When Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce strolled into the worksite that would become Qantas’s first-class lounge in Singapore last month with a hard hat on, he was met with a sentence no CEO wants to hear.
“I’ve done these lounges for lots of different airlines that this one is similar to, but Qantas sure knows how to spend money,” a project manager on the multimillion-dollar project told him.
Sharing the uncomfortable moment at the opening event of the airline’s First Lounge in Changi Airport yesterday, Mr Joyce said he told the contractor that as the CEO of the company, “I don’t like hearing that.”
But entering the super-chic lounge, with its marble-heavy design, exclusive cocktail list and fine-dining menu, it’s clear Qantas has splurged on its latest luxury offering.
The fittings are Carrara marble, the showers are spa-worthy, the seating is soft, inviting, comfortable leather, and the champagne is French.
Qantas has spent “tens of millions” on the 1000sq m space, Mr Joyce said, and it makes the exhausting experience of waiting for that connecting flight, which so many Aussies are familiar with, infinitely more comfortable, relaxing and luxurious – if you can get in.
The exclusive lounge features a Marble Bar that any influencer would love to feature on their feed.Source:Supplied
The exclusive space, which is larger than any of Qantas’s other lounges, was designed by Australian David Caon in collaboration with Kelvin Ho of architecture and design firm Akin Atelie.
Mr Caon said the intention was to create a “sense of calming luxury” for first-class guests as they entered the lounge in between legs of their long-haul journeys.
“We combined some of the classic Qantas First Lounge design features, such as the prominent
marble and oak seen in the Sydney First Lounge, and added an authentic Singaporean twist featuring plenty of greenery,” he said.
The luxury begins right at the entrance.Source:Supplied
The result is an extremely instagrammable space, with a spacious, streamlined design, neutral pallet of soft leather, blush carpet and natural finishings, and chunky marble terrazzo floors.
The bathrooms, fit for a luxury spa, are each fitted with a unique faux “skylight”, which replicates natural daylight and helps to adjust the body clock as travellers transition through multiple time zones.
New Qantas first-class lounge at Singapore’s Changi Airport. Picture: QantasSource:Supplied
The ‘skylight’ in the enormous bathrooms can be set to mimic daylight at morning, noon and dusk.Source:Supplied
The 240-seat lounge has a huge focus on dining. While the Sydney and Melbourne First Lounges emphasise relaxation with their spa offerings for travellers with hours to kill at the beginning of their journeys, Qantas’s research shows travellers passing through Singapore are just after a shower and a decent feed.
As in Qantas’s other luxury lounges and first-and-business-class menus, the food at the Singapore First Lounge has been overseen by the airline’s creative director of food, beverage and service, and director of high-end Rockpool Dining Group, Neil Perry.
The menu is inspired by the Singapore food scene, which the celebrity chef cites as “one of my favourites in the world”.
The sambal skate is inspired by the iconic dish served at Singapore’s many hawker markets.Source:Supplied
And don’t forget dessert, because this is worth saving room for.Source:Supplied
“Singapore is a place around the world that’s famous for its food at every level from street food to high-end eating,” he said at Monday’s opening.
“We’ve certainly been inspired with the menu through all the wonderful treats we’ve eaten in hawker stalls as well as some of the great restaurants in Singapore.”
The open kitchen, set behind a gold-accented Marble Bar, will serve an a la carte seasoned menu designed with Singapore’s vibrant culture in mind, as well a taste of home for Qantas’s Aussie passengers.
The signature laksa comes with the very fancy addition of crayfish, and the grilled skate in browned samba butter is inspired by samba skate served at the ubiquitous hawker stalls at markets dotted around Singapore.
The Calamansi Mojito is already the most popular cocktail at Qantas’s International Business Lounge at the same airport.Source:Supplied
The bar menu includes French champagne, seasonal spritzers, cocktails inspired by Singapore, like a Calamansi Mojito – made from the local Calamansi fruit, Singaporean and Australian beer – and a variety of Australian wine.
Non-alcoholic healthy beverages including kefir and kombucha, barley water, and a Rockpool “House Lemonade” is also available.
THE PRICE TAG
Mr Joyce wouldn’t say exactly how much the airline has plunged into its latest luxury offering but mentioned multiple times during the launch event that it was a significant investment for the company.
Pointing out the “unbelievably comfortable” seats chosen by Mr Caon, he joked: “I dread to think how much he spent on them … how much has this cost us?”
Without getting too specific, Mr Joyce said the price tag for the new First Lounge was in the tens of millions and explained why it was worth the investment.
“Typically, we’ve been spending tens of millions of dollars on our lounges, and we’ve been doing that for a number of years,” he said.
Qantas has made a massive investment in the luxurious space and expects it to pay off.Source:Supplied
“Lounges can be in their own right a bit of a profit centre because there are a lot of airlines that seek to use them as well. So if you do them really well, which Qantas does, you can actually generate a lot of demand from people from (rewards program) One World and their partner airlines.
“We look at it primarily for our own customers but as a business opportunity also in its own right.”
You have to be flying first class or be a top-tier frequent flyer to get to this level of airport luxury.Source:Supplied
HOW TO GET IN
Like so many of the finer things in life, access to the Singapore First Lounge is available only to a select few.
Access is so exclusive, you can’t even buy your way in. Only first-class passengers and top-tier Qantas and One World frequent flyers (Platinum and Platinum One status) will get to see the inside of the airline’s latest luxury offering.
Liz Burke travelled to Singapore and attended the Singapore First Lounge launch as a guest of Qantas.
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