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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 February 2019

Etihad First Class Lounge review: Spoil yourself rotten at Abu Dhabi airport

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 greets you from the moment you enter the dedicated check-in area, where porters take your luggage.

“There are no unsightly baggage belts in sight,” says Helen Morrissey, Etihad’s service delivery manager. “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 11x2 metre panoramic video wall, made up of 27 individual screens.

Need to work? There are USB power-points 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.

Executives travelling with kids are also 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.

A la carte dining is available as well as snack options. The four-course tasting menu, created by chefs at Mezlai in Emirates Palace, includes delicacies such as camel milk panna cotta.

The one thing the lounge lacks is a favourable view, as the area outside is being redeveloped. But guests will be too busy being spoilt rotten to take notice.

q&a five-star ground service

Calum Laming, Etihad’s vice president of 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, 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. 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 butler.

What can we expect from Etihad in the future?

We’re opening another premium lounge in Los Angeles in July. And 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?

Among our 160 employees, we have concierge 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 complimentary treatment (or two for the Residence guests). Further treatments are chargeable.

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Updated: June 26, 2016 04:00 AM

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