Virgin Australia will reveal a "significant refresh" for its Melbourne lounge when the doors are unlocked and the welcome mat rolled out “within weeks” – assuming lockdowns, travel restrictions and associated passenger demand all play nice with the airline's proposed timeline for an end-of-month opening.
The Melbourne T3 lounge was closed for extensive maintenance and renovation work in late 2020, with passengers split between two temporary lounges as a short-term arrangement.
As to what's behind the hoardings at the refreshed Melbourne lounge, Virgin Australia Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka wants to leave room for passengers to be surprised and delighted at what they see.
Speaking with Executive Traveller in June, Hrdlicka would say only that the work encompasses "significant maintenance work as well as a pretty significant refresh."
Behind closed doors...
As we've previously reported, that refresh is expected to incorporate elements of the new-look lounge design, unveilled at Adelaide in February, to give Melbourne a relaxed vibe that's less corporate than casual, and more on-brand with today's Virgin Australia.
"There will be elements (from Adelaide) that we'll be able to inject into our existing spaces as we go through our maintenance and refurbishment plan," Virgin's General Manager of Product and Customer Experience, Sarah Adam, told Executive Traveller earlier this year.
Adam cited greenery, soft furnishings and fresh signage as likely candidates "where it makes sense that aesthetically we can make those changes."
Coincidentally, Melbourne was the first lounge to showcase the original Virgin Australia lounge design – developed by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects – in 2011, as then-CEO John Borghetti sought to transform budget carrier Virgin Blue into a full-service airline to compete against Qantas.
This same template was applied across the Virgin network, especially in the capital cities, with later finesses adding a signature coffee bar alongside the snaking benches.
Paul Scurrah, who succeeded Borghetti in March 2019 but was dumped by new owners Bain Capital in October 2020, engaged Brisbane firm WMK Architecture to develop a fresh look for the airline's lounges.
Although delayed by almost a year due to the COVID pandemic, Adelaide served as the delayed launchpad for what WMK Architecture Russell Grady called "a venue that's delightfully Virgin" – softer, warmer and more relaxed, with contemporary furnishings and a few not-so-serious touches.
Melbourne's make-over will serve as the starting point for a broader refresh of Virgin's lounge network to incorporate similar elements.