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Monday, May 3, 2010

Enter the Virgin Lounge!

I've never been in an airport lounge before so my experience visiting the Virgin Lounge was quite exciting for me. The Virgin lounge had only been officially opened a few weeks before. Every day, The Lounge opens at 5am and stays open until 11:55pm at night.

I arrived at 4:45am for a 6am Virgin flight. After clearing through the security clearance area, the double doors stood before me with lights dimmed on the inside. I was too early. The lights in The Lounge came on and the Virgin staff unlocked the doors. I sat there watching as the first few eager passengers made their way in. Both guys looked like seasoned business travelers. 

I walked in a few minutes after 6am and the first thing that caught my eye was the "Relax Zone". A TV was in the corner tuned in to Sky News (other Foxtel channels are also available). The chairs and tables looked very comfortable and inviting and in other parts, 40cm Sony screens displayed flight information in case you indulged too much in the facilities and lost track of time. Magazines and newspapers were neatly shelved and the room was spotless. Looking in from the double doors, I did not expect to see such a nicely laid out airport lounge inside.

I asked for a latte and the barista politely prepared a great coffee while I looked for what to have for breakfast. As you can see from the photo below (click to enlarge), the spread includes various fruit, jams and berries in yoghurt. There's bread, muesli and cereal of all sorts and various juices that you can choose from. Having selected a bit of everything, I went to collect my coffee and the newspaper and to make sure I wasn't missing out, placed myself just in front of the TV to catch the morning news. There are also showers and complimentary towels for you to use.

What's on the Menu?
I am told that the midday menu features a range of fresh salad ingredients,meats and breads and in the evening, they offer a selection of antipasto,soup,risotto,crackers and breads. Barista coffee,organic fair-trade tea,juices and soft drinks are available all day and premium Australian beers and wines served from 11am.

What's the Virgin Lounge "vibe"?
So how does it feel like being in The lounge at 6am? It's really quite memorable. It feels like you are sitting in your own.... lounge room at home. They have really achieved a homely feeling for The Lounge and although there are other people milling around, it doesn't affect your enjoyment of The Lounge. There are quite a lot of table space and powerpoints available for those who would like to whip out their laptops and do some last minute work.

The Virgin "Business Zone"
Around the corner, there is yet another room away from the main Lounge are. It is the "Business Zone" where you can use the computers and printers for free and even hold a meeting in one of the two available meeting rooms. Once again, there are two screens above you which allows you to keep an eye on the status of your flights while you print out places to eat in the next city that you are heading out to or checking your emails. I had a play around with the computers and the internet speed seemed to be quite reasonable. There are also fax and photocopying facilities available for you to use whilst in The Lounge.

So how much does it cost??
Annual Lounge Membership costs $369 after a joining fee of $199 so I don't think I will be reaching for my credit card any time soon. Alternatively, entry into The Lounge costs $30 if prepaid from the website or $35 at the door. You can only enter The Lounge 2 hours before your flight time. Overall, I enjoyed the Lounge visit and I can see myself returning again some time in the future.

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