This week marks the launch of Etihad Airways’ brand new, “reimagined” airport lounge at Melbourne’s International Airport. The lounge, accessible to premium flyers and frequent flyers of the aircraft and partners like Virgin’s Velocity Program*, features an a la carte dining room with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, sculptural showcase bar, children’s playroom, prayer rooms and shower facilities filled with Scaramouche + Fandago products. And at more than 800m2, with seating capacity for up to 133 guests, it is officially the airline’s largest Premium Lounge outside Abu Dhabi.
In terms of what is offered in the lounge, one of the biggest selling points is an extensive selection of bespoke, one-of-a-kind destination inspired cocktails and mocktails developed in partnership with world-leading drinks consultancy, Fluid Movement. The mentioned “sculptural showcase bar”, is stocked with wines from Victorian makers and more than 70 premium spirits, champagne and aperitifs.
Meanwhile, the centrepiece of the lounge is their intimate 26-seat dining area, where passengers will enjoy restaurant-style a la carte dining and an international buffet. The food presented comes from a kitchen that prepares everything in-house. Professional chefs prepare each dish on site using the freshest, locally sourced, seasonal produce. This includes bread – fresh-baked twice daily – grissini breadsticks; dips such as hummus, baba ghanoush and muhammara; pickles; labneh; cookies; and even ice-cream. Cheeses, fruits and vegetables are sourced from Victorian suppliers and coffee is from a Melbourne-based roaster.
The cocktails and mocktails, like the food on the lounge menu, are all handmade by specially trained mixologists, using syrups and garnishes such as candy floss and dehydrated rhubarb that are made in-house. For the traditionalists, the bar offers a selection of ‘modern classics’, such as the Mach 10 Mojito, also conceived and developed by Fluid Movement. Negroni lovers may be excited to learn, for instance, that their favourite aperitif is mixed, barrelled and aged behind the bar.
With the commencement of A380 services at Melbourne’s International Airport from 1 June, guests in the super premium cabin class “The Residence” will enjoy the exclusivity of a private lounge – discreetly located adjacent to the main lounge entry. With custom-made arm chairs upholstered in Poltrona Frau Italian leather, plush soft furnishings, its own restroom and separate entry, The Residence Lounge “embodies the bespoke luxury and personalised service that is synonymous with the airline’s most exclusive hospitality experience”.
High-speed Wi-Fi connectivity is complimentary and multi-zone electric and USB power outlets are conveniently located throughout the lounge.
Shane O’Hare, Etihad Airways’ Senior Vice President Marketing, who cut the ceremonial ribbon with Melbourne Airport CEO Lyell Strambi at yesterdays’s official opening said:
“The new Premium Lounge at Melbourne Airport is in a class of its own – it is the airport lounge as it is commonly known, totally reimagined. Blending the best of a fine dining restaurant and a chic city cocktail bar, this lounge is a showcase of intelligent design and sophistication where guests will enjoy the highest levels of comfort and luxury, complemented by our world-class hospitality, culinary innovation and cutting-edge beverage technology.”
“At the same time, it has a strong local feel with the freshest produce, cheeses and wines – sourced from growers, makers and suppliers throughout the state of Victoria – offering our guests a tantalising taste of the state’s renowned culinary culture. The opening of this remarkable new facility and the launch of our flagship A380 services on 1 June, offer travellers on the Melbourne-Abu Dhabi route our most compelling guest experience proposition ever.”
Located in Terminal 2 adjacent to gate 10, the lounge will open approximately three hours prior to the departure of Etihad Airways’ twice daily Melbourne-Abu Dhabi flights.
The new facility adds to the airline’s expanding portfolio of premium lounges in Sydney, Abu Dhabi, Dublin, Frankfurt, London Heathrow, Manchester, Paris, Washington DC and New York. A new First Class Lounge at Abu Dhabi International Airport and a new First and Business Class Lounge at Los Angeles will follow in the coming months.
Etihad Airways commenced daily flights to Melbourne in March 2009. Today, it operates double daily, non-stop flights to Abu Dhabi and beyond to the GCC, Africa and Europe. It is the only airline offering double daily non-stop flights between Melbourne and the United Arab Emirates. The UAE flag carrier will introduce its flagship Airbus A380 to Melbourne from 1 June 2016 bringing to the route The Residence, the world’s only private three-room cabin on a commercial aircraft.
In addition to double daily services to Melbourne, Etihad Airways operates daily flights to Brisbane and to Perth and 11 weekly services to Sydney. Its equity partner airline, Virgin Australia, operates an additional three weekly services between Sydney and Abu Dhabi.
*Guests must be booked on an Etihad Airways-operated flight on the same day.