They say it’s better to give than to receive, but as the clock ticks down in the final days before Christmas, why not do both this holiday season?
If you still haven’t found that “wow” factor gift for the special someone on your list, you can solve your problem right now with a single phone call, and both you and your lucky recipient can be in the stands at Met Life (aka Giants) Stadium on February 2 watching Super Bowl XLVII, the biggest sporting event in the country.
Or maybe you and your giftee prefer ponies, pomp and circumstance? Then why not enjoy the nation’s greatest spectator weekend at the big, lavish, classy party known as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.” The Kentucky Derby is actually a weekend full of parties, gala black tie balls, and two unbelievably entertaining days of racing, the Oaks and Derby Day itself. I’ve written here at great length for Forbes.com about why the Kentucky Derby is so fantastic, one of my all-time favorites, and why even if you don’t follow horse racing it is a true Bucket-List experience, one of the most fun events on earth.
For golf fans it doesn’t get much bigger or better than the Ryder Cup, the only time golf’s greatest players come together to play for honor and country rather than mounds of cash (at least until Rio in 2016, and with what will likely be a far stronger field than for the Olympics). For 2014 the biennial event is being held at Scotland’s Gleneagles Resort, one of the finest on earth (though the course they chose leaves much to be desired).
So there you have it. Three of the biggest sporting events of 2014 are all still available in turnkey packages from the respective official travel suppliers.
For the Super Bowl that would be Quint Events, which handles the official Super Bowl packages for NFL On Location, the league’s travel arm, and still has its gold and white packages across five levels of seat quality available. These packages include full access to the high-end hospitality venue the IZOD Center, with a full dinner menu of upscale cuisine and top shelf open bar, plus live entertainment and celebrity NFL player autograph appearances. The venue is available for three hours before kickoff and 90 minutes afterwards. You also get a gift bag with some commemorative souvenirs, special VIP fast access security lanes into the stadium, and access to preferred onsite parking. The packages are available with or without hotel rooms for three nights at full-service midtown hotels like the NY Hilton. The Gold Level B package with prime sideline club seating is the best still available at $9,399 without hotel or $10,499 with lodging (double occupancy). The least expensive remaining packages are the White Level H with end zone seating and run $4,899 per ticket or $5,849 with rooms at the Roosevelt Hotel and all the same inclusions. I wrote extensively two years ago about what the actual game-day experience inside the stadium is like with these official hospitality packages provided by NFL On Location.
For the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs racetrack’s official travel provider is Derby Experiences (also managed by Quint Events), which still has plenty of packages – but don’t dally as some of the most desirable seats, including the Trophy Room, Derby Room and the best located reserved clubhouse seats are already gone. Still, there are lots of choices, everywhere from the most desirable seats in Millionaire’s Row (from $6,299) and the Turf Club (from $4,999) to reserved grandstand seats at the top of the stretch (the cheapest spot, from $1,999). Derby packages are far more complex than Super Bowl or other sporting events because there are many options, such as where you watch the racing from, which hospitality venues within the track you have access to, where you stay, and what optional parties and events outside of the track you decide to attend, from the Winner’s Party at the Derby Museum to the black tie Julep Ball beforehand. All packages are for both days and include seating and hospitality twice over for Oaks Day and Derby Day. Because there are so many moving parts, if you are considering the Derby, read my much more detailed piece on everything you need to know about attending historic 140th Run for the Roses. The Derby is always the first Saturday in May and the Oaks the day before, so this year it is May 2-3.
For the Ryder Cup, Premier Golf is the exclusive North American ticket provider through its license with the PGA of America, which means if you did not already secure tickets through the earlier public lottery, they are the way to go. Premier Golf has been selling packages and operating luxurious concierge-style trips to Ryder Cups since 1991. The Ryder Cup will be contested September 26-28, 2014 at Scotland’s famed Gleneagles resort and these all-inclusive packages include 5-nights accommodations (September 24-29) with breakfast daily, a welcome reception, and daily transportation in and out of the resort, plus of course tickets. The main difference is simply where you stay, with packages at the most desirable spots such as St. Andrews vaunted Old Course Hotel running $5,990 (double occupancy) and less premium choices such as the Malmaison in Dundee at $3,700 for the same package.
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