Vivian Ogutu is the Manager of the Lounges at JKIA and network wide. msafiri asked her about KQ’s luxurious new lounges
Tell us about the development of the new lounges at T1A?
There is a wise saying, “If you have six days to cut down a tree, spend the first five days sharpening the axe.” The Lounge concept began with customer research. We wanted the views of the customer incorporated into the design. From the research we came up with a wishlist that basically informed the design details. We had a team of stakeholders that met every other day to discuss the design details and we spent a long time defining the details on paper before construction. After that, the rest was implementation and the hard work of construction.
How did you decide on the decor that would be used for the lounges?
The lounge design is a celebration of Africa. We are the Pride of Africa and it was important for us to celebrate the beautiful richness of our continent and spirit.
How long did the new lounges take to complete?
It took close to 15 months from design to completion.
What were the biggest challenges?
The biggest challenge was our biggest opportunity – getting everyone on board, sold on the vision of creating Africa’s best lounges.
As Manager of the Lounges, what are the key aspects of your role?
I have to keep finding creative ways to delight our highly valued guests not just in JKIA but network-wide. It’s a continuous challenge and that’s what I love the most about my role.
What do you think are the best features of the lounges?
I definitely love ‘the melting pot’ – I love the inspiration around it. Basically it encapsulates the African spirit of togetherness. In the olden days, after dinner, people would sit around the fire and tell stories. It was how our cultural heritage was passed from one generation to the next. That’s why the feature is round in design. The second feature is the ‘honeycomb’ on the ceiling. Honey is a key element of the African culture. I specifically love how this feature introduces the contemporary aspect of the design by its geometric nature and adds so much depth to the space.
What are the future plans?
Ensuring our lounge experience is seamless network wide.
What are your favourite food and drink options in the Lounges?
I love our wine list – my favourite is the Rupert and Rothschild Baron Edmond 2011 Vintage. I also love our coffee. It’s made from freshly ground Kenyan Dorman’s coffee and the latte is to die for. I don’t have a favourite meal per se but I love our breakfast. It’s a full breakfast with a lot of elements. I especially like our waffles and ngwace, – a very Kenyan breakfast item.