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Move over, pickleball: The fast-growing sport of padel is the next hot luxury home amenity

Jordan Pandy   

Move over, pickleball: The fast-growing sport of padel is the next hot luxury home amenity
  • Padel is said to be the world's fastest-growing sport, with 25 million players in more than 90 countries.
  • Luxury developers and homeowners, some of whom are tired of pickleball, are adding the courts.

The country's fastest-growing sport, pickleball, may have some competition.

Meet padel: The racket sport, with origins in Mexico that date back to the 1960s, is played with a tennis ball in a walled court, like squash, but with a net, like tennis. A standard-sized court is 66-feet by 33-feet, bigger than a pickleball court but smaller than a doubles tennis court.

Haven't heard of it? You probably haven't been looking in the right places. Padel is often called one of the fastest-growing sports worldwide, with 25 million players across 90 countries, according to CNN. It's even won celebrity fans, like tennis champ Andy Murray and footballer David Beckham.

Now, as the sport catches on in the US with members-only clubs like Reserve Padel opening in swanky locations — like New York's Hudson Yards and near Miami's Venetian Islands — and homeowners adding the courts, it could well very well be next hot amenity in luxury condos and wealthy communities throughout the country.

Where pickleball tore through the country with crazed developers and homeowners building new and converting old courts left and right to cater to its 4.8 million US players, padel has had a less accelerated rise in the US. The New York Times estimated that, as of May, there's only 200 courts in the US. Globally, at least, the sport is more well-known.

Marko Gojanovic, a real-estate agent with One Sotheby's International Realty in Miami Beach, said padel is becoming so big in the South Florida city because it's familiar to foreign homebuyers, some of whom are driving sales at pricey condo towers with the amenity.

"There's a lot of high-net-worth individuals that are playing the sport," Gojanovic said. "Miami's full of South Americans and Europeans that have been playing padel since they were young. So it's like a sport that's reintroduced to them. All of a sudden it became super popular."

Buyers at One Park Tower by Turnberry at SoLé Mia in North Miami were clamoring for padel, according to Aly-khan Merali, the president and CFO of Turnberry, the developer behind the tower.

The 33-story condo building, where one-bedroom apartments start at $800,000, has a range of amenities like a golf simulator, shopping, and a wellness center. Now Reserve Padel is constructing a new location just steps from the tower, in collaboration with Turnberry.

"There was demand for padel — we researched it, we saw how busy they were at their other locations," Merali told Business Insider. "I recently started playing when I was in Spain last summer and I saw it everywhere. As you look at it, I think you'll be surprised as to how quickly it grows."

New York City's 111 West 57th Street, a skyscraper off of Central Park where available condos range from $8.5 million to $54.6 million, has a private padel court for residents. And Enclave, a gated community about 35 miles from Chicago in South Barrington, Illinois, will also have a communal padel court. A home within the high-end community is currently on the market for $3.5 million.

Padel isn't just being added to condo developments and private communities. Some homeowners have glommed onto the trend, too. A nearly 4,000-square-foot waterfront home on a sprawling lot that's on the market for $7 million in Skaneateles, New York, comes with its own private padel court. A stately, nearly 13,000-square-foot house in Atlanta with nine bedrooms, on the market for $11.5 million, offers one, too.

Gojanovic said that he knew of a homeowner in Los Angeles who was an avid pickleballer and had eight courts on their property. Once they got hooked on padel, they started converting them to padel courts.

"I have seen people that were planning on building tennis courts and all of a sudden they do padel," he added.

But one thing that may slow padel's spread across the US: it takes considerably more skill than pickleball. Gojanovic warned that experience with a racket is not the only prerequisite. The sport plays differently than other sports in its arena, like tennis or squash, and requires cunning as well as athleticism. Plus, it's a doubles sport.

Unlike pickleball, this isn't just a social sport, an active excuse to catch up with friends, Gojanovic said. And if you think the transition from tennis to padel will be an easy one, think again.

"I think 90% of tennis players will convert to padel versus pickle," Gojanovic said on its growing popularity. "But someone that's really good at tennis, they're going to go play and they're going to get absolutely murdered."

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