The Bear Mountain Tennis Centre is a new, close, affordable destination for tennis  players, right next door to Alberta.  I visited the Centre last week on a trip to Victoria.  The grass was green, the flowers in bloom.

The Bear Mountain Resort is a 35-50 minute drive south and west of the Victoria International Airport by shuttle, depending on traffic.  Within 2-3 hours of leaving an Alberta airport you can swap your shovel for your racket.  If you want to experience the beautiful city of Victoria, you can be there in a half-hour or so by way of the Resort shuttle.

This recreation destination sits atop a mountain at 600 feet elevation, surrounded by a community of executive homes and condominiums, and anchored by the spectacular Westin hotel.  See more on the community of Bear Mountain in Langford.  

I was warmly welcomed by Tennis Director Russ Hartley.  Russ is an accomplished Canadian player and coach originally from Victoria. Over my four-hour stay I took part in a class, had lunch with the three pros at the hotel, and a private lesson with head pro Sean Hartley.   Yes, Sean is Russ’s son and the third generation tennis professional in the family.  This is a special story for another day.

Let me tell you about my experience at the Bear Mountain Tennis Centre.

The Red Clay Courts Are A Treat

Eight red clay courts are nestled on the hillside just a short walk from the Westin hotel.  Four courts are under a bubble (the bubble comes down in the summer) and four are outside.  The courts overlook the two Nicklaus Design golf courses which are the resort’s main attraction.  If tennis had such a thing, these courts and the overall design of the Centre would also qualify for a Nicklaus level designation.

The pros describe the court surface as the same type of clay as at Roland Garros, crushed brick.  The quality of the courts is a source of pride for the staff, and court maintenance is a priority.  These courts were a joy to play on.  Compared to hard surfaces, the red clay is significantly more forgiving on joints, more injury friendly, and good for the development of game tactics and techniques.

Staff and Programs are First Class and Flexible

The Tennis Director, Russ Hartley, spent 30 years as the Head Professional and Tennis Director at the Vancouver Lawn Tennis and Badminton Club prior to coming to Bear Mountain to take on the challenge of developing the new facility.  Read more about the tennis staff.

The tennis pros were welcoming, fun and knowledgeable.  The activities were enjoyable, informative and well-run.  The five-star Westin quality and customer service run through the tennis facility and staff.  Water bottles and towels are offered just off-court.  The on-court vibe is positive and fun.  A Tennis Concierge is happy to help with any of your tennis needs.

The Tennis Centre operates under a public/private business model.  So anyone can book a court (90-minute bookings), take part in a program, or take a lesson.  Also, group tennis camps and clinics are offered on a custom basis.  Upon request, the Tennis Centre will develop options for clinics, including on-court group and private sessions, mental training, and suggestions for non-tennis activities.

Photo below:  Tennis Head Professional Sean Hartley (second from right) with students at the drop-in group lesson.


After The Tennis

The Westin Hotel offers 156 newly renovated rooms with private balconies, lounge and restaurant, wine cellar, and the award-winning Sante Spa.  For Albertans, the optimal cost-benefit for a tennis excursion may be in low season when the room rate is around $150 (plus 15% off for tennis guests) and the contrast in weather is most exhilarating.

Next door to the hotel and tennis courts is the North Langford Recreation Centre.  It has a gym, specialty classes including yoga, a heated outdoor pool and hot tub.  Hiking and biking trails are nearby.  A shuttle to downtown Victoria ends at one of the most beautiful harbours in the world, restaurants and much more.  And a wine tour can easily be arranged.

Vancouver Island Is Tennis Central

Vancouver Island is one of the most active tennis locations in Canada, particularly for senior players.  This year, three adult tournaments are planned around the theme of the World Tour Open events:  The French Open at Bear Mountain June 8-16 (red clay courts|), Wimbledon at the South Cowichan Lawn Tennis Centre (grass courts) July 21-27, and the US Open at Henderson (Cedar Hill) September 3-8 (hard courts).  For more info go to the Tennis BC website.

The Future is Bright

Ecoasis is the Victoria-based sustainable and innovative development company that now owns the Bear Mountain Resort.  These owners are committed to future expansion of the tennis facilities as usage increases.  Tournaments are planned and reciprocal agreements with Canadian and American clubs will soon be offered.

Go soon before it becomes so popular that it will be tough to book and prices will go up.   It looks like low-season rates go from October to May.  The courts, the views, the eagles, the first-class service and instruction, and one of the best recreational areas in Canada await.

Thank you to Bear Mountain Resort Tennis Centre and especially to Russ, Sean and Charlie for a most enjoyable time at your special facility.

Get in touch with me at with ideas, suggestions or comments.