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First look: ‘The Pier’ first class lounge

22 Jun 2015 by Clement Huang

Cathay Pacific (CX) re-opened the newly renovated first class section of its lounge, The Pier, near gate 63 at Hong Kong International Airport, on June 20.

At 2,061 sqm with a seating capacity of 231 passengers, it is the airline’s largest dedicated first class lounge, bigger than The Wing’s first class section near gate 1. For our review of The Wing, see here.

iMac workstation at the Bureau

The Pier first class lounge is separated into individual sections, including the Library, Bureau with six iMac workstations offering dual operating systems, Dining Room for sit-down a la carte, Pantry for “grab and go” light bites, horseshoe-shaped bar, and Retreat area featuring 14 showers, eight day suites and three foot massage booths.

Retreat – one of the many sections at The Pier

Walking into the lounge, the difference between this one and The Wing’s first class section is immediately noticeable. The Pier is divided into individual sections instead of a large open space.

The new lounge is described as a “contemporary apartment”, a style consistent with new outport lounges in Tokyo Haneda (see here), Manila (see here), and most recently Bangkok (see here), following CX’s brand refresh in late 2014 (see here).

One of the many curated furniture pieces seen at The Pier

Examples of a meticulous attention to detail include the varying types of chairs the lounge offers, with lead designer Isle Crawford revealing this was done in order to help distinguish each individual section from the other, accentuating a “home” feel and moving away from the corporate look.

In doing so, productivity booths similar to the airline’s “Solus Chair”, popularised by Foster + Partners, are not found at this lounge. The workstation chair may have been a common sight at The Wing and many of CX’s older lounges, but will not represent the right match for CX’s new brand ethos.

Seating area

Even the type of music varies between the Bar, Dining Room and Retreat. For those seeking privacy, there are also carefully appointed “quiet zones” in the lounge.

Day suite at the Retreat section

The eight day suites in the Retreat area are the epitome of this. Available on a first-come-first-served basis, each has a daybed, reading light, and curtains for added privacy. There is also a large window that allows in an abundance of natural light, while affording views of the runway.

Power ports incorporated into drawer

Business travellers will appreciate power ports within arm’s reach for their devices, as power and USB sockets are cleverly built into drawers positioned next to seats.

This is also the first time Cathay has introduced a new sensory element, with scent blends of green tea, jasmine, bamboo and lavender permeating the lounges and other spaces. The scents were distinct but not overpowering, and tied in nicely with the airline’s rebranded theme of wellbeing. Toby Smith, general manager product at CX in Hong Kong, says the concept will eventually be rolled out to lounges and other spaces, like boarding areas.

The use of scent to create a signature characteristic is one now rooted in the hospitality industry, with several hotel brands having introduced the same feature. Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong is well known for its use of Shanghai Tang fragrances that perfume its public areas.

Another innovative feature is a bespoke mobile device equipped with an app to notify passengers of flight details, including boarding time and gate changes.

Massage suite managed by Gentlemen’s Tonic

Complimentary massage services are offered, a first for CX, and the airline has partnered with Gentlemen’s Tonic from London to deliver treatments. This includes a 10-minute cleansing foot soak that can be accompanied by either neck, shoulder and scalp massage, or hand treatment. Alternatively, there is the 20-minute Gentlemen’s Tonic signature foot massage.

A la carte menu at the Dining Room

The 100-seater Dining Room offers a three-course a la carte service. Highlights from the menu include prawn salad with pomelo, glass noodles, and hot and sour dressing; seared salmon with herb potatoes, green peas, asparagus, and caper vinaigrette; and mango sticky rice.

Dining room

As expected, the airline’s signature drinks are available, and we were able to sample the Cathay delight, Golden dynasty and Pink dream. There is a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic options.

For passengers short on time, the Pantry is the go-to for all sorts of light bites and “grab and go”. During our visit, apart from a table spread consisting of sandwiches, pastries and fruits, there were chilled jars of tomato and mozzarella, smoked salmon, and pork neck salad, as well as coffee and beer dispensers.

Food selection at the Pantry

The new design concept will be progressively introduced to other lounges, the next of which will include Taipei. The Pier business class lounge will also close for renovation from July 1 and re-open in the second quarter of 2016.

The lounge is open from 05.30am to the last departure for passengers flying in first class, as well as those holding Marco Polo Club Diamond or Oneworld Emerald status on any flight operated by an alliance member.

For more information, visit cathaypacific.com or view this video.

Samuel Chan & Clement Huang

First look: Cathay Pacific lounge at Tokyo Haneda

Cathay Pacific opens Manila lounge

Cathay Pacific reopens Bangkok lounge

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