First look: the new Swiss B777-300ER

Swiss Business class cabin

Photos from a tour of the aircraft will follow – the images below are from Swiss.

Swiss took delivery of the first of its nine new B777-300ER aircraft today. The aircraft, which bears the registration HB-JNA, was flown directly to Zurich from Boeing’s Everett Factory.

The B777-300ER has a configuration of 340 seats: eight in first class, 62 in business and 270 in economy. The seating will be familiar to passengers from the Swiss A330 fleet, though there are slight differences in all cabins. In business class, for instance, there is a new tray table while perhaps the biggest change in economy is with a 10-across configuration of 3-4-3. Pictures of this are available in the slideshow at the bottom of this piece.

As previously noted (see news January 28), the Boeing aircraft also offers in-flight wifi with a choice of three data packages costing between CHF 9 and CHF 39 to meet customers’ varying internet needs.

Swiss First travellers will be offered a 50MB package on each flight free of charge. Swiss will also offer an in-flight mobile phone option on this aircraft for a trial one-year period (including SMS text messages and data transmission) using roaming technology.

The new B777-300ERs will gradually enter service from the start of the 2016 summer schedules, largely deployed on services to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Los Angeles, San Francisco, São Paulo and Tel Aviv.

Swiss also unveiled its new Senator, first and business class lounges at Zurich airport today – for details click here.

swiss.com

Tom Otley

First look: Lufthansa’s A320neo reviewed

Lufthansa A320 neo

Today was the low-key launch of the new “bread-and-butter” plane of Airbus.

The exterior of the aircraft was a simple “Airbus A320-200”, and unless you know your aircraft – and your engines – you might miss the real innovation – the new Pratt and Whitney Geared Turbo Fan engines. These much bigger engines are supposed to save at least 15 per cent on fuel consumption and are much quieter, two valuable attributes for airlines – and airports – today.

Lufthansa A320neo

Images by Andreas Spaeth

This A320neo is the newest iteration of one world’s most popular passenger aircraft. The A320 was the world’s first fly-by-wire aircraft when it premiered in 1988 with Air France and almost 6,900 have been built.

Airbus’ order books are bursting with further nearly 4,500 orders of around 80 customers for the A320neo family. So the commercial premiere of the A320neo is quite significant for the airline, the manufacturer and the traveling public.

None of this was showing today, Monday January 25, 2016, at Frankfurt airport, however. Unlike most new aircraft, the first A320neo for Lufthansa, registered D-AINA, had been delivered from the Hamburg factory on Friday without any ceremony or acknowledgement.

The commercial world premiere was supposed to happen yesterday, Sunday, on a flight from Frankfurt to Hamburg, but was cancelled due to “valve problems” with the new engines, as a Lufthansa spokeswoman commented.

So the first commercial flight finally happened on flight LH100 from Frankfurt to Munich on Monday. There was no ceremony, no signage or speeches acknowledging the event. The only reference to this world premiere was the captain’s announcement over the PA.

Lufthansa A320neo economy seating

Of most interest to Business Traveller readers is the interior, however.

The fact is that as reported herethe A320neo in Lufthansa’s new configuration carries 180 passengers, 12 seats (or two seat rows) more than the current A320s of the carrier, which physically have the same fuselage dimensions.

There are five rows with more pitch. Lufthansa says the pitch is 81cm for these business class rows.

The total number of rows is 30, the average pitch in Economy is 29 inches (74cm), but the last three rows have just 28 inches (71cm).

Swiss meanwhile, already flies the A320 with 186 seats. It’s clear that these legacy carriers want to copy the high density of the low-cost carriers while still maintaining some attributes of full-service carriers. Lufthansa for example still serves free soft drinks and a small snack to economy passengers even of the lowest fare classes. And seat-wise, the Germans still offer a slight recline and leather seats.

But never has the distinction between premium seats in business class and others in economy been as clear as in the new Lufthansa A320neo cabin. Lufthansa claims it has gained space by rearranging toilets and galleys, but it has also squeezed seat pitch considerably in the rows after about the first third of the cabin.

This author did his own measurements today: On a current Lufthansa A320, there are 11.8 inches (30cm) of space between the back of the Recaro slimline seat in front and the edge of the next seat. The space to sit on, measured from the edge to the beginning of the backrest, is 16.9 inches (43cm).

Lufthansa A320neo

Compare this to economy seats in the new A320neo: Here the foot- and legspace measures just 28.5cm, the seat itself offers only 41cm. The recline, especially of the window seats on the premiere aircraft was not well-oiled yet and a bit hard to apply, other seats were easier to recline, although the actual recline is minimal. Official seat pitch in Lufthansa’s Economy on the A320neo is 29.1 inches (71cm).

But in all fairness it has to be said that for the author, measuring 1.88m in height and often flying low-cost carriers and otherwise long haul business class, the space was adequate for a short flight like the premiere from Frankfurt to Munich, taking 35 minutes in the air. Subjectively, it felt more comfortable than seating on easyJet. How it performs on longer sectors remains to be seen.

The big difference is in business class. Unlike carriers such as British Airways, the divide between business class and economy class has been reinstated. In the first (about) six rows, with a guaranteed free middle seat, the leg space measures a comfortable 36cm, while the seat itself from edge to back offers 42cm of space, so even in business class one centimetre less than before. Officially the seat pitch in business is 31.8 inches (81cm).

At the back of the aircraft in economy, the last row has no windows (see below), while there is now only one lavatory, which has been squeezed in front of the rear bulkhead wall, taking half of the fuselage diameter, with the other half taken by a now much smaller galley.

Lufthansa A320neo

The last row, row 30 (there is no row 13).

The average pitch in Economy is 29 inches (74cm), but the last three rows have just 28 inches (71cm).

On take-off, the A320neo is audibly quieter than earlier models. In-flight however, seated in 23A behind the wings, it was fairly noisy and vibrations could be felt. The captain of the flight commented later: “We didn’t want to incur a delay right on the first flight, so flew faster than normal, that’s what caused the extra noise.”

Lufthansa group has 116 neo-type aircraft on order, 45 of them the larger A321neo. The first aircraft will mostly fly from the main base Frankfurt to both Munich and Hamburg – more deliveries are expected in mid-February.

Andreas Spaeth

First look: Sheraton Macau Executive Deluxe Suite

Sheraton Macau is set to become the Sheraton Grand Macau.

In anticipation of the rebrand, the hotel has unveiled 79 brand new Executive Deluxe Suites and one Terrace Suite. Business Traveller Asia-Pacific was invited to experience the newly renovated Executive Deluxe Suite.

The Shertaon Macau has two towers, housing a whopping 4,001 rooms. The Executive Deluxe Suites are located on Levels 40 and 41 in the Sky Tower, and Level 38 to 40 in the Earth Tower – previously closed to the public.

Room 4019 in the Sky Tower, where I stayed, was 1,500 sq. ft (139 sqm) in size and overlooked the Cotai Strip.

Living room and dining room

On entering the living room, I was impressed by the height of the ceiling and the large floor-to-ceiling windows. Plenty of natural light streamed in, making the room feel bright and airy.

Work desk

The living room has a large, comfortable sofa and two armchairs placed around a large flatscreen TV.

There is a work desk behind the sofa. While it’s not huge, there is adequate space for placing a laptop alongside working documents. There are also three international sockets and two USB ports at the corner of the desk. I quite liked the placement of the desk, as guests will be facing the TV while working, meaning you can keep an eye on important news stories while you work. Some complimentary stationary would have been a nice touch, but there was just a thin notepad and pen.

There is a small open-pantry in the living room, featuring a basin, minibar and coffee machine.

A dining area is also located towards the back of the living room, with a round table for four persons.

Media Room

The media room is on the left before you enter the bedroom. This is a great room to relax in, with an elongated L-shaped sofa, comfy cushions and a TV complete with touchscreen remote control. However, this room can also be turned into a karaoke den, thanks to the soundproof materials on the wall. Meeting setup is also possible.

A white bench in the middle of the room offers a neat storage space if you pull open the top.

Bedroom

The bedroom features a comfortable king-size bed, with both side tables offering USB ports for phone charging. There is also a light gold-coloured bench at the end of the bed, a TV, and a dressing table in the corner.

Bathroom

The bathroom felt particularly spacious, with a standalone bathtub, separated toilet and shower room, and two big wardrobes. Shine for Sheraton bath products are available.

Guests wanting to experience the new suites for themselves should take advantage of the Suite Staycation package – available until December 31, 2015. Starting from HK$3,488 (US$450), the package includes one night in a new Executive Deluxe Suite; exclusive Club Lounge access for two; ferry and limousine transfer and complimentary wifi.

Guests can also stay in the new Terrace Suite from HK$8,888 (US$1,147) until December 31, 2015.

For more information, visit sheratongrandmacao.com

Valerian Ho

 

First look: Park Hotel Alexandra, Singapore

Following its soft opening in June 2015, Park Hotel Alexandra, the latest offering by the Park Hotel Group, is gearing up for its grand opening in November. Business Traveller Asia-Pacific was afforded a sneak peek at the 442-room property earlier this month.

Park Hotel Alexandra is located along Alexandra Road, placing it within close proximity of up-and-coming business hubs such as Mapletree Business City and Alexandra Distripark. The hotel is a 10-minute drive from major shopping and leisure destinations including VivoCity, Orchard Road and Sentosa. The nearest MRT subway station is a 10-minute walk away. A complimentary shuttle bus service is also available and makes stops at Mapletree Business City, Harbourfront Centre, Grand Park Orchard and Buona Vista MRT.

Park Hotel Alexandra driveway

Upon entering the hotel, guests are met with a modestly sized lobby area featuring a reception near the entrance and The Coffee Belt at the far end of the space. The latter was initially a grab-and-go outlet selling barista coffee and gourmet sandwiches, but in response to customer requests, Park Hotel Alexandra has installed a small seating area there.

The décor in the lobby is minimalist and modern. Design of the public spaces was handled by Elenberg Fraser, and the Australian architectural firm has succeeded in incorporating visual cues that help establish a sensory relationship between guests and the surroundings.

A notable example is the “Aquarigami” – a Lasvit bespoke lighting sculpture located in the lobby. Described as a “signature design feature” by the hotel, the sculpture is made from transparent hand-blown glass droplets and is designed to mimic the natural motifs used in the hotel’s décor.

Crystal Club room 

The 442 guestrooms are divided into six accommodation categories – Superior Room, Deluxe Room, Premier Room, Crystal Club Room, Executive Suite, and Park Suite. Room sizes range from 24sqm to 48sqm.

Park Hotel Alexandra chose to partner with KKS International to help design and furnish the guestrooms. With over 40 years of design experience, the Japanese firm was able to transform the relatively modest spaces into comfortable accommodations.

Superior Room (Twin)

The use of earthy, natural shades of wood accents are highly symbolic of the hotel’s strategic location at the fringe of the city centre, while large expansive windows allow an abundance of natural light to flood through the rooms – delivering comfort and warmth to the rooms.

Standard room amenities include high-speed connectivity, ensuite bathroom, full HD LED television and coffee making facilities. Meanwhile, each suite features a separate living room with comfortable seating options. Guests staying at the Crystal Club Room or the suites are also afforded access to the club lounge, which delivers 180-degrees views of the city.

Crystal Club Lounge

The Crystal Club offers private check-in and check-out service, as well as complimentary breakfast in the mornings and canapés during the evenings. Other perks include daily newspaper, laundry service for up to two pieces of clothing per day (non-accumulative), and complimentary one-hour use of the boardroom, subject to availability.

Infinity pool and Aqua Luna bar 

Recreational facilities are located on the seventh floor, with the highlight being a 25m infinity pool and the attached Aqua Luna bar. Delivering panoramic views, the bar offers carefully curated cocktails to be enjoyed from the pool deck or at the swim-up pool bar. A small fitness centre is also located nearby.

The Carvery

Park Hotel Alexandra is also home to its signature all-day dining restaurant, The Carvery. The dining outlet specialises in Western recipes and serves up a range of premium meats and roasts that are complemented by freshly baked breads and salad greens.

Meeting room 

Meeting facilities include four flexible function rooms that can be combined into a single large area, perfect for ballroom style events that can accommodate up to 140 guests. Outdoor cocktail parties can also be arranged at the elevated pool deck, overlooking the infinity pool and Aqua Luna.

For more information, visit parkhotelgroup.com

Clement Huang

First look: Skyteam Exclusive Lounge

INTRODUCTION

The first Skyteam Exclusive Lounge in Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has officially opened for business.

The launch of the facility is good news for Skyteam passengers, given the lack of quality lounges for the alliance’s members in the past. While both China Airlines and Korean Air did operate dedicated lounges at HKIA, the two facilities were ageing and could not compete with other lounges at the airport.

While the Skyteam Exclusive Lounge is open to passengers travelling with all members of the airline alliance, the development of the lounge is a result of the partnership between China Airlines and China Eastern Airlines – both of which offer the most number of Skyteam flights to Hong Kong.

LOCATION

Located near gate 15, the new lounge is positioned below the Departures level and is accessible via escalators. Upon reaching the entrance of the lounge, passengers will be greeted by an attendant at the front desk. A magazine rack is located opposite the welcome desk, featuring a broad range of industry titles such as Bloomberg, Times and Forbes.

THE LOUNGE  

Work on the Skyteam Exclusive Lounge was done by Mitchel Squires – the Hong Kong-based design studio that was also responsible for the interior look of the Skyteam lounge at Sydney Airport. Described by Weni Lee, China Airlines’ general manager of media affairs, as being “European in design”, the interior features an abundance of wood complemented by leather seating with tonal colours.

Social seating area

At 1,038sqm in size, the lounge features a total of 230 seats that come in different shapes and sizes. Passengers travelling in groups will appreciate the long curved couches located near the entrance, while travellers that favour privacy are catered to by the six “productivity booths”, situated at the main sitting area. With privacy panels on both sides of the seat, it delivers maximum privacy to guests.

Individual seating options

There is also a VIP room available and this modestly sized area is enclosed from the rest of the lounge. It consists of seven comfortable multi-coloured sofa seats and reading lights.

Other lounge facilities include four shower suites, a workstation area with three dedicated iMac terminals, and even a private yoga room – a first for a lounge in Hong Kong. The yoga room comes with two yoga mats and a large-screen television showcasing workout videos.

Yoga studio

Complimentary wifi is available throughout the lounge, and I appreciated the fact that there are signs on the tables displaying the relevant wifi access password. There are also plenty of charging ports available located at the bottom of tables.

Wifi and charging points

FOOD AND BEVERAGE

Lounge management and catering is provided by the Plaza Premium Group, well-known for their own pay-in lounge facilities in HKIA as well as providing management services to high profile clients such as Singapore Airlnes and Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong.

The buffet spread at Skyteam Exclusive Lounge features a mix of cold cuts, salads and hot Asian dishes. However, the highlight here has to be “On-demand Noodle Bar”, which provides three types of noodles that are cooked on order. Along with the Plaza Premium signature “Hong Kong style rice noodles with fish balls”, guests can also choose to sample either the “vegetarian noodle in soup” or “Taiwanese style beef noodle” – the latter is served at China Airlines’ own lounge facilities in Taipei.

Buffet offering

ENTRY 

The Skyteam Exclusive Lounge at HKIA is opened to first and business class passengers travelling with any Skyteam member carrier, as well as Skyteam Elite Plus members. Opening hours are from 0530 through to 0130, meaning that the facility will be opened three hours before the first scheduled flight operated by any Skyteam member. It will also close after the final flight of member airlines.

Clement Huang

First Look: Kowloon Harbourfront Hotel

Kowloon Harbourfront Hotel has successfully transitioned itself from a serviced residence-style offering to a full-fledged hotel business.

The all-suite property is managed by Harbour Plaza Hotels and Resorts – well known for its Harbour Grand and Harbour Plaza properties in Hong Kong – and is situated in Hung Hom. While there are a total of 480 suites onsite, only 240 have been launched thus far with the rest due to begin operations in 2016.

Business Traveller Asia-Pacific visited the newly opened hotel to check out the accommodations and facilities.

Suite bedroom

A key point of difference between the property and most other competitors is that the hotel only features a single two-bedroom suite configuration. Measuring 60sqm (647 sq.ft.), each suite is tastefully furnished and features a modest range of furniture that helps make the environment appear more spacious.

Living room

Most suites deliver wide views of Victoria Harbour, and the interior lighting is soft in order to complement the colourful lights from surrounding buildings at night. These small touches truly showcase the hotel’s biggest selling point – its unbeatable location.

Kowloon Harbourfront Hotel is targeting small families

All suites come with fully-equipped pantry spaces, each outfitted with a microwave and double-door refrigerator for additional convenience to the hotel’s targeted clientele, small families. Other room amenities include a dining table, living room space, LCD televisions, internet connectivity, and electronic safe.

Clubhouse lobby

A coffee corner is due to be introduced by year’s end, which is excellent news for travellers that are on the go. Kowloon Harbourfront Hotel also delivers a complete suite of recreational facilities to its guests – all of which are located in the clubhouse, accessible through the lobby.

Outdoor swimming pool

This includes a 25-metre outdoor swimming pool and sunbath, open during the Summer season. A sauna and steam room are located in both the male and female changing rooms. There is a fully equipped fitness centre, and a Health Zone for guests to practice Yoga or Aerobics, while a kids’ zone keeps children occupied and an entertainment centre features a variety of fun spaces ranging from a Mahjong room to a TV game room.

Audio-visual hall

There is also an audio-visual hall, which can be configured into a mini movie theatre or Karaoke room. Other small flexible meeting spaces are available nearby as well. Instead of separating each meeting room with walls, the hotel uses dark curtains to split these spaces up, ensuring greater flexibility.

For more information, visit harbour-plaza.com

Clement Huang

First Look: NY-LON Lounge Bar

Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines teamed up to open the NY-LON Lounge Bar at The O2 in London this summer, and Business Traveller Asia-Pacific was invited to join the launch party.

“We’ve created NY-LON as a celebration of our trans-Atlantic network which provides customers with a seamless, more enjoyable way to fly between the UK and US,” said Reuben Arnold, senior vice president of marketing and customer experience at Virgin Atlantic. “Our lounge bar will offer customers a brand new experience at the O2 that showcases our airlines’ world-class service.”

Tim Mapes, Delta’s senior vice president of marketing, also commented: “The iconic cities of New York and London are at the heart of everything we do. Opening NY-LON is an exciting step in our partnership and we look forward to helping travellers enjoy the Delta-Virgin Atlantic brand of hospitality for which we’re famous when they next visit The O2.”

Staircase to the bar

The airlines partnered with Manchester-based design agency LOVE to create the 6,000 sq ft (557 sqm) bar in this aviation theme. Upon arriving at the entrance, a long staircase takes you to the “Arrivals” level, where you are met with a large “flight notice board” and some words of welcome before being greeting by ‘stewardesses’ at the reception.

Flight notice board behind the reception

The lounge bar can accommodate up to 400 guests, and is separated into two parts; the VIP Lounge located in front of the reception features four six-to-eight seater booths, while guests can reach the Turbine Lounge after passing through a tunnel adorned with airport codes from around the world.

Tunnel to the Turbine Lounge

The bar is located on the left of the Turbine Lounge as you emerge from the tunnel. Fitting with its name, the semi-circular bar is designed to resemble a flight engine’s turbine, with each slice of turbine dominoed against the next with great effect, and topped off with sophisticated mood lighting. The bar itself can seat around 20 guests.

The bar

The central area of the bar was designed as an open area for the event, and ample cocktail tables were set in this space, making it easier to socialise. The space can also be transformed into a semi-private seating area.

Open area

There are also large plum sofas placed around, offering a comfortable seating area for guests to enjoy different cocktails and food. A wide range of cocktails on the drinks menu includes the signature Flying Lady (£11.8/US$18), which consists of Grey Goose L’Orange vodka, Limoncello, Regan’s Orange bitters, lime and cranberry juice. I ordered the Maiden Voyager (£9.8/US$15), a mix of rosemary-infused Beefeater gin, lemon juice, pineapple juice and soda. I don’t recall how many glasses I drank – it was a very easy-to-drink mixer!

Flying Lady

Food is also available at the bar, including small delights such as Brooklyn crab salad (£7.5/US$11.5), and sharing boards offering salt beef, pastrami, wallies, sauerkraut and crusty rye bread (£23/US$35).

NY-LON Lounge Bar opens daily from noon to midnight.

For more information, visit ny-lon.london

Valerian Ho

First look: Ascott Macau

Ascott Macau, the latest development by The Ascott Limited, has officially opened for business. The property marks the company’s entry into the Macau market and is located about 10 minutes from the Macau Ferry Terminal, the airport and Taipa Island. Nearby attractions include the MGM Macau, Wynn Macau and The Paragon.

Unlike the majority of Ascott’s offerings, Ascott Macau isn’t a serviced residence targeting long-stay clients, but rather a hotel that places it in direct competition with other similar properties in the area.

Ascott Macau driveway

Business Traveller Asia-Pacific attended the opening ceremony of the Ascott Macau and took a tour around the property.

With only 110 guestrooms and suites, the hotel has an intimate and welcoming feel to it. The interiors are elegantly and simple, and it’s evident that the philosophy behind the design was to create an uncluttered and functional décor in order to accentuate the size of each individual space.

Lobby

It all starts in the lobby, which features ample use of marble, towering crystal chandeliers, and comfortable chairs that provide a distinct residential feel to the area. The check-in counter is located at the far side of the lobby, and is serviced by a dedicated team around the clock.

Ascott Macau offers five different room categories – Deluxe Room Twin, Deluxe Room King, Noble Suite, Executive Suite and Premier Suite. All feature Portuguese influences and design themes including the depiction of the red carnation, a symbol in Portugal representing the 1974 coup d’etat started by the military to end the nation’s fascist regime.

Deluxe Room King

A key differentiator between the accommodations offered at the new hotel and other competing properties in Macau is that every room and suite here features a fully equipped kitchen. This service offering, typically only provided at serviced apartments, has been well received by guests, said Ada Chan, marketing manager at Ascott Macau.

Executive Suite

Room sizes are generous and range between 30 and 75 sqm. Basic amenities available across all accommodation types include a washing machine and dryer, work table, complimentary wifi and L’Occitane shower amenities. While bathtubs and standing shower facilities are available in all suites, the deluxe rooms only offer the latter.

The Premier Suite comes with a dining table for four 

Suites also come with dedicated living room areas, and these each come with sofa seating and a 46” LED television. The Premier Suite, which is the hotel’s largest accommodation type, also includes a four-seat dining table.

Heart Bar

There are four F&B options on site. Guests staying at Ascott Macau can choose from either all-day dining at The Mix, seafood at Shun Hin, Japanese at The Win or cocktails at Heart Bar. Currently, only The Mix is operating (and the location where the daily buffet breakfast is served), with the remaining three options to begin business in the coming months.

Gymnasium 

Other facilities include an indoor heated and outdoor swimming pool, a fully equipped gymnasium, as well as a spa bath and sauna room. A business centre, complete with two iMacs and printing services, as well as several meeting rooms are also available.

Outdoor swimming pool

To commemorate its launch, Ascott Macau is offering an opening promotion for a one-night stay in a Deluxe Room at MOP880 (US$110). The package includes complimentary wifi access as well as use of the indoor and outdoor swimming pools, spa bath, gymnasium and sauna room.

For more information, visit the-ascott.com

Clement Huang

First look: Gateway Apartments

Gateway Apartments, located in Hong Kong’s Tsim Tsa Tsui district, has almost finished a two-year refurbishment of its studio and one-bedroom units.

The renovation project began in 2013, and the work is expected to finish by the end of this year. Business Traveller Asia-Pacific took a tour of the spruced up residences.

The main focus of the new design is to fully utilise space, making the apartments more functional and maximising living areas.

In the studio, a sliding door has been added to create a semi-one-bedroom, providing residents with additional privacy or the option to enjoy an open plan layout.

Studio apartment

One-bedroom corner units have been upgraded to “1+1”, meaning a second room has been created for guests to use as a study or children’s bedroom.

One-bedroom living area

New study room in one-bedroom apartments

Additional storage space has been introduced to all of the renovated apartments; guests will find plenty of wardrobes in the corridor and bedroom, plus extra drawers under the bed.

One highlight of the one-bedroom apartments is the separate kitchen area. The spokesperson explained that in Hong Kong, most serviced apartments provide open-plan kitchens, which are legally restricted to induction cooking facilities. However, as the kitchens at Gateway Apartments are separate, gas hobs are provided.

Each apartment also comes with an LCD TV providing 100 TV channels, home theatre system, and an air filtration system.

Separate kitchen with gas hob

The apartments also offer extensive recreation facilities. Gateway Apartments’ residents have access to the exclusive Pacific Club, a 13,000 sqm private membership club, featuring a pool, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, gym and yoga room, plus dining facilities. The club has also undergone renovation, with new facilities including a children’s playroom, a new Italian restaurant, and a ramen bar.

Pacific Club 

The apartments are located at Harbour City, the renowned shopping and commercial complex. Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station can be reached with a five-minute walk, and the Star Ferry is just a few steps away.

The property has two towers, Sutton Court and Hampton Court, consisting of 499 units, which provides studio (66 – 83 sqm), one-bedroom (92 – 134 sqm), two-bedroom (151 – 177 sqm), three-bedroom (211 – 216 sqm), and penthouse (studio to three-bedroom from 100 to 272 sqm).

For more information, visit gatewayapartments.com.hk

Valerian Ho

First Look: Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse has unveiled its new look at Hong Kong International Airport after six weeks of renovation.

Business Traveller Asia-Pacific enjoyed a tour of the revamped lounge, located near gate 36 on level 7 in Terminal 1.

Upon entering the lounge area, a stand-alone business centre is immediately on your right. There are three individual work spaces, each equipped with a laptop, phone, table lamp, pen and paper. There is also a photocopier and fax machine.


Business centre

The moderate-sized lounge is found at the end of a long corridor with seating for up to 110. It has a modern design, with neutral tones and dark wood. Lots of ambient lighting helps to make up for the absence of windows, although those who enjoy views of the airfield may be disappointed.


The Clubhouse

Bar stools line the brightly lit counter in the middle of the room, where a choice of 17 cocktails are on offer, alongside a normal drinks menu. Table service is also available at individual seating areas.

A highlight is the “TV area”: a big social space set with long sofas and small tables. The Clubhouse manager explained this was an ideal place for guests to watch major sports events with their fellow passengers, such as the recent Wimbledon tennis tournament. Alternatively, for guests seeking privacy, there is also a small area with four seats at the back of the TV area.

TV area

There is a shower room, with adequate space for guests to take a shower or change clothes, though it is not especially roomy.

The “outside” space has been designed with a garden feel, with tables divided by large plants to create an air of privacy. An “amoeba table” is located on the open balcony, another social space for guests to share a bottle of wine.

Amoeba table 

The Clubhouse provides an all-day a la carte menu of complimentary food items.

There are four choices for starters. The homemade soup of the day (lentil when we went) is a good choice to trigger your appetite. Other options include sliced smoked salmon and warm potato rosti (a bit plain when not paired with the sour cream and watercress dressing) or my personal favourite, the rare roast beef Asian salad – which was perfectly complemented by the toasted sesame seeds and soy dressing.

A sample of Rare roast beef Asian salad  

Main courses include a giant Clubhouse burger – even sampling a quarter I couldn’t fit the whole thing into my mouth, but what I could fit in was delicious with the beef cooked to a perfect medium. However, the king prawn nicoise was my favourite. The prawns were again perfectly cooked, and the tapenade dressing brought out the freshness of the seafood. The grilled chicken breast was unsurprising, but fair enough.


A sample of King prawn nicoise

For dessert, I would recommend the signature dish – champagne and strawberry jelly. The creative combination balanced the sweetness with the delicate champagne. It is a wonderful, must-try dish.


Champagne and strawberry jelly

The lounge is open from 0600 to 2300, reserved for Upper class passengers and the carrier’s Flying Club Gold members.

For more information, visit virgin-atlantic.com

Valerian Ho