Discovering the lure of luxury at Hong Kong Airport and with Le Clos at DXB

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

My view from room 629 at the Dubai Duty Free-owned Jumeirah Creekside Hotel has become a familiar one down the years. Beyond the non-stop rush of traffic below me, the glorious expanse of the Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club with its stunning Sydney Opera House-like clubhouse beckons like the sirens in Ulysses.

Like Homer’s hero, I’m better off resisting the temptation, for having played there on numerous occasions, I (or at least my golf ball) have indeed ended up on the treacherous rocks (as in the ones that run along the edge of the Dubai Creek) or my hopes of sporting glory sunk without trace in the shimmering blue waters beyond.

Indeed, today my business partner Dermot Davitt along with a host of industry executives of various levels of golfing talent is out on that very same course, completing the two-day Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup that started yesterday at the Emirates Golf Club Faldo Course.

Despite my almost definitive lack of golfing aptitude, it would be good to join them. Alas ‘the website that never sleeps’ has tightened its already insomniac grip on me of late and these are hours I cannot afford away from my Interim Bureau.

The Moodie Davitt Report chose ‘Straight and True’ as the tagline for our sponsorship of the golf carts on day one, the mantra being the antithesis of almost every golf shot I have played in my life. Dermot ‘Divot’, as he is known in these parts having won the event in 2013 – and having come tantalisingly close last year – is a completely different proposition, however, so don’t be surprised to see him making our own headlines by this evening.

A clear case of putting the cart before the course

This is my final trip of a hectic year, one that will have taken me through Hong Kong International, DXB, Bahrain International, Heathrow and Hamad International airports, all outstanding gateways at various points in their respective travel recoveries. Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has suffered more and for longer than the others but it is really bursting back into life now.

Since my last flight out of HKIA in late October, the Chanel, Hermès and Louis Vuitton boutiques have opened as has the outstanding Hennessy boutique by the main Duty Zero by cdf store, all welcome signs of an accelerating, though still fledgling, travel recovery. A big shout out to the lovely staff at Hermès and Louis Vuitton who showed me around.

The team at Hermès even presented with me two beautifully iced, horse-shaped Hermès cookies (a nod to the brand’s popular leather charms) in a resplendent orange gift bag as thanks for my interest. That’s what I call the human touch from a brand that is practically synonymous with it.

Alas with Chanel I wasn’t allowed to take pictures inside (I was told I would have to contact head office for approval –It’s a shop for goodness sake, not Fort Knox) but you can see from my exterior shots that it too is a very striking addition to HKIA’s luxury line-up.

It was wonderful to see the superb Hennessy boutique – to me, one of the finest attractions in the travel retail wines & spirits sector – open again at Duty Zero by cdf. Welcome back, you’ve been away too long.

Another great LVMH brand, hi-tech German luggage brand Rimowa, has also made a welcome return at Hong Kong International Airport
One of my favourite brands on the planet, Shanghai Tang, a boutique where I have shopped many times, now back in business after a two-year closure

After stopping (but not alighting from the plane) for a couple of hours at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok it was on to DXB (Dubai International). The Le Clos arrivals store enjoys a prime position slap bang in the arrivals zone (the respective Dubai Duty Free stores are less well-placed towards the far end of the area, left and right, just before passenger exit).

The Le Clos store features some outstanding wines & spirits, in keeping with the Maritime and Mercantile International-owned (MMI) company’s belief that these categories at their finest deserve the luxury tag every bit as much as high-end handbags or jewellery.

Le Clos opened in 2008 with the objective of setting a new benchmark in luxury wine and spirits retailing – including in the travel retail space – and it has certainly done that.  I spent some quality time with Wilfred and Anthony, two of the Le Clos frontline managers and was hugely impressed by their knowledge of products and consumer trends.

Anthony (centre) and Wilfred from Le Clos give me the benefit of their impressive knowledge of wines & spirits

Yesterday I visited the headquarters of MMI and sister company Emirates Leisure Retail to learn more about Le Clos and some of its forthcoming projects. I won’t give the game away now but I can promise you there is plenty to look out for. In time-honoured journalistic tradition, I say, watch this space.

At Maritime and Mercantile International (MMI) and Emirates Leisure Retail (ELR) headquarters with CEO Tyrone Reid (third from left) and senior executives (from left) Craig Duncan, Ed Cottrell, Manjot Riyiat and Mike Glen