A luxury guide to the Australian Open 2018

Award-winning sports reporter Linda Pearce has covered more than 50 tennis Grand Slams throughout her career. She lets us in on the VIP offerings at next year’s Australian Open.

 

Some sports are best served live and tennis is one of them. Television cannot quite capture the force of the shot-making, the subtleties of the spins and angles, the sound of ball on racquet, and the athleticism and commitment of players locked in gladiatorial combat, when so much is at stake. On court, there will be A$55 million in prizemoney to play for in 2018, but much more goes on the line in terms of achievement and prestige.

The closer the vantage point, the better, which is what helps to differentiate the latest Australian Open fan experience at an event that has long ranked as a player and media favourite. “The Happy Slam”, Swiss legend Roger Federer once called it, and, as the five-time winner and defending singles champion, well may he smile. But what’s not to enjoy? Each January, local and international visitors descend on Melbourne at the height of summer, sharing in the relaxed holiday vibe and celebrating the annual pilgrimage of the biggest names in the game. There’s a ticket to suit everyone, ranging from the popular ground passes to the burgeoning VIP packages. And just as the Melbourne Park site itself has been undergoing the most extensive upgrade in its 30-year history, as part of the A$338 million stage-two redevelopment that will transform player facilities, there will be more to offer patrons with five-star tastes.



No longer is there a one-size-fits-most approach; since 2016, the focus has been on a more bespoke guest experience. Hospitality options can be designed for every budget and priority. Fancy sitting on the court, just metres from the players, while enjoying world-class food and beverages? You can.

The courtside view provides remarkable intimacy. Comparable, perhaps, to a ringside seat at a world championship boxing bout, except there are just 12 seats available, all in the southeast corner of the main court, Rod Laver Arena (RLA). Like at a title fight, though, there will be dancing feet, flying sweat and, at times, raw emotion. Try looking away.

Debuting at this year’s Open, the On Court Seating experience is unique in the world of tennis and was enjoyed in January by the likes of models Karlie Kloss and Jessica Gomes, former Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting, Australian NFL star Brad Wing, and a roll call of local celebrities. Included is access to the Dressing Room, an exclusive backstage space previously used by Rod Laver Arena’s artistic alumni including the Rolling Stones, Pink, Bruce Springsteen and Justin Timberlake.

As far as entertaining goes, guests can play host in a courtside Superbox, serviced by dedicated staff each session. Or finish the day dining on the Hisense Arena court surface, where guest appearances by former greats are among the added extras.

More private is The Green Room, where a select few fans can witness the pre- and postmatch action, including the players’ first steps along the Walk of Champions, a hallway lined by a photo gallery of the past winners whose deeds they seek to emulate.

The Green Room



Then there’s the exclusive sanctuary known as The Lounge, complete with grazing buffet, drinks and private access to RLA; the sophisticated Trophy Club, which combines exceptional service with balcony views overlooking Garden Square and private entry to RLA; or Encore, your own room in the heart of Melbourne Park.

Meanwhile, pop-up restaurants by acclaimed Rockpool Dining Group and Nobu are among the 2018 additions to a food and beverage honour board that already boasts some of Melbourne’s finest: Gazi, Huxtaburger, Estelle by Scott Pickett, Hotel Jesus, Tokyo Tina, Jimmy Grants and Maha.

Clearly Melbourne Park plans to celebrate its 30th birthday in style and, in turn, the Happy Slam will make a happy return in 2018.

Experience

• Rates for On Court Seating start from A$1,500 per person per match.

• The Rod Arena Superbox is priced from A$8,640 for 18 guests.

• On-court dining at Hisense Arena starts from A$1,300 for the Show Court Finals. Rates start at A$2,700 for the finals weekend.

• The Green Room experience starts from A$490 per person, including a Category 1 Rod Laver Arena ticket and all food and beverages.

• Access to The Lounge starts from A$380 per person, including a Category 1 Rod Laver Arena ticket and all food and beverages.

• Access to the Trophy Club starts from A$490 per person, including a Category 1 Rod Laver Arena ticket and all food and beverages.

• Access to Encore starts from A$480 per person, including a Category 1 Rod Laver Arena ticket and all food and beverages

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