Football is nothing without fans, and our hospitality lounges at St Mary’s are no exception. From the exciting buzz of Saints Bar, the casual inclusive nature of the Aspire lounge, to the stylish sophistication of The Halo, these premium spaces are brought to life each matchday by Saints fans looking to take their experience to the next level.
We caught up with two of our regular seasonal hospitality guests David Meathrel (Director, Kleyman & Co. Solicitors) and Craig Swanborough (Owner, Cygnet Recruitment), to learn more about their experiences of hospitality at St Mary’s:
What have been your highlights since becoming a seasonal member?
David: Watching the Saints in probably the best corporate facility in the Premier League. I have been entertained at a number of Premier League grounds over the years and none have exceeded the Halo. We also have some of the best seats at St Mary’s. In my opinion there is no better way to watch my team.
Craig: My highlights in the Aspire lounge would be meeting the guest speakers, from ex-players to TV personalities. Seeing them away from the spotlight and getting the chance to talk to them has been great.
Talk us through your matchday experience
David: We arrive 3 hours before kick-off and are always greeted with a glass of champagne. We are then seated at our regular table. This is followed by a wide range of good quality food and drink, usually more champagne. Throughout the day, the hospitality team and lounge hostesses are always discreetly checking everything is running smoothly to ensure you have a good time. There is always the opportunity to talk to former players in a very informal environment which gives a great insight into the world of football, often from a very different perspective to the usual media coverage. We normally go to our seats ten to fifteen minutes before kick-off to take in the atmosphere. Half time is always cheese and biscuits and a quick drink, then back to the football. Immediately after the game more food and drink – it is just an unlimited supply! The next highlight is a player interview hosted by the excellent Dave Richardson. We then relax in the lounge dissecting the game and hopefully celebrating three points until the crowds have cleared and it is time to go.
Craig: On a typical match day I would usually meet my guest roughly two hours before kick-off, and then make our way through the guest entrance and up to the Aspire lounge. We are greeted with a selection of beverages and then shown to our designated table for the season. Once my guest has taken in the atmosphere, we are greeted again by our waiter for the day. Then comes the tricky part, food choice! I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed every meal I've had, and the menu caters for everyone. We then have time to put the world to rights, whilst being able to enjoy games that have already started on the multiple screens around the room. After the first two courses we take in the first half. Then back to the lounge to be greeted with our half time drink orders and dessert (I always eat both) and then back out for the second half. After the game, we return to the lounge for more drinks with cheese and biscuits. Being able to relax after the game is brilliant, letting the traffic and footfall slow down again is a must!
Is there a particular dish that stood out for you?
David: The variety and choice is such is that every meal stands out. Last time it was the pheasant, the game before it was the beef sirloin. The food is always to a high standard and there’s always plenty of it. Steven Morris of Gather & Gather is a talented chef and has often taken the time and trouble to come out and talk to us.
What is it about the lounge that appeals to you?
David: The lounge is top quality, and everything is included with the price. This is really important to us as our guests can relax knowing whatever they want is included which avoids any potential embarrassment.
Craig: The whole experience, the comfortable surroundings, the table and seat guarantee, entertaining clients in a different environment (outside of the office) and being able to mix work with pleasure.
What is your main motivation to booking hospitality at St Mary’s?
David: To watch my team in the best possible facility whilst having the ability to entertain friends and clients.
Craig: Being a Saints fan helps but knowing I can pay for my tickets through winning one piece of new business through my client helps.
What’s the best part about booking seasonally, as opposed to match by match?
David: Without doubt there is a community feel in the Halo and you get to know the other regulars who are all passionate Saints fans. You have your own guaranteed table and seats. The Halo staff get to know you and understand your own preferences, so you get really looked after. Having everything in place and guaranteed for the entire season is important to us.
Craig: Booking seasonally guarantees you all 19 Premier League games. I may have a client that supports a particular team, but the game sells out, or Southampton might just get a great result! I don't want to miss that opportunity.