At the end of January, Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific announced the opening of its new yoga and meditation space, called The Sanctuary, at its The Pier Business Class Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport Terminal 1.
The 700 sq ft space has been developed in partnership with fitness company The Pure Group, which operates multiple gym and yoga studios across Hong Kong.
Since I was passing through the airport for a flight, I decided to check out the new space.
What's it like?
Upon entering The Sanctuary, what initially struck me was that it was almost deserted, despite the rest of the lounge being moderately busy. There were only two people in there, a man and a little girl who were using the mediation area.
I took off my shoes and placed them on the designated rack.
The audio meditation area has four seats in a circle, with privacy barriers so you can meditate in peace. The best seat is the one in the far corner, as it means no one from the main lounge area can see you.
Wet wipes are provided to wipe down the headphones before using them.
The audio meditation has seven programmes you can choose, from simple sounding ones like “Breath and relax” (5:42) and “Total body relaxation” (13:52) to more exotic and adventurous sounding ones like “Healing sounds with crystal bowls” (14:58) and “Soothing sounds with crystal bowls” (10:00).
I wasn’t sure how to determine whether healing or soothing sounds emanating from crystal bowls would be best for me, so I decided to go for something simpler: “Breathe and relax”.
Upon starting the meditation, the first thing I noticed was that the noise cancelling headphones muffle, rather than eliminate, the chattering coming from the main lounge area. There is no door separating The Sanctuary from the rest of the lounge. Still, once I got a couple of minutes into the meditation – the calming North American male voice instructing me to breathe in for four seconds and out for four seconds, and meanwhile relax various parts of my body – I actually felt the noise start to slip away. After just a five-minute meditation, I actually felt significantly calmer and even sleepy.
I can imagine one great use of The Sanctuary would be for those with a long layover. You could come here to do a “Breathe and relax” session or two – or even experiment with those alluring crystal bowls – before repairing to the sleeping area at the opposite end of the lounge for a nap.
After the audio meditation, I decided to try the visual meditation, which involves sitting and gazing at a patterned image, breathing in a measured way while focusing your gaze on the centre of the image and gradually moving your gaze outward, then back in again. I guess you can give it a go yourself by gazing at this photo…
This may be the preferred meditation method of some people, but I found it difficult to focus without any accompanying audio to guide me and quickly gave up on this one.
I then had a go doing some guided stretches. There are four chairs with three different stretches illustrated on a board in front of the chair.
I got the impression this is more for a female audience. I confess I did feel a little awkward spreading my legs wide to perform the “Chair Goddess” stretch.
There is also an area with yoga mats in front of a television playing an instructional video of how to perform various yoga stretches. Having never done yoga in my life, I didn’t feel now was the best time to start, but I’m sure for yoga enthusiasts this is a nice feature to have in the lounge. No one was using it when I visited, though.
It’s worth noting that Cathay doesn’t provide a change of clothing at The Sanctuary, so guests wishing to do some yoga will need to pack their own kit in their carry-on luggage.
As you leave The Sanctuary, there is a self-serve water station serving crisp and refreshing orange and lemon infused water.
Bear in mind there are no audio flight announcements in The Sanctuary, so make sure you plan how much time you intend to spend here in advance, and be sure not to get too absorbed in the mellifluous crystal bowls and miss your flight.
A welcome and interesting addition to Cathay Pacific’s excellent The Pier Business Class Lounge. I was surprised that so few people were using it when I visited. The audio guided meditation is simple enough to use for even those who have never tried meditation before, and the yoga facilities will appeal to both yoga newbies and experienced practitioners.
It will be interesting to see how many other airlines introduce similar facilities into their lounges.