Visitors to Virgin Australia's upgraded Melbourne lounge, which reopens its doors from 7am today, will be greeted by a familiar space with plenty of fresh touches.
And if they've been to Virgin's Adelaide lounge, which launched the airline's latest lounge design in early 2021, it'll be a bit easier for them to connect the dots in Melbourne.
Some new furnishings, softer materials with a more relaxed palette, potted and hanging plants, playful signage that's a little more Virgin Atlantic than the 'old' Virgin Australia (think Bain x Branson) – it all serves to take the hard sharp, corporate edge off the original Melbourne lounge, which was the first of the airline's then-new lounges under the reign of former CEO John Borghetti.
"It's a truly wonderful space that’s been given a new lease on life," says Paul Jones, Virgin Australia Group Chief Customer and Digital Officer.
While the previous lounge's footprint remains, as does the general floorplan, "frequent flyers can expect to see more 'Virgin Flair' through signage, seating areas, bathrooms and the general aesthetics," Jones explains.
"As part of our commitment to investing in great experiences for our guests, it was important that we elevated the standard of the Melbourne Lounge, which first opened over eight years ago, in line with our new and fresh Lounge design thinking."
Many of the changes are relatively small on their own but add up to a welcome make-over which also affords our best indication yet of how Virgin will update the other lounges in its network when the time comes.
"Our plan is to continue to invest and evolve Virgin Australia’s fantastic lounge spaces as part of our focus on creating great guest experiences," Jones promises.
The layout's broadly the same: spaces to sit back, relax and unwind, enjoy a delicious meal, connect with others or work on the fly.
Look for new and refreshed furniture such as couches, single seats, high bars and work benches, with three key areas:
- The Gallery Lounge: "the perfect place to take in the stunning views of the tarmac," this space features comfy chairs and ottomans
- The Sunroom affords "a mixture of cosy seating arrangements" leaning towards couples, colleagues and family members
- The Long Stay is described as "a chill-out zone adjacent to the Wine Down Bar with a focus on single seating for the solo traveller to catch up or unwind prior to their flight."
Signature features of the Lounge will also return, including coffee and wine bars rebadged as The Wake Up and The Wind Down.
In keeping with the Virgin Australia signature 'flair', bright signage adorns the walls, entry and exit points.
The bathrooms and showers are entirely new, although at the time of writing the private shower suites with their floor-to-ceiling mirrors and bench seats are "temporarily closed due to Covid-19."
Although rated at a capacity of up to 650 travellers, current Covid-19 capacity restrictions currently limit this to 500.
Significantly, the Melbourne lounge also serves as the launchpad for Virgin's new lounge menu, which adopts an upmarket cafe vibe with unexpected international range from smashed avo to scones, Japanese karaage chicken to Chinese dumplings, and mediterranean plates to Macaroons.
Up next will be the launch of Virgin's new premium VIP program built around what were formerly The Club lounges at Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane – the airline says this will take place by March 31, 2022, which could also accompany a new top-level VIP tier of the Velocity Frequent Flyer program.