Graycliff Expand Boutiques To US Airports

Tuesday, 24 November 2009 00:00 News Editor
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Graycliff is in "very advanced talks" to expand its airport boutique lounge concept to three other major US airports, Tribune Business was told yesterday, an initiative that could yield up to 10 new properties and 150 jobs with the Bahamas-based company having already invested $1 million in its existing network.


Speaking to this newspaper after the company opened its latest Graycliff Boutique & Smoking Divans boutique at Lynden Pindling International Airport, Enrico Garzaroli, its chairman and chief executive, said the firm was in talks with Atlanta, Cincinnati and Miami airports to expand its US presence beyond its existing two lounges in Nashville International Airport's 'B' and 'C' terminals.

"We are now talking to Atlanta, talking to Cincinnati," Mr Garzaroli told Tribune Business. "We are already in the works of having the locations, and also two in Miami.

"We are already in very advanced talks. Now, we are looking at two in Miami, six in Cincinnati, and two in Atlanta. We hope that in the next two months or so we will be more or less there."

While Graycliff was awaiting receipt of the various US permits and approvals for the planned new boutiques and lounges, Mr Garzaroli suggested that the process would be smoothed by the existence of the Nashville operations, which gave regulators "something they can go and watch and see".

He told this newspaper that the Nashville boutiques were something of a 'trial' for Graycliff, so that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) could learn all about the company and its high-end cigar, cigarette, coffee and chocolate products.

And it appears as if Graycliff has passed with flying colours, Mr Garzaroli telling Tribune Business that the two boutiques at Nashville were "up for a couple of awards for Best Shop in an Airport".

Depending on the size of each Graycliff Boutique and Smoking Divans, Mr Garzaroli said the planned US expansion might create up to 150 jobs "if all the things go", as each employed between 10-15 persons.

Another issue, though, was whether Graycliff would be licensed to sell items such as food and drink. At Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) in Nassau, by paying a $10 entrance fee, lounge guests can enjoy a complimentary glass of wine or other beverage, with light dishes also available for purchase.

Graycliff had spent "above $1 million" in establishing its LPIA and Nashville locations to date, and Mr Garzaroli said the Nassau establishment was set to expand into where the British Airways lounge was in the existing terminal building.

When the upstairs security screening at LPIA was removed "by next week", the Graycliff chairman and chief executive told Tribune Business that the Graycliff Boutique & Smoking Divans boutique would be the "first place" departing air travellers saw when they came up the stairs.

And, when the $409.5 million redevelopment of LPIA was completed, Mr Garzaroli promised: "We will have a huge space inside and outside, and will possibly work with a local partner. At the new airport, we will have to do a really big one. If everything rolls the way it seems to go, we will have something fantastic."

He added that, to date, the 1,200 square foot Graycliff Boutique & Smoking Divans boutique, which features both smoking and non-smoking areas, had enjoyed a "very, very good" and "fantastic" reception, "honestly more than what we were expecting".

"As luxury hoteliers, our expectations for style and comfort are quite high," said Mr Garzaroli. "The new boutique is unlike anything currently available in the region. We've raised the bar, now they'll all have to catch up to the Bahamas!"

"As a frequent traveller myself, I've been frustrated by the lack of a luxurious, relaxing place to unwind, have a bite to eat or catch up on e-mails at our airport," added Paolo Garzaroli, president of Graycliff Cigar Company, which owns the boutiques. "It's very rewarding to have made this dream come true."

The Graycliff Boutique & Smoking Divans lounge employs around 16 persons.

Source: The Tribune