As I mentioned earlier in the week, I’m in New York for the US Open, which is at least the second coolest thing I’ve been invited to as a backup because Ben was out of the country.
I remember taking tennis lessons as a kid, but know next to nothing about the game, and have certainly never been to a major tennis event like the US Open. Starwood Preferred Guest is a sponsor of the event, so when they asked if we’d be interested in attending the US Open and checking out their private suite, I of course jumped at the chance.
While Ben has attended SPG member events at the US Open in the past, he hadn’t yet reviewed the suite, so this was to be a completely new experience.
Arriving at the US Open
On the advice of several friends (all of whom were adorably concerned about how I was going to get around New York on my own), I took the 7 train out to Flushing. An easy trip on an express train ended right at the event grounds.
I arrived around 5:30PM, so some spectators had been there all day, and a few others were early for the evening sessions, but for the most part it wasn’t too crowded.
If you are ever going to an event in one of the hospitality suites, by the way, don’t waste your time in the long queue to enter the event. There’s a separate “fast track” off to the left — you still have to go though bag check and security, but it’s much faster.
As I’d never been to the Open before, I spent a bit of time wandering through the grounds. There were of course all kinds of booths and vendors (and props to the team in charge of selling sponsorships to the Open, because everything was branded), and of course souvenir opportunities.
If you have a ticket to the Arthur Ashe Stadium, you also have access to the rest of the event grounds. So there were several other matches happening, and in some cases you could get within 10 or so feet of the players, which was pretty fun.
There was also this guy, who has an incredible job that I can’t believe is done by hand in 2015:
The SPG suite
While the grounds were fun to explore, it was also very warm, and my hair was protesting the humidity. I didn’t want to show up to an event looking completely bedraggled, so decided to head inside.
The ushers pointed me towards the SPG suite, which is right at center court:
Unassuming from the outside, but the decor on the inside is lovely!
The suite had a private bathroom, and a full catering setup, including a phenomenal suite attendant who took great care of everyone throughout the evening.
The lounge area had fun munchie-style snacks on the coffee table:
In addition to the bar, the suite had a coffee machine, and phone chargers everywhere:
Then the main buffet area offered several hot and cold items, all of which were quite tasty:
Other snacks, fruit, and desserts were set out by the entrance to the balcony:
The balcony off the SPG suite had seating for about twenty people, and was right on the center court line, with an incredible view of the action. The first match was between Venus Williams and Irina Falconi:
And then later in the evening we got to watch Novak Djokovic play what seemed like three very quick sets against Andrea Haider-Maure (again, I know nothing about tennis, this is just in comparison to the previous pair):
Coming in to the US Open with no understanding of the culture of the sport, I was really impressed. The event was fun and good-natured, and I loved that the crowd cheered and gasped for both players, and seemed to generally be having a good time.
The logistics involved were also fascinating to watch. There are a lot of details happening on the sidelines of these games.
Video tour of the SPG suite
We are not known for our technological prowess here at OMAAT, but I figured since I was getting to do something Ben hadn’t done yet, we should try some new media formats as well. Go easy on me, as this was my first time doing any kind of “live” media, and I’m already socially nervous, so it was a pretty epic combination.
But if you’d like to watch a (very dorky) tour of the SPG suite on Periscope you can see the replay until 7:30PM Eastern. There’s also a fun demo of the new SPG Keyless feature, which is rolling out to more hotels all the time. You don’t need a Periscope account to watch on your computer, I don’t believe. Also:
- Take a drink each time I say “cool,” because apparently I’m 14 when making videos
- Let us know if you like the idea of videos like this, and we’ll try to get better at them (I know this one is a little awkward)
And thanks again to everyone who watched live, and especially to the other folks in the suite who let me takeover and film for ten minutes.
Should you redeem Starpoints for the US Open?
If you like tennis, absolutely. Tickets to evening sessions at the Arthur Ashe Stadium can be pricey, and you’re easily looking at $155+ to sit in the middle tiers of the arena.
In comparison, spending 25k Starpoints for two people in a catered suite with an open bar seems like an absolute steal, in my opinion.
SPG has also been great about offering unique packages and options through the SPG Moments program. These are all about access, and are usually set up as competitive auctions. The prizes for the US Open are typically things money can’t buy — like clinics with the pros, or some SPG members are going to have access to the court to play a few rounds of tennis this week when the stadium is closed to the public. If you had someone in your life who was passionate about tennis, that would be an amazing experience for them!
Given you can currently get a nice bonus of Starpoints with either the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express or the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, this could be a compelling redemption, and of course is a great option for those who have tons of Starpoints from business travel, and are looking to stay closer to home when they can.
So I think it depends, but I can definitely see why some people love this event.
Going to the US Open in 2015? Don’t miss out!
Even if you aren’t going to be visiting the SPG suite this year, there are several other ways to leverage your SPG membership at the US Open.
Take a pedicab!
If you’re arriving by train, you’ll see these cute kiosks to your left as you exit the station.
From here, you can take a pedicab across the bridge and into the event grounds. It might sound hokey, but lots of people were taking advantage, particularly ladies in heels that would otherwise be a bit treacherous on some of the surfaces.
Starwood also has a booth on the event grounds, just outside the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
SPG Members will want to stop by for additional opportunities to win in the Open The World Sweepstakes, but even if you’re like me and never win anything there are other goodies just for stopping by. The portable fans were particularly popular, as it was an incredibly muggy evening.
I had a fantastic time, and even enjoyed the tennis much more than I was anticipating. The partnership between SPG and the US Open creates some fun opportunities for all members, but if you have the chance to book an evening in the suite through SPG Moments it’s definitely a unique experience!
Is anyone else going to the US Open? What do you guys think of the SPG suite?