#LifeWellTraveled: Dim sum, Champagne and Other Luxuries at the Cathy Pacific Lounge

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    The Noodle Bar at the Cathay Pacific Airport Lounge was a good start for the trip to Tel Aviv. CX’s newest route from Manila was a 13-hour flight via Hong Kong, and the journey began with a serving of dim sum and a bowl of noodles. Since it opened two years ago in Terminal 3, these comfort food staples have become a pre-departure ritual. 

    Living Dangerously before Departure

    A preferred traveling companion described my hours before departure as a version of dangerous living. Besides the mayhem of last minute packing fringed with anxiety of having forgotten some item deemed important, the routine will squeeze in a stop at the salon for professional grooming. It didn’t use to be so stressful when local traffic was not as heavy. Now, besides the possibility of not making it to the airport on time because of road congestion and slow movement on the road, there are the long queues at immigration to contend with. All add up to elevated stress levels, but this adrenaline pressure dissipates considerably once inside the Cathay Pacific Airways lounge for outbound passengers.

    The glass windows that span one side of the 650-square-meter space frame the planes parked on the tarmac. It is a comforting sight that reassures the aircraft has not left, even if it isn’t necessarily the CX flight to Israel. Imagination unconsciously takes over to calm and de-stress. 

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    Antidote to Travel Stress

    A warm atmosphere of home pervades within cherry wood walls of the living space. London-based Studiolise, which also designed some of the Hong Kong facilities, applied elements of nature to create a relaxing environment. The floors are made of limestone, and live plants enhance the setting furnished with bespoke couches and cushy chairs.

    Lighting is soft, strategic and practical. There is sufficient illumination to read or work on the laptop in the workstation. It is a personal preference, however, to sit in one of the tables near the green-tiled Noodle Bar and make this your work place with chopsticks in hand.

    Restful Pause Between Flights

    The experience is replicated in Hong Kong during the layover while waiting for the connecting flight to Tel Aviv. The Pier is one of six Cathay Pacific lounges in the Hong Kong International Airport. Covering 3,306 square meters on Level 5 of the Northwest Concourse, it is the biggest of all the CX customer comfort facilities from which Manila approximates in a smaller version. Access is between Gates 62 and 64.

    The Pier Business Class lounge is a microcosm of the Hong Kong experience, offering different options on how to spend time before boarding. Those who have less time can do the fast lane service and get a quick bite and drinks. The so-called slow lanes allow for leisurely dining; it is a restful pause to stretch, eat unhurriedly and try different dishes. These can be had at the Food Hall, the Bar, which is different from the Noodle Bar, and the Teahouse. Travelers can rest and refresh in the Relaxation Room or use one of the 14 private showers.

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    Quiet Place for Tea

    A tea cart by the Food Hall entrance offered a selection of teas and cookies for snacking. There were several trips to the cookie jar before settling down to the freshly made noodle dish prepared by the chef behind the long counter. He could whip up different kinds like rice noodles in soup with fish balls, wonton noodles in soup, dan dan noodles, and ramen noodles with tofu and enoki mushrooms. Dimsum was served in little traditional baskets from steamed BBQ pork buns, egg custard buns, and pan-fried vegetable and fungus dumpling.

    After an extensive sampling, a cup of tea at the Tea Lounge helped relieve the fullness after such indulgences. There was time to do some work at the Solo Chairs installed with built-in lamps for reading. Beside each was a side table conveniently placed alongside. It felt like needs had been anticipated and much thought was given to insure comfort and an agreeable waiting time before the onward journey.

    Long Bars and Noodle Bars

    The return experience is just as important when traveling. The trip back touched down early in Hong Kong and we were directed towards the south departure hall in Terminal 1. The Wing was open to receive the transiting passengers, who either settled in the first level or went up to the more expansive space a flight up. Gleaming, white marble stretched in front of the glass windows with a view of the sky and the tarmac. It was too early for champagne but it was relaxing to sit there and watch the beginning of the day.

    There was a Coffee Loft, where baristas prepared cappuccino and other specialty drinks to go with the sandwiches and other sweet options, but while on the way to the showers, a wrong turn opened up to the Noodle Bar with live trees growing in the center of the dining area. The happy detour ended on a table with char siu buns, dumplings, and naturally, noodles. It was just the priming needed for the less than two-hour flight back home. The steaming bowl of soup was the lingering flavor before dozing off on flight CX907 to Manila.

    SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM THE CATHY PACIFIC LOUNGE… 

    Text by Simone Gabriel
    Photography courtesy of Cathy Pacific 

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