After attending the US Open for the past two years, I knew I wanted to attend the tournament again this summer. I was willing to go it alone but after telling my mom about the luxury suite I would be eligible to get tickets for as an American Express (Amex) cardholder my mom decided she wanted in. We’ve both been spoiled by our experience at Indian Wells and were expecting the Amex suite to be even better.
Since we’re from the DC Metro area we have several options for getting to New York. Flying is of course the quickest choice, but it can be expensive for such a short flight and we would have to arrange transportation to and from our home airport as well as in NYC since the airport isn’t in the city center. Amtrak is another option and from what I hear the Acela train is nice, but the cost is often very high although it does have the advantage of arriving right at Penn Station. Driving is another option but for us it wasn’t really an option because neither of us drive in cities. After weighing the pros and cons we decided to take Vamoose bus due to the free parking, affordable price and drop off location near Penn Station. I’ve taken Vamoose many times and it is my company of choice when I travel to NYC via bus.
We arrived at our hotel in the afternoon, and since we had tickets for the night session we wouldn’t be allowed on the grounds and in the suite until 6pm. We took some time to freshen up and settle in, and then we made the very short walk from the hotel to Penn Station. The subway is the most popular choice for getting to the tournament but I prefer the Long Island Railroad due to the comfort factor even though it is more expensive. Since we were there on a weekday during peak travel time we couldn’t take advantage of the City Ticket like we did the previous years, so the round trip cost for the two of us was $33. It takes about 17 minutes to get from Penn Station to Mets-Willets Point and it’s the second stop on the route. I took the obligatory picture outside the entrance to the tournament.
Once you walk through the gates, there are signs directing you where to go. Since we had suite tickets I knew there was a separate entrance that we could use. I showed an usher our tickets and asked where we should go, and he directed us to the left towards the South Gate where the sign listed hospitality guests.
Once we got there, another usher checked our ticket to make sure we had the proper credentials and we were waved through. At this point it was just before 5:00pm and was an hour earlier than I was expecting us to be able to enter for the night session. No one said anything to us about being there too early and I assume it was because we were in a suite. We then went through the VIP security line and there was no one in front of us, which was much nicer than having to wait in the very long regular security line.
After that, we were faced with the decision with what to do with the extra hour we had before our suite opened for the night session. I assumed that since we were in the Amex suite that they would provide us with the free earpieces, but just to be on the safe side I picked one up at the booth because unlike my mom I forgot to bring the one from last year. I didn’t see them in the suite so I’m glad I did get one before I went in. We walked around the grounds for a little while to see the Unisphere and the new Grandstand, and then sat down on one of the empty benches in front of Ashe to watch the match on the big screen, and people watch.
Nick Bollettieri walked by and no one seemed to recognize him except for a small group of people to our left. We weren’t sure if there was a special entrance we needed to use for the suite, so at about 5:45pm I walked over to the gates at Ashe to see if anyone knew. The ushers weren’t out yet so I continued walking hoping I would find someone who could help. I did find one nice man, but he didn’t have the answer and suggested I speak to someone at the President’s Gate.
This is where the players and celebrities arrive so I was hoping I would see some celebrities but sadly I didn’t. But, as I was walking over there I saw both Sam Stosur and Fabio Fognini but it happened so quickly that I wasn’t able to get any pictures. I explained to the ushers at the gate that I was trying to find out how to get to the Amex suite and they suggested I speak to the hostess. She said that as VIP guests we could enter the stadium early and go to the club level but that our suite wouldn’t be ready just yet.
I went back to get my mom and we made our way back to the President’s gate. The hostess scanned our tickets and told us to follow the red carpet to the elevator to the right. The elevator attendant asked us to which floor we were going and we said we had no idea; she laughed and told us we were going to the second floor, and off we went. We followed the signs to our suite, and soon enough we were in front of Suite 113.
By now it was a little after 6:00pm and it looked like the suite was still being cleaned/re-stocked, which was surprising since it was supposed to be ready at 6:00pm and the match earlier ended in a retirement so play ended a long time ago. We waited about ten minutes and saw another couple walk into the suite, so we decided to do the same.
We had a suite at Indian Wells so we were expecting the Amex suite to be of a similar size. It was not. I remember walking in and thinking ‘this is it?’ but it actually turned out just fine. The suite had a seating area and several buffet stations with hot and cold selections. There was also a bar area, and I took advantage of the Honey Deuces they were serving. Beer and wine were also available, but I stuck with the Honey Deuce and soda. The food selection was good, and they brought out different items throughout the night which provided a nice variety of options. Everything I had was delicious, but my mom got sick in the middle of the night and we think it may have been due to the seafood she ate. One big advantage to this suite over Indian Wells is that the food and drinks were included.
There was also a private bathroom, which is a huge plus because we all know how yucky sporting event bathrooms can be. I believe there were two hostesses for our suite and they did a great job of providing amazing service without being intrusive.
Outside of the suite are two rows of padded folding stadium seats, and behind those is a bar table with stools. We choose the bar seats which worked out well for us because it was convenient having the table there when we were eating and drinking (which honestly was most of the night), plus those seats were slightly cheaper than than the padded seats. The only negatives were that it was difficult getting in and out of the chairs due to space constraints and they were a little bit hard after awhile. If we get those seats again we’ll bring the seat cushions we were given at the Miami Open.
There was a professional photographer in the suite and the pictures were loaded onto an iPad where you could send the pictures to your phone via text message. I thought that was a nice touch and the photographer was very personable. The view from the suite was excellent and the location was perfect because we could watch the points without having to turn our heads each time the ball was hit. Our fellow suite guests were very nice (we all became very friendly after a few drinks!) and we had a great time talking to them. It was a mix of tennis players and fans of the game (we fall into the latter category) and I wouldn’t be surprised if we run into some of them at Indian Wells next year. American Express provided each guest a backpack containing a hat and lanyard, and the retail price of the gifts totaled over $100 so that was a nice surprise. I was hoping a celebrity or former tennis player would stop by to say hello but sadly they didn’t. Next time perhaps?
We had a great time in the suite, and while it wasn’t cheap we feel it was worth every penny. Bypassing the long security lines, having access to the grounds early, feeling like a VIP, and great seats with food and drinks included made the experience very special. To purchase tickets to the suite, check the American Express website under Membership Experiences in the summer to see when tickets go on sale. Centurion and Platinum cardholders get early access but all other card holders can purchase tickets (if available) a few days later. The tickets increase in price as the tournament continues so going early in the tournament will result in the lowest prices. I highly recommend the Amex suites, and the US Open in general, and look forward to going back next year.