Virgin Australia Beyond lounge photos: Inside Virgin's exclusive new invites-only lounge

Take a look inside the Beyond lounge in the photo gallery above.

Virgin Australia offered a rare look inside its new invitation-only VIP lounge in Sydney on Wednesday, the first time the airline has offered its most exclusive lounge since before the pandemic.

The new Beyond tier replaces The Club, the high-end loyalty member's space launched to compete with Qantas' exclusive invite-only Chairman's Lounge. The airline officially opened Beyond lounges in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane on Wednesday morning.

It follows a number of initiatives by the carrier to lure business travellers, including a new Business Flyer loyalty program and a move to permanently slash the price of business fares by more than half when compared to pre-COVID pricing.

First impressions

Members follow an unmarked corridor to a set of electronic glass doors, nestled covertly between the security screening checkpoint and Virgin Australia Lounge. The entrance looks inviting, bar the word "Private" stamped across the glass double doors (it's hardly surprising that privacy was found to be the single most important attribute among its invitation-only members, according to a survey conducted by the airline last year). Only those with a personal swipe card can open the doors.

The lounge itself is warm and woody – walls are clad in oak timber, and floor-to-ceiling glass windows drench the room in natural light. It feels spacious and contemporary.

What's inside?

The lounge features a number of partitioned privacy pods, dining tables, an assortment of greenery. An abundance of Chesterfield-style leather armchairs adds a gentleman's club vibe to the supremely modern space.

The bathrooms feature private shower facilities, towels and premium amenities by Appelles Apothecary Lab.

The space meets the serenity brief – hosts are quietly attentive, offering table service and topping up beverages with impressive frequency, and there's a noticeable reprieve from the usual media hum of public lounges.


How do you join?

Virgin is remaining tight-lipped about who it will offer an invitation to – though the company has listed "decision makers" for the airline's corporate accounts as one criteria for getting a ticket.

Speaking to Traveller, Virgin Australia boss Jayne Hrdlicka said a "complex formula" was used to select their members, but she wasn't about to give away the "secret sauce".

"This is a space that is for our most important guests, and the people who are really commercially valuable to us," Hrdlicka said.

Like Qantas' lounge, it's likely to include A-listers, high-ranking business leaders, influential members of government as well as business owners and loyal frequent flyers.

"It's also a place for people who need that extra privacy in an airport; celebrities, dignitaries, MPs. It's a special space for special people in our community. It's our way of saying thank you," she said.

Those who make the cut get a 12-month membership, with an option to nominate a plus-one. Memberships are reviewed each year.

Hrdlicka said she won't personally be approving new memberships, though the airline's former chief executive John Borghetti famously did so, earning members the nickname "F.O.Js" (for "Friends of John").

"We've gone through it as a team, to make sure that we have taken the right overlay to the guest list, and we'll continue to do that as a team. I'm definitely involved, but it's not just my choice," she said.

What are the benefits?

Hdlicka said the airline spent quite a lot of time on the design of the experience, talking to guests to ensure they understood what mattered. It quickly became clear that privacy was key, to escape the "hustle and bustle of the airport".

"[Another] was to have a place where they could get special access to a fellow concierge who could help them if they had issues with their bookings and somebody who understood their special needs and partners when they're travelling," Hrdlicka said.

Dining and service quality were the final major considerations in crafting the VIP experience.

"The last piece of the puzzle was really just making sure they had access to the best of the best in our team, and our team feel the same way – they really like connecting with the people who are the most important to the business, and making sure they have an absolutely exceptional experience with us," Hrdlicka said.

Members can also access a dedicated phone concierge service to assist with booking updates, four complimentary business class upgrades per year, and one complimentary Velocity Gold membership for the primary member's executive assistant (which says a lot about the clientele, really).

What are you eating?

Pampered guests can sip made-to-order coffees, fine wines and order from a substantial range of a la carte offerings ranging from a big brekkie and Australian cheese platter heaving with ashed cheddar, Milawa brie and fresh fruit, to crispy skin salmon with salsa verde and pistachio pavlova with whipped mascarpone and rhubarb-ginger jam.

The menu features a slew of old "favourites", brought back following feedback from members.

"There's some things that we used to do in our club lounges, and we're bringing back those special things," Hrdlicka said.

Top of the list was their famed truffle fries, which she said was "the most talked about dish in the lounge."

See also: Inside the invite-only Qantas lounge that rejected Jacqui Lambie

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