British Airways' all-new business and first class lounge at Singapore's Changi Airport is a Cinderella-grade transformation that's taken the tired old Terminal 1 space from drab to fab.
Here's a 'before' shot of the lounge, which used to be the airport's shared Qantas/British Airways first class lounge – and even then it was a bit underwhelming!
Contrast that with the lounge's new look after a four-month make-over.
"We've taken a good look at the space and re-designed it for 2015 and beyond" says Rob Williams, BA's Head of Asia Pacific Sales.
While occupying the same physical footprint as the old lounge, what Williams calls "a smarter, much better use of space" has seen capacity boosted by some 42% over the previous total of 159 seats.
"The washrooms have been relocated within the same zone as the showers, as you go into the lounge on the left of reception," Williams tells Australian Business Traveller, which turned the full length of the lounge into a refreshingly blank sheet for Singapore design firm Kingsmen and London-based Honour Branding.
A centrepiece of the new British Airways Singapore Lounge is the Concorde Bar: a fresh concept for BA's elite first class passengers and top-tier Executive Club frequent flyers.
The Concorde Bar borrows the private Concorde Room brand from the airline's flagship London Heathrow lounges and reworks it into a smaller footprint more suitable for 'outstation' lounges beyond BA's home hub.
Same space, more seats
"We've carved out areas within the lounge for people who want to relax, eat and drink, or work" Williams explains.
"Alone the left side of the lounge you have zones of seating all the way down, with high-backed leather armchairs and also some sofas for people travelling together."
"In the middle section of the lounge is where people can sit on a stool doing some work, having something to eat or drink, and look out at the view of the concourse."
That zone also includes the centrally-located food servery and BA's signature champagne bar.
Beyond that lies what BA's Williams describes as "a really nice area with big TV screens and a lot of beautiful high-back leather swing chairs" – whuile along the other side of the lounge stretches a row of banquettes.
A "Far East-inspired wall" above the banquettes typifies some of the mingled east-meets-west design philosophy behind the lounge.
"We wanted this lounge to look and feel like a British Airways lounge – very elegant, contemporary and very British in its feel," Williams explains.
"But that said, there is also a fantastic array of work by local Singaporean artists, some well-established and come up-and-coming, alongside some British artists as well."
Williams says that this same formula of overlaying local influences onto British Airways lounge DNA is "something you'll see in other new BA lounges."
At the far end of the lounge lies a 'study' zone with workstations and wireless printing.
The majority of visitors to the lounge will also find AC and USB power sockets close at hand.
"Pretty much everybody gets their own universal AC point next to their seat, as well as USB charging ports" says Williams. "That's about 88% of people in in the main lounge, and everybody in the Concorde Bar."
The Concorde Bar
Also earmarked for selected BA lounges will be the Concorde Bar, which makes its debut at the British Airways Singapore Lounge.
While not a full-on lounge and dining area similar to the elite Concorde Rooms at London and New York, the Concorde Bar draws its inspiration from those spaces.
Entry is available to passengers in BA first class as well as Executive Club Gold Concorde Room Card-holders and invitation-only Executive Club Premier members.
"We have have two flights a day to London and one to Sydney, all of which have first class cabins," Williams tells Australian Business Traveller. "The Concorde Bar is about recognising that, and having a sanctuary where our first class customers can relaxing before or between flights."
The entrance to the Concorde Bar is located at the right side of the lounge, just past the reception area, and is accessed "via a passcode, or the attendant who greets you on arrival will open the door for you," Williams says.
"The discrete branding and entrance to the Concorde Bar has created an air of mystique to the lounge, offering an exclusive space for those in the know" suggests Mike Crump, a partner at Honor Branding who shaped this new haven for the well-heeled.
The Concorde Bar has seating for 41 high flyers who will be looked after by a dedicated attendant.
"Within that space there are different zones," Williams explains. "We have some couples' sofas, seven private booths, a high-top table for working, and again those high-backed leather winged chairs."
The Concorde Bar has a very different design to the rest of the Singapore lounge, including generous use of black Nero marble with European oak flooring, and boasts what Williams calls "electronic walls."
"These will display the sky of Singapore on the ceiling, and on the walls they will project views of Singapore, which will all change according to the time of day, so it feels like you're in an exclusive enclave overlooking the fabulous backdrop of Singapore."
Honor Branding's Crump says the The Concorde Bar was designed to have "an elegant and timeless interior" with the focal point of "a modern cabinetry bar crafted in blackened oak, akin to the kind you would find in one's private residence."
Access to British Airways Singapore Lounge
The British Airways Singapore Lounge will opens its door daily from 3pm until the 11.15pm departure of flight BA16 to London.
Eligible visitors include travellers in British Airways first class and business class, along with first and business class passengers on flights operated by Oneworld members such as Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Finnair and Japan Airlines; British Airways Executive Club Silver and Gold card-holders; and their Oneworld Sapphire and Emerald equivalents (such as Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold and Platinum, and Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club Gold and Diamond members).
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About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.