Kick off, and keep kicking
World Cup fever is upon us; or has it never left for you? If you are a die-hard football fan who lives and breathes football beyond World Cup season, here are five experiences that will feed your football-loving soul during the World Cup and beyond.
Imagine, instead of cheering on your favourite football star during a match, you could be cheering on your own child. With Football Escapes, you’d be kicking back and relaxing at some of the world’s most luxurious hotels while your kid works hard to fulfill your dream – sorry, his potential.
Specialising in football camps for children aged five to 15, Football Escapes promises training sessions with Premier League legends and coaches licensed by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). A seven-day holiday, for example, will typically comprise daily two-hour sessions spread across five days. The child is rewarded with a signed certificate and medal upon completion. Book directly with the company and you’d receive a personalised video message from one of the ambassadors (read: football legends) and a signed t-shirt.
Football Escapes run these training camps around the world, including the Maldives, Cyprus and Greece. The destination that’s most of interest right now, however, is probably Dubai, where the firm will be holding camps at Jumeirah Beach Hotel. Get inspired in the run-up to the World Cup with Michael Owen (yes, he of Liverpool, Newcastle, Real Madrid and Manchester United fame), who will be leading the camp between 24 and 28 October, or prolong the World Cup fever with the session between 27 and 31 December headed by Gareth Barry.
Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid
You’ve seen your favourite club play, whether on TV or live, many times. But to truly get up-close-and-personal – and we mean within hugging distance of your favourite player – now, that’s another story.
But that can become a true story with Mandarin Oriental’s new partnership with Spanish club Atlético de Madrid. In what it calls the ultimate luxury experience for football lovers, the hotel is offering guests an opportunity to experience what it’s like to be a part of one of Spain’s three most recognised football teams for €720 per night.
You’d be greeted with an official jersey signed by your favourite Atlético de Madrid player and a team scarf in your hotel room upon checking in. Then, take a tour through the club’s museum and the Civitas Metropolitano Stadium with a representative of the club. Next, head to the players’ private access to the field, where you can grab a selfie with a member of the team and take your seat next to club manager Profe Ortega on the bench to watch the team warm up. The experience culminates in watching the game in the VIP area of the stadium and getting access to the pitch to get your photo taken.
When your team needs you most, you may even get the opportunity to do a penalty kick – no pressure here.
Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Madrid
Forget the five-star hotels, the day trips to tourist attractions and all the frills; Match Hospitality calls itself the leading player in the sports hospitality arena, and as the only Fifa-authorised Official Hospitality Programme for the World Cup since 2010, its packages are for serious fans who want to focus on football, and football alone.
For the ultimate experience, go for the Match Private Suite, which starts from US$22,450 per suite. You’d be cocooned in your private sanctuary at the top of the stadium with seats right outside the suite that offer unhindered views of the entire arena. Watch the match while enjoying a private dining experience. It promises a five-course menu, complementing dishes, and a selection of drinks customised to your preference including champagne and sommelier-selected wines.
The suite is available in two packages: the now-sold-out Amazing Series package and the Venue Series package. The former allows you to catch every single match at the Lusail and Al Bayt stadiums, from the opening match to the finals. The latter, which is still available, allows you to catch all the matches playing at the stadium of your choice and comes with an extra price tag of US$202,050.
NH Dubai The Palm
Qatar may be the host country for the World Cup, but its neighbours are not missing out on the chance to get in on the action. The celebrations are continuing all the way along the coast of the Arabian Gulf as far as Dubai, where the new NH Dubai The Palm will soon open.
Slated to launch next month just in time for the World Cup, the 533-room hotel will be decked out in a football theme. And while it boasts an infinity pool and beach access, the hotspot at the property this season will be the sports bar where guests may catch live matches and enjoy football-related events during the World Cup. For those who prefer a more rousing experience, the hotel is also offering four, eight, or 12-night packages that include complimentary transport to official fan zones around Dubai, where live matches will be shown on multiple giant screens to thousands of fans.
But if that’s not close enough to the action for you, opt for one of the hospitality packages that caters to fans who intend to fly into Doha from Dubai on match days. The most exclusive of these packages is the US$22,557 one that includes match tickets, access to the stadium suite, and private dining.
Roadtrips prides itself on providing the ultimate in luxury sports travel and has built up an impressive portfolio of travel packages over the 30 years of its existence. From the World Cup and Super Bowl to the Summer and Winter Games, the firm has every sports fan covered.
For Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022, Roadtrips has put together a total of 12 packages, the most exclusive of which is the Follow Your Team package with a stay at St Regis Doha (US$26,265). As the name indicates, you’d get to follow your favourite team as it progresses through the matches. But unlike an unwelcomed stalker, you’d be treated like royalty,
Start every day with a catered breakfast, and head off to the stadium for the matches via a dedicated transfer. On-site hosts will always be available to ensure that your every whim and fancy is met. On non-match days, embrace an exciting line-up of activities including a desert safari or simply stay in and enjoy the hotel – the itinerary will always be customised to suit your preferences. A commemorative World Cup gift package gives you something to take home to remember the trip by.