I was complaining to Justine the other day that the one thing missing in the world of premium travel is reliable access to arrival lounges. It just makes intuitive sense that you'd want a place to freshen up and maybe get a bite to eat after a long flight, especially if the flight arrives in the morning and you can't check into your hotel until the afternoon. Especially when flying an airline into its hub, this seems like a pretty obvious gap in the luxury experience. I'm not quite ready to choose routes/airlines based on which ones have arrival lounges, but it's certainly worth considering.
This is relevant right now, because I'm flying to Amsterdam next year and arriving at 9AM, and while Amsterdam Schiphol airport has a giant checkered cube in the arrivals lobby, the cube won't give you free breakfast or a shower. However, in an article about LAX's new private terminal (only $10,000 for your first use and $2500 thereafter!), I noticed a line about how these sorts of VIP services are cropping up at airports around the world, including Amsterdam. I wasn't previously aware of such a service at Schiphol, but a quick search led me to Schiphol's VIP Terminal, and I have to say... it sounds pretty nice.
Here's what you get: A representative from the VIP Terminal meets you on the jetbridge and takes you to a black car that drives you across the runway to a separate building, where you get free breakfast and a space to relax and freshen up while you wait for your bags to be delivered to you. You also clear immigration there, meaning you can relax instead of hoofing it through the airport and waiting in line forever at immigration and baggage claim. It sounds a lot like Lufthansa's famed first class terminal, although of course it isn't included in the price of your ticket.
The cost is simultaneously less than I would have expected, but more than I'd want to pay: for arrival service, it's 300 Euros for the first person and 115 Euros additional for a companion. And no, you can't claim that you and your companion are each other's companion and get a double companion rate of 230 Euros.
Here's why it's stupid to book the VIP Service: for $450-$500 depending on the exchange rate, you could book the night before your flight at just about any luxury hotel in Amsterdam and go straight there when you landed. You could even book it through Fine Hotels & Resorts and get 4PM checkout, free breakfast, and a dining credit to cover your lunch. At that point, all you're really getting from the VIP service is the benefit of not having to deal with the airport upon arrival. Oh and a fun ride across the tarmac in a fancy car.
The problem, though, is that I'm stupid. I waste enough money on stupid crap that I could see myself paying for this just because it sounds really cool, and it would be a super fun way to start off our trip. I wrote a whole post congratulating myself for not buying a Rimowa suitcase and now I'm thinking of dropping the equivalent amount on something that will last around 90 minutes. At least I have a while to mull it over and talk myself into, out of, back into, and back out of the VIP service. I don't think I'll do it, since it's just too much money. Or maybe I will. I will or I won't - that much I know. How about you? Has anyone been there before? I saw a thread on Flyertalk with only a few responses, most of which concluded that the service delivers on what it promises. I haven't found any detailed reviews though, so maybe I could convince myself to do it for the content (since coming up with content for this un-monetized blog is such a good reason for doing anything).