Virgin plans to re-open Melbourne lounge “within weeks”

Melbourne kicks off a make-over of Virgin’s lounges to embrace a vibe that swaps corporate for casual.

By David Flynn, July 9 2021
Virgin plans to re-open  Melbourne lounge “within weeks”

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.

Also read: Virgin Australia puts lounge membership back on sale


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1197

The picture of the ADL lounge with its thorough use of carpet is very welcome and I hope it continues to the new MEL VA Lounge.  Part of the problem with the new and very ordinary MEL Qantas Club is that much of the carpet was replaced by hard tiles or veneers.  Of course, this makes cleaning much easier but it also contributes significantly to noise and makes the whole area feel anything but relaxing.

25 Sep 2020

Total posts 1

I would not have called the old VA Melbourne Lounge corporate, more like stark.

If it's anything like the new ADL lounge then bring it on, looking forward to it. 

05 Dec 2017

Total posts 15

So another Scurrah initiative. What exactly has Hrdlicka changed from Scurrah's strategy? She's overseen the introduction of an extremely ordinary buy onboard menu and the removal of small cookie snacks. Wow. Virgin was always marketed as a mid tier, value carrier. And it still is.

Fact is Bain has brought nothing to the table with Virgin except swooping in with half the debt written off. Hardlicka can't claim any credit for this but credit to Bain for keeping Scurrah around long enough to convince the employees to vote for them, then knife him in favour of one of their very mediocre own.

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