Quick question: Would you say that airport executive lounges are a purely functional paradigm, aimed at maximising the performance and efficiency of the travelling business person? Or are they a license for luxury, a status-symbol and a reward scheme wrapped up in one?
I should begin by saying that I don’t have an answer (frankly, there isn’t a clear one), but I have had a look around at what is available for you and your business partners to give you a flavour of the purely utilitarian and the utterly luxurious executive lounge offerings.
Our first port of call is Dubai International Airport, where the Swissport executive lounge offers an “oasis of calm and relaxation” for the travelling business-person. If you are a business person in need of relaxation this air-conditioned lounge boasts complimentary food and drinks, a selection of international newspapers and magazines, and the all-important showering facilities. On the other hand, the more conscientious executive may find that his work is never done and their needs are equally catered for here. Work stations with high-speed internet and a quiet working environment are available for those with deadlines approaching. This Swissport executive lounge model is one you will find all over the world, from Dublin to Saudi Arabia, so you will always know what you are going to get. Not to diminish the services on offer in Dubai and elsewhere, but if you call this luxury then you haven’t lounged in London…
Not to be outdone by anyone, Heathrow Airport offers a range of executive lounges across its various terminals. This really is where the words lavish and luxury can’t be used enough. Enjoy an “iconic cocktail” if the business trip is finally coming to an end and it is time to loosen the necktie and relax. Or if a cocktail is not your ideal mode of relaxation, why not visit the Bliss Spa for a facial, manicure or pedicure. Alternatively, if all you want to do is collapse into the foetal position and switch off the Aspire Lounge will provide you with a rest pod so you can recline, watch television and imagine what it must be like to work at Google headquarters. What appears to be presented as luxury at other destinations is merely considered basic at Heathrow and all the basic necessities of a travelling business person are provided for, including wifi, work-stations and charging posts.
Now, the life of the travelling business person does of course have its virtues but keeping up with a strict training schedule is not one of them, at least until your stop-over destination is Changi Airport, Singapore. Here you can avail of the gym and showering facilities as you wait for your next boarding. Afterwards you can even receive a relaxing massage to loosen those tight hamstrings or for those who just don’t know when to quit, private napping suites are on-hand for a post-workout sleep.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the executive lounges in Singapore really are aimed at the jet-setting executive and along with the nap and shower rooms, there is the business area with access to Apple Macs and PCs with complimentary WiFi.
As well as all the standard luxuries, AirFrance aim to indulge their weary travellers with a more personal touch. At the La Premiere lounge at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport there will be an AirFrance team member “at your side at every turn.” This may seem like a claustrophobia-inducing arrangement to some but if you are feeling brain-dead following business meeting after business meeting the chance to totally switch your brain off can be especially welcome. Among the conveniences of this service is a porter to take care of your luggage, a staff member to handle all your check-in procedures (including priority security checks) and perhaps best of all a luxury car will drive you from the executive lounge to the airplane for boarding. You will only be expected to overcome the difficulty of clambering your tired body up the airstairs and the rest is taken care of. Sounds good to me!
Some of this stuff does seem a little excessive at times, I mean does anyone really need a between-flights pedicure or to be chauffeured to the doors of the plane in a limousine? But then again, if you are not in the executive lounge, are you really in business?
If you'd rather not pay over the odds for services in your final destination, check out our European city guides for lots of top tips.