Scaling new heights and discovering One World in the Year of the Dragon

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There’s scale and then there’s dragon scale, Hennessy-style

Youre gonna need a bigger boat,” exclaims awestruck Chief Brody (played by Roy Scheider) in Steven Spielberg’s 1975 classic Jaws after he first encounters the great white shark that attacks beachgoers at a summer resort town.

Well travel retail might need a bigger term for pop-up (or perhaps simply a bigger terminal) following Maison Hennessy’s introduction of its stunningly impactful Year of the Dragon activation at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 in partnership with Changi Airport Group and Lotte Duty Free.

As we reported, the 70sq m sensory experience is Hennessy’s biggest-ever travel retail pop-up and one designed to usher in the Year of the Dragon with a splendidly compelling fusion of retailtainment and craftsmanship. And great Cognac.

I say ‘compelling’ from experience, having been immersed in the ‘Senses of Hennessy’ experience, claimed to be a first-of-its-kind at an airport. Senses, as in scenes, scents, sounds (music tracks). And, of course, taste.

The 360-degree sensorial journey engages guests through ravishing visuals, alluring aromas, and (courtesy of head phones) enveloping sound waves. Along the way, visitors discover their ‘perfect’ Hennessy match.

Visitors can pre-book a 15-minute guided tour of the pop-up, subject to availability, but courtesy of Moët Hennessy Travel Retail Asia Pacific Sales Director Nina Patricia Da Costa I was able to jump the queue and embark on my own beguiling journey, guided by the expert tutelage of Sales Ambassadors Ming and Chris.

Sales Ambassador Chris took me through the sensorial journey with superb knowledge, enthusiasm and humour
A great aerial view of the pop-up in the heart of Terminal 1 Departures. What a powerhouse showing by LVMH with three of the group’s most lustrous brands in shot (and Tiffany just out of it). Photo: Moët Hennessy
Duty free and luxury retail converge with the trademark Changi greenery and the lush carpet all adding to the elegant and serene ambience {Photo: Martin Moodie}

The resultant 15 minutes were every bit as educational and engaging as I had hoped. And a whole lot of fun. My selection of stops along the scene + scent + track highway led me to James Hennessy as my choice of the day, a fine Cognac positioned between V.S.O.P and X.O bearing the name of one of the most influential figures in Hennessy’s global success story.

I must say, the personality test worked very well, for like me, James was an ardent globetrotter, having led various trade expeditions to faraway destinations such as the US (1794), Russia (1819) and India (1819) to establish the brand there. And the Cognac itself? Lovely. A mouthful of silky apricot-led fruit flavours, smooth on the tongue, long and clean on the finish.

I tried it and Hennessy X.X.O with and without dark chocolate (a marriage made in my kind of heaven); sampled Hennessy V.S.O.P and James Hennessy in little molecular pearls (warning – make sure you have your mouth closed when you break the skin); and I even hung my own personal wish for the Year of the Dragon on the Hennessy Wishing Tree.

There’s a lot more to the experience, including a WeChat mini-program offering incentives, but with a plane to catch, I headed on my way, the long satisfying Hennessy aftertaste accompanying me all the way to Terminal 3.


The website that never sleeps (and its around-the-clock Blog companion) are in full swing as I get down to business within my Interim SQ896 Bureau en route from Singapore to Hong Kong.

Time to recap. What a week it has been. Three amazing cities and airports (Hong Kong, Melbourne and Singapore), two great airlines (Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines), a diverse duo of travel retailers (Lotte Duty Free and One World Duty Free), two brilliant agencies (Jo Traikos Promotions in Australia and the superbly named Oomph in Singapore) and many fine and interesting people along the way.

My last Blog detailed my sojourn down under to Melbourne Airport to experience Campari Global Travel Retail’s brilliant Aperol Spritz boutique and related Australia Open tennis partnership.

The link with Lotte Duty Free continued this week as the morning after my return to Hong Kong I flew to Singapore to attend the grand reopening of the Korean retailer’s Central Duplex wines, spirits & tobacco store at Changi Airport Terminal 3 and the formalisation of its now fully open 19-store operation at the Singapore gateway.

What a great occasion it was. One that perhaps marked Lotte Duty Free’s true coming of age as a world-class airport retailer outside its native land.

Pictured left to right celebrating the T3 store inauguration are (left to right) Korean singer and actor Lee Jun Ho, Lotte Duty Free CEO Kim Ju Nam, Changi Airport Group CEO Lee Seow Hiang and Singaporean actress Ya Hui {Photo: Martin Moodie}
Pictured left to right performing the traditional opening ceremony rites are Ya Hui; Changi Airport Group Executive Vice President, Commercial Lim Peck Hoon; Lotte Duty Free CEO Kim Ju Nam; Changi Airport Group CEO Lee Seow Hiang; and Lee Jun Ho {Photo: Lotte Duty Free}
A wave to guests from renowned Singaporea actress Ya Hui; below, Korean singer, model, actor and Lotte Duty Free face Lee Jun Ho adds his signature {Photos: Martin Moodie}

Actress Ya Hui enjoys a joke with Lotte Duty Free Singapore Managing Director Jeff Soongyu Jeong (left), who has done such an excellent job since assuming the role last year and (right) is snapped with a certain travel retail publisher
You won’t find any more expert guides on a store tour than Lotte Duty Free Singapore Head of Operations Casey Lim (pictured right)
I enjoyed the opportunity to have a good catch-up with an understandavbly delighted Lotte Duty Free CEO Kim Ju Nam, who is pictured below welcoming guests to the Gala Dinner held at Jewel

I had seen Lotte Travel Retail Oceania CEO Steve Timms (above centre) earlier in the week on his home turf at Melbourne Airport with the opening of the first-ever Aperol experiential shop-in-shop in the channel by Campari Group Global Travel Retail within the Lotte Duty Free Terminal 2 store. Like me he flew on to Singapore for the second big occasion. We are pictured above with Lotte Duty Free Executive Vice President, Head of TR Business Innovation Group Ahn Daehyun and below with Moët Hennessy Travel Retail Asia Pacific Sales Director Nina Patricia Da Costa. 

I first met Rémy Cointreau CEO Global Travel Retail Fida Bou Chabke at TFWA World Exhibition in Cannes last year. Great to get some quality time on such a grand occasion. The French group is more committed than ever to travel retail and it is showing in some great in-store innovations.
Lotte Duty Free are putting together a fine team at Changi Airport as trading conditions take a welcome turn for the better. I grabbed this happiest of selfies with Sashmitha Casandra Jaiseelan, a Customer Service Associate from Lotte Duty Free’s E-Commerce and her colleague Raja Shir Khan, Security & ESG (Compliance) Assistant Manager.

I also caught up with Keira Zhang, the dynamic young Singaporean businesswoman, who has just soft launched the One World Duty Free (ODF) store at Singapore Flyer, the city state’s fourth most-visited tourist attraction.

Entering another world, One World Duty Free
Singapore Flyer is 150 metres in diameter. Each of the 28 capsules is 4 metres x 7 metres – about the size of a city bus. Each capsule can carry up to 28 passengers. Note the proximity to Marina Bay Sands. {Photo: Singapore Flyer}

The just-opened second floor space spans 3,735sq ft, boasting what ODF calls “a pure retail concept, steering away from the traditional designs of travel retail stores”. The first floor will open in Q2 and I can promise you it will bring a new dimension to travel retail, in keeping with Keira’s retailing philosophy.

One World Duty Free offers a select curation of some of the world’s leading spirits brands such as Hennessy (note the Year of the Dragon edition, produced in partnership with acclaimed Chinese artist Yang Yongliang) and Kweichow Moutai. I am pictured here with Managing Director Beibei Tang and Marketing Director Gary Leong.

“Innovation is at the heart of everything that we do,” she says. “When I founded this company, I realised competing in a male-dominated industry meant that ODF had to be different. We went in with the goal to disrupt – and that means the entire concept is based on deviating from what others are doing.”

Watch this space. In fact, watch just about any space that One World Duty Free enters, including Port City Colombo in Sri Lanka, where the company will open a downtown store later this year (as will China Duty Free Group).

There ODF will develop and operate a 1,250sq m duty free store, offering a blend of international brands spanning beauty, wellness, spirits & wines and fashion. It will be located within the 7,000sq m Port City Duty Free Mall shopping complex, close to international prestige hotels and casinos and targeting a diverse and affluent customer base of tourists, expatriates and locals.

If you want a more immediate illustration of Keira’s commitment to quality, look no further than Scotts 35A, the prestigious private member’s club she runs in a magnificent colonial house in downtown Singapore. We dined there earlier in the week along with her high-quality senior management team.

Catching up with the ODF leadership at Scotts 35A. Pictured from right are Marketing Director Gary Leong; Founder & CEO Keira Zhang; Group Finance Director Cheryl Yeo; Managing Director Beibei Tang; Martin Moodie; and Lilith Yu, model, artist and wife of Gary Leong

Managing Director Beibei Zhang spent over 12 years with DFS Group and is a particular expert in travel sector marketing while Marketing Director Gary Leong drove beauty-tech brand Foreo’s extraordinary travel retail emergence over recent years. Retail Head  Zhang Teng Yu is another accomplished retail professional having spent over four years with DFS.

What an evening. As the photos reveal, delicious cuisine and great wine. Great as in Champagne Telmont Blanc de Blancs, Antinori Solaia 2017 (the jewel in the Italian house’s glittering crown) and Château Latour 1995. Oh yes, One World Duty Free is serious alright.

And what a week. Almost too many stories for a single post. Clearly a case of “You’re gonna need a bigger Blog.” ✈