SYD: Sydney Star Alliance AirNZ Lounge
Read the full story of the opening of the Etihad Sydney Lounge opens
The brand new Air New Zealand Sydney Lounge is a delight. Recently opened, it has only a few small hints of the Sydney Koru Club about it. Instead the lounge is strongly branded as the Sydney Star Alliance lounge, with just some discrete signs from the Kiwi carrier.
However it is quite a trek from check in. Pass through security, and you are forced to walk all the way left past duty free, right at the Qantas lounge escalator, along the long corridor by Macdonalds, past the Etihad lounge, and then along up to the end of the terminal.
Take the stairs or the escalator to the upper balcony, walk past the Singapore Airlines lounge, and it's at the end of the balcony, past the welcoming Air New Zealand Star Gold sign.
There is a small reception podium, and then you enter an area of purple and black. To call it trendy wouldn't do the cutting edge design justice. To the left as you enter is a very neat service counter, where you can request upgrades and flight changes.
Straight ahead of you is the highlight of the new Air NZ Sydney Lounge - the bar. It is a glass backed wine rack that looks through the bottles, and straight out onto the apron.
The Sydney Koru Club lounge was designed by US-based architectural firm Genseler, who took the whole of the old 1,500 square metre New Zealand lounge and revamped it as zoned spaces, with a total capacity of 300 passengers.
It actually feels a bit smaller than the old Koru Club, with four defined areas. There is the bar, then to the right the long dining area, beyond which is the central seating area (with a walk up bar) and finally the 'point end', at the 90 degree corner point of the terminal, along the right of which is the snoozed curtained area.
Among these 'zones' there are 14 different types of seating, from bar stools overlooking the bar - and the view - to very conventional lounge chairs running the length of the lounge, to round wickerwork stools in the food area, to large white wing backed chairs, racked up against the windows, again overlooking the view.
Finally, in the snooze zone 'quite nook' area at the back of the lounge, there are benches among the large white floor to ceiling curtains and big squashy leather arm chairs.
The whole lounge remains flooded with light, and there are great views out towards, the runway and the Botany Bay container terminal. Sydney was the first airport to showcase the airline's new lounge concept as part of a NZ$40 million lounge refurbishment program, and it looks great.
There is artwork commemorating Air New Zealand's 75th anniversary, and even a patterned wall, which we're told says "hello" in 44 different languages if you join the dots.
In the Sydney Air New Zealand Lounge even the lighting is special. Not just the black and purple lighting in the reception, but around the cafe area, which has lighting provided by 230 glass spheres - hand-blown no less - with an undulating design which reflect the waves just offshore past Bondi and Botany Bay. It is very similar to the lights in the Air NZ Los Angeles lounge in the TBIT, if you are flying that far.
There is another feature for little flyers. There is a small children's room, with the design inspired by a tree-house, glassed in in the middle of the lounge, with a small bench outside where you can keep an eye on the little ones.
FoodA great new feature of the new lounge is the theatre kitchen with two chefs preparing food in the open, serving food in a fairly standard buffet arrangement.
However, the way it is served is unusual. In the theatre, the chef cooks up the dish of the day in front of you. Beside them, to the left and right, are hot tubs with two types of meat, rice and pasta.
Opposite these is a buffet, with a really good salad bar, hot soup, and deserts.
There are daily specials such as shrimps, oysters and momos (a type of pork dumpling popular in Kathmandu).
Opposite the buffet is a long - very long - dining table.
Alas, the famous, and well liked, hot-dog stand has been removed from the Air New Zealand Sydney lounge, a feature from 2001.
BarThe highlight of the lounge is without doubt the fully served cocktail bar, with an impressive wine and beer selection.
The Sydney Star Alliance Lounge bar is styled in from the same family as Air New Zealand's Star Alliance business class lounge in Los Angeles.
It is worth browsing the lounge's cocktail list - the signature cocktail here is a Kiwi Martini, and very good it is too. The lounge also recommends - and the bar staff offer - a very good Espresso Martini.
However you don't have to go up to the bar to order beer or wine. There are two other bar counters with self-serve with wine and beer. The main one is by the long low dining table.
You can also order coffee, via the iPad by the bar, or even on the Air New Zealand app on your own iPhone or Android smartphone. As soon as it is ready, they will call you.
BathroomsThere are private shower suites, with amenities already in them. Towels are available from reception.
Business FacilitiesThe area at the far end - with the best views - is now given over to the Business Zone. There is a vast white table for laptops, with plenty of power sockets (Australia/New Zealand design only), plus USB power ports.
Next to this is the quiet nook, which has large white curtains
Power sockets are everywhere in the lounge, from laptop benches, against the walls, or built into the cocktail tables. Ther are both mains 240 volt Australian / NZ type sockets, and dial USB sockets.
AccessAccess is given to Business Class passengers on Air New Zealand, plus paid up members of the Koru Club. You can also access in Air NZ economy with a Star Alliance Gold or Virgin Velocity Gold or Platinum card.
Access is also sold to passengers without any other access, with Air New Zealand Sydney lounge day passes costing AU$55, or Sydney lounge pay-in for four hours or more AU$85.
The Sydney Air New Zealand Lounge is still branded as Air New Zealand, but has become the de-facto Sydney Star Alliance lounge and indeed, almost the 'other airlines' lounge, as a result of which it can become insanely busy, particularly when the two United flights coincide with Canadian and Chinese flight departures just after lunchtime.
All Star Alliance passengers are welcome - including Singapore, however SIA passengers are directed to the new Singapore Airlines Sydney lounge which opened a few months ago.
Other airlines also offer access to their passengers, and as a result the Sydney Star Alliance lounge has become the Air Canada Maple Leaf Club Sydney, the Sydney Air China lounge, the Thai Airways Sydney Lounge, and United Airlines UnitedClub Sydney.
Air India, Asiana, Delta, Hawaiian, Korean Air and Philippine Airlines also use this lounge.
Access for Virgin Australia is complicated: Etihad codeshare flights are directed to the new Sydney Etihad lounge. However Etihad passengers in Economy with a Virgin Gold card are directed here, to the Sydney Air New Zealand lounge.
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