Virgin Australia readies all-new airport lounges for Melbourne and Brisbane

By David Flynn, May 5 2011
Virgin Australia readies all-new airport lounges for Melbourne and Brisbane

Update: Australian Business Traveller can now confirm that both the Melbourne and Brisbane lounges will feature a dedicated 'priority access' security lane, along similar lines to the 'fast track' system that Virgin recently introduced at Sydney Airport.

Previous: Virgin Australia will cut the red ribbon on its renovated lounges in Melbourne in late May and Brisbane in July.

Newly-minted Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti describes the lounges – which have been closed for extensive renovations – as "completely new lounges with an architecturally inspired design.”

The lounges have been designed by Tim Greer, from Sydney-based Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects – whose body of work includes the Australian National Gallery and the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay, long with more human-scale spaces such as Sydney’s Norton Street and Verona Cinemas.

It's rumoured that Greer has also been contracted to refresh Virgin Australia’s Sydney lounge in a similar style to the Melbourne and Brisbane lounges, along with the construction of new lounges at the Gold Coast and two other airports yet to be named.

And if John Borghetti wants to achieve the product consistency than business travellers expect and world-class brands deserve, it’d only make sense for other lounges such as Perth to get the same makeover. 

A teaser image which appeared on the Virgin Australia website yesterday (above) revealed what appears to be a sneak peak at the new-look lounge of either Melbourne or Brisbane (our guess is Melbourne, based on comparing this image to the lounge’s previous layout).

It promises a spacious, classy and glassy look for the lounge, reflecting yet another box ticked as John Borghetti takes the game to Qantas and its own recently-refreshed lounges.

We've already revealed that Melbourne’s new lounge is likely to include a dedicated in-lounge security channel so that Virgin Australia’s premium passengers can move straight from the lounge to the boarding gate.

(Unlike most airport lounges, the Melbourne facility is located before the security checkpoint, so guests must currently exit the lounge and join the queue at the security gate before moving to the boarding gates inside Terminal 3.)

Food and drink services at the new Virgin Australia lounges are also being upgraded, with  Aussie chef Luke Mangan taking on responsibility for ground catering as well as the new in-flight menu – again, similar to how Qantas has enrolled Neil Perry for both in-lounge and in-flight food.

Australian Business Traveller has been told that Mangan’s lounge menu will change every month, and will also be rotated through each lounge so that travellers flying between Sydney and Melbourne for example won’t see the same meals at both ends of the journey.

New items will include ‘gourmet popcorn’ instead of the salt & vinegar chips, roast beef to replace the current ham and salami cuts, as well as a cheese selection and a new menu of spirits and possibly a ‘cocktail hour’ (which will hopefully last for a few hours).

Mangan is also working to bulk up Virgin Australia’s wine list with the assistance of Jim McMahon, who currently heads the tasting panel for V Australia’s sky-high cellar.

"We'll definitely have a strong focus on Australian wines" says Narelle Kellahan, a food and wine consultant with Luke Mangan’s team, "although internationally, on flights out of America for example we showcase American wines in business class.”

This is just part of Australian Business Traveller's comprehensive coverage of Virgin Australia's launch day:

David

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.


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