Encounter Restaurant

Fish valet and other posh airport amenities

Spas, saunas, swimming pools, giant slides and sunflowers. That could be a list of swanky amenities to look for at upscale resorts or hotels. But it’s actually a sampling of some of the Posh Airport Amenities I featured in a slide show for Bing Travel.

Here’s a sample.

Fairmont Vancouver Airport fish valet

Travelers at Vancouver International Airport can take care of dry cleaning, shoe-repair and medical/dental services during a layover in the terminal. But those heading home from a fishing trip with a 100 pound halibut in tow can seek out the services of the Fish Valet and the special “visiting fish” freezer at the on-site Fairmont Vancouver Hotel.

Hong Kong airport gold course

There’s a putting green in the terminal at Florida’s Palm Beach International Airport, but the USGA-approved, nine-hole Sky City Nine Eagles Golf Course adjacent to Hong Kong International Airport’s Terminal 2 out-poshes that. Nine Eagles has a Thai restaurant, club house, putting greens, and plenty of night golfing opportunities. Soon Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport will have a golf course next door too.

LAX Theme Building

When it comes to posh airport bars, GateGuru data analyst Zachary Einzig gives high marks to the Encounter Restaurant, perched on top of the recently-restored Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Inside, the Encounter’s space-age décor is something the Jetsons would appreciate. Outside, the views of the airfield are out of this world.

There are more… check back to find out which airports offer libraries, saunas, exotic gardens, bike rentals, museums, breweries, make-your-own sundae machines, and weekly tributes to Frank Sinatra.

Have a favorite posh airport amenity? Please add your comment below.

Finally! A pay-per-visit lounge at LAX

Airport club rooms aren’t just for frequent fliers with expense accounts anymore. At least not at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Starting Thursday, Dec 4, 2008, travelers 21years old and older in search of a relaxing, somewhat upscale place to hang out before or between flights can now pay $25 and spend up to three hours hanging out in the new reLAX Lounge at the Tom Bradley International Terminal.

The lounge is the airport’s first pay-to-use lounge and offers a nice view of airfield activity, complimentary snacks and beverages (coffee, tea, soft drinks), as well as food and alcoholic beverages for purchase. Business services such as wireless Internet access, faxing photocopying and printing are also offered.

Even better: the lounge is located on the mezzanine level of the terminal – BEFORE the security checkpoint. That means even folks stuck at other terminals will be able to make use of this lounge.

Here’s another idea for a relaxing way to spend $25 at LAX: Head on over to the intergalactic-themed Encounter Restaurant at the top of the landmark Theme Building. (You can walk there from pretty much any terminal.) The restaurant offer great views, a cocktail lounge, and serves both lunch and dinner. $25 should get you a drink (or two) and a few appetizers.

Love the layover: Encounter Restaurant at LAX

Don’t let the scaffolding fool you:

While the landmark Theme Building in the center of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is about to undergo a year-long $9 million restoration, the space-age themed Encounter Restaurant at the top of the building will remain open.

In February 2007, a 1,000-pound, 5-foot by 10-foot section of stucco coating fell off an upper arch of the Theme Building, onto the roof above the Encounter Restaurant and on the ground below. No one was hurt, but the restaurant was closed for eight months during the emergency repairs.

(Postcard from the Encounter Restaurant)

To the delight of travelers with long layovers, the Encounter Restaurant re-opened last November. It has the same Jetsons-inspired theme music in the elevator, the same great views, an updated menu, new lava lamps, and a host of other retro-repairs.

It’s pre-security, so you can meet up with friends from town. (Unfortunately, the restaurant’s Web site seems to be in for repairs.)

Hours: Lunch daily (11 a.m. to 4 p.m) and dinner Thursday through Sunday (4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m).