Virgin Australia intends to bring the fresh look of its new Adelaide lounge to the rest of the airline's domestic lounge network, but travellers should expect less a sweeping make-over than a measured make-better.
Instead of the existing lounges being gutted and rebuilt in Adelaide's image, a rolling refresh program will see "elements" of Adelaide dropped in place, says Virgin's General Manager of Product and Customer Experience, Sarah Adam.
"There will be elements that we'll be able to inject into our existing spaces as we go through our maintenance and refurbishment plan," Adam tells Executive Traveller.
"So as part of our yearly reviews of maintenance and refurbishment, we'll start to introduce elements of the Adelaide lounge across the rest of the network... where it makes sense that aesthetically we can make those changes."
First up could be simple touches such as more greenery.
"The greenery around the (Adelaide lounge) makes it feel a bit more welcoming, so that would be one of the obvious choices we would make," Adam says.
"In addition to that, potentially some of the soft furnishings that we have in the space."
Those chairs and couches signal the relaxed lifestyle vibe of Virgin's new-look lounge design, and stand in stark contrast to the previous lounge template created in 2010 by Sydney-based architectural firm Tonkin Zulaikha Greer.
A decade apart, each design could not be more different – yet they both reflected different stages of Virgin Australia's evolution.
The TGZ lounges were as corporate as John Borghetti's hopes for the airline, and in their own way were a modern take on the Qantas Business Lounges which Borghetti launched as Qantas' Executive General Manager in mid-2008.
Today's Virgin Australia is far more casual, and with its natural palette and Hamptons touches, the new lounge look – developed by Brisbane's WMK Architecture – is arguably more beach than boardroom, "conveying a sense of informality and ease" says WMK director Russell Grady.
The Adelaide lounge is a singular showcase for the new Virgin: an initiative of former CEO Paul Scurrah, it was only weeks away from a planned April 2020 opening when that ribbon-cutting was suspended first by the coronavirus pandemic and then by the airline itself collapsing into administration.
For almost a year the lounge stood behind hoardings, snap-frozen in time, until some finishing work saw the red carpet finally rolled out in late February 2021.
And yet it's very much on brand for the airline now owned by Bain Capital and helmed by Jayne Hrdlicka.
Some touches – such as key signage – wouldn't be out of place at Virgin Atlantic, which shows how well-connected Virgin Australia 2.0 is to the Branson super-brand.
"We've had a real fun time, being quite playful with our signage," Adam says, adding that the lounge illustrates how the airline "is going back to what is uniquely Virgin."
"Again, it's that Virgin flair that we've tried to adapt, and where it makes sense to can transport some of those concepts to (other lounges), we will."