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Diagoras, a 5th century BC poet and sophist, was also a famed Greek atheist. But the airport that bears his name, Rhodes International Diagoras, shows no lack of belief when it comes to retail, while the outstanding way it has championed local products might even have inspired him to pen a verse or two.

In a recent Blog, I praised Hellenic Duty Free’s (Dufry) offer at Athens International and it’s good to see the retailer also providing a quality shopping offer here at a much smaller airport.

The store is big, bright and inviting; the balance between international and Greek products (including a mightily  impressive focus on items from Rhodes) just right. There’s plenty of promotional activity and the staff go the extra mile – one brought me over a shopping basket when they saw me laden down with Greek products (below), while a delightfully engaging sales assistant called Chrisi (pictured below) did a brilliant job in explaining the main promotion on offer, offering me a discount brochure on fragrances post my original purchase and encouraging me to fill in a customer feedback form.

Here’s one company (and its team) doing its/their very best to revitalise the stricken Greek economy by emphasising Greek products and Greek virtues. Sophist teachers used philosophy and rhetoric to teach arete (excellence). The teacher whose name the airport bears would be proud of these students. There’s examples of arete everywhere.

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 [Below: The strong local offer is complimented by a well-ranged international offer, including Victoria's Secret and a good beauty, confectionery, spirits and tobacco offer]

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[FID screens in-store: A key customer assurance, so often overlooked in travel retail]

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Greetings from The Moodie Report’s interim Greek bureau. Actually make that bureaux, as I have been island hopping from Rhodes to Halki (or Chalki, pictured above) to Symi and back to Rhodes over the past 10 days. And actually, also put a question mark after the ‘interim’ as this country is so warm, welcoming and… heck, simply wonderful that I may just weigh my corporate anchor and stay put.

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Greece is a land of myths but the most recent ones are more lie than legend. Hundreds of thousands of tourists cancelled their visits here this Summer due to negative and often inaccurate stories in the European press about the impact of the Greek financial and political crisis.

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Myth upon myth upon myth. The country is safe. The banks are open. You can use credit cards. The sun is still shining. The sea is as always sensational. The people are even warmer than the weather. Those who cancelled their trips missed out on all this and simply piled more economic pain on those least to blame, the ordinary working people of Greece.

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The Aegean Islands, where I have been staying, are just part of Greece’s incredibly rich tapestry, one that has been woven over centuries. They and their charms are timeless. Over the past 10 days I have spoken to many ordinary Greek people (though each of them is extraordinary in his or her own way). Most feel powerless, mere pawns on the great European chessboard. All are worried for their country, all still love it. All believe that better days will come but do not know when.

So to hear, as I did last week, that a group of French tourists refused to pay to enter an archaeological site in Lindos because they they were allegedly already paying to bail out Greece made my blood boil. Such attitudes are linked to another myth. You know the one, perpetuated in German, English and French newspapers in particular. The one about Greek people wasting money and not working hard. Let me dispel that one too; people here are working harder than ever, for less reward than ever.

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Tell that myth to my friend and colleague Colleen Morgan and her family. Daughter Loukia (Lucy) – the heroine of Colleen’s book ‘Throw me a Smile’, about Lucy’s childhood battle with cancer – landed a job with a tour company several weeks back but is only just now being paid due to the cash crisis. Colleen’s husband Mario gets up in the wee small hours six days a week and works well into the afternoons. Besides her role with The Moodie Report, Colleen also works as a rep for a holiday, handling excursion bookings and tourist complaints in equal measure over long, hard days. Her three boys work equally hard. Jobs are scarce here; the pay poor. But there’s no shortage of work ethic.

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Tell that myth to the Moraris family who run the lovely Odyssia apartments and restaurant (http://www.symi-odyssia.gr/) in Symi, where I stayed last week. Located in Harani, an idyllic, tranquil spot just a few minutes’ walk from the bustle of Symi’s main port, Odyssia is simply sublime, sublimely simple. If you visit Symi (and everyone should visit Symi before they die) stay at Odyssia; you won’t find better. But while guests like me simply sit back and marvel at the quality and freshness of the food and sit entranced by a view that threatens to take one’s breath away, the Moraris family are working from early morning till well beyond midnight, every night, doing their best (which is very good indeed) in a season that has been blighted by the stay-away Europeans and the steep downturn in Russian visitors.

Katholiki (pictured below with me and Agora Trading’s Panagiotis Madamopoulos-Moraris) is just 18. About the same number as the many hours she works each day. From morning till the late, late hours, she does her utmost to ensure the success of her family business and the satisfaction of their customers. When Katholiki says “You’re welcome” (and she does all the time) you know she means it. Despite the economic chills. The welcome of Greece to its tourists is warmer than ever. And that’s no myth.

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[Left to right: Katholiki Moraris, Manolis Moraris, Panagiotis Madamopoulos-Moraris, myself and Anna Moraris]

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[Enough from my interim Rhodes bureau. It's time for another kind of Greek myth - a Mythos.]

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["I wonder what's on the menu?" - Nanou beach, Symi]

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["Goat Symis... wait a minute... that's Symi goat!!! I'm on the menu!!!"]

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["Tell them the goat's off... off to the beach]

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[Nanou beach, Symi]

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[The world's most picturesque setting for a duty free shop? Hellenic Duty Free Shops, Symi.]

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[Above and below: The exquisite beauty of Symi]

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[Below: The charms, heritage and colours of Rhodes]

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[Below: Finding heaven in Halki]

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Premium Food Gate: The clunky name doesn’t give much away but that makes a visit to this superb destination store at Warsaw Chopin Airport all the more surprising.

I was in Poland last week for the unveiling of Lagardère Travel Retail’s new commercial operations – straddling duty free & luxury, news & convenience (which the company calls travel essentials) and food & drinks. And one of the undoubted highlights was this first-of-its-kind gourmet destination store at the heart of the airside arena. It houses the wares of 65 independent Polish producers, many of them small independents that would otherwise have no route to a wider international (or even national) audience.

The offer includes some beautifully smoked cheeses and meats, available from the front-of-house deli counter that is staffed by a hugely knowledgeable team; preserves that melt in your mouth and mustards and pickles that encapsulate Polish flavour at its best.

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There are Wedel artisanal chocolates from a brand that may be little known outside its home country but that deserves greater recognition; and surprise best-sellers in the Polish wine range.

This is a terrific upscale store that showcases the best of Poland to a tee, with some lovely design touches and talking points, not least the installation of an iconic Syrena R-20 car from the Soviet era, renovated for this location, which attracted regular impromptu photo shoots and selfies from passers-by.

There’s a lot more besides in the Lagardère Travel Retail offer: we liked the Chopin and Zubrowka themed vodka offers in the main liquor store, the vast Polish vodka wall, the classy P&C store, the debut of a new Samsung concept, plus many of the new dining concepts operated by the Paris-based travel retailer. But Premium Food Gate, serving a category that is too often represented without enthusiasm or commitment at airports, will live long in the memory – we look forward to its roll-out to new locations across the network.

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Meet Sandy. She works for Blackjack promotions (and Diageo) at World Duty Free Group’s London Gatwick Airport North Terminal store.

Sandy knows more about malt whisky than just about anyone I know. And I know quite a lot about malt whisky.

En route to Rhodes, Greece, I wanted to buy a nice bottle of Scotch for my Kiwi host, friend and Moodie Report colleague Colleen Morgan. I asked Sandy if World Duty Free Group sold Diageo’s Cragganmore, my favourite Speyside malt.

“Ah no,” she said. “We haven’t sold Cragganmore here for a long time. It was part of the original Classic Malts Collection, you know.”

I did know. Which aged me, way more in fact than the age statement that Cragganmore’s usual age statement (12 years old, I think).  Sandy then went on to describe Cragganmore’s virtues and taste characteristics and recommended some interesting alternatives, The Singleton included – which she invited me to taste. I did, of course.

“Would you like some angel’s tears to open it up a little bit, some water?” she asked. As I say, Sandy knows her stuff.

Sandy had no idea who I was, just another slightly naïve consumer trying to buy the right whisky, I suppose. But my god she did a good job of ensuring I didn’t leave without buying an alternative. She was personable but never pushy; helpful not hustling; informed rather than irritating.

In the end I opted for something a little different, the fuller, sweeter, exquisitely rounded Jura Turas-Mara travel retail exclusive, which was also on tasting (and there, readers, is classic evidence of the difference that sampling can make).

Sandy and I talked some more. She told me about the single malt boom of the past decade, of how the category had reached way beyond its traditional male middle-aged and over audience, of how the tricky economics of laying down sufficient stock to meet future demand was a key challenge to the Scotch whisky industry. She talked me through a few more malts before I made my choice, which rightly she did not try to talk me out of despite it being a non-Diageo brand [in fact she complimented me on it]. Wow. Sandy we should bottle your spirit like a 12yo Cragganmore and serve you in tiny drams to every one of Gatwick’s travelling consumers.

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I duly paid for my Turas-Mara (along with a couple of bottles of Cloudy Bay and Matua Lands & Legends Sauvignon Blanc from my homeland) and headed for the best stress-busting cure in travel retail – Caviar House & Prunier. I have said this before, but Caviar House & Prunier is a role model for an airport restaurant (apart from the lack of phone chargers…). It is an oasis of calm among the clamour; a reminder that travel can be pleasurable, even glamorous; a place where people indulge themselves and each other, eat, drink and hey, even talk and smile (maybe there’s logic in the lack of phone chargers after all). A humanising antidote to the widespread dumbing down of the travel experience.

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I ordered 6 oysters from a charming young man called Peter (or Piotr, I’m not sure). “I must warn you these are very milky oysters,” he pointed out helpfully. I pondered my choice for a moment (like many people I’m not a big fan of the plumper, creamier style of oyster) but ordered them anyway with a glass of chilled, flinty Chablis to wash them down.  A side plate of delectable marinated herring and all was right in my world. Almost. As it happened the oysters were not to my taste. No problem, said Peter, who kindly didn’t charge me for those I hadn’t touched. Small gestures like that will bring you back time and again.

Having, untypically, arrived at the airport four hours early (I had confused my return flight timings with those of my outbound – these things happen to me with increasing frequency these days; it is a miracle of our times that I generally manage to spend most of my time flying around the world without ending up on Pluto) there was ample time to set up an interim Moodie Report Caviar House bureau, from which I penned this Blog [penned but did not file until a day later though, thanks to the frustrations of Gatwick's Boingo wifi system, which should be renamed Bongo as it's about as endearing as loud drum music from your neighbour's party in the middle of the night while you're trying to sleep].

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Alas, with me there is always a postscript, usually involving lost possessions, and true to form my trusty Blackberry (pictured while still in active service) is probably still sitting there along with my sunglasses by the £10 Caviar Shots pictured below (what a brilliant idea by the way. If you want to know more, watch this short You Tube clip – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYJawpoywec)

If you’re reading this Peter, please hold on to them for me. The Blackberry and Sunglasses, not the Caviar Shots. Though I’ll be back for them too.

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One Response to “How Sandy hits the top notes but Boingo drives me Bongo”

  1. Rohini Sharma says:

    Thanks for this brilliant piece Martin. Its insightful and forces one to think how petty and mean we can be in times when we are on the stronger side.
    Its important to be kind and compassionate in times when the desire to be right is stronger..

    I hope to visit Greece sometime really soon !

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I am tired of hearing negative things about Greece. I am tired of reading inaccurate and negative headlines in the British press that are deterring tourists in their tens of thousands each week from visiting the country – thus piling more agony on those that suffer most during an economic calamity of this nature, the people.

Having spent an amazing couple of days in Athens last weekend, I am bound for the country once more this weekend, to Rhodes (home of my Kiwi and Moodie Report colleague Colleen Morgan and her family), Halki and Symi – Paradise islands all. This time it’s holiday, not (pleasant) work, though I suspect an interim Moodie Report bureau or two will open (early mornings at least) overlooking the clear blue waters of the Aegean.

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So to continue in my positive Greek spirit, I must compliment Athens International Airport and its commercial partners, particularly Hellenic Duty Free Shops (Dufry) for the breadth and vibrancy of the redeveloped offer there. Dufry is simply in world-class form here, a really great example to the rest of the global giant’s portfolio. There’s a superb Greek gourmet offer (right up there with the best in the business); an excellent combination of traditional duty free shopping (Greek and international brands nicely balanced) and specialist stores (Victoria’s Secret courtesy of Agora Trading a stand-out); and a very good mix of food & drinks outlets.

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I’ll let the pictures tell the story (sorry the iPhone 5 doesn’t have the best camera) but I only wish that more travelers would let their own eyes do the telling this summer.

One man who does is Daniel Swarovski Corp Vice President Travel Retail Peter Zottl, who has just returned from a visit to Athens International Airport where the company recently opened an excellent Swarovski shop-in-shop in the impressive Extra Schengen area.

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After reading my Blog, Peter wrote to me: “The Olive Tree [pictured below] at Dufry’s great Greek gourmet shop is the right & fitting symbol for the Greek people’s resilience and sturdiness! They will never give in!”

Indeed they won’t. Perhaps it’s time for Europe, and certainly its outbound tourists, to hand an olive branch back to Greece.

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[Now that's what I call the spirit of the Greek people]

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One Response to “Hellenic Duty Free and Athens Airport show the true Greek spirit”

  1. Joanna Kufedjian says:

    Dear Martin,

    Great article, have to say I agree with you about Dufry and all the great new shops they have! I visited them all when I was there in March and was pretty impressed.
    I wish you have a wonderful holiday, as always :-)

    Enjoy
    Joanna

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This is the only kind of Greek exit I want to see this Summer. I’m in Athens for a fleeting weekend visit and getting a taste, literal and metaphorical, of what this wonderful country has to offer.

Alas some 800,000 or so tourists this year won’t get to share the same experience. That’s the ballpark number I was told over dinner last night who have cancelled their holidays to Greece in recent weeks, thus inflicting more economic pain on a country whose people, I suggest, have suffered enough.

I remember talking to Dufry CEO Julián Díaz a few years ago after his company had bought Greek travel retailer Hellenic Duty Free Shops. The economic situation was bad at the time and I asked him if he was worried. His answer was sanguine – Greece’s attractions, historical, cultural and natural would always be here he said. There would always be warm sunshine, great food, magnificent beaches and islands and, not least, the warm-spirited Greek people.

Nothing has changed since then except the depth of Greece’s economic woes. But abandoning it as a tourist destination on the basis of often sensationalist and frequently inaccurate media headlines is in my view at best short-sighted and at worst callous.

Next weekend I will return to Greece, this time not on a weekend business trip but on my annual holiday. I will stay on Rhodes, Halki and the incomparable Symi and bask in the beautiful simplicity of it all. I refuse to even countenance a change of destination and I suggest more people do the same, helping this country’s people get back on their feet.

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Dinner by the sea in Athens with Adil Raihani of Vienna Airport; Elena and Angie Galifa, bloggers extraordinaire (www.coolurstyle.com), plus Agora Trading’s Pantelis Velentzas and Panagiotis Madamopoulos-Moraris.

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One Response to “Why cancelling your holiday is the wrong kind of Greek exit”

  1. peter zottl says:

    Jassu Martin

    What a great blog :-)

    Like yourself was in Greece last week, saw Dufry’s great Swarovski shop-in-shop in Spata Extra Schengen, exclusively published in The Moodie Report (thank you!); enjoying the best of our great partners’ hospitality on the sea-side (efcharisto poli, Maro and Manos).

    The Olive Tree at Dufry’s great Greek gourmet shop is the right & fitting symbol for the Greek people’s resilience and sturdiness! They will never give in!

    Peter

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Colm hats 2

Not quite the Mad Hatters’ Ball but certainly a case of two men doing the milliner’s craft proud…

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Mine is a Fedora, courtesy of the world’s greatest Millinery shop, Le Monde on Wilton Road near Victoria Station; that worn by the equally stylish man with me is courtesy of Rolex, one of the lead sponsors (and official timekeeper) of the Wimbledon Tennis Championship and our gracious hosts at the tournament yesterday.

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The photos above are courtesy of Jessica Gell, a charming young woman who was on gate duty at Wimbledon yesterday and who told us she was an art’s student with a major interest in photography (sadly, Wimbledon rules decreed that we could not take a photo of her).

She also told us that seldom had she had two such handsome subjects to photograph. Ok I made that bit up…

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[I asked for a Moodie's but alas they gave me a Frontier... Photo: C McLoughlin]

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[Hats off to Andy Murray for making the semi-finals]

Colm and I have hat history of course. On this very Blog four years ago, I featured a hatful of images showing some of Le Monde’s finest headgear, as modelled, by Colm, his wife Breeda and yours truly. I still have the Lugh (top centre) and the Trilby but alas the feathered Fedora has long flown.

Has there ever been a millinery shop in airport retail? Not that I remember. But if any airport is thinking of opening one, I know just the retailer…

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[The one and only Colm McLoughlin with the one and only £7.50 Lugh]

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The Moodie Report has long championed airports that promote local, regional or national culture, crafts, cuisine, heritage and history – the all-important Sense of Place concept that we have dedicated so much space to over the past 13 years. But I doubt I have ever seen anything as impressive as a new initiative from Hong Kong International Airport.

This month the airport is celebrating its 17th anniversary in sumptuous style with its first-ever art and culture exhibition and performances.

This enthralling, multi-faceted cultural feast got off to a magnificent start this week with the unveiling of an installation (pictured below) called Ten Thousand Galloping Horses, United with One.

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Commissioned by Xu Beihong Arts Committee, the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups organised this project based on the theme of Master Xu’s iconic image of the galloping horse. The adapted installation is based on Xu’s famous Six Galloping Horses painting, and is decorated with elements designed by locally renowned artists and celebrities (including Airport Authority Hong Kong CEO Fred Lam). If you’re either based in or are travelling through Hong Kong International Airport, I urge you to take a look (Coach Hall, Level 3, T2); it’s on display until 19 July and then again from 7 August until 30 September.

And there’s so much more to the exhibition. Internationally renowned artist Dr Dominic Lam Man-kit is taking airport users on  a ‘Voyage of Discovery’. He invented the ‘Chromoskedasic’, which results in coloured images being produced using only black and white photographic papers and solutions. The exhibition showcases his 20 works, including This Land is Our Land which was on display at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, as well as the US$1 million masterpiece Voyage of Discovery.

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It’s not just static displays either. Starting today, in collaboration with the Hong Kong Piano Music Association, there are six consecutive days of concerts of classical and jazz music performed by well-received local musicians – surely the world’s first-ever Airport Proms?

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On a less classical note (literally), there’s also a focus on Cantopop , featuring the music of acclaimed songwriter Michael Lai, who has composed numerous theme songs for television dramas and movies, many of which are all-time favourites in Hong Kong.

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Lai also composed songs for singers such as Anita Mui and Leslie Cheung, which propelled them to their peak of success as Cantopop icons. His songs will be broadcast in T1, creating a unique Hong Kong-style ambience for airport users.

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‘Two Studio’ (above and below) sees a collaboration by the Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Professional Photographer’s Network. In what sounds an incredible alliance, 18 professional photographers cross-over with 20 emerging Cantonese opera actors to produce 40 magnificent images that capture the essence of traditional Chinese theatrical arts through the lens of contemporary photographers.

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Earlier in 2015, Airport Authority staff created the remarkable Above The Clouds (below), made out of more than 10,000 food cans. Resembling the popular tourist attraction Tian Tan Buddha, this exquisite example of creativity won two awards in the wonderfully named Canstruction Hong Kong 2015 competition. The charity event aimed to promote food donations to tackle world hunger and raise public awareness of the issue. From July to September, this magnificent piece will be recreated for display at Hong Kong International Airport.

Bravo to Hong Kong International Airport management for daring to embrace the concept of an airport as a giant artistic tapestry onto which a thrilling Sense of Place can be woven.

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The Queen’s Terminal (T2) at Heathrow Airport may be very close to being my favourite airport. The more I use this magnificent new facility the more I like it.

Over recent days I have flown out of there (en route to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby near Dublin) and on another occasion dropped someone off, noting on both occasions the excellent way-finding, the efficient security, the great panoramas and the top-class food & drinks offer.

Leon (pictured above and below) is just excellent. I love in particular the giant Leon World Food Map; the well-placed FID screen; the phone/tablet docking stations; the colour and buzz of the whole place; and, most of all, The Drawer of Wishes.

Diners can write down their wish, together with contact details, and pop it into one of the drawers. Alternatively, they can tweet the wish. Every now and again, Leon makes some of these wishes come true. I asked that the All Blacks win this year’s Rugby World Cup and I am confident that Leon will deliver on my wish.

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I also like the landside Caffè Nero a lot – surely as good a coffee outlet as you’ll see in the airport world? It even has a florist at the front, perfect for an Arrivals hall.

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Then there’s EAT. As someone who, for medical reasons, has to eat small portions, I bemoan the super-sized nature of most grab ‘n’ go options. At EAT you can have a deliciously fresh half-sized baguette as well as a wide range of fruit pots and other healthy snacks.

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There’s more, much more. Caviar House & Prunier is a perennial personal favourite, and I like the look of the attractive La Salle (I have yet to try its offer but from the outside it certainly appears enticing). A very, very good food & drinks proposition (by the way we have dropped the tag ‘food & beverage’ – what consumer ever talks about ‘beverage’?).

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Enough about food & drinks. To my recent list of top shop windows in airport retail I’m going to bend the rules a bit and add Pink (it’s an entrance not a store window) just because it’s just so Brit chic. Every time I pass by this shop I want to buy the entire contents.

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The main WHSmith store is impressively open and expansive (not always a characteristic of some of its shops) but I do wonder about its Self-Service stations elsewhere (below) which seem to cause more delays than they solve – and actually drive some shoppers into  apoplexy.

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And one last talking point. In the Queen’s Terminal you have to have a Queen’s Trolley right? Well I found just the thing…

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I can just see Her Majesty wheeling her bag and duty free goodies through the terminal as she returns from a visit to the colonies. Truly a trolley, a touch, and a terminal, fit for a Queen.

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moodietipster1

It’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby day and I’m up with the finches and robins this morning to fly to Ireland to attend one of travel retail’s great social and sporting events.

On the eve of this year’s big race, the great sporting festival (Dubai Duty Free sponsors three days of racing and a charity dinner) has been boosted by the travel retailer’s decision to extend its sponsorship “until at least 2017″.

Dubai Duty Free Executive Vice-Chairman Colm McLoughlin (pictured centre below) said: “We have been working together with the Curragh racecourse to create a festival that incorporates premier racing, fashion, food and fun. Over the years we have added more ancillary activities both on and off the track.

“This year we worked with the communities in Newbridge and Kildare Town to have more activities off the track in a bid to create a sense of festival in the surrounding areas. We are delighted to be the title sponsor of the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.”

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Great news and all part of a commitment to community, sports, art, Ireland and the UAE that sets Dubai Duty Free apart as a leader in our industry.

Now, as usual, I am bringing The Moodie Report’s anonymous tipster with me, to help racegoers and online viewers alike sort out the likely (or unlikely) winner of this year’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby. His (it appears to be a him, wouldn’t you say?) track record is pretty impressive though he says so himself.

However, there has been the odd disaster along the way, notably in 2012 when I was forced to sack him… sorry, he decided to pursue other challenges… after recommending that readers avoid the red-hot 1/5 favourite and wonder horse Camelot because of a squilimetre of rain that had fallen the night before and instead back noted mudlark Light Heavy (pictured below in its new career as a shire horse).

“Put your mortgage on it,” urged the Tipster. Apparently more than one reader did and the Tipster was forced into hiding for three years under a hay bale in a barn just outside Wicklow.

Light heavy

Today though, in honour of Dubai Duty Free’s decision to extend its sponsorship, we are matching fire with fire and extending The Moodie Tipster’s contract (though possibly not his life) and bringing him back “until at least Saturday evening”.

With our standard statutory guidance that the value of your investment may (and probably will) go down as well as up, here is how The Moodie Tipster sees today’s prospects.

moodietipster1

Of the eight runners, the perennially successful trainer of winners in this race Aidan O’Brien has four of them. That’s half the field according to The Moodie Tipster’s finely tuned mathematical analysis and each one of them is as big a danger in this race as Light Heavy is to the shire mares in its Kildare paddock.

O’Brien declared the track at the Curragh in “beautiful condition”, but only one owner, trainer and jockey (and maybe a certain Tipster) will be saying that come Saturday evening. So here we go:

Jack Hobbs: Runner up in the Investec (English) Derby and thus hotter than a Russell Hobbs (no relation) kettle at boiling point. Actually you’d need a boil over for the favourite to be beaten – he’s going out at 4/5, which means if you bet €400 million and Jack Hobbs wins, then you’ve just made €100 million. This is a superb investment strategy which could transform the fortunes of the travel retail industry if followed. However, there is a slight snag. If Jack Hobbs loses, then it will be like having two Gulf wars, SARS, MERS, the volcano ash cloud crisis, the Asian financial crisis and the Great Depression all occurring on the same day of trading. And believe me, there will be a snag…

Highland Reel: This appears to be O’Brien’s best hope of maintaining his remarkable success record, having run a great race to be second in the French Derby and having top jockey Ryan Moore onboard. Currently 4/1 but the odds are set to be shortening. So will Jack Hobbs’ legs have to be though for this 3yo bay colt to win. Back this one and you’ll be settling for a Highland malt to drown a Reel disaster.

Qualify: O’Brien’s most intriguing runner, a shock 50/1 winner of the Oaks at Epsom and ridden by none other than Colm McLoughlin! Sorry, I misread the race guide, make that Colm O’Donoghue. But that’s close enough for me and listen to the words of O’Brien:Qualify is the interesting one. Colm gave her a lovely ride in the Oaks, and the last furlong she came home very strong. The Curragh will suit her.” It will indeed. I can see The Moodie Report headlines now: “Colm rides winner of Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby!” You read it here first.

Giovanni Canaletto: Sounds like a brand of Italian ice cream and almost certainly likely to melt in the heat of the long Curragh finishing straight. Despite O’Brien’s influence, save your money and go buy a Cornetto instead.

Kilimanjaro: The last of O’Brien’s quartet and that’s exactly where he will finish. You can dismiss O’Brien’s comment “I think a small field will suit him better” – that just means he’ll be beaten by fewer than usual. By all means put your money on him becoming the first horse to scale the famous Tanzanian mountain of the same name but save your investment here.

Radanpour: Interesting. But so was Solzhenitsyn and the great Russian author’s chances are probably better than the so-far unbeaten colt’s chances today. Radanpour has a high-quality trainer in Dermot Weld but it might as well be Dermot Davitt for all the hope he has today. He gained his entry by winning the King George V Cup at Leopardstown earlier this month, no mean feat. But Jack Hobbs’ are no mean feet either and Radanpour’s simply won’t be quick enough, especially as he loves soft ground. With the weather looking good, it’s a case of when it (doesn’t) rain it Radanpours.

Storm The Stars: Third favourite at around 8-1, the Investec Derby third-placed runner won’t be storming anything today except the horse cart to take it home. Its trainer is a certain William Haggas and while there’s no connection to the like-named Scottish savoury pudding, the latter has all the heart and lungs you need. Storm the Stars doesn’t. I worry about William Haggas’ quote too – “The horse is very well and we came to the conclusion if we didn’t run he couldn’t win.” Mmmm… Mr Haggas clearly has a very sharp brain. But we’ve come to the conclusion that even if Storm The Stars does run assisted by Lewis Hamilton towing him behind his Formula 1 Mercedes, he couldn’t win.

Carbon Dating: Now you would need to use carbon dating to find any trace of form in this 3yo Irish colt’s background. But at 100/1 this long shot represents an interesting, albeit high-risk betting opportunity.

Let’s take that €400 million that you’ve decided not to put on Jack Hobbs after all and place it on the 3yo Irish colt instead. Let’s just say that there is a terrible pile-up mid-way through the race after Jack Hobbs takes fright at the fact that the rest of the field are a lap behind and turns back to join his mates. Let’s just say that Qualify then spots a beautiful brood mare in season in a nearby field, jumps the fence and has his wicked way. Let’s just say that all the other jockeys are banned after getting off their horses, pitching their tents and boiling up some tea while waiting for Carbon Dating to catch up. Let’s just say, ok? Then you have just made €40,000,000,000! You are a trillionaire! And all down to me. So you will share it won’t you?

The Moodie Tipster’s Prediction:

  1. Qualify (Ireland)*
  2. Jack Hobbs (England)*

* Qualify and Jack Hobbs will actually dead heat but Qualify wins in a penalty shoot-out as everyone knows the English can’t play football.

3. Carbon Dating (because at 100 to one if you bet your €400 million on a place, and he runs third, you’ll still get €4 trillion).

Postscript: Despite The Moodie Tipster’s defence that he had picked Jack Hobbs as “the joint winner”,  he is once again pursuing other opportunities after the abject failure of his main tip, Qualify, in Saturday’s big race. Jack Hobbs thrashed his seven rivals, winning by a record-winning five lengths from Storm the Stars, Giovanni Canaletto and Kilimanjaro. Qualify only beat two home, the hapless Carbon Dating and the out of sorts Radanpour.

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