Well if you ever plan to motor west
Just take my way, it’s the highway that’s the best
Get your kicks on Route 66 – Route 66, Bobby Troup
I’ve just opened my Interim Bureau at 32,991 feet, just north of Darbhanga, India. Housed I am happy to say, given that outside it’s -40 degrees below, in the cocoon-like safety of a Qatar Airways 777, some 3 hours 40 minutes out of Doha en route to Hong Kong.
It’s been a whistlestop visit to the Qatari capital and, of course, to Hamad International Airport. I flew in late Monday evening and departed in the wee small hours of Thursday.
I was there to report on the opening of Souq Al Matar, the latest in what has been an extraordinary stream of new projects courtesy of Qatar Duty Free and Hamad International Airport. You can read my extensive report via this linkbut I restate my view that this is arguably the most authentic realisation of the oft-cited, seldom delivered concept of Sense of Place in an airport worldwide.
More of that experience in a subsequent blog, almost certainly written at a similar altitude given that I’m flying back to the Middle East – Dubai for Dubai Duty Free’s 40th anniversary celebrations – next Monday and then onto London three days later.
It’s been a hectic old schedule for a hectic old travel retail publisher in recent weeks, and this trip wasn’t rendered easier by a bout of food poisoning just before boarding for Doha. Did I listen to one of the oldest basic pre-flying tips – i.e. do not eat shellfish before a flight? Did I heck. As fate would have it, I’m only really starting to come right, three hours out of Hong Kong.
I know I am starting to come right because as we’re flying over Mymensingh, Bangladesh, I’ve just asked a very knowledgeable member of the Qatar Airways staff for a glass of the 2012 Sarget de Gruad Larose (61% Cabernet Sauvignon, 29% Merlot with a prettifying dollop of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot making up the balance).
Sarget is the second wine of the great Bordeaux Château Gruaud Larose although ‘second wine’ seems verging on an insult given its thrillingly rich, berryish and almost chocolatety texture.
Given my travails over the past two days, my Sarget is accompanying a simple and safe toasted bagel with bacon and egg and right now it feels like a better combo than any three-star Michelin restaurant could ever propose.
This time last week I was just back from Kansai International Airport and its splendidly revamped Terminal 1 Airside Departures area, part of a hugely ambitous but equally complex development (reconstruction would be closer to the truth) of the airport.
As always, I was honoured to be guided through the project by those closest to it, in this case the Kansai Airports, Kansai Airports Retail & Services and Lagardère Travel Retail management. The main focus of my visit was the newly opened KIX Duty Free store, but I also got the chance both on a guided basis and as a freewheeling passenger to take in the extensive luxury, specialist retail and food & beverage offer.
Here are some of my favourite images. And yes, as always I supported our industry with a few purchases before my departure on December sixth. The KIX Duty Free range is expansive, the destination offer fantastic, and all at prices that appealed to my sense of thrift.