Virgin Holidays opens its first v-room lounge at Bluewater shopping centre tomorrow.
The operator originally revealed it would open in eight key cities across the UK, but until now the v-room concept has only existed at Gatwick and Manchester airports.
Director of sales, Lee Haslett spoke to Travel Weekly during an exclusive visit to the new store. He said the v-room “embodied the Virgin brand” and would act as a place to relax and “enjoy the Virgin experience”, rather than being driven by bookings.
Haslett said Bluewater had always been a “good catchment area” for Virgin Holidays’ customers and that the House of Fraser concession had been among the top-performing concessions in the country.
The Bluewater v-room will replace the House of Fraser concession, with staff moved to the new standalone store.
Among the 12 staff employed at the new v-room, one staff member will take on a concierge role and ensure the “mood of the store is at its best”.
The store has a bar area where customers can enjoy complimentary drinks, and on weekends sporting events will be shown.
Children will be entertained by a Disney-themed area, complete with fancy dress outfits, and giant Minnie and Mickey Mouse cuddly toys.
A discovery wall map allows customers to watch videos and learn more about new destinations.
The store also utilises Google cardboard to show off different destinations around the world, although Haslett said it was important not to “use technology just for the sake of it”.
“Everything we do here compliments the Virgin brand; we’re not using technology just because we can, and we’re using it where it complements what we’re doing.”
The new store forms part of Virgin Holidays’ retail footprint which consists of three concepts – the v-room standalone stores, concessions with Debenhams and House of Fraser and its ‘Retail Lite’ concept, which are located within Tesco supermarkets.