On August 11, 2011, London Heathrow’s Terminal 3 welcomed the arrival of a flagship ‘super-lounge’ from No.1 Traveller.
The new facility, to which entry costs £30 (US$49) on the door and £25 (US$41) with an advance online booking, features a wealth of services including a Travel Spa, showers, a fully tended bar, games room and cinema. No.1 Traveller claims that the lounge offers “something for everyone” so there is no dress code and no age restrictions, with facilities for business and leisure passengers alike.
Founder and CEO of No.1 Traveller, Phil Cameron, explained the company’s goals to Airports International: “We’re trying to promote something that people don’t know exists. The airport process is a very clear process and our focus has been the lounge. We need to educate people and heighten awareness of that. It’s 90% of what we do.” The business relies on a ‘Remark, Return, Refer’ strategy to gain momentum, with customers hopefully sharing their experiences with their friends.
“Our focus is on airports which have an excess of 10 million departing passengers. There are only a finite number of those. No.1 Traveller is not right for the regional and domestic market. You can’t have a successful lounge without passenger dwell time.”
The lounge comprises a slightly raised ‘island’ – housing the family areas, a ten-seater cinema and library – surrounded by a main seating section, a bar and restaurant and the Travel Spa. There are around 160 seats available in total, with a ‘comfortable’ daily capacity of 1,400-1,600 passengers.
“As soon as you come in, you see drink, food, then planes,” says Mr Cameron. “The block in the middle is the fun stuff, the services are around the back and the main lounge is the strip along the windows.” From the large windows lining the primary area, passengers can enjoy fantastic views of Heathrow’s apron with the terminal’s Airbus A380 stands not far from the lounge.
Also available is ‘The Snug’, a quiet room for weary customers, featuring low lighting and large sofas. Next door, ‘The Green Wall’ has living tropical plants and hanging seats. The central island also offers a games room with table football, bar billiards, board games, computers and games consoles. Another children’s area features a television and a whiteboard wall which younger customers can draw on.
Passengers are offered complimentary food, with a full menu prepared by professional chefs to be introduced in October. International breakfast items can be found at the self-serve bar in a corner of the lounge, with among other things, pastries, yoghurts and cereals on offer. Cooked breakfast can also be ordered with options from a bacon roll to Eggs Benedict or Eggs Florentine.
“When people are on the move, it’s what they expect,” says Mr Cameron. “We listen to our passengers and they know what they want to eat.” Fruit and baked products are offered throughout the day and during the afternoon, the choices are rotated so that travellers can enjoy lunch items such as quiche, salad and pizza.
Mr Cameron claims that the quality of the lounge’s facilities overcomes the expense of entry. “We are slightly more expensive than other options, but for a pay-on-entry lounge, we offer a much more comprehensive product. For us, it’s not about squeezing every pound out; it’s about making the customer feel that they’ve got value for money.”
The Travel Spa is the first of its kind at Terminal 3. Various services are offered at the seven therapy stations, including hairdressing, manicures and pedicures, massages and a newly introduced wet shave. Lounge passengers must pay extra to use the spa facilities but have free access to the six top-of-the-range showers situated next to the treatment room. Other terminal passengers can use the showers for £12.50 (US$20).
No.1 Traveller is also planning to provide 12 bedrooms adjoining the lounge. They will be available from the end of September and travellers will be invited to stay in the en-suite pod-style accommodation for a minimum of two hours, charged at £20 (US$32) single and £30 (US$49) double per hour. Mr Cameron believes that this a “slightly fuller offer” to alternative options: “Ours has a minibar, we offer room service, we will have free international calling and free WiFi. In a small space, we’ve crammed in quite a lot!” With an aim to turn over the bedrooms five times a day, the company hopes to be running the equivalent of a 60-bed hotel.
Ultimately, No.1 Traveller has attempted to provide Heathrow’s passengers with an enjoyable travel experience that starts at the airport itself. This can be seen in the finishing touches of the design, such as two ‘Collectibles Walls’ filled with local memorabilia. Mr Cameron hopes that the lounge is seen as a destination rather than a waiting room: “We’ve created many layers of relaxation, from the bustle of the bar, through to the tranquillity of the snug and spa. There really is something for everyone.”