It’s A Match
With expert assistance from the concierge staff at The St. Regis New York, guests experienced the thrill, style and grandeur of the U.S. Open.
By Regina Cooper Molaro
It was that time of year again, when crowds of tennis enthusiasts, A-listers and other luminaries were lured to Flushing Meadows in Queens to catch the glamour, excitement and sheer thrill of the U.S. Open.
The United States Tennis Association (USTA) Billie Jean King National Tennis Center is where the scene unfolded, as the world’s leading tennis talents competed for top honors. The 2012 U.S. Open, held Aug. 27 – Sept. 9, certainly exuded elegance and style—both on and off the courts.
A destination for seeing and being seen, the U.S. Open is regarded as a premier sporting event, where “famous people watch famous people.” The star-studded audience typically includes a host of New Yorkers—from Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Jerry Seinfeld to Robert De Niro, Eli Manning and Bobby Flay. Other celebrity spectators include Charlize Theron, Gwen Stefani and Cameron Diaz, among others. With its coupling of expert skill and star power, the U.S. Open offers an authentic New York experience.
This year’s dynamic event highlighted a roster of all-star tennis greats, such as shining stars Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, as well as Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams and Venus Williams. The list of young American players included John Isner and Ryan Harrison on the men’s side, and Sloane Stephens and Christina McHale on the women’s side. As if the list of tennis talents and luminaries wasn’t enough to keep the audience entertained, the U.S. Open debuted several new experiences that brought even more excitement to this high-profile event.
The festive opening night ceremony, which is always celebrated with great fanfare, was held Aug. 27 in Arthur Ashe Stadium. A special light show kicked off the festivities and served as the main attraction. A video projection onto the court enhanced the elaborate spectacle.
“We added the light and video projection show to elevate the entire opening night ceremony,” says Chris Widmaier, managing director of corporate communications for the USTA.
“Nearly 10,000 pounds of equipment [was] installed on the roof and throughout the upper bowl of the stadium to produce this first-of-its-kind [for the U.S. Open] show. We hope it [was] an immersive experience for fans,” Widmaier adds.
Beyond the action-packed competitions and stadium aglow with stars, the team behind the U.S. Open always strives to make the most of each viewer’s experience. The year 2012 marked the completion of Court 17, which is the site’s fourth stadium and sixth television court.
“We schedule the most compelling matches on our television courts,” Widmaier says. “The U.S. Open is now broadcast in 188 countries and international television is one of our growth areas, so it’s imperative that we increase the options for our international broadcasters.”
As a stadium court, Court 17 features large screens, which offer more entertainment possibilities for fans.
“Court 17 is now our most intimate stadium, holding less than 3,000 people, but it has all of the amenities and excitement associated with our bigger stadiums,” Widmaier says.
Those who yearned to watch the action, but who also wanted to be a part of the scene, could retreat to the upscale Champagne bar—a new venue opened by Moët & Chandon. Located outside of the U.S. Open Club, the chic Champagne bar will offer elegance, a stylish setting and, of course, lots of bubbly.
An updated Heineken Red Star Café also debuted, featuring a sleek, modern two-level lounge with a bar/restaurant ideal for unwinding. “The Heineken Red Star Café offer[s] an expanded menu and a fun atmosphere. It [was] one of the most sought-after venues at the 2012 U.S. Open,” Widmaier says.
Since fans have come to expect glitz and grandeur, sponsor American Express offered a new “fan enhancement.”
“American Express created this experience last year and it [was] expanded into the USTA indoor building in the space formerly housing our SmashZone interactive experience,” Widmaier says. “In this new offering, American Express [provided] court concierges to help fans create a customized experience.” The area also includes a full-sized tennis court for demonstrations and clinics, a serve simulator, video games and other fun activities.
For fans who want to commemorate their experiences and take a bit of the action home, a new retail space was unveiled. Opening on the ground level, the shop contains exclusive U.S. Open merchandise—from headwear to T-shirts, fleece, performance apparel, outerwear and kidswear.
For those interested in being a part of this New York tradition, Robert Geist, assistant chef concierge at The St. Regis New York, was able to assist with ticket sales, as well as transportation.
“Many types of tickets were offered, ranging from top coveted seats that are located courtside and have special restroom facilities, parking passes and food options to lower cost options,” Geist says. “Whatever the guest’s preferences were, we were pleased to accommodate them.”
Q. Although you didn’t participate this year, what do you appreciate most about the U.S. Open and New York?
A. I love the U.S. Open and New York. I always have a great time when I am here, and New York makes this tournament special.
Q. The St. Regis New York is your home away from home in New York City. What do you love most about the hotel?
A. The hotel is great and the staff really makes us feel at home. I find it to be one of the best hotels. I look forward to coming back every year.
Q. What is your favorite neighborhood in Manhattan?
A. I love the area surrounding The St. Regis New York. It’s in the heart of Manhattan near Central Park and Fifth Avenue—two places I always enjoy.
Q. While you’re in New York, what must-see destinations do you make a point to visit?
A. I always go to Ground Zero to pay tribute.
We wish Rafael Nadal a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing him back on the circuit—and in New York.
St. Regis Celebration
Every year, The St. Regis New York helps tennis fans enjoy all the excitement and grandeur that the U.S. Open has to offer. In the days leading up to the U.S. Open, the hotel was abuzz with activity. The St. Regis New York helped kick off the 2012 event with an intimate cocktail reception hosted by General Manager Paul H.F. Nash. Joining Nash in the Presidential Suite at The St. Regis New York were the guests of honor: tennis stars and Olympic gold medalists Venus and Serena Williams. Individuals on the exclusive guest list enjoyed Champagne and canapes while mingling with the Williams sisters.
“It was truly an honor to host two of tennis’ greatest players of all time,” Nash says. “We wished them great success in the tournament and look forward to seeing them again in the future at The St. Regis New York.”