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REALITY CHECK  FLIGHT SINGAPORE AIRLINES A380, ECONOMY CLASS


THE FLIGHT: SQ310 from London Heathrow to Singapore Changi, departing 18.30 and arriving 14.20 local time the following day. The flight was operated on one of the airline's Airbus A380 'super jumbos'. THE CHECK-IN: Check-in was quite busy but there were plenty of staff in situ to help speed the process up as much as they could. The premium cabin check-in staff looked after economy passengers when they were able to. THE CABIN: I was seated towards the rear of the aircraft in the lower cabin. The economy offering on the A380 is good and I didn't feel too hemmed in by the seat in front. THE SEAT: The seat was pleasantly comfortable by economy standard with the ergonomic styling further maximising knee and legroom. The handset and video screen were situated in the seatback in front of me, there was a reading light, in-seat power supply, a useful USB socket for charging my iPhone and a video input jack. I was surprised that wifi was available on the flight with the cost just US$10 for 10mb of data or US$25 for 30mb. Additional data could be downloaded at a cost of US$0.10 per 100kb. The inflight entertainment was extensive with a range of latest releases, Hollywood


blockbusters and a range of TV programmes, from documentaries to cartoons for children. THE SERVICE: We were offered a cold drink and heated towel before take-off and drinks were served once airborne. This was followed by the evening meal with a choice of three dishes. As this was a night flight the cabin lights were dimmed to enable people to sleep, and we were woken about 90 minutes from Singapore with a choice of breakfasts. THE VERDICT: A very pleasant experience. It’s a long time since I’ve flown to the Far East and the economy offering has come on


leaps and bounds. The A380 definitely gives you a feeling of spaciousness and the initial fears of being cramped and bored in an economy seat were very soon allayed. THE DETAILS: Singapore Airlines operates four daily flights between London Heathrow and Singapore (three served by the A380 and one by a B777-300ER), plus one daily from Manchester (B777-300ER). Economy fares are from £820 return and business class fares are from £3,605, both including taxes. See: www.singaporeair.com. DAVID CLARE


 HOTEL THE GRAND, EASTBOURNE


THE HOTEL: This is the iconic five-star property on the Beachy Head end of the Eastbourne seafront – part of Elite Hotels – easily found via the A27/22 and around a 50-minute from Gatwick Airport. THE CHECK-IN: Grand best sums up first impressions, from its imposing white stucco façade to the cavernous Grand Hall with marble colonnade that incorporates the reception area. A parking bay had been reserved and formalities at the front desk were swiftly dealt with. THE ROOM: The second floor room was large and airy with traditional country house hotel décor. No minibar, but 24-hour room service and all you would expect, from robes, slippers and tea and coffee-making facilities to a safe and Molton Brown toileteries. Wifi was installed subsequent to my visit, so too a tiled (rather than carpeted) bathroom floor. Still under discussion is whether to take the room count down and install walk-in showers; there are three rooms with them currently. THE BUSINESS: There are some 17 meeting rooms, all with natural daylight, from the smallest for ten to the Compton Suite – the hotel’s original ballroom with pretty plasterwork walls and ceilings – for 300


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delegates theatre-style. DDR is from £65.00. There is also the Gallery Room for 15 people that overlooks the Grand Hall. THE FACILITIES: There's ample car parking, outdoor and indoor swimming pools, a spa with eight treatment rooms, hair salon, gym, and a putting green. For formal dining there's the Mirabelle restaurant with two AA rosettes, and the Garden Room which insists on jacket or tie for men at dinner. There are also vast public areas: a drawing room, cocktail bar, the Chatsworth Lounge and a sunny terrace.


THE VERDICT: Built as a hotel in 1875 for the gentry travelling down to the coast, it’s still a tad old-fashioned but the unfaltering service levels make this a super efficient hotel with high repeat business. Plump for first floor rooms, most of which have balconies, to breath in the fresh sea air. THE DETAILS: King Edwards Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex, BN21 4EQ. From £199 per night including breakfast and VAT. Tel: 01323 412345, www.elitehotels.co.uk, www.grandeastbourne.com. GILLIAN UPTON


THE BUSINESS TRAVEL MAGAZINE 85


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