One of the greatest stressors of travelling is the dreaded transit time when a non-stop flight is unavailable to your destination. As airlines have streamlined services inside the aircraft, it came as a welcome surprise recently when I visited the Pier Business Class Lounge, the largest Cathay Pacific Lounge in the world, with a whopping 3,306 square meters of space.

Conceptualized by Studioilse, the London based design studio led by Ilse Crawford, space immediately stands out, as there is a tranquillity that is otherwise absent in most lounges. It’s clear that aesthetically, attention was focussed on creating an environment that focusses on fliers’ well-being, matching the motto of the airline’s Life Well Travelled campaign. There is an intended separation of the “fast” lane, which caters to the food and beverage demands (yes, it’s Cathay, so there is the famous Noodle Bar) while the “slow” lane includes ample lounge seating, with enormous scenic windows to look out to the airport and beyond.

 

 

For me, given the lengthy duration of my transit, I opted for a slow-ish experience. I got started by refreshing myself in one of the 14 very well-equipped shower rooms. I then opted to visit the Tea Lounge, a welcome change from the faster mood of the Noodle Bar, the bar and the café. Then, I ventured to The Sanctuary, an area tucked away to one side of the lounge that caught my attention. The 65 square meter space, set up in partnership with The Pure Group, is something I had been longing for in my travels and was most thankful to finally see in reality. The area is split between The Body Sanctuary, which is dedicated to yoga, while The Mind Sanctuary is where fliers can meditate and focus on calming their minds. Mark Sutch, regional general manager, South Asia, Middle East and Africa for Cathay Pacific, said, “A long journey can be exhausting, and affect one’s physical and mental health. The Sanctuary provides the required environment, equipment and facilities for Cathay Pacific travellers to indulge.” I couldn’t agree more.

 Within, there are two different methods of meditation available. The first is audio-led meditation. Four cushioned pods with noise-cancelling headphones and iPads are set up, to enable seekers to be guided into meditation sessions narrated by experts from Pure Yoga. The second method is a visual gazing meditation were seated between cushions, you look at calming graphics placed on the wall ahead that facilitate Trataka yoga practice.

 

 

Meanwhile, The Body Sanctuary offers a group space for active yoga, with guided videos led by Pure Yoga teachers. Smartly, they’ve also created a private space for self-practice. Additionally, there are seated stretching booths – chairs that overlook instructions on how to stretch different parts of the body while seated. It’s a smart space which, if fliers experience in the lounge, they can easily replicate in the sky. The exercises are designed to improve circulation, enhance joint mobility and relax the mind.

For me, airports and transit time can feel daunting, and often the amount of energy and effort spent there is more than the actual flying time. Cathay Pacific has clearly identified that there is a need for such wellness spaces that go beyond wonderful food and drink options, ensuring travellers continue to focus on their mind, body and soul if they wish to.

 

 

 I hope the Pier Lounge can be used as a smart prototype for other airline lounges and airports to focus their attention beyond the obvious. For me, the next time I travel through Hong Kong, I’m going to purposely have a longer transit time, as I know my time will be well-spent on my health, and nothing trumps that.

Cathay Pacific Business Class Pier Lounge in Hong Kong is between Gates 62 and 64, Level 5, Northwest Concourse (enter on Level 6).

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