Edinburgh airport • Golden age of a gateway to Scotland ....
Edinburgh airport has entered something of a golden age that looks set to continue for many years to come. Huge retail refurbishment, surging passenger numbers and industry awards show that Scotland's busiest airport, and the fifth-largest in the UK, has hit on something of a winning formula.
July 2011 saw almost 1 million passengers pass through the airport. A record month • including a record day since flights began there, 64 years ago, with 36,000 people passing through, making the most of the facilities. In the next decade these numbers are predicted to grow from 9 million to 12 million a year.
Happily, Edinburgh Airport is upping its game to meet these passenger numbers, and is already providing a comprehensive travel retail experience. BAA sold the airport to GIP but not before completing a £40 million extension to the departure lounge and the creation of a new security hall. This adds to South East Pier terminal extension, completed in 2006.
The keystone of the airport's retail offering is a new, revamped and relocated World Duty Free store, featuring a shop-within-shop format. With nearly 7000 square feet of retail space, it boasts 45% more than its predecessor. Half of that space is given over to beauty products, many exclusive to travel retail, from brands including Estée Lauder, Lancôme, YSL and Dior.
WDF has also opened three new stores at the airport: Jo Malone and MAC, which have their own look and retail space but which customers can move freely between, and Sunglasses, a boutique store with an extended range compared with the main WDF store, including luxury brands such as Tiffany, D&G and Fendi.
The new WDF main store, beneath an array of unmissable "contentainment" big screens, also includes 1000 square feet of liquor so you'll have no trouble finding your tipple of choice. And this being Scotland, the land of whisky, you are morally obliged to have a browse around its new look World of Whiskies specialist store. Not only will you find the most popular and prestigious whiskies Scotland has to offer, but also more than 350 whiskies from all over the world, from blends and bourbons to single grains and single malts.
If whisky is not your thing, but you have a taste for other fine Scottish products, consider the Airport Gallery. The first airport in the UK to set up such a permanent, regularly refreshed exhibition space. The space showcases some of Scotland's artistic talent, including many locally-produced works, which include original paintings, prints and fine craft. For yet more traditional Scottish gifts, have a look in the Liquorice Tree.
For those of you who prefer a good pampering to a thorough browse, you might prefer to spend your time treating yourself at the Inside & Out health salon. Your flight may be fast approaching but the salon has tailored many of its beauty treatments, including their new champagne nail bar, to 25 minutes and under, so you can squeeze in a little "me time" without stressing over the actual time. And if the champagne goes down well, you may decide to follow it with more at Thermidors Seafood & Champagne Bar, one of the airport's 13 restaurants and bars.
Edinburgh Airport is light, bright, modern and at the peak of its powers. So much so that in June this year it earned the Best Airport Award from the Airports Council International Europe in the 5 to 10 million annual passengers category. As a book-end to your travel, you could do a lot worse.