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Published by Harmonia Norah, 2017-05-16 06:45:31




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ETIHAD “It’s not every day you send a selfie The bed alone
from the world’s first penthouse measures 7 x 5 ft at
A PENTHOUSE apartment in the sky and dispatch it
INTHE SKY on Wi-Fi while flying at 30,000 feet” The Residence
Actress Nicole Kidman, known for her
Norah Casey takes a journey on board the world’s first upgrades are available, regardless to hand over your personal hand style and elegant beauty, is the perfect
three-bedroomed suite in the sky in Etihad’s recently unveiled Residence. of who you are, and no travel luggage to be stowed on board, Ambassador to front the campaign for
journalist has ever got to travel passing through the fast track The Residence at Etihad
When my late husband Richard and I that I spend so much time travel writing I try to limit in The Residence. So spending security with just boarding card
started travel writing many moons my bragging texts in the interests of keeping the some time in the three-roomed and passport for minimum delay). SEPTEMBER 2015 IRISH TATLER 117
ago we didn’t have a red cent. friends I have, but I am guilty of sending the most penthouse was extra special. From the moment we arrived at
Travel writing was the only way shameless gloatagrams in recent weeks. Well it’s not Dublin airport we were escorted
we could afford to go anywhere. We were a great every day you send a selfie from the world’s first The Residence is part of a by impeccably uniformed
double act. Like me, he would often have to pinch penthouse apartment in the sky and dispatch it on whole new suite of “reimagined” Etihad Airways staff who, with
himself that us two impoverished journalists Wi-Fi while flying at 30,000 feet. space on Etihad’s A380 which practiced professionalism and
would get to travel in style to incredibly beautiful includes first class Apartments, warmth, whisked us through
places, turning left when boarding the plane When Etihad Airways unveiled The Residence intelligent work areas in Business from check-in to lounge to the
with an upgrade to business or first class. So I am using that as last November it revolutionised the world of luxury Class, new, smarter economy steps of the aircraft at every stage
his excuse for developing the inelegant habit of sending what travel. The business woman in me wants to plunge seats with a firm headrest wing of our journey. The Residence
he called “gloatagrams” to his men friends. These unashamedly straight into the innovative thinking that led to this previously for flying comfort and an interior passengers can choose their meal
bragging texts were accompanied by pictures of dramatic sunsets unimagined concept. Competitors are undoubtedly already that feels more like an uber chic preferences, even have a favourite
or impossibly luxurious suites and he would time them to co- working on emulating the offering but, for the moment, Etihad boutique hotel than an airplane. dish made to order, films, music,
incide with their more miserable moments of the week. Monday Airways are flying alone uncontested in clear blue skies. But first, games or any other extras that
morning was a special favourite. They in turn would try to outdo let me take you on a journey through The Residence because unless But the luxury 125 square foot will make the service more
him so that sometimes on dreary winter days his phone would ping you are the luckiest travel journalist alive or have a cool €18,000 The Residence is the jewel in the personal or comfortable during
continuously with payback pictures of sun drenched beaches. Now (20,000 US dollars) plus to spend on a one way trip from London crown of the airline’s innovative the flight. Residence butler
to Abu Dhabi you might not get to experience this first hand. No new designs. A personal butler Dharshana who was on board
(trained at the Savoy Hotel in for our A380 flight told me that
London) is assigned to Residence he also has his own “kit-bag” for
passengers, offering seamless those little extras like repairing,
five star service pre-flight, on polishing or stain removal. In
board and après flight – a door the First Class Lounge your
to door luxurious experience that personal butler will organise spa
includes limousine transfers and
concierge check-in (you can opt


It’s hard to imagine The five-star Etihad MILESTONES
the luxury of Airways service IN AVIATION
stretching out in a
double bed 30,000 continues in transit There have been key moments in the history of
feet in the air as the with spa treatments, air travel, from Leonardo da Vinci’s illustration
world goes by below. dining and relaxation of the “flying machine”, to the first engine
The exlusive space powered flight in 1903 by Orville and Wilbur
really gives a new at Abu Dhabi Wright. Then we had decades of “firsts”. The
meaning to the first non-stop transatlantic flight by Alcock
expression ‘Mile and Brown from St Johns in Newfoundland
High Club’ to Clifton in Galway. In 1932 Emilia Earhart
became the first woman to fly solo across
treatments (I had a wonderful foot massage at the Heathrow Meet Dharshana, our the Atlantic – again from Newfoundland but
own personal butler at landing in Derry. The first kitchen appeared
Lounge) and any meals, drinks or reading material. The Residence on our on an airplane in 1936 so passengers could
flight from London to enjoy the luxury of food and a hot drink. As
So what does it look like? Having seen the promotional Abu Dhabi . Like all The more commercial airlines came on stream
Residence butlers, he in a highly competitive market the key
video for the Residence fronted by Etihad ambassador has trained at the Savoy differentiators were more to do with flying
time with passengers opting for non-stop and
Nicole Kidman I already had a sense of how different this Dara and I relaxing faster carriers. The first supersonic airline
in The Residence arrived with Concorde in 1976 and it seemed
would be. Nonetheless it was quite unlike anything I have lounge that with the ease of a taxi service you could
travel from Paris or London to New York
ever experienced on an airplane before. I read one travel in three and a half hours, half the time of a
conventional aircraft. In more recent times,
writer’s review which commented on how wonderful it was price has been a significant driver, opening
up airline travel and new destinations to the
to turn left and then left again on the aircraft. Whatever JOURNEY TO THE TOP masses. Developments on comfort and luxury
have been much slower. British Airways
about the joy of being amongst the uber elite who are used introduced the first flat beds in business, Virgin
Atlantic led the charge towards premium
to travelling in such luxury, the journey to the Residence is economy – somewhere between economy
and business. Flatbeds are now the norm
impressive. The A380 interior is beautifully designed with a in business class and most airlines offer an
enhanced economy seat. Over the past year
muted colour palette of champagnes and browns. As I passed Back in November, Etihad Airways more stressful, especially since 9/11 and the in particular most of the major airlines have
welcomed its new superjumbo Airbus A380, restrictions on liquids. While airlines have transformed their first class and business
along the only single-aisle first class cabin, curved lines and a significant milestone for an airline that been working hard to enhance experiences offerings creating more personal space, adding
began in 2003 and ten years later had nearly on board, airports seem to have gone the designer names to personal amenities and
clever lighting combined to create a contemporary walkway 12 million passengers. The double decked other way, with long queues for bag drop Michelin star chefs to their food offering.
futuristic A380 jetliner gave the airline and security, and long, meandering routes Business passengers may only amount to 12
flanked by the Arabic-influenced louvered doors of the first the opportunity to showcase a talent for through shopping malls and high-priced per cent of the overall passenger numbers but
innovation and style. Starting with a blank fast food outlets to get to the gate with they account for twice the profits and as high
class Apartments. Dharshana was impeccably dressed in the canvas, Etihad’s Innovation centre in Abu sparse and uncomfortable seating while you as 75 per cent of the profits on some airline
Dhabi started by asking airline passengers wait to board. routes. But none are close to The Residence
new Etihad Airways livery. The recently unveiled cabin crew about their experiences and the niggles that in terms of comfort, privacy and style. It’s in a
irritated them. One thing that emerged was I have always opted for the shortest class of its own.
uniforms were designed by Italian haute couturier, Ettore that passengers in economy said they liked possible flying time at the best price point
the window seat – not because of the view when choosing an airline to fly with. But Etihad’s The Residence is also about price
Bilotta, a witty, retro-style suit and hat matching the signature At night the double – but because they could lean their head what if the journey was part of the holiday but at an entirely different end of the scale.
chocolate brown colours with a splash of vibrant purple bedroom is an against the wall of the plane. So a new, experience or, heaven forbid, the holiday It is a bold move towards the uber luxurious
oasis of calm and smarter economy seat was born, with one itself. The future of airlines is often the end of the market, into the space previously
Hard to imagine that there is a class above first class but firm head wing to lean against for napping. stuff of fantasies but it is getting closer and the sole preserve of private, chartered airplane
closer – The Residence is testament to that. companies, wealthy plane owners, heads of
when I arrived at the entrance to the Residence I had to tranquility.There is a There are many reasons why Etihad It would be quite something to get to the state, minor royalty, big business leaders and
remind myself that I was on board a plane, where I, along real sense of luxury, a Airways stands out in a competitive market. point where you wanted longer time on the celebrities. The Residence has far superior
with most passengers, get assigned a seat for the journey class above first class Constantly striving to stay ahead of the plane rather than the shortest possible – a facilities to a charter and offers this elite
curve in innovation and service offerings cruise in the sky perhaps. Experiencing The passenger group the privacy, luxury and ease
rather than the space and privacy of your own three roomed (Flying Nannies being just one of their Residence convinced me that it is perfectly of travel for a fraction of the cost. To us mere
imaginative customer-focused initiatives), possible in the future that our experience of mortals the idea of splashing out €32,000 for
suite. Dara and I stretched out on the Poltrona Frau Leather the on-board cuisine is a step up from flying could be enhanced to the point where a round trip to Abu Dhabi seems incredulous
others in their class, but for me the real instead of clapping at touchdown we would but to put it into context, the cost of flying the
sofa in the lounge as Dharshana showed us the facilities differentiator is the crew. The five-star, on be ruefully ending a beautiful vacation in Government’s Lear jet is currently €4,200 per
board experience is enhanced by the five- the sky. If any airline could convince me hour, so the same round trip costs us nearly
which included a 32inch television, Champagne fridge, star service. Without exception the Etihad to spend more, rather than less time, flying twice as much at €63,000.
Airways staff we interacted with, cabin between destinations it is Etihad Airways.
dining tables, a bathroom with shower and luxury toiletries crew and ground staff, matched warmth I can tell you myself and Dara were very
and friendliness with efficiency. reluctant to leave our beautiful haven of
from Aqua de Palma and a bedroom with a 7ft by 5ft double tranquillity on board.
For most of us airline travel is more and
bed (and another 23inch TV).

The Residence is designed for two and is completely private

and full height, so that once the door is closed there are no

gaps between wall and ceiling. After a while, we wandered

down the aisle to The Lobby lounge in the first class area to

stretch our legs and along the way Dharshana showed us one Etihad fly twice daily from Dublin to Abu Dhabi and to over 100 destinations around
of the new first class Apartments – designed similar to the the world. The Residence is available on Etihad Airways A380 services between Abu
Dhabi and London Heathrow (it started on December 27) and as of 1 June 2015 on
“What iflounge area of The Residence. Each had a sliding screen door the Abu Dhabi to Sydney route. From December 2015, the service will be available
the journeyfor privacy, a banquette in the same Poltrana Frau Leather between Abu Dhabi and New York.

and a chaise longue opposite that converts into a bed. These

was part ofmini-apartments have vanity units, television and mini-bar

facilities and can also be joined together to create double

the holidaybeds for couples.
We were travelling from London to Abu Dhabi on the

experienceA380 and onwards to Phuket, returning from Phuket to Abu
or, heavenDhabi and on to Dublin. So, over the course of the various
plane journeys we also experienced the new intelligent work

forbid, theareas for business, which allowed me the space to work on

the laptop and clear my emails via Wi-Fi, while the meal and

holiday itself ”drinks were being served. And later to stretch out in comfort

on the cushioned flatbed and arrive refreshed.


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