place.

“I think what’s special about Quinta do Lago is how everyone is treated the same. Whether you have an ordinary job, like the rest of us, or you’re a superstar. The Campus is no different. During your workout you might notice a professional football team training on the pitch, or an Olympic athlete recovering in the spa, but we’re all here for the same things, so it’s very relaxed.”

Active kids
Not only does the centre welcome adults of any sporting level, it also welcomes kids. Families are an important target audience for The Campus, and the team are encouraging them to come by offering a wide range of sporting programmes and experiences.

“We’re committed to inspiring and educating young people, and creating the superstars of tomorrow,” says Moriarty. “Young people are a big part of our vision here. We run coaching experiences for children, such as Soccer Camp with Rio Ferdinand, Tennis Camp with Judy Murray (see boxout on p64) and Rugby Camp with Brian O’Driscoll, as well as Junior Performance tennis, which coaches children up to professional tournaments.

“These camps are an incredible opportunity for children to learn from their heroes, make friends and get on a positive path with activity and sport.”

Changing perceptions
This family focus is a relatively new evolution of Quinta do Lago, and one Moriarty is keen for visitors to embrace.

“For quite some time, Quinta do Lago was seen as a very elite, wealthy retirement home for golfers,” he explains. “But it was also a hidden gem for a lot of people that wanted to enjoy an exclusive leisure experience. What we’ve been doing now over the last couple of years is trying to bring in more families and make it more open.

“We’re trying to make The Campus a ‘fly-to destination’ for anyone who loves sport and the outdoors.”

Onwards and upwards
So far, Moriarty says, visitors have been enjoying the new facilities. “We’ve had a very positive response since opening The Campus. It really is a beating heart within the resort. What’s great is that the whole family can spend time here, whether for a family padel tournament, studio fitness class or bike ride. They can be active together or each person can go off to do their own thing and then meet up afterwards.
“It’s a real hub of activity. We’ve had resounding positive feedback from the athletes who have joined us too.”

Going forward, Moriarty says he plans to keep evolving the centre and continue growing the membership base.

“The Campus is still very new, so we have a lot of evolving to do, but we’re nimble and plan to move ahead of the times. We like to set the trends, not follow them.”

For more information, check out The Campus at: www.quintadolago.com/en/the-campus/

What is padel?

One of the fastest growing sports in the world, padel is similar to tennis but with some key differences. It’s typically played in doubles on an enclosed court, which is a third of the size of a tennis court. Scoring is the same as tennis and the balls used are similar but with a little less pressure.

The court has walls and the balls can be played off them in a similar way to the game of squash. In place of tennis racquets, solid, stringless racquets are used. The height of the ball being served must be at or below the waist level.

The sport was invented in Mexico in 1969 by a Mexican billionaire. It took off in Argentina and then Spain and Portugal, where it has become hugely popular.

What’s included at The Campus?

Stadium quality DESSO GrassMaster hybrid pitch

Technical area

High performance gymnasium

Centre for active living and sports medicine

Recovery suite including hot/cold plunge pools and sauna and steam rooms

Studios for cycle and group exercise

Stadium specification locker rooms

Team rooms with high tech analysis capability

25m heated indoor swimming pool

Four acrylic tennis courts

Two synthetic clay tournament specification tennis courts

Four padel courts with shock pad features

The Bike Shed – a hub for cycling

Dano’s Sports Bar & Restaurant

The sport was invented in Mexico in 1969 by a Mexican billionaire. It took off in Argentina and then Spain and Portugal, where it has become hugely popular.

Several professional sports teams have already come to train at the new centre, including Beijing Sinobo Guoan football team
Q&A with Judy Murray
Judy Murray will lead four tennis camps throughout the year at The Campus, aimed at kids of all abilities

Tell us about your partnership with The Campus
I’m going to do four programmes a year, each one taking place over a week. They’re targeted mostly at junior players, up to 16 years old. I came out here a few times before the camps started, to look at the place and to train the coaches. They’ve got a super coaching team here, but I coach in a completely different way to them, so I’ve been sharing how I do it and giving them lots of ideas for making tennis more fun – more fun to do and also more fun to teach.

It’s something that’s new, so being involved with it at the start and being able to help shape how it evolves is exciting. Plus, it’s nice to be able to coach in the sun, it’s quite different to being in the UK!

What do you enjoy most about coaching these programmes?
A lot of what I’ve been doing over the last few years has been teaching people how to teach. So I really enjoyed the two days that I spent with the coaches here.

Doing camps with big numbers of kids, where there are mixed abilities, mixed attention levels and mixed ages presents a lot of challenges when you’re trying to help everyone improve. So you have to adapt to the group and stay flexible in your approach. I think that’s a good learning experience for me, having to adapt the session to all the different kids.

"It’s been a good learning experience for me, adapting the sessions to mixed abilities and ages"

What do you think of the state of British talent development?
I think that’s a big challenge for tennis right now and it’s been that way for a few years. We’ve had a huge opportunity because of Andy’s success in particular, but also Jamie and Johanna Konta. These people have created a bigger profile around tennis, but I think that tennis, like many traditional sports, is competing with so many other things for kids’ time, not least anything that’s on a screen.

We have to make our sport attractive and once we attract them, we have to retain them and for me, retention comes from the environment. A facility like The Campus is a lovely environment in which to play tennis.

How can we attract more people?
I think that tennis is still an expensive sport compared to some, and it’s still perceived as difficult to access, difficult to do and expensive. Until we smash that, it will still be a sport for those who have money. For me, one of the solutions is to do more of these types of programmes, with big numbers and keeping it fun. It would reduce the costs enormously if you’ve got one or two coaches with 20 kids, and you only need one court.

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