Finding a breath of fresh air in Budapest

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

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Excuse the gap between Blogs but being struck down with a chest infection while on the road is a pretty effective deterrent to creative inspiration.

All of us in this industry who travel a lot know that horrible feeling of being a long way from home when illness strikes and it’s certainly one that puts the so-called glamour of this lifestyle in perspective.

Never mind, I’m steadily getting back in shape, necessarily so as post quickfire trips to Budapest and Dubai I’m getting ready for an exciting return to Haiti (the subject of, I think, my favourite-ever Blogs back in 2010) next week.  More of that in coming days.

I have to say that Budapest Airport’s SkyCourt (above), opened in 2012 and linking terminals 2a and 2b, is one of the most impressive terminal and commercial developments I have seen in recent years (by the way,  when I arrived at the airport for my departure I had to check which terminal I was flying out of. “2b or not 2b? That is the question,” I said to myself. Ok then, I just made that story up but I’ve always wanted to quote Shakespeare in this Blog.)

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[With Budapest Airport Head of Marketing & Innovation Andrea Trencsén and Head of Retail & Advertising Patrick Bohl in the exciting SkyCourt]

When it opened, the 24,000sq m SkyCourt project increased the capacity of T2 from 5 million a year to 8.5 million passengers a year. And from the start, commercial activities were integral to the new facility, which initially featured some 39 units spread over 4,300sq m of retail and food & beverage space, roughly double that on offer previously.

It’s not just about space though, the focus here is very much on quality and diversity, as I discovered during a highly informative tour with Budapest Airport Head of Marketing & Innovation Andrea Trencsén and Head of Retail & Advertising Patrick Bohl before I flew back to London.

There’s a wonderful sense of space and (natural) light here, enhanced by the glass walls that front onto the apron, the high ceilings, and the broad walkways that allow easy access to seating, bars and retail.

You can read my full impressions, together with interviews with Chief Commercial Officer Kam Jandu and Heinemann Hungary Managing Director Fritz Janach soon online but let me give you a little taster of the airport’s impressive commercial offer via the pictures and comments below.

I love the walk-through Heinemann Duty Free shop, bright, varied, nicely balanced between international and local (with an outstanding representation of the latter), with a lovely sense of space and place (great focus on Hungarian products). First class. There’s also a nice mix of specialist stores from the upscale (Ralph Lauren, Montblanc and Hugo Boss) to better than average destination merchandise shops.

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The SSP-led food & beverage offer (mainly located on the mezzanine level) is very good indeed. Sorry, the picturea taken on the run below really don’t do it justice but the Food Court gets it just right. Upper Crust may be a ubiquitous brand but that’s probably explained by the fact that it’s a very good one. The food looks fresh, is fresh. Looks good, is good.

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I bought a couple of good Hungarian wines in the commendable Hungarigum fine wine & food store, served with great knowledge, speed (I was headed for my gate) and pleasantness by Zoltan Gycrki (pictured below). He pointed me to a great Royal Tokaji Aszu 5 puttonyos and an excellent bone-dry Riesling that didn’t last beyond my dinner that evening.

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Kam Jandu and his team have been responsible for some of the industry’s best Trinity promotions (pictured below) of recent years – true tri-partite partnerships, for once led by the airport. This is no passive landlord but an airport company that believes if its partners win, it wins. Look out for my feature, coming soon. You’ll find it, like Terminal 2b, a breath of fresh air.

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