Earlier this week, I started out for a work trip from the Mumbai Airport as usual. I was flying Jet Airways to Amsterdam, and I was looking forward to getting back to the GVK Lounge (Business Class) again. However, I was slightly surprised when I was handed out an invitation to what was called the GVK Lounge East Wing, and had opened up just the day before on October 1, 2016.
I had someone from Jet Airways’ Guest Services accompany me, so I asked the lady about the new lounge and she said it was pressed into service on October 1, 2016 and now the business class lounges at Mumbai Airport for international passengers were going to be divided up as per airlines. The newly opened lounge is located on Level 4, right above the GVK Lounge Domestic, and not many people knew about it because the whole area was cordoned off while it was being developed.
The rationale for the new lounge I was told, was that during peak hours, there seem to be a lot of footfalls and the existing Business Class lounge would be very crowded during those hours (night mostly). However, after my trip there, I also suspect it is a slightly low cost alternative, and a replica of the GVK Lounge (Domestic), for airlines that don’t prefer to spend the massive amounts of money the GVK Lounge Business is charging. You’ll find out why I feel so, below.
The entrance to the lounge is done in the same shiny style the rest of the lounges are, and the receptionist scanned in my boarding pass and collected the lounge invitation, and then waived me through. Inside, it immediately gave the feeling of meaning business, rather than the luxury that I am used to in the other GVK Lounges (First, Business, Domestic).
The Lounge is divided up into four areas. The picture above shows you the main lobby of the lounge, which is filled with a lot of couches. On the sidelines, however, instead of a lot of couches for solo travellers (there are some, but not as many), there are tonnes of workstations with high stools and plug points for those who want to catch up on work before their flight.
Behind the workstations, there was a bar and lounge area. The bar was dry on Sunday when I was there because it was a dry day (October 2), but they started serving liquor right after midnight. The collection looked good, but I’ve seen bigger bar collections at airports before. Also, the television could have been bigger.
Adjacent to the bar/lounge, is the dining area, full of seats and food counters. The food is the same as the one served up at all the other lounges, and included an assortment of Indian and pan-Asian entrees. Of course, there was the appetizers and desserts counters full of stuff that we’ve come to expect at GVK Lounge.
Interestingly, for an airport that usually is considerate of festivities and the needs of the Indian traveller, the food was good but not special. There was all the usual assortment of meat curries, biryanis, dal makhani and so all. But if I did not feel like eating non-vegetarian food, like I did not the other day, I was limited to eating plain rice (no veg biryani for you, sigh!). No special festive food!
On the other side of the lobby area, was a library area, and another rest zone next to the spa. The Spa only offers foot massages, and was not activated here yet.
Somehow, this particular GVK Lounge looked a little sterile to me. Every other time I’ve walked inside a GVK Lounge at Mumbai, I’ve gone wow in my head, and there is a certain amount of time I try and build into my visit to the airport for the trips. Needless to say, this one took my by surprise, and it somehow came across as a sterile lounge as compared to the others that GVK has built. To put another way, I felt I was in a domestic lounge, and not an international one. It could just be that GVK has raised expectations so much that it does not feel right to be in a lounge like this, stripped off some of the little touches of hospitality I’ve come to expect of them so far.
So I’m hoping either this lounge grows on me, or I will start just transiting the airport rather than being at the lounge here often.
Have you had an opportunity to try out the new GVK Lounge East Wing yet? Do you like it, love it, or hate it like I do?