The Tom Bradley International Terminal: the new “crown jewel” of LAX
So it’s finally open. After a delay of almost three years and a final bill of nearly $2 billion the shiny new Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) at Los Angeles airport is very much ready for business. Travellers who love to indulge in a little retail therapy will probably think the long wait has been worthwhile. The terminal’s central Antonio Villaraigosa Pavilion boasts over 60 stores and restaurants, many of them either new to the US airport retail scene or featuring a distinctively LA flavour.LAX is billing TBIT as its new “crown jewel” and for once all the hype is justified. The 1.2 million square-foot terminal is over double the size of its cramped predecessor. Almost $80 million has been spent on giving shoppers and diners a wide choice of stores and eateries light years away from most other airports in the country. So let’s start our shopping tour with the terminal’s largest retailer, DFS Group, which has spent on $25 million creating a line up of duty-free shops very much geared to the many high-spending Asian travellers expected to use the new TBIT.It’s Euro luxury all the way with standalone fashion boutiques from the likes of Hermès, Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo and Burberry along with high-end watches and jewellery from Chopard, Zenith and Vertu. As for wines and spirits, there’s an LA-themed spirits tasting bar, local fine wines from wineries such as Morega Estate, and exclusive spirit lines such as Gran Patrón Piedra tequila and Rémy Louis Rare Cask Cognac, which you will be hard-pushed to find at any other US airport. However, the most eye-grabbing feature of the DFS offer has to be the enormous beauty hall where designer fragrances and hip cosmetic brands abound.
There are plenty of fashion boutiques to choose from. Inspired by LA’s Rodeo Drive, TBIT’s very own “Boutique District” features stylish men’s accessories store Porsche Design, designer handbags and Italian accessories from Bulgari, local fashion house Kitson LA, and sexy lingerie from Victoria’s Secret. And if you need a figure-hugging pair of jeans don’t forget to visit the Fred Segal shop: the LA-based fashion designer’s jeans are sought after by major Hollywood celebs such as Reese Witherspoon and Cameron Diaz.If all the shopping has given you a thirst, sample a few glasses of excellent Napa Valley wine and a few tapas-style nibbles from the award-winning Vino Volo bar. If you like what you try, you can buy a bottle or two to take with you on your flight. Alternatively, enjoy a glass of bubbly and some caviar at the Petrossian Caviar & Champagne Bar or tuck into a heart steak and fries at III Forks Steakhouse.Need to something to sweet to round off your meal? Head off to the homely LA-based Vanilla Bake Shop, which sells everything from mini cupcakes, to cookies and pies. If you are watching your waistline, Pinkberry specializes in healthy, but delicious frozen yogurt creations, while See’s Candies is the place to buy gift-wrapped, mouth-watering chocolates for friends and families.
If you want a full list of the stores and restaurants now open at TBIT and maps as to where to find them, log on to the airport’s website at http://www.lawa.org/tenantLAXResult.aspx?airport=4&category=38&sindicator=qs. More detailed information about the new retail line up is hard to find on what is a rather old and badly laid out airport consumer website.So there you have it. We think the new shopping scene at LAX will delight international travellers of all nationalities. The new TBIT has blazed a path in terms of quality airport shopping that other US airports now have to try and match. That will be a tall order.
TBIT: Shopping at a glance
- Total number of shops and restaurants: 60
- Last-minute souvenirs: Kitson and Fred Segal
- Best shop for business attire: Hugo Boss
- All things Apple: iBoutique
- Best outlets for news: CNN Newsstand Los Angeles and USA Today Travel Zone
- Sweet treat stop off: Vanilla Bake Shop, See’s Candies
- Best outlet for kids’ gifts: Sanrio
- Last-minute travel accessories: Crews of California