Celebrity Dining: The Wimbledon experience money CAN’T buy

0
36
Celebrity Dining: The Wimbledon experience money CAN’T buy

Celebrity Dining:

It’s the day out at Wimbledon that money can’t buy and is only available to those with fame or prestige.

While customers battle for tickets for big matches by sleeping in tents in the queue, famous faces are invited onto the site into luxury suites or even the hallowed Royal Box.

Instead of shelling out hundreds of pounds at the gate or spending up to £13,000 for resale tickets online, they are welcomed in for free with open arms. 

On arrival they are welcomed out of their cars by attendants before being whisked up to suites where they enjoy tucking into expensive delicacies during four-course meals, supping champagne and then relaxing in front of the best view on the court. 

And the famous faces – who are all immaculately dressed for their photo opportunities – can be seen leaving every day carrying goody bags with freebies worth hundreds of pounds. 

Here, we reveal the start-to-finish lavish day out lucky guests enjoy when they’re invited by one of the championship’s sponsors – including Robinson’s, Polo Ralph Lauren, Evian, Pimm’s and Hertz. 

Through multi-year deals with these companies and others – such as American Express, Chinese camera firm Oppo, ball provider Slazenger and official beer supplier Stella Artois – the tournament rakes in around £40million in sponsorship each year. 

Every year some of the biggest names in film, sport and music are invited into the grounds whether by the All England Club itself or the sponsors, and this year is no different – with the likes of Sienna Miller, Felicity Jones, Ant McPartlin, Eleanor Tomlinson and Phoebe Waller-Bridge all spotted in exclusive areas.

Sponsors at the All England Club have different lounges, each offering a unique experience for their A-list guests – with varying rules and dress codes such as Ralph Lauren guests wearing clothes from its label. 

MailOnline reveals below some of the luxury experiences celebrities are treated to on their plush days out at SW19.

Ant McPartlin and Anne-Marie Corbett were invited to spend Wimbledon in the Robinson’s suite on Monday and are pictured leaving holding two large Polo Ralph Lauren bags, which is another sponsor of the championships

Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams, 23, and her boyfriend Reuben Selby, 22, are pictured leaving Wimbledon on Monday carrying official bags worth £120 after spending the day in the Polo Ralph Lauren suite – and wearing Ralph Lauren appears to be a condition of entry to the suite

Actor Will Poulter, left, is pictured departing with one of the plush Wimbledon bags after being invited to watch in the Polo Ralph Lauren suite. The dress code at the suite also appeared to include wearing that brand, with all guests turning up in Ralph Lauren outfits. Meanwhile Pippa Middleton and brother James were again invited guests to the Royal Box on Monday, and James is seen carrying two goody bags as they left the ground, right

The Royal Box

The most exclusive area remains the Royal Box – which has once again been full to the brim with film stars, musicians and sporting heroes.

But entry to the 74-seat enclosure is only available via invitation from Philip Brook, the chairman of the All England Club that hosts the championships.

How guests are invited to the Royal Box

Invitations to the Royal Box are sent out two-to-three months in advance to guests of the committee’s choosing.

An open invitation is extended to all members of the Royal Family as well as high ranking members of the church, military and diplomats.

The final decision is down to Club president Philip Brook, who has also invited popular celebrities to keep the make-up of the box ‘current’.

Invitations read: 

The Chairman and Committee of Management of The Championships request the pleasure of the company of [name] & Guest in the Royal Box on [date].

‘This invitation to the Royal Box includes lunch in the Clubhouse prior to the commencement of play, afternoon tea and drinks at the end of the day.’

Who gets said invite is decided by Mr Brook and the Committee of Management of the Championships, although all members of the Royal Family have an open invitation.

The club is keen to be seen as ‘current’ which is why celebrities range from legends such as Dame Maggie Smith and Sir Cliff Richard to contemporary stars including McMafia actor James Norton and The Crown’s Claire Foy.

Traditionally sporting stars are invited on the middle Saturday of the tournament, with Sir Mo Farrah, England cricketer Stuart Broad and the England Lionesses World Cup squad all welcomed this year.

Those lucky enough to be on the list treated to a day of luxury including lunch with the chairman, the chance to socialise with players and special gifts including a sterling silver lapel pin.

Those in the Royal Box also walk away with a goody bag, made of leather and containing sun cream, Evian face spray, wipes, hand cream and a tin of mints. 

But the full perks of the day are kept secret, with attendees rarely discussing the full extent of what they enjoyed. 

Festivities begin at 12noon when Mr Brook and his wife host the day’s guests for a four-course lunch at the Wimbledon clubhouse – and lobster is on the menu.

Pictures on social media from this year’s Wimbledon reveal guests have enjoyed lavish food spreads, including rich desserts topped with tennis and Wimbledon-themed icing. 

Guests then take pride of place in the oak-lined Royal Box itself which offers a stunning view of the action, with sweets passed around discreetly in a small bucket for those in need of a snack while a TV set is hidden in the front row so they can watch instant replays.

Meanwhile Mo Farah, left, and couple Stuart Broad and Mollie King, right, were pictured leaving the Royal Box on Saturday with Wimbledon carrier bags that likely contained a commemorative photograph and goody bag handed out to invited guests

This year’s Royal Box goody bag, pictured left, is purple and was praised online by Sir Chris Hoy’s wife Sarra for its design and detail. Royal box freebies include hand cream and Evian face spray as well as lip balm, facial wipes and a tin of mints, right

Masters-winning golfer Danny Willett and his wife Nicole, pictured, also revealed the view celebrities and dignitaries enjoy at the Royal Box, while the purple goody bags can be seen left on each seat (pictured ringed) in the oak-lined enclosure

An invite to the Royal Box also gives access to the players, with boxers Carl Froch, left, and David Haye, right, pictured meeting Roger Federer when they attended on Saturday

Afternoon tea is then served at 3.30pm featuring traditional cucumber sandwiches, scones and cakes before guests return to the action.

Once play is over, usually around 7pm, its back to the clubhouse again for a drinks reception to discuss the day’s play over champagne and wine.   

There is a dress code however – men must wear jackets and ties and cannot wear jeans, while women are not allowed to wear skirts or dresses above the knee.

All members of the Royal Family receive an automatic invite to the box, with the tennis-loving Duchess of Cambridge, now patron of the club, and the Duchess of Sussex both spotted this week alone.

The Queen and Prince Charles are far less frequent visitors, but Royal connections allow Kate’s extended family access, with her parents Michael and Carole and siblings Pippa and James spotted virtually every year.

Others to receive automatic invitations include high-ranking members of government and leading churchmen, including the Archbishop of Canterbury. Very senior members of the Army, RAF and the Royal Navy are also invited.

Ambassadors and diplomats are welcome, with names forwarded by the Marshal of The Diplomatic Corps, and foreign royal families are invited if a player from their country reaches the finals.

National newspaper editors, senior figures from the BBC and famous faces from the world of sport are also on the guest list.

The afternoon tea at Wimbledon in the Royal Box features classic items including crust-less sandwiches and scones, while the dessert options include treats with Wimbledon and tennis-themed icing

Strawberries are also in plentiful supply and at the Royal Box, left, while the tables are lavishly decorated with Wimbledon-branded plates and a silver lapel pin is put by every place setting

Guests in the Royal Box – which has just 74 seats – are personally approved and invited by All England Club chairman Philip Brook, left, pictured with the Duchess of Cambridge at Wimbledon in 2017

After receiving responses from these invitees, the remaining invitations are sent out to chief executives, high ranking City officials and celebrities.  

Some have described the experience as the best day of their lives.

Ken Solomon, chief executive of American television network Tennis Channel, told the New York Times the day out was similar to meeting the US President.

He said: ‘When you meet someone at the White House, it doesn’t matter who they are — you know they are having one of the greatest days of their life as well.

‘No matter who you are, how important, you can’t buy your way into that space, and there’s only a handful of people who are there, and it’s very special. You’re going to remember it the rest of your life, and you know they are, too.’

The Evian Suite 

A glamorous day in the Evian suite starts on arrival mid-morning, when rich and famous guests are whisked from their cars by flunkeys already willing to wait on them hand-and-foot who usher them to the luxury suite.

At 12 noon the lucky invitees are shown through to the dining room where lunch is served. The menu, prepared by top-class team of chefs and delivered by a small army of waiting staff, includes:

What is in an Evian goody bag? 

Guests in the Royal Box receive a number of perks, including a commemorative photo, sterling silver lapel pin and a leather goody bag. 

Evian guests receive: 

  • A bottle of limited edition Evian
  • Mini bottle of Lanson champagne
  • Evian tennis ball
  • Evian Brummi (water face spray)
  • A box of strawberries and cream Lindt
  • Wimbledon coronation style chicken
  • Poached salmon, whipped feta, cucumber ribbons, and preserved lemons
  • Tenderstem broccoli, minted quinoa and avocado salad, cashew nuts, pomegranate and soy dressing
  • Pink peppercorn Yorkshire beef, baby spinach, kale pistou, tomato and tarragon dressing and parmesan gnocchi
  • Grilled harissa halloumi, candy beetroot, shaved peach, red onion, watercress and red chard salad with yuzu dressing
  • Wimbledon slaw of white, red cabbage and garden peas
  • Chargrilled Romanesco
  • Warm, buttered Jersey Royals
  • Summer Leaf Salad 

After the guests are fed – and suitably watered with lashings of Lanson champagne – the tennis gets underway at 1pm and the attendees are shown to their A-grade padded seats offering them an unrivaled view of the action on Centre and Number One courts.

Following a breathless couple of hours of sport, anyone feeling the need to be refuelled at 3.30pm can enjoy afternoon tea back in the suite. As well as a top-up of Pimm’s and champagne, sweets and snacks are distributed.

Evian sends out invitations to celebrities in rose petal-covered parcels with personal water bottles, while their goody bags contain cosmetics, chocolate and champagne 

Model Sabrina Elba, left, was invited to the Live Young Evian suite after being sent a package containing rose petals and a reusable water bottle. Meanwhile Rebel Wilson, right, has been a guest at both the Evian and the Polo Ralph Lauren suite

By 6pm, the entertaining is done for the day, but not the entertainment. The suite closes, however guests are encouraged to stay for the tennis, which can continue as late as 10pm. Even then, the treats are not over as guests are shown back to their vehicles loaded up with freebies in a money-can’t-buy goody bag.

This year’s Evian ones include a bottle of limited edition Evian, a small bottle of Lanson champagne, a branded tennis ball, Evian brummi face spray and a box of strawberries and cream flavoured Lindt chocolates.

The firm – owned by Danone – has been sponsoring Wimbledon since 2008 and its current deal expires in 2022. It has also teamed up with the tournament on a recycling scheme to eliminate plastic waste by using 100% recycled plastic bottles.

It’s little wonder guests at the Live Young Evian suite this year, who received invitations sent in packages containing rose petals and a personalised reusable bottle, have included the likes of actress Rebel Wilson, singer/presenter couple Marvin and Rochelle Humes, Yesterday star Himesh Patel and model Sabrina Elba, wife of actor Idris.

The Polo Ralph Lauren Suite 

The experience provided by Polo Ralph Lauren is similar to Evian’s – but with it’s own unique twists.

Perhaps the biggest is that celebrities all turn up dressed in stylish Ralph Lauren outfits – which appears to be a condition of entry – and then pose for photos on the terrace of the suite.

Guests are welcome at around 11am by helpers wearing Ralph Lauren polo shirts who gladly carry bags and attend to their distinguished guests’ needs.

Actresses Rebel Wilson, left, and Felicity Jones, right with director husband Charles Guard, were in the Ralph Lauren suite earlier this week and were pictured being escorted around the grounds by staff, with one worker carrying their £120 official Wimbledon bags

Guests at the Polo Ralph Lauren suite have all been pictured dressed in fashion label’s stylish outfits – which is an integral part of the invite. McMafia star James Norton is pictured right in a Ralph Lauren Purple Label suit, while actress Emma Corrin, who will play Princess Diana in the next series of The Crown, also wore the label

Then it’s time for lunch at 12noon, with a similar offering of fine dining, although the firm did not respond when asked for details. 

If they want a break from their plush seats on Centre Court they can head back to the suite for afternoon tea, again from 3.30pm.

Once closing time comes at 6pm, they are sent off with an official Wimbledon sports bag worth £120, but it likely contains goodies worth even more. 

Stars spotted at the Polo Ralph Lauren suite this year include Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams and her boyfriend Reuben Selby, McMafia star James Norton, Bafta-winning actor Will Poulter, comedienne Rebel Wilson and Poldark star Eleanor Tomlinson.

Who are Wimbledon’s sponsors? 

Wimbledon is reported to bring in around £40million each year through lucrative sponsorship deals with big name brands.

They include:

Drinks giant Robinson’s

Sports brand Slazenger

Evian water

Chinese camera firm Oppo

Driving giant Hertz

Polo Ralph Lauren 

Drinks company Pimm’s 

Tech giant IBM

Champagne makers Lanson

HSBC bank

Official beer provider Stella Artois 

Other sponsor suites are run by Robinson’s – who have been associated with