HIDDEN on the right, just as you pass through Hong Kong’s airport security is a door only the travelling elite may enter.
This is the unassuming entrance to the Qantas Hong Kong lounge that opened its doors just over one year ago. It’s secret lounge business and it’s changing the way we travel.
Investing in airport lounges is the latest battle by airlines to win customers and the result is impressive. You’ll feel more like you’ve entered a five-star hotel than an airport waiting area with wine bars, fireplaces, spas and dining offerings up there with some of our best restaurants.
Airlines have realised they can differentiate their product before a passenger even sets foot on the plane and there is now more competition than ever for customers on the ground than in the air.
“Lounges are important to our international customers’ journey, which is why we have drawn on the knowledge of world leading experts like Marc Newson and Qantas Chef Neil Perry to deliver the most luxurious experience before people even step on board,” said Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce.
Being in the long-haul business, Qantas has invested heavily in its lounges including the recently opened First class lounge in Los Angeles.
The Hong Kong lounge seats 300 guests, has 12 showers, a cocktail bar overlooking the runway and yum cha trolleys wheeling around Asian treats.
There’s even a shirt pressing service for the airline’s First and Platinum One frequent flyers as well as drinks on arrival, shoe shining and priority shower suite access.
In partnership with Neil Perry, whose Rockpool Consulting group advises Qantas on its food and wine menu, the lounge is themed around Spice Temple — Perry’s Chinese restaurant in Sydney and Melbourne — to tie in with the local cuisine.
Guests can order from an a la carte menu, including a traditional wonton soup, be served regionally inspired food at the BBQ bar, including pork with Asian salad, try daily special plates in the dining area or help themselves to a full buffet — served upon exclusive handmade porcelain crockery.
All this washed down with Spice Temple’s signature cocktails, endless glasses of champagne, premium wines and spirits.
For most of us on the outside, it’s a shock to find out this world even exists, let alone dream of being part of it. These lounges are exclusive and sumptuous yet very discreet.
Access to the Hong Kong lounge is restricted to Qantas First and Business customers, Platinum One, Platinum and Gold Qantas Frequent Flyers, Qantas Club members and guests.
Meaning that for most of us, this experience remains a mystery behind a closed door.
This reporter was a guest of Qantas.