AN ‘ISLAND OF SANITY’: Travel trends at play for new Plaza Premium at YYZ
Arrive early at Pearson airport and have some time to lounge around? Plaza Premium has just the ticket: it’s new Landmark Lounge, completed during the pandemic and recently re-revealed as Canadians increasingly return to travel and their pre-COVID rituals.
Located in Terminal 3, the lounge is the largest independently operated lounge in North America and marks an expansion of Plaza Premium Lounge services at YYZ, joining a lounge in T1 that is being redone (due to open in July, replaced in the meantime by the Concept Lounge), along with lounges in Vancouver (YVR), Edmonton (YEG) and Winnipeg (YWG).
But the Landmark Lounge is the company’s new flagship, says Plaza Premium Group’s (PPG) regional director of operations for Canada, David Zaltzman. And it couldn’t have come at a better time, he adds, amid scenes of airport congestion and chaos as pent-up traveller demand is unleashed and people look to get away after two-plus years of pandemic pause.
“Our mission is to make travel better. Imagine that this is an island of sanity (in a busy airport,” he adds.
He also notes the safety aspect during COVID times, stating, “Luxury is the new safety!”
Officially opened just before Christmas, the Landmark Lounge is open to the passengers of all airlines and age groups, including on a walk-up basis, or through pre-purchased passes.
• A spacious environment (1,100-sq.m.) capable of hosting over 300 people
• Tasteful modern design with marble and brass accents, communal and private seating arrangements, and an expansive panoramic view of the tarmac
• Elevated food and beverage options include local and organic food servicing a variety of diets from vegan to meat-lovers from the live kitchen, the aerobar offering premium bar and champagne, and contactless ordering. In addition, Lounge to Go allows guests to take premium food options with them as they travel.
• Free Wi-fi and charging facilities; TVs
• Colourful kids play area and nursing room
• Wellness spa offering massages and manicures, complete with showering stations.
“It’s everything a traveller could want before boarding,” Zaltzman at a recent media preview of the venue.
Plaza Premium Canada Sr. VP. Pascal Bélanger, meanwhile, says emphatically that “leisure travel is back” (though he notes, business travel is lagging), but he says the nature of the experience is changing, with travellers showing up much earlier than before at airports and looking for enhanced luxury and amenities in their travels.
Travel agents similarly are reinventing themselves in the post-pandemic environment, Bélanger says, not least when it comes to finding new and creative ways to add value to their services.
To that end, he says, some agents buy Plaza Premium lounge passes and add them to packages as incentives, while others similarly sell or add the service (with a mark-up), not unlike they would with insurance and other package components.
In either case, he says, the company is eager to work with travel agents and offers passes in bulk or at discounted/negotiated rates.
“Travel agents are our best friends, they are our ambassadors,” he declares.
And there’s more: Plaza Premium also offers a bespoke Meet & Greet service, ALLWAYS. The end-to-end airport experience provides tailor-made airport services whether on arrival, departure or in transit, including baggage handling, lounge stays, immigration-designated channel, COVID-testing procedures, limousine transfer, buggy service, and even airport escorts.
The service is often used by high-end travellers, including celebrities travelling to the city for event like the Toronto International Film Festival, and corporately by companies like Rogers.
Taken together, Plaza Premium services are meant to help created a symbiotic relationship between travellers and the airport – and one that will help “demystify” the lounge experience as being only available to high-flyers and those with premium credit cards, says Bélanger.
A case in point, he observes, is that passengers could easily spend $50 on a meal “downstairs (in the airport)”. At the same time, unlimited, food and drinks, along with the incumbent “sanity” of the lounge, plus a whole lot more, can be had for the same cost “upstairs.”
Landmark Lounge is open daily from 15:00 – 23:00 daily. Walk-in entry is available for all travellers regardless of their airline provider or ticket class starting at $50 and via select credit cards or in advance via the Plaza Premium website or designated corporate partners, including the new Plaza Premium Lounge Pass Americas (Americas Pass). A mobile app and points program is also available.
Plaza Premium Group
During recent months, Plaza Premium Group has expanded its global footprint to over 250 locations across 30 countries and 70 international airports worldwide, by adding more than 47 locations to its network, including 24 lounges, two Aerotel hotels, two dining outlets, as well as Meet & Assist passenger services across six airport locations. Earlier this year, Plaza Premium Lounge at London Heathrow Airport T2 was crowned “World’s Best Independent Airport Lounge” for the fifth consecutive year at Skytrax’s World Airline Awards.
First published at Travel Industry Today