The first Etihad lounge in the world dedicated to the airline’s first class and platinum guests has just opened in Terminal 3 of Abu Dhabi International Airport.
And the feeling of exclusivity begins from the moment you enter the dedicated check-in area, where porters take your luggage.
“There are no unsightly baggage belts in sight,” says Etihad’s service delivery manager Helen Morrissey. “We don’t anticipate people will ever have to queue here.”
A private lift then takes you to the 1,666 square metre first class lounge, where guests are welcomed by name (staff are informed who is who via an earpiece) and offered dates and coffee upon arrival.
The lounge looks and feels as though you are entering a luxury hotel spa, with soft gold and wood interiors, low lighting and relaxing music adding to the Zen-like atmosphere.
There are 209 seats, from custom-made Poltrona Frau Italian leather armchairs and sofas to bar stools. While some are in private majlis rooms, there is a shared lounge area too.
Almost every conceivable recreational activity can be indulged in, whether it’s smoking Cohiba cigars, working out in the fitness room (the first one ever in an Etihad lounge), or chilling on a reclining lounger while watching soothing images on a 11×2 metre panoramic video wall, made up of 27 individual screens.
Need to work? There are USB powers on all tables, and Wi-Fi is high speed, free and unlimited. But you’ll need your own laptop, there are no computers on offer.
Even executives travelling with kids are catered for: children can play with the lounge’s nanny in the well-stocked kids room, while the adults pamper themselves with a complementary spa, nail or hair treatment. I like the sound of the jet lag leg treatment, which claims to reduce swelling with a scrub and cooling compressions.
Full Ã la carte dining is available as well as snack options. The four-course tasting menu, developed by chefs at Mezlai in Emirates Palace, includes delicacies such as camel milk pannacotta.
The one thing the lounge lacks is a favourable view, as the area outside is currently being redeveloped. However, guests will be too busy being spoilt rotten to notice.
Calum Laming, Etihad’s vice president guest experience, tells Jessica Hill more about the airline’s first-class lounge:
How did the redevelopment of the lounge come about?
This lounge originally opened in 2009 as a first and business class lounge. When we opened the 2,700 square metre premium lounge above the Terminal 3 bussing gate facility in September 2014 (which will now be for business class passengers only), it gave us the opportunity to completely gut this space and do something special. We knew the A380 was launching soon and the [Boeing} 787 (which both feature three-room suites known as The Residence), and the new uniform had been decided, so we then had the opportunity to design a first class space to match the new branding.
What extra perks do ‘The Residence’ ticket-holders get?
Their own fully enclosed lounge room complete with a bathroom, shower, prayer room and their own dedicated butler.
What can we expect from Etihad in the future?
We’re opening another premium lounge in Los Angeles in July. This one in Abu Dhabi is our most ambitious lounge project so far, but in 18 months time, you can anticipate an even more wow-worthy first-class lounge to open in the new Abu Dhabi Midfield Terminal.
Who are the staff?
They’re not your typical airport lounge staff. Among our 160 employees, we have concierge (in case you’d like to book your next flight) maître d’hotel, Savoy-trained butlers and nannies who were trained at London’s Norland College.
What can people indulge in at the Six Senses Spa?
They can choose one 15-minute complementary treatment (or two for The Residence guests). Further treatments are chargeable. We’ve also just launched our new first-class skincare range, the mineral-rich Hungarian brand, Omorovicza.
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