With more comfy chairs than a Monty Python sketch, Cathay Pacific’s superb new Hong Kong Business lounge offers an enticing oasis amid the frenzy of one of Asia’s busiest hubs.The design of The Pier Business lounge at Hong Kong International Airport’s north-west concourse is a template the airline is using in lounges from Tokyo to Bangkok and London as it tries to makes its customers feel better about flying with its “Life Well Travelled’’ concept.It is also the culmination of a detailed two-an-a-half-year project that looked at every aspect of passenger comfort, ranging from seating to acoustics and even the wavelength of lighting. “Basically, the design philosophy behind it is to really address the customer need,’’ says Cathay general manager product Leslie Lu. “So we have spent a lot of time ourselves on the interior design as well as how people use this space and what state of mind they are in when they come in.“A lot of times they are in transit or they are slightly early at the airport so they would have time to take a moment in our lounges to prepare for the flight and maybe grab a drink or even a light meal before they go on board.“We really want ensure that when they come in, they calm down and relax — an airport can be quite a stressful place — and at the same time we want them to rejuvenate after spending a bit of time here.’’The new 35,586 sq. ft (3306 sq. m.) business lounge was designed by London-based Studioilse and has seating for 550 people. It aims to emulate a Hong Kong street with fast and slow lanes that allow passengers to use it at their own pace.The airline’s push to get passengers into the right mindset begins as they walk through the door and smell a signature scent that includes ingredients such as jasmine and bamboo. The idea is to get customers to recognise Cathay spaces through smell as well as sight as well as to help them relax. The business lounge is designed in such a way that it moves from a higher-energy zone through a series of themed spaces to a low-energy relaxation area.It begins with a food hall aimed at travellers with the least amount of transit time and gives them options such as a barista-staffed coffee cart, self-service kiosks and fresh food such as sandwiches, cold cuts and salads.An adjacent version of the Hong Kong carrier’s popular noodle bars offers signature dishes such as Dan Dan and Wonton noodles and those seeking a drink can order one from the stylish, well-stocked bar. A range of seating to the right includes an area separated by glazed timber screens where people can relax and take in the airport vista through the lounge’s huge windows.Moving deeper into the facility uncovers a special treat: a quieter area designed specifically for the Hong Kong lounge as a tea house. The Tea House offers a range of premium teas prepared by a specialist and served in the appropriate tradition.The darker recesses at the end of the hall hosts a quiet area where people with longer transits can take a shower in one of 14 suites or stretch out on low lounges and catch some sleep.“For those who don’t have too much time then they can wander around the first section without going too deep into the lounge but for those who have more time, then naturally they will progress in to the quiet zone,’’ says Lu. “So it’s in way a very functional design and that’s really around, again, caring for our passenger’s wellness.’’Lu says a great deal of research went into every aspect of the various sections. “We have different music for different zones of this lounge based on the need and also the usage of that section,’’ he says.“For example in the teahouse, it’s calmer. The sleeping zone is, of course, as quiet as possible but if you go into the food hall or other seating areas, the music will be quite light and more upbeat —relaxing yet more energetic.’’Cathay’s decision to concentrate on natural materials such as cherry wood and limestone adds to the ambience as does the liberal use of plants and art work.A range of seating means everyone can find something comfortable to sink into.“We’ve done lot of workshops on the furniture just to make sure the dimensions, cushions, softness, hardness and space fits well with most of our passengers,’’ says Lu.One result of the research is that most of the chairs can rotate so if passengers know someone sitting next to them they can swivel to face each other. If they don’t, they can rotate a way to get a sense of privacy.The airline’s Solo Chairs — big green chairs with a shape almost like a cubical — come with a side table, jacket hook, a reading light and a power outlet for those who want to work.Other considerations included issues such as height; Lu points to a bench and notes that if it was too low people would stretch their legs out further and obstruct a thoroughfare.Consultants also tweaked the lighting to ensure the colour fits each zone, even to the point of taking into account reflections from nearby metal panels. “They will tell you this light is slightly green or blue, which I can’t tell, so this is putting people to sleep and hence you should put it in the relaxation zone,’’ the product manager says.Still other experts looked at the acoustics and ways of minimising noise. “We know the teahouse can be quite noisy, ‘’ Lu says. “So all the furniture here and especially the wall and the ceiling have been considered with acoustic materials, hence reducing any noise from the chairs or from the teapots.’’Cathay has put enough work into The Pier that it could easily be a first-class lounge. Possibly because of this, the carrier built an even more upmarket facility nearby to give top-tier passengers the extra luxury they expect.Offerings in the first class lounge include eight Day Suites with airport views a daybed and privacy curtains as well as a spa with personal massages, a dining room with full a la carte menu and six wood-panelled personal work suites.Steve Creedy flew to Hong Kong courtesy of Cathay Pacific..
zoom Latvian Shipping Company (LSC) has issued a short term loan to Dutch oil trading company Vitol Netherlands B.V. in the amount of EUR 284 million (USD 347.8 million).The loan to Vitol Netherlands B.V., an LSC shareholder which owns 97% of shares with voting rights and has decisive influence on the company, has a maturity date of September 30, 2018.The interest rate is 0.5% per annum including an option to terminate the loan before the maturity in order to partly cover the company’s group financial obligations.LSC completed its capital rising process on December 8, 2017. The purpose of the share capital rising was partly to cover the Group’s financial obligations from the proceeds received from the issue of shares and to strengthen competitiveness.The company said that the share capital rising process was carried out in due time, adding that the nearest balloon payments in total for 28 million USD for loans issued for the financing of the company’s vessels are due in June and July, 2018.LSC said that the loan transaction has a positive impact both on its commercial and financial results.