Seattle Tacoma • Coffee-fuelled shopping at its best ....
Coffee-fuelled Seattle, in America’s Pacific Northwest, is known as Washington State’s Emerald City. Situated between sparkling Lake Washington and the Puget Sound, the Seattle Tacoma International Airport (aka Sea-Tac) is almost an island unto itself. With three Duty Free stores, it’s certainly a tax-free shopping haven and with the Port of Seattle having celebrated its Centennial in 2011, now is a great time to visit this vibrant and fast-expanding destination.
Located 19 kilometres from the bustling streets of downtown Seattle, Sea-Tac is now the 18th busiest commercial airport in the US, with over 31.5 million passengers annually. The airport is busier than ever, courtesy of the third runway which opened in 2008 at a cost of $1.1 billion. It acts as gateway to both Alaska and East Asian destinations, and is the middleman between thousands of travellers and their cruise ships, waiting regally in Seattle’s port.
Seattle’s architectural highlights include the Smith Tower Observation Deck and the eye-catching Space Needle, commissioned for the 1962 World Fair. The airport puts on a tremendous artistic show, too, with contemporary glass, sculpture and photography exhibits that capture the cultural diversity of the region. Selected artists include Frank Stella, Louise Nevelson and Robert Rauschenberg.
Sea-Tac’s Main Terminal is boomerang shaped, with four concession-filled concourses (A to D) leading from it. The North and South Satellite buildings are then out to either side, each boasting its own World Passage Duty Free store. The airport’s third tax-free outlet, Club Jet Duty Free, is on the left as you enter Concourse D.
If your loved one’s perfume collection is running low, stock up with the latest fragrance explosions from Cartier, Bulgari, Cartier and Issey Miyaki or perhaps give in to their hints for Beyoncé or Rihanna’s latest perfume. For glowing skincare products and luxurious cosmetics, seek out timeless favourites from Clinique, Clarins, Sisley, Gaultier or Yves Saint Laurent.
Before visiting the perfume counter, though, don’t forget to enjoy a glass of hand-selected local wine or fine vintage Champagne at sleek wine boutique Vino Volo. You wouldn’t want all those fragrances to mess with your palate.
For cutting-edge technology and boys’ toys such as Nintendo and PSP consoles and games, entertainment and electronics retailer InMotion is in the Main Terminal, near Concourse C. Dropped your camera? Check out the latest models from Lumix, or upgrade your audio gadgets with the latest designs from Panasonic, Samsung and Monster. If seamless surround sound is more of a priority, Bose is located in Concourse A.
As Seattle is famed for its coffee (there are no less than three Seattle’s Best Coffee bars at Sea-Tac), it seems churlish not to indulge in one. For the utmost quality, however, follow your nose to the Dilettante Chocolate store and Mocha Café. Its handcrafted chocolates make excellent, high-quality gifts, too • if you don’t give in to temptation and eat them yourself, that is. Winding down after a long flight is so much more pleasurable with old friends like Jack Daniels, Johnny Walker and Smirnoff, so don’t forget to pick them up at the airport, too.
Sticking with the emerald theme, Sea-Tac is an incredibly ‘green’, forward-thinking airport, with impressive environmental and recycling policies. So while they’re busy saving the energy, you can just get on with enjoying saving the tax.