As changes to airline loyalty programs spark new questions about lounge access and credit card perks, one contender is redefining pre-flight hospitality at New York's LaGuardia airport with the addition of the long-awaited state-of-the-art Chase Sapphire Lounge.
Chase opened the doors to its new expansive two-story lounge in Terminal B on Tuesday, which sits directly adjacent to the American Express and Centurion Lounge, making clear throughout that attention to cardholder's needs from design to elevated food and beverage offerings, as well as luxe perks like free facials, has raised the bar for the booming pre-travel amenity.
Chase's latest lounge brings together the desired aspects that its competitors offer -- a spacious open area with comfy seating, fast Wi-Fi, food and drinks and nicer bathrooms -- but upped the ante to create a more luxurious experience all around, including a first-ever offering for cardholders who book the Reserve Suites by Chase.
What to expect inside the new Chase Sapphire Reserve Lounge at LaGuardia Airport
A short elevator ride down the lounge opens up to a welcome desk where staff greet and check in cardholders, equipping them with a custom Solgaard luggage tag before they enter the airy 21,800 square foot space, which is adorned with sleek furniture, brushed gold sconces, hanging greenery, ample seating areas and locally commissioned artwork throughout.
The first floor of the lounge includes a massive dining area with a centerpiece rotunda bar, open kitchens with plated hot and cold dishes, self-serve beverage stations with Joe Coffee Company java and cold brew (don't worry there's an on-site barista too), spa water and a seasonal drink on tap, as well as fridges with soft drinks, and tables with armchairs, couches and banquettes. There are QR codes on each table for guests to scan and order food and beverages a la carte, which is then served directly to their seat.
While competitor lounges offer rotating menus with some seasonal dishes developed in partnership with celebrity chefs, Chase went straight to the source and enlisted the expertise of New York City chef and restaurateur Gabriel Stulman of Happy Cooking Hospitality to execute the top-tier dining experience.
Stulman created a ready-to-eat breakfast menu, which has seven cold dishes like matcha oats and chickpea eggs, and five hot dishes including an oatmeal griddle cake with seasonal compote. He also crafted a made-to-order menu that offers omelets, baked egg polenta and vegan breakfast bowls, as well as a Brussels sprouts hash straight from his West Village hotspot, Joseph Leonard.
The all-day menu also has a healthy mix of gourmet hot and cold plates to choose from at the ready-to-eat station, including pesto burrata, pumpkin muhammara, Korean fried chicken, brioche grilled cheese with pistachio and honey. Diners can also opt for a made-to-order meal at no extra cost, which boasts a signature Sapphire Burger on a brioche bun with mustard aioli, tomato confit, arugula and pickles.
For the bar, Chase partnered with the renowned beverage team from Apotheke to create the lounge's eight signature drinks, all of which can be served as nonalcoholic, including the Sapphire Signature Cocktail made with Brooklyn Gin or Crop artisanal vodka, blueberry, goldenberry, lime, ginger, oregano, five-spice powder, bee pollen and pearl dust.
The Apotheke team told "GMA" they worked to infuse the menu with a taste of New York history, even naming one of the drinks after radio actress Arlene Blackburn, who was the first person to disembark from the first plane at LaGuardia.
Grant Reynolds, founder of Parcelle Wine, worked with Stulman and the Chase dining team to curate a premium wine list for guests, which can all be ordered free of charge from the bar or directly to ones seat.
The main level also features a nursing room, bathrooms, and a family and kids playroom, as well as a retro arcade complete with a photo booth, pinball machine, shuffleboard and a Marshall jukebox.
Also on this floor, visitors can enjoy the dedicated wellness area with meditation rooms and two treatment rooms for complimentary facials by Face Haus, which are bookable on a first-come, first-served basis. Guests who don't have time or just need a little skin refresh upon landing can enjoy complimentary Fly By Face Haus Skincare Travel Kits to pack for later.
Ascending the staircase to what looks like a glamorous treehouse opens up to the sprawling top floor, which has additional couches and chairs, another coffee bar and the star of the show for high-paying guests: three bookable Reserve Suites by Chase.
New Luxe Reserve Suites by Chase comes with caviar and champagne
The set of spacious hotel-inspired hideouts can be reserved in three-hour increments up to a year in advance, and at least 72 hours before travel. The suites come with caviar service upon arrival, a concierge-style host, private en suite bathrooms with showers, a Dyson hairdryer and Oribe products, plus an entertainment area complete with a PS5. Each suite has bespoke furniture and offers an exclusive food menu from Jeffrey's Grocery, though all the food from the other menus is also available; specialty wine selections from Parcelle featuring varietals from some of the most sought-after wineries across the globe; and fully stocked snacks and refreshments.
The ultra-luxe and highly private suites are a first, both for Chase and LGA, where cardmembers have a dedicated suite attendant for a white glove travel experience.
Dana Pouwels, managing director and head of Sapphire card partnerships at Chase, told "GMA" that the banking company leaned on data to create a space that would elevate the overall experience, amplifying more of the things their cardmembers prioritize, like fine dining and experiences at the start of travel, rather than just allowing them to accrue points upon landing in a new destination.
"We have access to the best-in-house data to give us an incredible understanding of who our cardmembers are. From taking in feedback from our lounge in Boston to analyzing our travel booking data to see where our customers are traveling through, all of the decisions were made with our customers top interests and passions in mind," Pouwels said.
"Chase Sapphire Reserve cardmembers are travelers by nature and New York City is continuously topping the list of their travel destinations. As such, we're thrilled to expand our offering to serve New Yorkers and visitors alike," Pouwels said.
She added that the expansive lounge with VIP touches "reflects our dedication to enhancing cardmembers' travels from beginning to end."
Chase also announced Tuesday that it will further expand its Sapphire Lounge network, opening a new location at John F. Kennedy International Airport with Etihad Airways, which previously operated the lounge. The new space is set to open Jan. 23 in Terminal 4 above Gate A2.