On the Ground: Arrival at Heathrow’s T3 via the Heathrow Express was fast and efficient, followed by an expedited check-in at Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class desk. I was ushered through the private security line and was quickly on my way to Virgin’s Clubhouse. I had purposely arrived early in order to enjoy the spa services at the in-lounge Cowshed Spa — some of which are offered on a complimentary basis, including a 15-minute seated back massage, a 15-minute facial and several hair services with Bumble & Bumble products. There are also full shower facilities and spacious bathrooms.
I followed my massage with a late breakfast. There’s an impressive buffet and full table service from an extensive menu of cooked-to-order foods. Though too early in the day for a drink, I couldn’t help but admire the impressive central bar and made a point to explore the other areas of the lounge. These included a soothing area with seating around a Japanese water wall; a den with a massive television screen; a quiet viewing deck overlooking the runway; and the impressive Grey Goose Loft Bar with a gorgeous skylight, located at the top of a white marble stairway.
Pre-Flight: From the moment I boarded, I felt as though I were the only passenger on the plane. Slightly cheeky touches include a somewhat irreverent safety video, a soothing multihued lighting system and a flight deck separation wall embedded with sparkles. The courteous and friendly flight attendants were very attentive without being overbearing and seemed to enjoy being on board as much as I did. I was escorted to my seat, offered my choice of beverage, and asked if I required any assistance settling in or storing my carry-on bag. An amenity “snooze pack” was delivered and, though it appeared to be made of a rough gray felt, I later learned it was made from recycled plastic materials. The perfect size for storing an iPad, it contained the usual components along with a handy shoe bag.
In-Flight: The Upper Class cabin (with leather seats) is configured so that each suite is angled rather than facing directly forward, allowing direct access to the aisle. A wide ottoman serves double duty as a guest seat and storage space. The personal television can be angled for comfortable viewing, with the seat adjusting to a variety of angles. The touch-screen entertainment system has a multitude of choices, including the best graduate short films from the National Film and Television School.
Lunch was served about an hour into the flight, beginning with an English ham hock salad, barley and vegetable broth soup, and a selection of warm breads. There were four main courses, and I went with the Thai green vegetable curry served with jasmine rice, which I enjoyed with a French Viognier. Dessert choices were a chocolate salted caramel pudding and a British strawberry and custard tart. Following dessert, a cheese trolley made the rounds, along with Ports and dessert wines. There was also the option to skip lunch and simply graze from lighter menu choices or select items from the cabin’s galley bar at any time during the flight. A traditional afternoon high tea was served about an hour and a half before landing and featured a variety of fresh sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, and beautiful cakes and tarts.
Following lunch, I requested turndown service, and one of the cabin attendants made up my bed with soft linens, a fluffy duvet, a full-sized pillow and an impressively thick mattress. I was offered a sleeping suit and slippers but declined. The fully flat bed stretched out to 79.5 inches, more than adequate for my 5-foot, 4-inch frame. I slept for several hours, awakening to the scent of warm scones.
The Experience: Virgin’s commitment to delivering outstanding customer service was evident in every aspect of my pre-flight and in-flight experience. Even the weather cooperated, with barely a bump across the Atlantic.
- Less than 10 minutes for check-in
- Friendly and helpful agents
- Priority tagged baggage
- Airport lounge
- Complimentary in-lounge food
- Priority boarding
- Helpful and courteous flight attendants
- Pre-flight beverage service
- Pre-flight newspapers and magazines
- Extensive on-demand entertainment
- Amenity kits
- Lie-flat seat/bed
- Turn-down service
- In-flight menu with three entrée choices
- Top-shelf wines and liquors
The Franklin London Launches Afternoon Tea Inspired by Victoria & Albert Museum’s “Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser”
The Franklin London – Starhotels Collezione, located in the heart of Knightsbridge, launched a new afternoon tea inspired by the “Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser” exhibit at the nearby Victoria & Albert Museum. Diners booking the tea also have the option to book an offer including a pre-reserved ticket to the in-demand exhibition.
The biggest names in the Middle East sporting community will gather for the Sports Industry Awards as the event returns for its eighth edition. SPIA recognizes the achievements of individuals, organizations, facilities and campaigns that contributed to the development of sport in the region.
Pride Month is in full swing and to celebrate the community, make a colorful cocktail everyone will enjoy. These colorful ingredients will get the party started during Pride or any time of the year. Start this recipe the night before to create the rainbow ice cubes.
Up Norway, Norway’s travel curator, partners with sustainability experts to offer travelers a new tour. The Discovery Route, called the “world’s most sustainable journey,” combines personal wellness with the wellness of the environment.
The Sports Industry Awards returned with a bang last night as 200 guests packed the W Hotel Great Ball Room for the gala ceremony.
Driving into Dallas during a rainstorm, we were eager to arrive at our destination. The valet parking at Marriott Dallas Uptown is underground and ideal for inclement weather. We took the elevator to the lobby and made our way to the registration desk. The staff wore masks, but still managed to convey a warm greeting. On the wall behind them hung a colorful piece of art made partially from reclaimed wood that depicts neighborhood scenes. The new hotel covers an entire block in a residential area and opened earlier this year.
Business travel is on the brink of returning, according to three new reports. The latest monthly Traveler Confidence Index developed by Travel Again shows business traveler confidence soared in May, with 42 percent now fully ready to travel, up from just 20 percent in April. An additional 31 percent are planning some type of business travel for summer, with 74 percent willing to travel domestically for business in the next 90 days. However, employers may not be as ready, with only 22 percent of business travel respondents with current business travel plans.
Although travel restrictions are beginning to lift, many Americans aren’t ready to travel yet, but still want to get out and explore something new. WalletHub, a personal-finance website, recently conducted a study to find out the best cities for a staycation this summer.