I consider it very important to think globally and deliver performance enhancement tools personally, beyond this column and my practice in Boca Raton, Florida. People all over the world need smart strategies to improve in many areas including business, sports, and performing arts. Having recently completed a three-week workshop tour at some of Austria and Germany's finest hotels, most catering to the sports-minded guest, I'd like to share this experience with you. I targeted Austria and Germany this summer, as I had coached tennis a combined six years there in the 1980's and speak the language. Another factor was timing, as Sport Magazine publicized my tour in the May issue. So I begin by extending a sincere thank you to my many sponsors this summer including Sport Magazine of Austria, and the nine hotels that hosted us with class.
1. My workshops were entitled 8 Mental Skills of a Champion. I provided tips, strategies, and open discussion to facilitate improvement. The 8 skills discussed included (1) enhancing confidence and expectations for success, (2) maintaining concentration and attention control, (3) ensuring proper discipline and effort, (4) achieving short- and long-range goals, (5) remaining passionate/having fun, (6) using visualization strategies, (7) monitoring and adjusting energy levels, and (8) staying resilient and adapting to change.
So we eagerly embarked on the goal of providing performance enhancement seminars at some of Austria and Germany's finest destinations. We flew over on the same flight with Boris Becker, one of the smartest players to ever play the game, and I presented him a complimentary copy of Smart Tennis. It's too late to assist Boris with his pro tennis game, but perhaps he'll apply it to business!
Here are the destinations we toured, in chronological order:
K & K Palais Hotel (Vienna, Austria)
After a long flight, this was the perfect rest stop and starting point. This cultured, modern first class hotel displayed unique Viennese charm, a friendly atmosphere, and contemporary interior design in bright yellow and warm colors. Rooms were modern and elegant. Its location amidst the artists' quarter "Spittelberg" with its attractive restaurants, galleries and boutiques, was a perfect introduction to the city. The buffet breakfast was unbelievably delicious and the young general manager, Barbara Schweitzer, was a warm host.
Sport Vital Hotel (Loipersdorf, Austria)
The Therme Loipersdorf is an incredibly large sports vacation complex just east of Graz in the southeastern region of Austria, not far from the Hungarian border. Travelers from all over enjoy multiple water activities, fine dining, beauty programs, and many sports including golf, tennis, hiking and volleyball. We were very pleased to stay at the comfortable Sport Vital Hotel and enjoy the hospitality of Hannes Wagner, a gracious director who reserved dinner for us at his local Austrian restaurant and provided us day passes to the spa and pool facilities. In attendance at my performance psychology workshop was the hotel tennis director, Harald Krainz, who mentored previous world number one ranked tennis player Thomas Muster to the top in the 1980's.
Sporthotel Royer (Schladming, Austria)
About an hour drive south of Salzburg is the resort town of Schladming, a mecca for hiking, golf, tennis, biking, horseback riding, and rafting. Sporthotel Royer is the most famous hotel in the region and an immensely large sport, family and business seminar facility. Clay tennis courts overlook the majestic mountain surroundings and guests enjoy a variety of amenities inside the hotel. My wife enjoyed shopping in the charming town of Schladming, with narrow cobblestone streets and local specialty shops.
Kempinski Hotel & Resort Sporting Club Berlin (Bad Saarow, Germany)
Bad Saarow has long been a gathering place for the elite of Berlin society and this was the most luxurious overall sporting hotel on our journey. Consistent with the Kempinski standard, this paradise is one hour from the city of Berlin, and has been home to the German Open Golf Championships and an ATP Tour Challenge event. Facilities include two championship golf courses designed by Nick Faldo and Arnold Palmer, a golf academy, a Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy, Equestrian Center, Yacht Academy, beach, beauty center, and much more. After a long drive we were compelled to immediately hit the 5 kilometer hiking trail set amongst some of the most beautiful forests and lakes I have seen. We were also delighted to relax in the enormous and deluxe spa facilities. The overall service was impeccable and dining was world class, both at the lake restaurant and in the fabulous breakfast buffet.
Hotel Brandenburger Hof (Berlin, Germany)
If you ever get to Berlin and want pure luxury, don't miss staying at this wonderful Relaix & Chateaux hotel set just minutes walking from the heart of the city and a stones throw from the Kurfuestendamm and Memorial Church. This magnificent turn-of-the-century manor house leaves an impression of timeless elegance and certain artistic ambition. Our suite, the most deluxe overall on this tour, overlooked the winter garden where we enjoyed the cooking of Chef Wolfgang Nagler, decorated in 1998 and 1999 as one of the six best chefs de cuisine of Berlin.
Jacobsberg Hotel and Golfclub (Boppard, Germany)
Driving from Berlin to near Koblenz in one day was hectic -- but the autobahn and Rhein ferry eventually brought us to our destination! The location was truly unique, a former monastery founded by Kaiser Friedrich I in 1157 and transformed into a magnificent and attractive sports hotel overlooking the Rhein. Home to the Jacobsberg Golf Academy, I was greeted by a group of eager golfers and tailored my lecture accordingly. Director of Golf, Mike McFadden, is a friendly American who has developed several world-ranked junior golfers at his facility. Other sports activities at Jacobsberg include tennis, swimming, squash, badminton, hiking, bicycling, shooting, and bowling. The hotel is also a large business conference center. This was a lovely stop on our tour, and the Rhein valley was a pleasant surprise.
Hotel Saigerhoeh (Lenzkirch-Saig, near Titisee, Germany)
Located in the southern Black Forest, this mountain sports resort impressed us with its size, service and food quality, with perhaps the best buffets and barbeques on our tour! The room was enormous and deluxe and the hiking down to the well-known town of Titisee was a great workout. One highlight of our visit was meeting former world-class runner Herbert Steffny, 13 time German champion in many events and author of Perfect Run Training, a best-selling book in Germany. We traded books and ideas. The Germans are becoming more and more excited about all sports including running, tennis and golf.
Hotel Schloss Duernstein (Duernstein, Austria)
In terms of overall memories and impressiveness, this castle hotel on the Danube River steals the prize! The picturesque castle, built in 1630, is said to have inspired the Grimm Brother's fairytales. Another hotel in the deluxe Relaix & Chateaux collection, the overall service and food quality was second to none and the amenities and views were unbelievable. From one room window we saw a gorgeous muli-colored steeple with clock, while from the other window we viewed the remains of the famous castle where Richard the Lion-Hearted was imprisoned in the Middle Ages. This was very likely the most interesting hotel I have ever stayed at. Dinner on the terrace overlooking the Danube is an experience that everyone should experience.
Hotel Mercure Wien City (Vienna, Austria)
This was a nice place to finish the summer 2000 tour. Located just a one-minute walk from the Danube river musicians in downtown Vienna, this city hotel offered courteous service, attractive décor, locked parking, and a tasty breakfast. I explored the city of Vienna during this stay and was amazed by the history and architecture. It would take months to even begin scratching the surface of the wonders of Vienna.
We thoroughly enjoyed this summer tour. If you live in Europe, or plan to visit soon, I hope you'll have the pleasure of staying at one or more of these wonderful deluxe locations. If you do stay at one of these, don't forget to tell them the Smart Tennis fellow personally recommended it!
I hope you are utilizing mental equipment to your full advantage, and that your game is evolving, whether on or off the court. See you next month...