Taking Off: Luxury Airport Hotels Trending, Reaching New Heights
By David Ashen Principal & Founder, dash design | May 17, 2020
Picture this: swimming alongside lush rainforest-style gardens, unwinding in the spa with an hour-long massage and indulging in a reflexology treatment. Follow it up by taking in a blockbuster movie, working out on state-of-the-art gym equipment and dining on world-class cuisine. Then imagine ending the day with a stroll through a Zen-inducing butterfly garden. Ahhh… sounds luxurious, doesn't it?
Twenty-plus years ago, if someone would have told me that I could do all of these things, while being mere steps from an airport terminal, I would have thought they were crazy. Yet that's exactly what happened when I visited Terminal 3 at Singapore's Changi Airport, and stayed overnight at the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport, back in the late 1990s.
It wasn't just the amenities that were sublime; the rooms were top-notch, with ultramodern technology to make conducting business between flights a breeze, stylish decor that created a sense of place and comfortable linens that meant I could shake off the jet lag in no time. It's no wonder Crowne Plaza Changi Airport was named best airport hotel by SkyTrax's World Airport Awards for several years in a row.
A True Departure
The Crowne Plaza Changi Airport, at least back then, was the exception, not the rule. The truth is, airport hotels were once a limited service offering, seen as a commodity for the traveler who would simply sleep for a few hours and then fly out of town. Therefore, there were few food options, little to no retail and no need to create an experience worth talking about after you rolled your luggage out the door.
Former Vice President Joe Biden once famously said in a speech, "If I took you and blindfolded you and took you to LaGuardia Airport in New York, you'd think 'I must be in some third-world country.'" While that statement feels harsh, there was some truth. Most airports were places to simply fly in and out of and the surrounding hotels that predominated the landscape were clusters of pared down, three-star category chain hotels such as Hampton Inn, Residence Inn and a Courtyard Marriott, with aesthetics and amenities beyond consideration.