By LISA MONTI
Three tennis-loving New Orleanians want to create a new kind of resort on the Bay of St. Louis where guests can immerse themselves in the sport and also relax and recharge. Not surprisingly, the idea for the boutique resort was born three years ago on a tennis court and resulted in the formation of their company, aptly named 78 X 36 LLC for the dimensions of a court.
Cindy Hart, Karen Sulzer and Terri Sisk are combining their professional backgrounds and passion for the sport to develop Grand Bend Tennis Retreat, an all-inclusive getaway offering group tennis clinics and private lessons, massage therapy, yoga and other wellness programs along with healthy breakfast and lunch menus for overnight guests.
The trio wants to give their guests “an opportunity to work intensely on their tennis game, balanced with relaxation, proper nutrition, enriching workshops and healing arts so they will depart refreshed, inspired and empowered,” said Hart.
The nearly $3 million project was approved by the Bay St. Louis Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council last year. Since then, the partners have been designing and otherwise fine-tuning their resort. Sulzer said, “The idea and vision are very much alive. We’re dotting every I and crossing every T. We feel confident it’s happening.” The partners are expected to close on the purchase of 2.5 acres on North Beach Boulevard once they have secured funding. They hope to break ground later this year.
Sisk, the resort’s director of tennis, was the tennis coach at Tulane University for 10 years. Sulzer, a graduate architect, is a certified wellness coach. Hart retired from premium sales with the New Orleans Saints and handles sales and marketing for Grand Bend. All three travel the country pursuing their passion for tennis and are part of what they call a thriving tennis community in the Gulf South. “Unfortunately, we don’t have any facility that offers tennis instruction with accommodations between Texas and Florida. We plan to bridge that gap,” said Hart.
They plan to market the resort to fellow USTA recreational players, college teams and professional players looking for a place to train between seasons. The resort will be open to players of all ages and abilities.
Unlike “big box” tennis clubs at hotels and condominium resorts, Grand Bend will have just four tennis courts and overnight accommodations for 20 between the main house and the carriage house. There will be a swimming pool, a hot tub and other amenities.
While guests will be immersed in the sport and holistic wellness, they’ll also be able to take in the hospitality and amenities of Bay St. Louis, which is what drew the partners to the site in the first place. Sulzer compared the resort with a B&B where guests will have a unique experience with a high level of service.
Sisk now teaches private lessons in New Orleans and said her students are telling her they’re ready to make the move to Grand Bend. “A lot of them are building second homes here,” she said of the Bay St. Louis area.
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