The JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, recently named by Phoenix Magazine as the Valley’s No. 1 Staycation Resort, has added 12 luxury pickleball courts to its full-service racquet center, according to the resort’s General Manager and Area General Manager Steve Hart.
The 950-room luxury resort replaced three of its eight tennis courts with the 12 new pickleball courts in November, and is said to be the only resort in Arizona to feature 12 courts. As a result, the resort’s racquet center has also added pickleball gear and accessories to its pro shop as well as a full time certified pickleball instructor. Similar to its tennis offerings, the racquet center offers pickleball lessons, clinics and tournaments and has already hosted the Super Seniors International Pickleball Association’s Holiday Classic tournament in December. The resort plans to host pickleball camps as well as additional pickleball tournaments in the future.
According to the USA Pickleball Association, as of January 2018, there are an estimated 254,000 pickleball players in the United States, with approximately 19,400 indoor and outdoor courts (combined) with close to 5,500 locations across all regions of North America.
“This is an exciting enhancement for our resort guests, our conference attendees and our club members,” said Hart. “Pickleball is a fun, interactive sport for players of all skill levels, and given its growth in popularity, this gave us the opportunity to offer our guests an amenity that isn’t widely available at other Arizona resorts. As a result, we’re able to offer and tailor a variety of packages for leisure guests, create teambuilding options for our group guests and the courts provide a picturesque outdoor venue for private buyouts and special events. We definitely hit an ‘ace’ with this addition.”
The ball doesn’t stop there however, as the resort’s award-winning culinary team has happily jumped on the pickleball train with a tailored menu of pickled specialties that can be sold in conjunction with in-house groups who may opt for a teambuilding pickleball challenge followed by a creative breakout session or reception on the courts. According to the resort’s Executive Chef Ryan Lamkin, the menu isn’t just pickles but an extensive selection of pickled fruits and vegetables, many of which originate in the resort’s 20,000 square foot Chef’s Garden and are pickled on site by the culinary team.
“Pickles provide an abundant supply of essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and help to improve digestion, so upon completion of the pickleball courts, I saw an added opportunity and was inspired to develop menu options that feature pickled favorites that tantalize the taste buds and cleanse the palette. Pickles have personality, and there are a lot of fun ways to incorporate pickles and the pickling process into drinks, dressings, appetizers, salads and beyond. From pickled-infused vodka to fried green pickles, the sky is the limit,” said Lamkin.
One of Lamkin’s recent pickleball reception menus featured an Artesian Charcuterie and Cheese Display teamed up with a variety of pickles including House-Pickled Peppers from the garden, pickled Moroccan Carrots, Housemade Resort Dill Pickles and Tony Packo’s Pickles; a Waldorf Salad with Pickled Grapes; a Watermelon Salad with Compressed Watermelon, Mache, Crow’s Dairy Goat Cheese and Pickled Watermelon Rind; a Burrata Crostini with Pickled Strawberries and Aged Balsamic. Some of Lamkin’s other menu favorites include Fried Pickles, Pickled Jumbo Shrimp, Fried Pickled Green Tomatoes, and Pulled Chicken Sliders with Pickled Okra Slaw.
Lamkin said menus can be tailored for private parties, special events or groups interested in tying in the pickleball theme. The resort’s 12 pickleball courts can host up to 200 guests for a reception and are conveniently located at the resort’s tennis and pickleball center.
For more information about the pickleball courts or reserving them for private events please call 480-293-3663. To learn more about the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa, visit jwdesertridge.com or call toll free at 800-228-9290 or locally at 480-293-5000.