Latest posts by Martin Moodie (see all)
- Splendid isolation in Bangkok - December 5, 2022
- Why the Wai beats the handshake every time in the COVID era - December 1, 2022
- Discovering the lure of luxury at Hong Kong Airport and with Le Clos at DXB - November 25, 2022
Didn’t I come to bring you a sense of wonder?
Didn’t I come to lift your fiery vision bright?
Didn’t I come to bring you a sense of wonder in the flame?
– Sense of Wonder, Van Morrison
The weather has turned cooler in Hong Kong during my two-week sojourn abroad in Singapore and Doha. It’s a mild 26°C in Discovery Bay (above) and lovely with it, just as it is lovely to be home after a momentous fortnight spent at The Trinity Forum and then at the inauguration of the Expansion at Hamad International Airport.
Being back home means seven days worth of rapid antigent tests (RAT) and three polymerase chain reaction (PCR) versions but I am not complaining given that I thankfully no longer need to hotel quarantine.
For once I didn’t take much advantage of the impeccable service onboard Qatar Airways when I flew home in the early hours of Friday morning. In fact it was lights out almost from take-off until landing for the creator of the website that never sleeps.
My tiredness was perhaps to be expected given that I had only arrived in Doha on Wednesday afternoon from Singapore. Waking up in the night at the splendid, newly-opened Oryx Garden Hotel right next to the Expansion, I glanced at my watch and saw it was 8.15am. The media conference was set to start at 9am. Time to get moving. Alas it wasn’t until I had showered, shaved and got suited that I realised I hadn’t changed the time on my watch. I had in fact woken at 3.15am. Anyone who has done something similar will know how hard it is to then go back to sleep. And no, I didn’t.
Any weariness soon dissipated, however, once I walked the much-anticipated Expansion at Hamad International Airport. There is sometimes too much hyperbole in our industry but this development fully deserves all the superlatives that have been thrown at it by me and others.
The images below (and in our full report) capture just some of what amounts to a feast of the senses, packed with vast internal panoramas, the magical allure of an indoor tropical gardens, expansive walkways along the luxury-lined shopping avenues (and among the trees), a thrilling fusion of shopping and dining, and much more.
The magnificent Expansion features more than 90 brands in one vast shopping area, a world-class art collection, a refreshing environment with lush greenery, and a 10,000sq m indoor tropical garden called The Orchard with a 268-sqm water feature – designed to be a focal point for all travellers.
The Orchard’s extensive flora includes over 300 trees and more than 25,000 plants and shrubs sourced from sustainable forests around the world, including Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. The commercial offer boasts 65 stores and 35 food & beverage outlets, with some operations such as Fendi and Ralph Lauren featuring airport world-first mixes of both.
But such statistics tell only a tiny part of the tale. You have to see The Orchard from above, walk through it below, stop and listen to the sound of the water feature, the recorded bird song and the quiet hum of conversation all around you, punctuated as it is with expressions of wonder.
For that is what Hamad International Airport, Qatar Airways and Qatar Duty Free have truly curated (or should that be Q-rated?) here, a Sense of Wonder.