Johannesburg International Airport's Shongololo lounge which showcases some of South Africa's top designers has been chosen by more than 84,000 consumers as the best luxury airport lounge in the Africa and Middle East region.
The lounge which famously features furnishings from SA designer Haldane Martin, including his Shongololo couch, has raised the stakes for luxury travel in the region and won the prestigious Priority Pass award, trumping 87 other lounges within the region for the second time.
Loraine Strachan of Menzies Aviation for Africa, the Middle East and India, which owns the Shongololo VIP lounge, said the award was significant and testimony to the growing numbers of high end travellers who are passing through our airports in increasing numbers.
"Increased business and luxury tourist travel has upped the competitive stakes. We have seen a significant increase in the demand for exclusive private facilities from our travellers seeking added comfort when passing through busy airports. And to be recognised again by seasoned, discerning travellers from across the globe is very pleasing," she said.
The latest tourism figures show 10 million international visitors passed through South Africa's airports in the past year The projected forecast is for a 3.5% increase in the current year. Year on year since 1994, the average growth has been 6.3%. Statistics show nearly 40% of the overseas visitors and 64% of those from Africa were business travellers.
In an effort to meet rising demand, Menzies recently expanded its business by creating a new world-class lounge at Durban's King Shaka International Airport. Called the Umphafa lounge, it is the only one currently on offer in that region and is designed to service the increasing number of business travellers using that airport as a hub into Southern Africa.
Strachan says that the increased numbers of tourist and business travellers was driving the need for a quality experience of the calibre that was not yet available in the South African airport lounge market when it first opened the Shongololo lounge five years ago.
"We designed a product to cater for premium travellers and it immediately became clear that our approach to improving the airport experience had filled a significant gap in the high-end passenger market.
"Client satisfaction is paramount for our airline clients which include a number of well-known international airlines. What really sets our lounges apart from the rest is our hospitality team who have been hand-picked for their warm and personable nature, acute customer focus and dedication to the highest standards."
Menzies owns two other luxury lounges in the region and is also responsible for ground handling at 8 airports in South Africa. All of the Menzies lounges are designed in contemporary African style to create a relaxed and stylish ambience for premium passengers awaiting their flights offering more than the customary luxury facilities which usually include TV, free Wi-Fi, Apple iMac workstations, shower suites, drinks and sumptuous buffets.