Taking Up Residence at 35,000 Feet
By Kelly Villasuso
As is beauty, opulence is in the eye of the beholder. That which is lavish and luxuriant to one may simply be a starting point to another — particularly in the luxury travel and tourism industry, where the preferences of discerning guests are as different as day and night … as different as button mushrooms and black truffles.
So how is it possible that one commercial airline is providing a sumptuous experience that has discriminating luxury travelers — from royalty and celebrity A-listers, to million-milers and bucket-listers — queueing up to be indulged? How is it possible they are delivering the highest level of personalized luxury, comfort, and seamless five-start hospitality at 35,000 feet? Because anything is possible if one just imagines … or reimagines.
Etihad Airlines has reimagined inflight opulence with an unprecedented three-room suite – The Residence – that includes a Butler and Inflight Chef for white-glove hospitality.
A Suite Spot in the Sky
Just over two years ago, Etihad set out to form a new conception of luxury air travel — to bring the individuality and exclusivity of five-star hotels and restaurants to the sky. Although their true intention was to reimagine what air travel should look like, in the end it seems they have reimagined opulence, too.
Per Senior Vice President of Etihad Airways, Shane O’Hare, “With the introduction of The Residence, the only commercially available, three-room suite in the sky, guests can experience the type of luxury and privacy one would traditionally only find on board a private jet.”
When touring The Residence, this author found a lavish Poltrana Frau leather-clad living room, a bedroom with a double bed swathed in decadent Pratessi bedding, and a separate en suite shower teeming with Aqua de Parma amenities — all of which leave one wanting to take up residence in The Residence.
Annie Davis, President of Palm Beach Travel, the world’s only American Express Travel Insider for Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and agency of record for Etihad shared, “As a business owner in the travel industry with a background in the airlines and inflight service, I know firsthand the importance of ensuring every aspect of the affluent traveler’s experience is flawless. When booking my clients in The Residence, I know the service from start to finish will be incomparable.”
Etihad contacts guests in advance of the flight to discern their preferences on cuisine and service to not only meet, but to exceed their expectations while traveling in The Residence. From a chauffeur-driven limousine to and from the airport, to Lifestyle Concierge services and private check-in at the airport, the Etihad team strives to ensure every part of the experience is luxurious, flawless and discreet.
The Residence guest’s every need is met by a private, Savoy-trained Butler and an Inflight Chef. The Butler’s primary role is to deliver a highly tailored experience in advance of and throughout the duration of the flight, ensuring a superior travel experience.
“Because the inflight dining experience is important to guests in The Residence, Etihad has invested in delivering unparalleled culinary choice,” stated O’Hare. “Experts from the finest dining establishments, including Michelin-star restaurants, serve in key roles onboard providing new ways to bring the finest dining experience to our guests in the air.”
Whether it is as simple as homemade macaroni and cheese or a grilled Wagyu Kobe steak, or as intricate as a Thanksgiving meal complete with turkey and truffle sauce, potatoes and pecan pie, The Residence’s dedicated Inflight Chef will deliver.
If a guest in The Residence is traveling with a child, the Butler is highly trained to assist in addressing their needs. However, it is good to note that you do not need to travel in The Residence to have a helping hand. For families flying with children in First, Business, and Economy classes, the Etihad Flying Nannies – trained at England’s renowned Norland College – serve children their custom-prepared meals and engage them in activities to occupy the youthful passengers. Nannies guide children though fun, age-appropriate tasks, like craft projects, origami, puzzles and quizzes.
Etihad invested years in developing the finest bespoke amenities and refined services for this extraordinary inflight Residence experience. Even for the most well-heeled world travelers, when it comes to traveling in utmost style, service and with the comforts of home, there is simply nothing else like it.