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Led by the vision of internationally renowned Australian designer, Marc Newson in collaboration with his associate architect Sebastien Segers and Woods Bagot, the new flagship Qantas First Lounge in Sydney sets an international benchmark in lounge design with the highest levels of comfort, service and luxury.
Located in Sydney and Melbourne International Airports, the two much-lauded First Lounges are the epitome of opulent five-star extravagance; a combination of personalised service, entertainment, comfort and indulgence.
Perched in anticipation above the boarding gates of the much-awaited Airbus A-380, and with 180 degree views of Botany Bay, the Sydney Qantas First Lounge harks back to the early glory days of air travel, when flying was a luxury reserved for the elite upper crust, and passengers expected to be treated as such. “The services offered in our new lounges will be equal to those found in the world’s best five-star hotels and restaurants”, Borghetti promised.
The lounge is a flashy ultramodern creation: the sort of interior design you might expect aboard a luxury space cruiser in a futuristic fantasy world. But it also seems that Newson has gone to extraordinary lengths to bring nature and life into the place. After all, every guest has just spent hours in a flying aluminium can (albeit in the spacious end) or is just about to.
Lustrous curving frames of American oak separate the 2050sqm space into its constituent elements: lounge, restaurant, day spa, bathroom suites, business centre, entertainment zone and library. The decision to feature a 280sqm vertical garden, designed by international botanist Patrick Blanc with an astounding 8400 individual ferns, mosses and epiphytes, is a stroke of genius in what is traditionally a dull and lifeless setting.
This living wall creates an oasis out of the Payot day spa, where the floors are made of Swiss quartzite and the skincare products from biologically inactive, hypoallergenic herbs and minerals. Remembering that this is - essentially, though not typically - an airport transit lounge, the bathroom suites are truly palatial. Eight individual shower suites are finished in Carrara marble, with some essential creature comforts: individual stereo and lighting control, luggage racks, radiant heating to avoid condensation on the mirrors, skin products from Payot, and hair products from Australian celebrity hairstylist Kevin Murphy. The celebrity contributors keep on coming, with Neil Perry continuing his 10 year alliance with Qantas, having designed the menu for a 24-seat open kitchen-restaurant, where the a la carte seasonal menu can be topped off with freshly-ground espresso or a glass of French champagne - this is first class after all.
At the other end of the scale, when Qantas says ‘business centre’, it means business. For those who just can’t leave the office behind, there is no need to. Service-wise, the lounge offers a complimentary secretarial service, photocopying, printing, fax, phone, document binding and shredding. This sounds like an inspiration for any workspace interior designer, airport or otherwise. There are two private work suites, equipped with full conference facilities, including two 42” plasma screens. Eleven broadband-connected PC workstations, complimentary wireless broadband internet and power ports throughout the lounge will be music to the ears of any portable computer user.
Speaking of music, Newson’s design features a dedicated state-of-the-art entertainment zone - an oft-omitted necessity in any transit lounge - though one would never go wanting for other diversions here. With a bank of four Panasonic 42” plasma screens showing local and international news, sport and weather; and a glut of gaming consoles - two Sony Playstation 3s and a whopping 10 PSPs (Playstation Portable systems) the secret seems to be to cater for all patrons.
Keeping this in mind, the lounge also features an 80 square metre library, fully-stocked with books, international and domestic newspapers and magazines, and a selection of board games (chess anyone?). And in what will surely be a relief for all travellers, the library is of course a dedicated mobile phone free zone. It is these little considerations that highlight Newson’s noticeably ‘human’ design.
At the more ‘passive’ end of the scale, a personal concierge service allows guests to book dinner, drinks and concert tickets at any of their destination cities, all from the comfort of their Poltrona Frau leather recliner or lounge. There is also a chairside waiter service, and duty-free orders can be placed and delivered on-demand. All in all, it sure takes the hard work out of any ensuing long-haul flight.
Ultimately, what is most striking about Newson’s design, and the facilities within, is that the concept is so clearly targeted towards the desire for ‘human’ experiences among all this to-ing and fro-ing. When, as anticipated, the A-380 finally lumbers fully-laden into Sydney airport, it should reawaken the lost sense of excitement surrounding air travel, and the Qantas First Lounge will really come into its own, bringing the ‘class’ back into First Class.
QANTAS First Class Lounge Image Gallery
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