5 Tips for Travelling Sports Fans
By Sibongile Mafu
Avid sports-fan and travel addict Sibongile Mafu; journeyed across the globe to watch the Proteas in action against England at the iconic Lords Cricket Grounds in London, thanks to Marriott Rewards – Marriott International’s award winning loyalty programme.
Here’s her take on why you should make a trip locally or globally, of a sport tournament; event or anything else you are passionate about. You can follow @sboshmafu on Instagram for a recap of her travels.
1. Big City Events Offer Plenty More to Explore
The great thing about sports travelling is that the city hosting the team has everything you need to make it a cool experience. I travelled to London in July to watch the South African cricket team – the Proteas – play England at Lord’s cricket ground. There’s nothing quite like London in the summer, and because Wimbledon is on at the same time, it’s a buzz of activity. From cricket and tennis-themed bakeries to bars that give you free drinks if someone scores a century – you’ll find just the thing to make the experience extra special.
2. Make Every Moment Count
Because your trip is full of sports team watching – there’ll be a small period to explore other things. I’d recommend fitting in the kind of day trip that touches on all the magic of your destination, the highlights you’d see on all the postcards and Instagram snaps. It could be you in front of the London Bridge in the UK or the Eiffel Tower in France, making all of your friends back home a little jealous (and whetting their appetite for some travel of their own!).
From bus tours to discovering places to eat, get the most out of your trip without forgetting why you’re there in the first place. First up, find a centrally-located hotel that can be your base, and remember hotel bookings can fill up fast for big tournaments, so make sure you’re quick to book your spot. I stayed at London Marriott Hotel Marble Arch and it was just a stone’s throw (or a cricket ball!) from the grounds at Lord’s.
3. Getting from A to B from Your Hotel as Base Camp
London Marriott Hotel Marble Arch greeted me with a wonderful note accompanied by macaroons welcoming me to my room. It was the special Marriott Rewards touch I needed after a long flight. When you’re on the road, you find yourself walking quite a lot more, so even through there were lovely attractions like Hyde Park, the British Museum and Madame Tussaud’s close by, it was also fantastic to have bus routes and the Tube to help with getting around. A great tip: ask your hotel what’s happening in town, you could find yourself doing something unique that isn’t mentioned on your travel app, like a newly-discovered live band or a pop-up pizza restaurant.
The hotel’s executive lounge and main dining room offered a wonderful breakfast buffet selection – just the thing to give you that energy to explore. I needed to print tickets for various activities, so the business room close to reception provided the perfect private spot to get tourist-ready. I didn’t have to worry about a single thing. Ideally, your hotel should be more than just a place to sleep, but a home from home.
4. Let the Supporting Bug Bite you
This year it could be England; next year could be Australia or even Sri Lanka. The world is big and amazing and sports teams travel to the corners of the globe to play – why not explore the countries they do. It may be a quick getaway, but, if you can, add on a few days either side of the sport event to do some leisure travel, you won’t regret it.
5. Take Advantage of Loyalty Programmes
Loyalty programmes such as Marriott Rewards provide an excellent means of making the most out of your travel experiences. Members enjoy exclusive member rates on Marriott.com and earn points or air miles which can be redeemed to pay for your accommodation locally and internationally or on flights.