Spell it backwards or forwards, wow is wow

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

I’m back on the road again, this time to Macau for DFS Masters of Time, then by road bridge to Hong Kong International Airport and onto Kansai International Airport for the opening of KIX Duty Free in Terminal 1.

I wonder if I can convince Steve Coogan and/or Rob Brydon to join me because my life at present sure feels like an episode from their smash hit travel/comedy/dining television series and film ‘The Trip’.

What was originally planned as a one-off (around northern England), turned into a four-part series (The Trip to Italy, The Trip to Spain and The Trip to Greece). And while Coogan and Brydon have vowed they will make no more episodes, I would love them to join me on The Trip through Travel Retail.

For now though I will just have to travel solo. And while my edition might not have the humour – nor, certainly, the brilliant impersonations – of the original, I reckon it has a pretty enthralling narrative all the same.

As mentioned in my most recent Blog, last week took me through Hong Kong International (HKIA), Singapore Changi Terminal 2 (and 4 on the return leg) and Abu Dhabi International’s new Terminal A, plus a couple of days in Dubai at (but not playing in) the 30th Dubai Duty Free Golf World Cup. I’ve reported on my experience of HKIA already and so this time I am focusing on Changi and Abu Dhabi International with more on each location to follow.

Spell it frontwards or backwards but wow is wow. And both these airports prompt that interjection time and again. I learn more in a single airport or store walk with a commercial director, a retailer or a food & beverage operator than I could learn in weeks of sitting in my office and reporting from afar and these encounters both proved prime examples.

You have to see airports, breathe airports, walk airports to be able to talk airports. It helps that I love them as places, as human crossroads, as often magnificent architectural wonders and superb commercial emporiums.

I am often asked to state my favourite airport, a selection I find invidious as the best of the best offer very different attributes. But certainly Abu Dhabi International, Changi and Hong Kong International are high on my list.

This week we reported that Manchester Airport’s revamped Terminal 2 has been recognised as one of the world’s most beautiful airports according to the prestigious design and architecture awards Prix Versailles.

The full list of Prix Versailles winners in the world’s most beautiful airports category. Expect the list to begin with another ‘A’ airport next year.

I haven’t seen Manchester T2 yet (you can see our gallery of images here) but it certainly looks the part. Abu Dhabi’s new T2 only opened on 1 November so was too late for this year’s ranking but I will eat my favourite Flying Kiwi cap if it’s not on the list next time.

Any favourite recipes for a Flying Kiwi cap?

As I write this Blog to the gentle sway of the South China Sea on the Cotai Water Jet, here are some of the pictorial highlights from my recent sojourn. Messrs Coogan and Brydon, have you got your bags packed?

En route to Abu Dhabi via Changi Airport, I had the welcome chance to catch up with Lotte Duty Free Singapore Head of Operations Casey Lim (left) and Martin Moodie meets Lotte Duty Free Singapore Managing Director Jeff Soongyu Jeong (right). I have known Casey for many years, truly one of the most committed and capable retail executives you will meet in this business.  Jeff and his team are justifably proud of the new T2 duplex stores. The two-level store offers a beguiling blend of state of the art technology, high-impact digital, a rich and beautiful cultural component and the opportunity to taste and buy some outstanding spirits on the top floor.
Terminal Two be, or not Two be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The Singapore slings and arrows of outrageous fortune – Toni meet Martin, Martin meet Toni. I get to sample a delicious Lotte Singa Sling (pineapple juice, fresh lime juice, Tanqueray gin, Cointreau) made by the resident robotic bartender. 
Convincing passengers to venture upstairs is a perennial challenge posed by duplex stores. Lotte Duty Free uses what it calls the media ring to promote the attractions of the upper level, where consumers can discover the Forest of Li Bai (also known as the Exceptional Liquor Tasting Lounge), inspired by the revered Tang Dynasty poet, Li Bai.


Man-made and natural wonders: I took this photo just after I arrived at Abu Dhabi International Airport Terminal A to fly out on Friday evening. I love the way the beautiful Arabian sunset bathes the majestic terminal building. Look out for my ongoing series of articles and interviews on this extraordinary new facility.
The architectural beauty of Terminal A and the compellingly immersive use of giant digital interfaces simply stops you in your tracks
The centrepiece is a soaring 22-metre high, 17-metre wide public art feature called the Sana Al-Nour
I had the fantastic chance to spend quality time with Abu Dhabi Airports Managing Director and Interim Chief Executive Officer Elena Sorlini. You can read the resultant interview here. {Photo: Abu Dhabi Airports}
“We have one of the best buildings, I would say, of any airport in the world,” Elena told me. “And we want to create a passenger experience matching exactly to that status. So operations, of course, are critical. We don’t want the passengers to feel any pain, it needs to be a smooth journey.” Based on my experience of Terminal A, there is no pain, just pure pleasure {Photo: Abu Dhabi Airports}.
With Abu Dhabi Airports senior management (Left to right) Senior Vice President Retail/Commercial Non-Aero Gareth Warwick; Vice President Customer Experience & Relationship Management Muna AlGhanim; Managing Director and Interim Chief Executive Officer Elena Sorlini; Chief Information Officer Andrew Murphy; Chief Commercial Officer Maureen Bannerman; and Chief Programs Officer Sulaiman Al Siksek {Photo: Abu Dhabi Airports}
Senior Officer Government Reporting – Government Affairs Section Pamela Pereira provides a masterfully insightful and culturally enriching guide to the terminal. Look out for my full article, coming soon.
Maureen Bannerman and her commercial team worked pretty much around the clock during the run-up to the opening and she and they are justifiably proud of the result{Photo: Abu Dhabi Airports}
I think my facial impression sums up the impact of Terminal A as I first enter the departures zone with Gareth Warwick {Photo: Abu Dhabi Airports}

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