Michael Parsons (Vice President Marketing and Strategic Relationships - Accor Asia Pacific), Graham Wilson ( Chief Marketing and Distribution

Tennis legend Serena Williams hosted an exclusive event on Friday night (Jan 16) at Sofitel Melbourne On Collins for members of Le Club Accorhotels, the global loyalty program of Accor, turning up the heat in an impromtu cooking challenge with sister Venus Williams and surprise guest judge, Strictly Ballroom director Baz Luhrmann.

The VIP event – held prior to the world’s number ranked women’s tennis player’s appearance at the Australian Open in Melbourne next week – showcased her passion for cuisine and high culture, with a fashionable French twist. As one of the most recognised people in the world, Serena is a woman of style and passion and this intimate evening was a rare opportunity to get to know the person behind the racquet.

Serena Williams, Baz Lurhmann (Director of new musial, Strictly Ballroom) and Venus Williams 2

Graham Wilson, Chief Marketing and Distribution Officer, Accor Asia Pacific, said, “Serena is a woman of many talents, with an obvious passion for fashion, style and beauty. She is a wonderful supporter of the hospitality Accor provides around the world, and we are honoured that she gave us some of her precious time during this visit to Melbourne.

“Blending French sophistication with Melbourne’s famous chic style, the Sofitel Melbourne On Collins was the perfect setting for this beautiful event, and Serena and Venus’ presence certainly helped us create a magical evening for our valued Le Club Accorhotel members, prior to the excitement of the Australian Open.”

Serena Williams and Sofitel Melbourne's Executive Chef John Savage

Le Club Accorhotels members mingled with the superstar trio over cocktails and canapés, before being led through the special dessert challenge between Serena and Venus by the Sofitel’s executive chef, John Savage.

Internationally renowned Australian director Baz Luhrmann judged the sisters’ efforts a dead heat — so they both went home winners.

Serena Wiliams, Baz Lurhmann, Graham Wilson, Chief Marketing and Distribution Officer (Accor Asia Pacific) and Venus Williams hear the result

A cool creation designed to deliver some sweet relief for diners looking to counteract Melbourne’s soaring Summer temperatures, the dessert item aptly called The Serena Surprise will also be available for a limited time as a feature item on the menu at Sofitel’s restaurant, No35. Available for the duration of the Australian Open in Melbourne (January 19 – February 1, 2015), the dessert will be priced from $17 so that all guests can experience Serena’s chilled treat when they visit.

The gathering was the latest offering from Le Club Accorhotels’ VIP Events, a series of once-in-a-lifetime experiences to reward members for their loyalty. Serena Williams also previously hosted a VIP event for members at Accor’s newest luxury boutique hotel, Sofitel So Singapore, which features signature elements by world-renowned fashion designer, Karl Lagerfeld and an exciting interior design by the Miaja Group.

Serena Williams, Chef John Savage of Sofitel Melbourne and Venus Williams get the challenge started

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management