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A couple weeks ago I was invited to attend the US Open in New York City as a guest of American Express as part of the ‘SPG Amex Stars’ program. This was the second of three “SPG Stars” events for the year, and one of my favorites as it doesn’t get much better than tennis at the US Open!
Thankfully, attending something like this doesn’t require an invitation from Amex since Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express cardmembers are eligible to buy US Open tickets that include exclusive access to a SPG Amex hospitality area each year. I believe the going rate for this event was around $165 which includes a lower promenade ticket to the men’s quarter final match and access to the fully stocked SPG Amex hospitality ‘tent’. This is something that was only available to SPG Amex cardholders, which I think is pretty cool. Here is a summary of the experience in case this is something you might be interested in for next year.
SPG Amex US Open Event:
Upon arrival at the US Open we were able to go through a line for those going to hospitality tents or with other VIP access. Quick tip if you go to the US Open, there is a fair amount of walking involved, so don’t wear shoes that you can’t walk well in, or have a “back up” pair in your purse.
Once we cleared security and were in the complex, we entered a building on the left and walked past the coolest tennis racket I’ve ever seen on our way into SPG Amex room.
There are ladies checking off names once you enter (to keep out the non-SPG Amex riff raff I’m sure) and if you ever attend this event, be sure you visit the ladies with clip-boards again when you leave as they have the goodie bags (which I am sharing with you!).
Each year SPG Amex has a tennis legend lined up to speak, and this year we got to hear from Billie Jean King herself! Last year we got to meet Monica Seles. She is so nice and full of fascinating info, but my favorite tidbit she shared was that the courts at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (where the US Open is held) are open to the public! They are open seven days a week, 11 months out of the year for the general public to reserve and practice their back-hand. That would be really fun to rent a court and play there on a future visit in NYC.
After Billie Jean King gave a talk she was available for autographs and pictures and US Open tennis balls were even provided for her to sign.
Meeting Billie Jean King may have been the highlight of the SPG Amex US Open event, but it wasn’t the only feature in the room. The open bar and food were also key features in my
stomach mind. The food was a mix a buffet as well as passed appetizers, both of which I enjoyed.
Here is a very short video looking at the SPG Amex tent and US Open event, including some shots of the buffet.
This was the perfect way to get some food, drinks, and into the US Open mindset before heading to the men’s quarter-final match that was absolutely insane as Roger Federer came from way back to win!
Westin Times Square:
Also as part of the event, Amex hosted us at the Westin Times Square, as they are an official hotel partner of the US Open. This was my first time staying at the Westin Times Square which is a Category 6 SPG property which means it can go for 20,000 – 25,000 SPG points per night. That stings a bit, but is the norm for SPG NYC hotels. Since I value SPG points so highly, the going rate would have to be over $400/night for me to consider using points.
The property is located in the same building as a Starbucks and movie theater which could actually be pretty handy if you were traveling to NYC with a family! It was also right next to a 42nd Street/Times Square subway station which makes it very handy for getting to/from the US Open. If you even try to get to the US Open from Manhattan in any way other than the subway you will very much regret it. Trust me.
The hotel itself is undergoing a big renovation, so currently some rooms have been renovated and some have not. My traditional room shown below had not yet been renovated, though it was certain in totally acceptable condition by my standards. I’ve never been disappointed by a Westin ‘Heavenly’ Bed.
Some rooms in NYC can be teeny tiny, but this particular hotel prides itself by not having any super tiny rooms on any floor. We got a tour of the hotel and saw a deluxe renovated room pictured below, which did look nice and fresh.
As you can tell, the view from the upper floors is fantastic! We also got to see a Grand Deluxe Room that at about 400 square feet is a bit larger than the previous room types we saw. I know some SPG Platinum members who have been upgraded to this room type…as Golds we obviously weren’t.
Admittedly Times Square is not usually my first choice of locations in NYC, but this hotel didn’t feel too “Times Square crazy”. I didn’t hear any street noise from my room other than occasional sirens that you will hear to some degree pretty much everywhere in Manhattan, and they had staff members diligently checking for room keys in the evening when you re-enter the building which would keep out any non-guests.
Here is a quick video look at a renovated room and some of the hotel common areas.
I ordered room service lunch one afternoon that was delivered quickly and tasted fresh – even the shrimp was good. The service overall at the hotel was above average, though sometimes it might have been too good as I think about five different people knocked on the door to check on things within the first hour we were there!
If the price was right and I needed to be in the Times Square area, I would certainly look to stay here again, especially in a renovated room!
US Open SPG Amex Swag Giveaway:
I was more than lucky to be able to attend the US Open in person, so I want to be sure to at least share the swag with one of you. The first picture is of the swag included when you book the US Open package at the Westin Times Square – including the $25 Amex gift card and even a very handy subway card! The second was a goodie bag from the SPG Amex US Open event. The winner will get all of the goodies below in both pictures.
If you want to enter to win the US Open swag then just leave a comment on this post letting me know you want to enter. The winner will be selected at random from all entries received by 11:59PM Central on Sunday September 21st. Void where prohibited.
Tennis fans who want to go to the US Open next year should absolutely consider getting tickets via the SPG Amex packages that include access to the hospitality area, as I can’t think of a better way to start a night of tennis than with food, drinks, and time with a tennis legend.