Every NFL fan who makes it to the Super Bowl is going to walk away with memories, but it’s a pretty safe bet no one has topped those of Kristen Williams or Frankie Morales.
To look out at a Super Bowl football stadium with no one in it was fascinating.
As part of the experience, Courtyard converted the suite into a hotel room overlooking the playing field for the night. Courtyard is the official hotel of the NFL.
This year’s contest includes a one-night stay in another custom-built Courtyard suite within U.S. Bank Stadium, in Minneapolis, Minn.; tickets to Super Bowl LII, for the winner and a guest; round-trip airfare; bed and bedding provided by ShopCourtyard.com; and $5,500 in spending money.
“The views from that suite were breathtaking,” says Williams, who attended Super Bowl 50, in Santa Clara, Calif., with her family. “To look out at a Super Bowl football stadium with no one in it was fascinating.”
To win “Courtyard’s Super Bowl Sleepover Contest,” NFL fans submitted 15-second videos and photos via Instagram or Twitter, with winners chosen by the public.
Williams hails from Alaska, but her NFL loyalties lie with the Houston Texans. So when she learned of the chance to head to the big game by submitting a superstition-themed video, she and her husband Cory got to work.
Soon after winning the public vote, Kristen and Cory were off to Super Bowl 50 Stadium, in Santa Clara, around a 90 minutes drive from San Francisco.
Kristen was five months pregnant during the game. And, since her dad was the one who got her into football, her parents joined them as well.
That’s when fantasy replaced reality.
The night before the game, Kristen and Cory went to the stadium and took the elevator to the suite and opened the door to find Tony Gonzalez greeting them.
Courtyard staff had already met them earlier at their hotel with champagne (and apple juice for Kristen) along with a hearty round of applause. Soon after, they were whisked to a party, where they met Tony Romo and Steve Young (a lifelong dream of Cory’s). Derek Carr even delivered breakfast in bed.
“Every hour was something new,” Kristen says.
Even walking up to the room, we were overwhelmed. The doormat said Frankie Morales. I mean, you don't go to a theme park and see your name on the rides.
Winning Courtyard’s contest was a similarly surreal but awesome experience for Morales and his girlfriend, who went to Super Bowl LI, in Houston.
For Morales, who spent the night in the Super Bowl LI Stadium with girlfriend McKenna Crilley, his Super Bowl journey happened to occur right around his 30th birthday, so Courtyard threw him a special party to let him know he’d won.
A Dallas fan for life, Morales was overwhelmed by the event — and the roster of some serious A-listers in attendance like wide receiver Miles Austin ready to celebrate.
It didn’t end there. NFL Legend Emmitt Smith greeted Morales at a pre-Super Bowl party, while linebacker Daryl Johnston, was ready for Morales and friends when they walked into the converted suite at the stadium. But it was still difficult to process everything that was happening, he says.
“Even walking up to the room, we were overwhelmed,” Morales says. “The doormat said ‘Frankie Morales’. I mean, you don’t go to a theme park and see your name on the rides.”
Williams and Morales woke up to catered breakfasts served up by other NFL stars, then had to briefly vacate the stadium, so the bedroom could be converted back into a suite for the game.
But the adventures weren’t over. Far from it.
Both found that the tickets they received to the game were in some of the best seats possible—just a few rows back on the 45 yard line, facing the halftime show and surrounded by celebrities.
While neither got the chance to see their favorite teams play in the Super Bowl, both say that might have been for the best.
“You think you’d want to go when your team is playing, but it was really nice to not have a horse in the race because we could just soak it all in,” says Williams. “Our emotions weren’t on a roller coaster.”
The fun doesn’t end with Williams and Morales.
Courtyard is now in search of two more NFL fans, with a third sleepover contest.
While it may be easy to talk yourself out of entering, take it from Williams and Morales–sometimes a leap of faith can pay off in big ways.
“Anyone who gets to have this experience is going to be so much richer in terms of life experiences, because it’s so full of surprises and excitement,” says Morales.
Adds Williams, “Just soak in the moments, but take as many pictures as you can.”
To enter to win your own suite experience at the Super Bowl visit: “Courtyard’s Super Bowl Sleepover Contest.”