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Vantage Bar | Food & Beverage | End to End Design Consultancy
Vantage Bar at Auckland Airport’s (AKL) International Terminal is the third opening by Emirates Leisure Retail (ELR), subsidiary of Emirates Group, designed by greater group and built by Gaze Commercial. The two-storey bar joins Wondertree and Aroha Cafe & Bar launched earlier in 2019.
A dining and entertainment venue with a prime location overlooking the runway, Vantage Bar is inspired by what is important to New Zealanders from the range of drinks on offer to the dark koru and fern decals. Its opening marks the completion of the airport’s multimillion-dollar refurbishment of the departure area which includes a revamped food and beverage program featuring 14 new F&B venues on top of 32 new retail outlets.
ELR commissioned greater group, who has extensive knowledge of airport F&B projects, to complete the initial RFP concept following successful submissions for them at Sydney Airport.The design services scope included full conceptional design, 3D studio rendering, detailed documentation and specifying. greater group also managed the procurement of furnishing, lighting, tender process of the AV equipment and overall project management via partnership with a local company.The design brief was to create a modern version of the traditional sports bar while adapting the design and materials to create an interior that would be appealing to all passengers. The spatial layout had to include a mezzanine and staircase to connect the two levels, as well as large feature screens to ensure an engaging experience for sport fans.GLOBAL VS LOCALAs the crown jewel of the customer experience journey in the International Terminal, it was vital from the outset that Vantage Bar would make an impact on travellers before they leave the country. In an interview with NZ Herald, Justin Scotti, MD of ELR, explains the concept of the new bar was to offer travellers an experience that is globally innovative yet hyperlocal.The outlet therefore needed to be inclusive enough to engage customers of all geographical demographics while harnessing the very best of New Zealand.
Designing an airport F&B space is more technically complex than the typical retail scenario as aviation facilities have their own set of regulatory and compliance standards from the governing agencies.
Maintaining brand identity is a key challenge as the design team seeks to address tight spaces, security concerns and expectations in terms of commercial and passenger experiences to melt with attractive architecture.
PEDESTRIAN FLOWTraffic flow and queuing is another critical issue in retail airport design. While retailers welcome a degree of overflow, restaurants want to avoid long lines inside the dining areas that can spill into the concourse, seriously disrupting traffic.
SOUND INFRASTRUCTUREA key obstacle in this project was the design and build of the mezzanine. Adding a structure to an already existing building meant greater group had to work closely with AKL’s structural engineers to ensure they meet the specific facility engineering requirements and aviation regulations. Furthermore, the height of the space led to difficulties in the suspension of the overhead items. To ensure the sightlines to the airstrip were maximised, the team was able to resolve this issue by developing fixture methods suspended from the ceiling instead of supporting these structures from the floor. The new mezzanine also increased the total floor area to 450 square meter, allowing ample seating of low and bar height.
Vantage Bar sets the new benchmark with regards to architectural aesthetics and structural set-ups in airport F&B establishments, bringing an updated look to the traditional darker sports bar design.
Patrons are wowed by the stunning scenes of the airstrip through the full height windows at the space with abundance of natural light. The spiral staircase stands out with glass balustrades offering unobstructed views of the staircase, preventing the wooden stairs from overly dominating.
Rich hues of blue and green tiles with the mustard upholstery create a colour palette that is representative of New Zealand’s beautiful natural landscapes.
To add warmth and texture and create contrast with the modern environment and draw the attention of guests, the restaurant décor features dark walnut and golden brass furnishing.
The 6 metre-high screen, provided by Seen Technology, also offers an immersive experience for travellers gathering to watch a televised game.
Richard Barker, AKL‘s General Manager of Retail and Commercial, describes Vantage Bar as the “final piece in the puzzle for us”, in reference to the airport’s revamped F&B offerings. Till date, the successful expansion has been winning AKL industry awards from the NZ Institute of Architects, the NZ Property Council and the prestigious Moodie Davitt Report Food & Beverage Awards 2019 for Airport F&B Offer of the Year Award.
Emirates Leisure Retail (ELR), a subsidiary of Emirates Group, owns and operates a wide-ranging portfolio of restaurants, cafes and bars across the Middle East, Australia and Asia. Operating over 300 outlets (including more than 80 outlets across 13 domestic and international airports), models range from franchise to own-brand, and are all designed to offer a premium experience at great value at all times of the day.