CNS: Cairns Virgin Australia Lounge
NEWS: The brand new Virgin Australia Lounge at Cairns is now open.
The Virgin Australia Cairns lounge is brand sparkling new, enormous, and represents a real touch of luxury up the top end. It has the usual Australian chef Luke Mangan-designed menu, an all-day barista service, a meeting room, decent bar with free wine and beer and business services including complimentary WiFi, power, PC and a printer.
The Cairns Virgin Australia Lounge is the biggest at a regional airport in Australia, with a capacity for 180 passengers and no less than 710 square meters. Indeed, with so few passengers using it, you can often seem as if you are rattling around inside the lounge.
Finding the lounge isn't too hard in the small Cairns Airport. It is on the side corridor to the central square part of the domestic terminal, left by gate 22, up the hall with the history of Cairns Airport (which includes the propeller from the old DC3 that for many years was at the main gates to Cairns airport, until the sea air made it rot away) up the escalator, and then all the way to the end of the hall on the upper floor. Several large banners are here to help to point the way, in case you wonder if you've got a little lost. Through the sliding doors is the large reception desk, with the 'flying maiden', logo above it.
As you walk in you can see pretty much the whole of the Virgin Cairns lounge spread before you – it is in effect a large pointed rectangle, overlooking the (only) runway, with amazing floor to ceiling windows giving a magnificent view over the rainforest and Mount Whitfield, and the distant hangars.
The design on the lounge is similar to the Canberra lounge, with large wooden privacy dividers throughout the dining areas, and long white benches (with power points and USB charging points running between them), loungey type chair overlooking the spectacular view, a few higher 'dining' chairs by the entrance, and with a long combined food and drinks bar running along the inner edge. Unlike Brisbane, the bar isn't a 'wavy' design, and is dead straight.
There are a number of distinct seating areas throughout the Cairns Virgin Australia lounge, with the further end being much quieter, and where the most plush chairs are. The lounge is more colourful than most in the Virgin network, with pinks, oranges and purples dominant. Indeed, it reflects the more colourful and tropical environment of Cairns, with timber panels, and floor-to-ceiling lighting.
Along the windows there are combined USB power points, along with AC power points; there are many more of these in the Virgin Lounge compared to the Qantas lounge.
There are several TV Screen in the lounge, all with the volume turned down low: one at the far end tends to be on sports, while the one near reception is typically on Sky.
The Cairns Virgin Australia lounge is one of the newest lounges in the domestic network, and a worth addition to it. The only downside is that it is a little too similar to the Qantasclub next door. Indeed, the food is often identical; the beer the same, the wine is much better, but compared to the vast variety of lounge designs found around the world, it's a shame that the Virgin Australia Cairns lounge wasn't given a slightly different edge.
FoodFood in the Cairns Virgin Lounge is pretty much the same as you'll get throughout Australia, with a decent ish salad bar, including two types of ham and cheese – but with a tropical variant. There is pineapple too!
There is also that most traditional of Virgin Australia Lounge foods – the famous Lounge Toasty. There is a toasted sandwich machine, to turn your cold sandwich hot. And the traditional mix of ham, cheese and tomato goes down very well.
At breakfast there is also the usual raisin toast, and a pancake machine.
Occasionally in the evening, the staff bring around hors d'oeuvres – and very tasty they are too, but this is a pretty rare event.
BarThe bar in the Virgin Australia Cairns Lounge is better than you would expect, if only because it has genuine French Champagne: a rarity this far north in Queensland. Well, not quite champers, but real bubbles never the less, with French sparking (Grandin Méthode Traditionnelle Brut NV).
The bar again follows the usual Qantas standard, rather than defining anything new: you can pour your own wine, but for anything else you have to ask the bar staff.
Wine is great with three decent reds and three whites in the wine cooler at the front of the bar. All of them are decent Aussie wines, with Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot predominating.
Beer is also very good, but there is no beer on draft, unlike in the neighbouring Qantas Club. Instead there are bottles – and lots of them, with 12 different types. VB, Crown, Fat Yak, Tooeys, Peroni, you name it, it's here.
There is a soft drinks fountain, and also an all-day barista service, but here all day means all day except when it's not morning, or when there are no Virgin flights scheduled in the next hour. So not that often then.
Business FacilitesBusiness Facilities in the Virgin Australia Cairns lounge are good, but they are never going to win any prizes for being state of the art. At the far end of the lounge there are two Windows XP computers, and an all-in-one printer and copier. Yes, windows XP. The computers are neither fast not up to date, but at least all the applications (Word, etc) work.
There is an 8 person meeting room, with a speaker phone.
There is free WIFI in the lounge, and lots and lots of power points, with combined USB and mains AC sockets both by the far wall and along the top of the white benches.
Finally, at the entrance to the lounge, there is a newspaper stand, with all of the Queensland papers; the Cairns Post, the Australian, and the Mail. Underneath this there is a very Spartan rack of eight magazines.
BathroomsThe bathrooms in the Virgin Australia Cairns Lounge are spectacular, with shiny black tiles offsetting the matt back floor black ceiling. It's as if you've turned up to a very very classy Goth convention.
There are two showers, which are even classier, if that were possible.
AccessPaid Virgin Australia membership, or access with Velocity (Gold or Platinum) status or a Business Class ticket. Virgin Australia no longer sell day passes to the lounge.
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