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Escape flies high

Neil Sowerby samples the great Escape. It’s a new lounge at Manchester Airport’s Terminal One

Written by . Published on August 10th 2010.


Escape flies high

Michael Schumacher nearly shunting Rubens Barrichello into a concrete wall at the Hungarian Grand Prix? Wimps’ stuff. I sent two racing cars plunging off the track to certain doom – saved only by a black leather recliner, no less.

To complete the cosseting the Be Relax Spa offers a range of different massages, manicure, pedicure and facials in a private treatment room

Scalextric. Just the boy’s toy to calm the nerves as you wait for your Go To Gate number to flash up on the screen. My other half had no desire to play Penelope Pitstop. She was away having a massage, her own mission to relax preflight from Manchester Airport.

Both activities kept us away from snoozing on one of the loungers shrouded by individual gauze curtains. A certain way of missing your plane, but the warm, welcoming staff at Terminal One’s spanking new Escape Lounge assure me they’ll always intervene with the appropriate personal wake-up call.

The Escape Lounge really is the most fun you can have in an airport (we’re not talking Mile High Club, that comes later).

It cost £1.7 million and looks like it – a colourful, eclectic collection of personal spaces, called respectively The Hub, Snug, Attic, Study and Deli, that instantly quells the personal paranoia that can kick in at an airport.

OK, you can’t see the planes. Indeed, there are no windows here. Such is the clever glow from lights and furniture (lime green and orange feature in the sassier sections, beige and quirky artwork elsewhere), you don’t miss them.

Over 100,000 passengers a year are expected to use the lounge, so wear and tear is bound to occur but, like that backdrop the Teletubbies ponce around in, I confidently expect the Escape Lounge to maintain its, well, escapist aura.

More prosaically, the facility is situated in a row on the first floor, just past the swanky Emirates Lounge. The team, ably marshalled by lounge manager Judith Bennett, was hand-picked for their inter-personal skills, not because of airport experience.

A wedding hospitality background for the lovely lass who pressed bubbly upon us (the house champagne Viscomte de Castellane is a mere £4.50 a glass, while Laurent Perrier is a couple of quid dearer).

Caterers Mosaic Hospitality’s background stretches across hotels, Michelin starred restaurants, private dining and off-site catering for a range of companies across the North West, including the University of Manchester and Arley Hall. They have also provided corporate hospitality for blue chip companies in the City of London.

Their commitment here is shown by the presence of on-site chef Milton Osyoi at The Deli. Forget miniscule slices of dry cake in cellophane and bowls of rancid nuts that shame some lounges (not talking Manchester!), even the buffet set up here is zingy fresh with a special chilled table-top to ensure this. Important in such an all-day catering operation.

Much of the food offerings are quality sandwiches and salads, including focaccia and paninis, with cupcakes and ice creams for the sweet-toothed.

We tested a couple of hot dishes of the day. Massage woman’s rosemary roasted chicken on crushed new potatoes with minted peas and broad beans in a herb butter (£6.95)offered direct, intense flavours. A quality labour-intensive touch, the podded broad beans had had their individual shells removed, too.

Equally successful was my rare foray into a vegetarian option (because it sounded tempting). The heady aniseed flavour of tarragon in a cream sauce was gorgeous with my chestnut and wild mushroom wellington, its pastry crisp, too (£5.95).

Just for research we had the minute steak open sandwich on focaccia,strewn with sauteed onions, dill pickle and watercress. Again, at £4.95, a quality snack freshly prepared.

House drinks are complimentary but there is a globally ranging wine by the bottle list, prices ranging from £15 to £27.

The profile of Scalextric was boosted by its appearance on James May’s BBC1 series, Toy Stories but it’s probably one for the dads, their youngsters taking advantage of the Wii and Ps3, also in what Escape calls the attic area.

At the other end there’s a Wifi-packed business centre and a room available for private functions plus one bizarre addition I questioned manager Judith about – a luxury blue leather padded seat that’s a replica of the 240 being installed in The Boardroom external hospitality area at Eastlands.

Roberto Mancini himself turned up at the Escape Lounge to publicise this little piece of Man City propaganda. It was briefly removed when United big-wigs and players turned up for a sneak look at the rooms.

Subtler visual embellishment comes from local artists linked to Manchester Craft and Design Centre. Lee Page Hanson is the ceramic artist who did the striking tile arrangements, while Jane Blease created some equally impressive framed geometric pieces.

To complete the cosseting the Be Relax Spa offers a range of different massages, manicure, pedicure and facials in a private treatment room. To book please ask at reception on arrival.

The Airport already has an Escape offering in Terminal 2 and hopes to launch a third in Terminal 3 in the near future, along with a ‘Control Panel Bar’ in a currently vacant tower by the end of 2010.

 

The Escape Lounge at Terminal One is open daily from 5am to 9pm. Customers can book in by clicking here or by phone on 0871 200 4450.

Special offers are available now. The offer is available if you book before Dec 31 2010 and if travelling before Dec 31 2011.

  • Adult price - £15 per adult aged 12+. When booking, quote 'REG 2'
  • Couple price - £35. Couple price is for adults so over 12 years old. When booking, quote 'REG 3'
  • Child price - £7.50 per child aged 2-11 years. When booking, quote 'REG 1'
  • Family price - £49. Family price comprises 2 adults and 2 children. When booking, quote 'REG 4'

Children under the age of 2 are allowed in for free.

Retail vouchers including specific lounge ones are available to print out too if people want to take them with them here

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AnonymousAugust 10th 2010.

Er, the 'couple' price is £5 more than booking for two adults on their own

Maggie TooleyAugust 18th 2010.

....... and the family price is dearer as well?????

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