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Polo popular

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14 May 2010

The first ever ‘polo in the park’, held at Hurlingham in central London last summer, attracted 25,000 people and proved so popular it is being repeated again this year.

TTG has reported that as the sport becomes more mainstream tourist boards are investing in polo and luxury operators are keen to offer new and unique experiences.

Here’s TTG’s pick of the world’s best polo experiences:

Argentina
Argentina is a polo mecca. The world’s most prestigious tournament, the Argentine Open Polo Chamionship, is held in Buenos Aires every December. Mariano Mussa from the Argentine Institute of Promotion says ‘the UK is a key market for polo tourism, and one of fastest growing niches in Argentina’.

Two luxury hotels in particular, The Alvear Palace and Malabia House offer promotions for the event and it possible to secure match tickets.

Both Estancia El Colibri and Los Potreros offer polo as a complement to horse riding and Los Potreros has three nights packages including daily rides, domestic flights and transfers.

Ranches such as Villa Maria, just outside Buenoes Aires and Jumeirah Culu Culu, which opens in September offer luxury in the Pampas.

When to go: October-April

Barbados
Barbados has seen a polo boom in the past five years thanks to sponsorship from the Barbados Tourism Authority.

Linda Williams from the Apes Hill Golf & Polo Resort, which gives lessons to visitors every day says: "We give lessons to visitors every day, plus we have people coming off cruise ships just to get to see a game. It is a social sport and usually involves several members of a family playing and watching".

Elsewhere, Holders House, the centre of Bajan polo, launches the island’s second professional polo school in October.

When to go: November-May

Dubai
The Arabian Gulf has seen huge investment in polo and guests at the Desert Palm Spa Retreat can see the ride-offs in the UAE Nations Cup where a 45-minute private polo lesson costs £115. The Dubai Gold Cup final in March has VIP tickets from £53, including drinks.

For the more adventurous camel polo taster days are available through the Dubai Polo Academy.

When to go: October-April

South Africa
Several lodges and operators such offer combined game-viewing/polo safaris such as Horseback Africa Lodge and Franshoek Mountain Lodge who offer polo lessons.

Wine-lovers can head 40-mins outside Cape Town to the Val de Vie Wine & Polo Estate to watch the pros in the BMW International Series, while the 12-suite Relais & Chateaux Kurland Hotel attracts polo fans and families travelling the Garden Route with pony rides, polo tuition and the uber-glamorous Kurland International.

When to go: September-March

Spain
Andalucia is the home of high-octane polo and Ignacio Vasallo, UK director of the Spanish Tourist Office, says: "The increase in popularity in both playing polo and spectating is attracting a high spend individual to areas like Sotogrande where sports such as tennis and golf have always been popular".

Polo days are available inside Europe‘s only jungle reserve and cost around the same price as a round of golf. Other operators offer three- to five-day beginner courses for children.

In August the Sotogrande Gold Cup features the world’s best teams competing in front of Europe’s best-heeled crowd.

A ski holiday in the Sierra Nevada could also coincide with the Snow Polo Cup in March.

When to go: Year round, August is peak season.

UK
VIP hospitality packages for the Cartier International and Veuve Cliquot Gold Cup are proving a popular alternative to Ascot or Henley.

Polo in the Park packages, which include afternoon tea at the members-only Hurlingham Club are also in big demand.

Watergate Bay Hotel, Cornwall, will also host its biggest beach polo match in September.

When to go: May-August

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