What It's Like to Fly on the $20,000 Singapore Airlines Suite Class

Have a look at what it's like to fly in Suite Class - which is even better than first class. Courtesy: Singapore AirlinesNow this is the life. Picture: Derek LowIT'S an experience that most of us can only dream of - an airline suite that's even better than first class. But Singapore-based entrepreneur and frequent flyer Derek Low was lucky enough to score the ultimate plane seat. This is his story. In 2008, Singapore Airlines introduced Suites Class, the most luxurious class of flying that is commercially available. The Suites are exclusive to their flagship Airbus A380 planes, and they go beyond flat beds by offering enclosed private cabins with sliding doors that cocoon you in your own little lap of luxury.It also became the first and only commercial airline with a double bed in the sky.The bed is incredible. Picture: Derek LowSource:Channel 9However, the experience comes with a hefty price tag. With round-trip tickets from Singapore to the US costing up to $20,600, it's completely unattainable for most people.But then I remembered that most of my personal net worth exists in frequent flyer miles rather than cash. So last month, after splurging an colossal amount of miles, I booked a Suites Class flight to New York City!This is what I experienced:The experience begins at the airport. Picture: Derek LowSource:Channel 9I arrived at Singapore Changi Airport and proceeded to the Singapore Airlines counters for check-in. But Changi has a luxurious check-in lounge specially for First Class and Suites passengers.Flying in the Suites also includes an invitation to The Private Room, which is "higher than first class".A ticket to luxury. Picture: Derek LowI followed a flight attendant past what seemed to be 50-60 people in the Business Class lounge. She walked noticeably fast, seemingly afraid that I would be disgusted by the presence of the working class. Here I was transferred to another attendant who walked me through the First Class lounge, and then through a set of automatic sliding double doors before being transferred to yet another attendant.After what seemed like forever, I arrived at The Private Room, where staff greeted me by name.Inside the private room. Picture: Derek LowI wasn't hungry but I've heard rave reviews about the dining room. So I ordered a glass of champagne and had the Chicken and Mutton Satay plate ... and the Baked Boston Lobster with Gruyere, Emmenthal and Cheddar.And also the Prime Beef Burger with Foie Gras, Rocket Leaf and Fried Quail Egg. Oh, and a Mango Smoothie too.A snack before take off. Picture: Derek LowCompletely stuffed at this point, I realised it was time for boarding. There was a dedicated jet bridge solely for Suites passengers. Standing at the end of the bridge was a flight attendant ready to greet me: "Good evening Mr Low!"I realised that they would address me by whatever title I chose in my Singapore Airlines profile and regretted not going with President Low or Princess Derek.I was escorted to my Suite:Better than first class. Picture: Derek LowI picked the middle one which can be merged with the adjacent suite to form a double bed.My home for the next few hours. Bliss ... Picture: Derek Low"Would you like a glass of Dom Pérignon, sir?" And I replied the only acceptable response to such a question: "Yes".The drinks are flowing. Picture: Derek Low"Sir, would you like a copy of every newspaper we have on-board today?" Sure, why not.At this point, the crew members came out to personally introduce themselves. Among them was Zaf, the chief steward. As it turns out, he's the guy in the airline's safety video.Hi Zaf. Picture: Derek LowZaf told me that there were only three passengers in the 12 Suites, and joked that I could have a bedroom, dining room and living room if I wanted. And so I picked my dining room.Dom Pérignon and Iced Milo in hand, it was time to take off.Not a bad spot to eat. Picture: Derek LowI took this time to check out what was provided on-board the flight. Headphones from Bose, for example.Not your average airline headphones. Picture: Derek LowA Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kit, which included a full-sized bottle of cologne.The amenity kit. Picture: Derek LowEverything else was Givenchy: blankets, pillows, slippers and pyjamas.Give us the Givenchy. Picture: Derek LowAs soon as the plane reached cruising altitude, I was offered another drink. Seeing that it was almost 1 AM and I was just beginning to indulge in the whole suite experience, I decided to order coffee to stay up.I don't know much about coffee, but I do know the Jamaican Blue Mountain costs a lot, so I ordered it. Apparently it's "by far the most outstanding" option.Special coffee. Picture: Derek LowI unglamorously gulped down the entire cup at once, while pretending to appreciate the finely-balanced traits of the Blue Mountain. I asked Zaf to recommend me a tea, and he quickly brought out a cup of TWG's Paris-Singapore tea.He knelt down next to me as I sampled it, telling me about the high quality tea leaves and the hand-sewn cotton tea bags. He told me about the fragrant cherry blossoms and red fruits infused into the tea.He says that he has been with the airline for 19 years. Within the past three years, he has served Leonardo DiCaprio and Morgan Freeman, in Suites Class. He recommended a movie for me - The Grand Budapest Hotel, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Off the top of his head, he named the actors and talked about how brilliant their performances were.Chilling out. Picture: Derek LowAs I settled in, supper service began. Having stuffed myself with three entrees back in the lounge, I wasn't particularly hungry so I settled for a five-course supper. For the appetiser I had the Malossol Caviar with Lobster-Fennel Salad. And after clearing the plate in three bites, I asked for a second plate.More please. Picture: Derek LowOn to my third appetiser, I had the Duck Foie Gras with Shaved Fennel-Orange Salad, Beetroot and Mizuna.Yum. Picture: Derek LowI picked the Fish Noodle Soup for main course.There's nothing fishy about the service. Picture: Derek LowAnd Vanilla Bavarois with Raspberry Coulis for dessert.Sweet. Picture: Derek LowAfter supper, I decided to burn off the kilojoules by walking around the plane. I asked the crew if they could give me a guided tour of the A380 and they willingly obliged.Stairway to haven. Picture: Derek LowWhen I got back to the suites, the lights were already turned down indicating it was time to sleep.Sleep time. Picture: Derek LowIn the suites, you don't just lie on a seat that has gone flat. Instead, you step aside while the Singapore Airlines flight attendants transform your suite into a bedroom, with a mattress on top of a full-sized bed. When the adjacent suite is empty, the dividing partition can be brought down to create a double bed.Zaf and a stewardess went about making the bed. I don't even know how to express this process in words.Now that's service. Picture: Derek LowIt's folded down. Picture: Derek LowI jumped into bed squealing like a little girl and spent the next hour lounging in all possible positions.So. Much. Room. Picture: Derek LowBliss. Picture: Derek LowSome people might say this seems to be the loneliest flight ever. And to that, I say this:Jealous yet? Picture: Derek LowAnd while you're doing stupid things like that in the suite, you can use the "Do Not Disturb" button for privacy. Through the entire flight, the attendants check on you almost every three minutes without being intrusive or annoying. They just briskly walk past you with quick glance.I paid a visit to the rest room to change into the pyjamas provided. It's a rest room, what were you expecting? Ah-hem:Now this is extravagant. Picture: Derek LowThere's a seat that folds down that's actually more comfortable than most economy class seats.Miles better than economy. Picture: Derek LowAnd then I slept. Well, not on the toilet of course. When I woke up, I saw the clock and my heart sank. A little over three hours to Frankfurt Airport. I'd slept for six hours, thousands of dollars worth of the flight. So to cheer myself up, I asked for a chocolate and was handsomely rewarded with two.Mmm ... chocolate. Picture: Derek LowWe landed at Frankfurt for a two hour layover, and the three of us in Suites Class were escorted to the Lufthansa Senator Lounge which has a spa and hot shower. Getting back on the plane, a new crew was on-board for the final leg of the flight to New York.It was 8am and I decided to begin the day with a Singapore Sling.Sling away. Picture: Derek LowFor breakfast, I used Singapore Airlines' Book the Cook service. You can pre-order a specific meal before the flight, which is then specially put on-board the flight for you. I had the Lobster Thermidor with Buttered Asparagus, Slow-roasted Vine-ripened Tomato, and Saffron rice. And dessert.Time for another meal. Picture: Derek LowWhen it was time to nap, I didn't want to trouble the crew for a full double bed, so I opted for a single bed instead. The partition between the two middle suites slides up to form a wall.Time for another snooze. Picture: Derek LowBesides, the single bed is plenty spacious on its own.There's room to move. Picture: Derek LowWaking up, I was immediately presented with the second meal I had pre-ordered.Could there BE more food? Picture: Derek LowIt was the Grilled Prime Beef Fillet designed by celebrity chef Alfred Portale.Cannot. Eat. Anymore. Picture: Derek LowAs we finally landed at New York, a huge problem presented itself - I didn't want to leave the plane. After being served Dom Pérignon in a double-suite bedroom at 36,000 feet, I'm not sure flying experiences get any better than this.But eventually I got off the plane, because New York's not too bad.New York, New York! Picture: Derek Low

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Taking a Cruise in the Lazy Land of Blue Lagoon
By LENORE MAGIDAAPRIL 28, 1991 This is a digitized version of an article from The Times’s print archive, before the start of online publication in 1996. To preserve these articles as they originally appeared, The Times does not alter, edit or update them. Occasionally the digitization process introduces transcription errors or other problems. Please send reports of such problems to archive_feedback@nytimes.com. ON Saturday around lunchtime, the sun came out, and suddenly everything sparkled. The sea glistened. Our white-and-blue ship, the Yasawa Princess, gleamed at anchor off the little island of Nanuya Lailai. For two days, with 46 passengers and a crew of 20, we had been cruising through the Yasawas, a group of 16 main volcanic islands and dozens of smaller, mostly uninhabited ones just northwest of Viti Levu, the main island of Fiji. With a few brief breaks, our weather had been -- well, we'd seen some weather. We'd been drenched, rocked, buffeted and forced to change schedule for one day of our four-day itinerary, forgoing the northernmost leg of our trip -- the part that would have taken us to Yasawa-I-Rara, which we'd heard described as the most spectacular beach in the South Pacific.Oddly, perhaps, none of that had mattered much at the time -- and it certainly didn't now. For now we were doing what we'd all come for: basking under a South Pacific sun, letting aquamarine waters lap at our feet, strolling the sandy beach hunting unusual shells -- and waiting, with not a shred of impatience, for our beach barbecue lunch to be ready. Some (especially, it seemed, the honeymooners among us) just lolled on beach mats. Others tested their sailboarding skills or took one of the ship's launches to the best snorkeling spot in the area. I spent a euphoric hour on a wave ski, a kayak-surfboard hybrid, paddling with the breeze and even catching a few minuscule waves.We were on one of the tours offered by Blue Lagoon Cruises of Lautoka, Fiji. If the name Blue Lagoon sounds cinematically familiar, you're right: the two films of the same name, one in 1949 with Jean Simmons and the other in 1980 with Brooke Shields, were filmed at the Yasawas' Turtle Island, today a deluxe resort. But there's more of a link than that: a New Zealander named Trevor Withers assisted on the Simmons film and adopted its name when he started his one-boat cruising project in 1950. Nowadays Blue Lagoon has six ships -- not ocean-liner luxurious, but well-equipped and casually comfortable. The vessels leave pretty, tree-lined Lautoka 10 times a week, at least once every day, to cruise the idyllic Yasawas.The ships are of modest size, with appointments that are generally adequate. These are not the ships to be on if you want an on-board swimming pool or dining facilities worthy of the finest on-shore restaurant. Cabins, all with private bathrooms with showers, can accommodate three; most have a double bed with a single top berth, though some have twin lower berths and a top berth. All are outer cabins with a porthole or window. Closet and bathroom space are limited, and the cabins don't have a lot of moving-around space (although that situation improves in the Club Cruise ships' bridge-deck cabins, the most expensive). On the Yasawa Princess, in the cabins and especially the common areas, my impression was that furnishings had been chosen but for functionality and ability to withstand the South Pacific weather.AdvertisementMeals on the cruise were at minimum satisfactory, even to the passenger on our cruise who is executive chef at a large hotel. Generally we far preferred the buffets that emphasized simple, fresh preparations over the two more formal dinners we were served on board. Dessert was always fresh fruit; the galley crew saved the cakes for our morning and afternoon teas.AdvertisementThere were a few key complaints. First, despite frequent spraying, the cabins tended to have quite a few tiny roaches, the kind that are about a quarter-inch inch long; the passengers understood that trying to purge insects in the tropics is at best difficult, but they still wanted the pests gone. Second, the new towels we were given each day tended to be a bit musty, as though they'd been taken out of the dryer a few moments too soon. Third, at least one time -- when all of us seemed to be taking showers after a snorkeling excursion -- the water completely petered out. And, finally, the coffee was barely more than hot brown water.At least among the group I was with, however, the complaints and limitations were far from serious. Our cruise members, who collectively had a great deal of travel experience, had a fine time with Blue Lagoon.The charms of the Yasawas are considerable, even if you end up seeing some of them through the windswept rains that roll in between November and April , with January through March the rainiest months. (The driest months are June through September.) Some are generic tropical-paradise charms, though surely no less beautiful for that: tall palms fringing curving beaches, green peaks rising gently from blue ocean, stupendous skies as the sun sets through layered streaks of clouds.Exploring the islands reveals some more unusual features. The Sawa-I-Lau limestone caves, a stop for all Blue Lagoon cruises, is one, though they seemed more a challenge than a charm for some on our trip. Precarious stone steps led us to a pool ringed by limestone walls some two dozen feet high, and most of us took the chilly plunge -- a jolt after the bathlike warmth of the sea.But that was just the beginning: next we ducked underneath one of those walls and emerged in a pitch-black cavern, where a flashlight-bearing crew member met us for a swim deep into the caves. It was no-sweat fun for some, scary but exhilarating for others, and inarguably memorable.Snorkeling in the Yasawas can provide the exhilaration without the spookiness. Fiji, which brims with coral reefs, is renowned for its snorkeling, but the reefs in the Yasawas have the advantage of being more pristine than those in the more developed tourist areas. The coral is dense and fantastically diverse: you can see varieties that look like flower buds or clusters of shells, like big cabbages or little sausages. The fish are mostly small, but they're vivid: pale green, yellow and black, iridescent blue. And there are large, languid starfish the color of Elizabeth Taylor's eyes.Not all the good times on our cruise happened in the water. On one of the islands we had a delicious lovo feast -- meats and vegetables cooked underground on heated rocks -- well complemented by bottles of Fiji Bitter beer.Please verify you're not a robot by clicking the box.Invalid email address. Please re-enter.You must select a newsletter to subscribe to.View all New York Times newsletters.On our full last day, we visited the lone village on the island of Matacawa Levu, and haggled with the village women selling shells, jewelry and other crafts from an impromptu market on the lawn. That night the same women and other villagers boarded the Yasawa Princess for a performance of Fijian songs and dances, and one of them brought with her, priced at about $2 apiece, the pint-sized grass skirts that a couple of us had asked her that morning to make as gifts for little girls.AdvertisementWe also had a lot of fun among ourselves, due in no small measure to the genial atmosphere the crew created. It's all too easy for someone describing the characteristic Fijian disposition to sink into happy-native language, but it's not accurate: yes, Fijians are cheerful, but at the core there seems to be a sure sense of self -- and self-respect.On our cruise that meant that the crew -- among them Semi, the bluff and bearlike captain; the cruise director Charlie, an eloquent ex-journalist; Sili, the busy but unflappable bartender; and the loose-limbed Semisi, a motorman who showed himself to be a natural performer when he conducted a crew songfest on our last night -- did their jobs quite well and efficiently, but never kept an obsequious distance from the paying folks. They were always ready for conversation or for a raucous poker game -- with or without passengers -- at one of the dining tables.WE also had a good mix of passengers. Australians, who have the shortest trip to Fiji, were the largest single group. There were also quite a few New Zealanders and winter-weary Canadians, a British couple and a Japanese couple who were all living and working in Fiji and four people from the United States.The newlywed couple from New York had made the longest trip, and they found plenty of fellow honeymooners on board, along with a number of veteran couples who described the cruise as their second honeymoon. Aside from two solo women and one man traveling with his teen-age daughter, all the passengers were couples. Of course, it's hard to imagine a more romantic trip than a South Pacific cruise. But it's more than the in-love sort of romance. It's the romance of having, as those of us from North America did, a thoroughly relaxing adventure half a world from home, under a sky full of new constellations. We laughed, sipped Champagne, danced with the captain. We stood hushed as the vil- lagers who had just entertained us fell into fervent prayer. We listened as the crew played guitars and sang Fijian songs, their lilting sound a bit Hawaiian, a bit Mexican. And we kept listening as they kept playing, just for the pleasure of it, as we all drifted off to our cabins to sleep. IF YOU GO The CruisesBlue Lagoon Cruises, Post Office Box 54, Lautoka, Fiji (telephone 61622) offers a four-day, three-night Popular Cruise every day (they last 72 hours), and a Club Cruise of that duration twice weekly.Because the ships on the Popular Cruises are smaller, they don't go as far; chiefly, they don't get to the reputedly most beautiful beach, Yasawa-I-Rara (neither did we, because of weather problems.There's also a seven-day, six-night Club Cruise, which both covers more ocean and lingers longer at various spots. Club Cruise passengers get a few other perks: a welcoming reception, a fruit basket in every cabin, Champagne on the last night and a Blue Lagoon Cruising Club T-shirt and sulu. I was also told that the Club Cruise food is better. The BoatsThe Yasawa Princess and the Nanuya Princess, which are used for the Club Cruises, are 151-foot vessels with 4 decks and 36 cabins. The four smaller craft used for the Popular Cruises -- the Lycianda, Salamanda, Maricanda and Oleanda -- are 118 feet long and have 3 decks and 22 cabins. The CostOn either of the cruises, you pay more if your cabin is on a higher deck. Following are all per person, two people to a cabin, with tax:Four-day Popular Cruise, A Deck $441, B Deck $374;Four-day Club Cruise, Bridge Deck $561, A Deck $523, B Deck $456;AdvertisementSeven-day Club Cruise, Bridge Deck $1031, A Deck, $987, B Deck $860. L. M.A version of this article appears in print on April 28, 1991, on Page 5005015 of the National edition with the headline: . Order Reprints| Today's Paper|Subscribe
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