Starwood Preferred Guest American Express cardholders recently had the opportunity to take advantage of one of the more lifestyle-enhancing qualities of card membership: Primo box seats at the 2012 US Open in NYC, along with a cocktail reception with former world champ Lindsay Davenport. The 2012 US Open has come and gone — as the third part of the Grand Slam trifecta, the US Open kept tennis fans glued to the television. But just imagine being court side and watching tennis stars battle it out for the championship, talking with friends, while working your way through a beer and hot dog or more highfalutin fare. It makes for a pretty good day, I must say.
The Starwood Preferred Guest program for American Express cardholders is one of the most respected points cards among frequent flyers and those who pay attention to the benefits of collecting hotel points via credit card purchases. Starpoints are redeemable at any Starwood property, of course, but there are just so many Starwood hotels and resorts worldwide that it’s hardly limiting to stick to the Starwood brand. Airline miles are also redeemable with Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints, and redemption partners include personal faves Pottery Barn, Starbucks, Williams-Sonoma and iTunes: all in all, it’s a great points card. Now, I’m one of the Starwood Preferred Guest “Amex Stars” this year. This partnership has bumped me up to the Gold level, and enabled me to experience firsthand the many benefits of being an SPG/Amex cardholder.
It’s clear that there’s more to being a Starwood Preferred Guest American Express cardholder than its benefits. The experiences made possible by the SPG program (and given to the Amex Stars travel bloggers as part of the partnership) include tickets/passes to the Tribeca Film Festival, New York Fashion Week, and the US Open. Cardholders can take advantage of opportunities to do all these VIP American Express experiences through SPG email alerts and offers. For example, the September 5, 2012 evening of cocktails with Lindsay Davenport and seats for the US Open was an exclusive event just for members of the SPG/Amex program. Only 85 tickets were available, all sold to the first SPG/Amex cardholders who ordered them (for $165). Guests received a gift bag and some pretty swanky hors d’oeuvres, dinner and drinks as part of the overall Starwood Preferred Guest American Express US Open package.
Andy Murray won the men’s title and first Grand Slam, and Serena Williams won her fourth title (and 15th Grand Slam!) at the 2012 US Open. Having never been to the US Open before, I now know how exciting highly competitive tennis matches can be. The doubles matches were more exciting than the singles; there were more and longer volleys, whereas (particularly with Serena) the singles matches seemed to rarely progress beyond a returned serve. Sitting in the box seats in the Arthur Ashe Stadium provided prime views of the US Open for the Amex Stars, SPG cardholders, and tennis fans who forked over a lot of money. It’s an experience I’ll remember.
Exclusive Starwood Preferred Guest/American Express cardholder events like these are usually available on a first-come, first serve basis. First serve… get it? Wait, don’t leave! There’s more, and I promise I won’t write anything like that again (in this post, anyway). The night before I cheered on the mixed doubles final match, I and other SPG cardholders attended that first part of the exclusive SPG/Amex tennis package mentioned earlier; the cocktail reception with Lindsay Davenport. The gold medalist won three Grand Slam singles championships, is a mother (of three including a baby), and lives in Southern California. I could relate to Lindsay on two of those qualities. Can you guess which two? The tennis star talked graciously about her tennis history and her family, and did a little prognostication regarding what might unfold in the 2012 US Open. She also discussed the issue of tennis players “grunting” during matches. A contentious issue for some perhaps, for others, it’s more of an amusing one.
What will the 2013 US Open matches look like? Who knows. But American Express cardholders can come and get free radios to listen to commentators’ play-by-play updates at the Amex booth next year — just another small benefit that adds to the overall lifestyle of the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express cardholder.
As is pretty obvious throughout this post, I’m one of the “Amex Stars;” we’re 5 travel bloggers in a limited partnership with Starwood Preferred Guest American Express. Besides tickets to the 2012 US Open, I received complimentary air fare, hotel stays, and transportation from the airport to the Westin New York Hotel.