The Australian Open announces the kick-off of each new tennis season, and it does so in one of the most relaxing cities in the world. With a population of a little more than one million people, Melbourne consistently ranks amongst the world’s happiest cities. It is a contemporary hub of arts and culture set against the beautiful Yarra River, and Melbourne is home to a diverse, international population with the shared mutual trait of enjoying all the city and its surrounding nature has to offer.
On the east side of the city and just before the Yarra River completes its long journey into Port Phillip Bay, it weaves its way past the Royal Botanic Gardens and a series of iconic blue-surfaced of tennis stadiums and courts that house the friendliest Grand Slam event of the year, the Australian Open.
The Australian Open positions itself as the people’s slam: it’s fun and friendly, as if a turquoise-themed party crashed into a massive tennis complex, and the second you approach the event the vibe announces itself, loose and playful, more similar to a music festival than, say, Wimbledon. Wimbledon, for the record, is as if a grass-themed party crashed directly into a royal tea-event being held on a tennis court.
I’ve been to numerous tennis events, from Wimbledon to Newport to Rio, on continents and in countries all over the world. There are many ways to visit a tennis tournament, but for the major ones with larger stadiums and more logistics, I find it’s best to turn to a high-end tennis tourism specialist, and Grand Slam Tennis Tours is one I’ve used a few times now. They’re highly professional, offer great seating in stadiums around the world as they were the first ever travel partner of Tennis Australia, which explains their amazing seating options and create fun special events; by taking the guesswork out of your trip, before it starts and once you’re there, it let’s you focus on actually enjoying it.
There are a few key components to a luxury Australian Open adventure:
You’re there for the tennis, so you should sit:
On Court – New for 2017 is an on-court seating option, which puts you on the very same level as the players and during the point you’re as close as the linemen and ballboys. On-Court seating is limited to 16 per match and pricing begins at $2,500 (USD) and rises to $22,500 to sit on-court for the Men’s Final.
Front Row – We sat in the very front row, directly behind the players chairs. Had my wife had slightly quicker reflexes and a slightly meaner heart, she would have one of Federer’s wristbands and a 10 year old boy would not.
Category 1 – Just a few rows further back but still offer a fine viewing experience from the lowest level of the stadium.
The primary stadium is Rod Laver Arena, with Margaret Court and HiSense the two supporting Show Courts.
You should stay at The Langham Hotel, which consistently ranks amongst the finest hotels in the Southern Hemisphere. The Langham is located in South Bank, centrally located, 5 minutes from the Crown Plaza neighborhood and offering amazing views of the Melbourne cityscape across the river. The Langham puts on an excellent breakfast and when you’re ready to head out to tennis you can easily walk or grab a water taxi that floats you down the river and drops you right at the tennis park.
Melbourne is a great city with excellent dining, a strong café culture, and plenty of world-class art. I recommend a meal at Chin-Chin, a cup of coffee from a convent, and the fascinating Australian Center for the Moving Image.
Get a chance to play tennis at Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club. Kooyong was the original site of the Australian Open back when it was held on grass between 1972-1987, won by champions such as Rosewall, Newcomb, Connors and Edberg, and it remains one of the most exclusive tennis clubs in the world, considering the 10 years waiting list to be a member. It’s a special experience to play on grass, in all-whites, and if you travel with GSTT you’ll enjoy the company of a former Grand Slam champion and the GSTT tennis pros.
“Kooyong Lawn Club tennis court”
I strongly encourage you to get away. If you’re going to make the effort to travel to Melbourne, you should take advantage of your time there to explore everything Australia and New Zealand has to offer. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the options: Great Barrier Reef, world-famous beaches, Kangaroo Island, Twelve Apostles formation, Sydney Opera House, Yarra Valley wine tours, to name a few, so we just asked Jamie, the Grand Slam Tennis Tours expert, to pick his two favorites that worked within our trip dates. We went to an excursion to see the Twelve Apostles, the wine was excellent and the scenery sublime:
Pricing. You can piece together hotel, ticketing, excursions on your own, but it’s much easier to have someone else do it for you so you can just show up and enjoy. Through Grand Slam Tennis Tours, our Australian Open package was $2,750 (USD) per person, for a 5-night trip, plus extra for the two excursions. Pricing generally increases the closer you get to the finals and the closer your seats and airfare is not included.
Tennis is one of those pro sports that naturally lends itself to travel. The tour is structured as such that every week is a new adventure, off to a different locale where players are given fresh start. There are some travelers choose to travel across the world for tennis, while others simply catch some tennis while they’re traveling. If you happen to be a couple where only one of you is a lifelong tennis fan but you both enjoy luxury travel experiences, you can even do both at the same time.
To book your travel experience to the Australian Open, visit Grand Slam Tennis Tours and tell them Luxury Travelers Guide sent you.