Traditionally we occupied our connecting time in an airport by charging the laptop batteries, logging on to send and receive e-mails, and – a distant third given the lack of choices – grabbing a bite to eat. However our desire for more than just a connection has given rise to new services, so we can now plan our airport sojourns around more meaningful opportunities that fuel the mind, body and soul.
Participants in Business Traveler’s forum sound off with their opinions on the elevated quality of activities in and immediately around great airports. The discussion thread covered the globe, with comments on airports from A to Z and over 45 airports around the world garnering special mention. Popular threads included attributes of airports and their associated services spanning several cities including:
Stimulating the Cerebral
Today’s airport hot spots offer a long list of activities – for those just passing through as well as those spending the night. Airports and airlines lounges present experiences that include art, museums, gardens, cinemas, local breweries, temporary office space, and meeting and even event space for up to 2000 attendees. Get wrapped in thought while taking a swim in a rooftop pool, lounge with a perfect view of the city while planes take off and land or even indulge your creative side appreciating fine art in one of the museums that many airports offer.
One Business Traveler forum participant even commented on the amenities and activities for one particular airport hotel, saying: “I could quite happily spend several days between flights there!”
Fueling the Body
Sorry soggy sandwiches are now a distant secondary option at most top-tier airports and lounges. Local fare, high-end bistros, and luxury dining once only found in cities like Paris, Tokyo or Seoul are now an everyday part of the airport experience.
Is there Michelin-rated dining in an airport restaurant? Absolutely! Geneva and Stuttgart to name a few. In addition to the ratings, the cuisine around the world has gone from your quick bite in the food court to a quick meal that delivers a gastronomic experience. From caviar at the Caviar House & Prunier Seafood Bar at London’s Heathrow, sushi at Tokyo’s Sushi Kyotatsu to French haute cuisine at Charles de Gaulle’s Ladure`e, jetsetters are making time in the airport for their dining delights.
Part of this food frenzy, made-to-order meals in airline lounges have also added tasty options to the traveling experience. Now and for foreseeable future, gastronomy will continue to be of growing importance both in the sky and on the ground.
Wellness does not have to be sacrificed on a business trip. Businesses looking to support their employees and increase productivity may consider mixing a little bleisure travel (business + leisure) while connecting at the airport.
Today’s services in and around the airports have graduated from fruit bars to escapes of wonder that include a tropical rainforest-themed lounge to give travelers a relaxing retreat with soft music and tropical flora and fauna decor. Premium lounges today offer a full array of experiences and amenities. You can find lounges and spas at several airport open at all hours with services that you might expect to find on a yoga retreat, such as oxygen therapies, napping suites, body massage, foot reflexology. Some full service airport spa options range from various styles and types of energizing massage treatments to facials, wet shaves, and mani / pedi’s to help travelers freshen up and fuel the fire after a long flight.
Of course the traditional showers and changing rooms, fitness facilities, and food choices have gone full-service and gourmet, with healthy food alternatives, rejuvenating exercise equipment, steam rooms, Jacuzzi tubs and lap pools. Consider a quick round of golf, a walk through nature trails or gardens and even a chance to set aside time for some ice-skating.
Don’t let low expectations limit your imagination on the possibilities that await on your next connection. Make plans to take a healthy, enriching sabbatical during your next trip. Even though it may only be for a couple of hours, you can have a connection with meaning.