On the Ground: Check-in at Helsinki’s Vantaa Airport Terminal 2 was easy-breezy. I was ticketed through to my connecting flight from New York to Washington, D.C. The gracious and efficient counter agent, who had information that my onward flight to D.C. on a separate airline was canceled due to a winter storm, was already prepared to help me make alternate arrangements and secured a train ticket for me. I was then whisked through the priority security line. From there, the lounge was a short stroll away between Gates 36 and 37. I had only a carry-on bag; had I checked luggage, it would have been tagged priority.
Pre-Flight: Finnair’s Helsinki lounge is a study in minimalist design and comfort. The generous space is arranged into intimate groupings and private corners, with a narrow upper deck with deep chairs and ottomans overlooking the runway. The area was flooded with natural light, with plenty of electrical outlets within easy access. Felted walls buffered airport sound, and the buffet had a nice selection of hot and cold dishes served on beautiful Marimekko dinnerware.
I had no trouble connecting to the complimentary WiFi and spent a pleasant two hours catching up on emails and reading. I found the earthy colors, soothing creams and light-colored woods throughout the space extremely soothing and was very relaxed by boarding time. Once my flight was announced, I was ushered on board with no waiting and quickly offered a refreshing drink. The boarding process in all cabins went quickly and smoothly, and we left the gate on time.
In-Flight: My window seat was spacious and comfortable with ample storage space. My seat converted into a bed but wasn’t completely flat. Though there was a slight angle and my feet were lower than my head, I still found it easy to fall asleep for the middle part of the flight following lunch service. Sleeping was made easier thanks to soft sheets, a fluffy quilted comforter and an excellent pillow. Amenity kits were serviceable but packaged in an eco-friendly paper covering. The entertainment selection was quite broad, with first-run international movies, games and music from around the world. I occupied myself by intermittently watching our progress on the flight map while finally finishing a novel I’d begun months before the flight.
As this was a day flight, lunch was served. After an amuse bouche of organic root vegetable chips, I was offered a salad and creamy chanterelle soup served with a small platter of Baltic herring roe, smoked elk and Lappish baked cheese. For the main course, I chose salmon with a pepper crust served with a potato-leek ragout, one of three dishes offered. To accompany the salmon, I had the Schlumberger Riesling, an Alsace Grand Cru. Though I skipped it, dessert was either fresh fruit, cheeses or a slice of a beautiful strawberry cake. Nearly as impressive as the food was the dinnerware: The glassware was specially designed for Finnair in 1969 by Tapio Wirkkala of the famed Finnish glassware firm Iittala. The design, called Ultima Thule, has remained in continuous service and is recognized as a Finnish design classic. It was a lovely touch to cabin service.
The snack bar in the galley had light fare available throughout the flight, and when I later requested a cup of tea, it was served promptly — hot and freshly brewed. About an hour and a half before landing, the crew offered a light meal consisting of a Scandinavian shrimp sandwich with fresh fruit on the side.
The Experience: The flight was a positive experience from start to finish, accentuated by an airport staff and onboard service team that actually appeared to enjoy the delivery of friendly customer service.
- Less than 10 minutes for check-in
- Friendly and helpful agents
- Priority-tagged bags
- Airport lounge
- Complimentary in-lounge food and beverages
- Priority boarding
- Helpful and courteous in-flight staff
- Pre-flight beverage service
- Pre-flight newspapers and magazines
- Amenity kits
- Lie-flat seat/bed
- Mattress pad and comforter
- In-flight menu offering choice of three entrées
- Top-shelf wines and liquors
Since Cheval Blanc, an extraordinary, newly designed and refurbished 72-room hotel owned by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey, launched in September 2021, it has been the talk of the town. Le Tout-Paris remarks about its WOW factor … and the hard-to-get reservations for the 30 seats at Plenitude, the intimate, first-floor gastronomic outlet headed by chef Arnaud Donckele, who earned three Michelin stars at Cheval Blanc Saint Tropez. Reservations are also recommended for Limbar, the ground-floor bakery/café/tea shop/bar where we watched Pastry Chef Maxime Frédéric preparing desserts and an absolute must-have for dinner at Le Tout-Paris, the 7th-floor, all-day brasserie. This brightly colored space, with its raised seating and Fauve-like floor tiles and the adjacent Milanese restaurant, Langosteria, both have access to terraces facing the Seine River, with amazing views encompassing Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower.
IHG® Business Edge: Working Together with SMEs for a smarter way to manage travel
Nevada-based The Spa at Green Valley by Well & Being and The Spa at Red Rock by Well & Being celebrate the start of 2022 with new health, wellness and spa treatments available through March 31. Both spas offer an array of treatments for guests wanting to relax and unwind before 2022 kicks into full gear.
To allow visitors to safely and responsibly enjoy their trip to Barbados, the island announced streamlined port entry protocols. Barbados’ Ministry of Health and Wellness released the following protocols for all travelers planning on coming to the island.
Located in the South Pacific, The Islands of Tahiti are just eight hours by air from California. Surrounded by pristine, crystal-clear blue waters, the 118 islands and atolls offer natural beauty, authentic island culture and unique French Polynesian style. The Islands of Tahiti are world-renowned for white-sand beaches, stunning turquoise lagoons and varied landscapes ranging from coral atolls to volcanic mountain peaks. Privacy comes naturally in The Islands of Tahiti and offers visitors the space to relax and reconnect and to be Embraced By Mana. Mana is the life force and spirit that connects all things in The Islands of Tahiti.
Mar Del Cabo launched a new luxury beach fishing experience with an interactive paella workshop for guests. The Los Cabos-based hotel offers guests an immersive experience that takes them through the journey of creating paella, starting with a fishing session.
COJE Management Group raised the bar when it comes to cuisine and cocktails. The Boston-based group, founded by Chris Jamison and Mark Malatesta, offers guests the ultimate dining experience with old-world hospitality and an array of cuisines for every guest to enjoy. With culinary director Tom Berry incorporating the cuisines he encountered during his travels to South America, Cuba, Japan, Southeast Asia and France, each restaurant has distinguished itself as a must for anyone visiting Boston and each is designed exclusively in-house using inspiration from different regions and countries around the world.
Go ahead, take a nice, deep breath. Because a Seabourn voyage is all about this moment you’ve come so far in life to embrace. It’s not an escape, it’s an arrival.