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Inside and All Around CX City: Cathay Pacific's World Headquarters

May 20, 2011 at 10:37 AM | by | ()

Have you ever stood in the modern glass atrium of the headquarters of one of the world's top airlines? It's an impressive experience, to say the least, as it was for us recently when we spent an afternoon touring CX CIty, aka the home of Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific just outside of Chek Lap Kok Airport (HKG) on Lantau Island.

On the outside, CX City (or Cathay City, whichever), is a quiet and seemingly calm business block. Step inside, however, and you're immediately engulfed in the energy of a company that's got places to go and airplanes to fly. Flight attendants in their sharp red skirt suits powerwalk past, desk workers grab a candy bar from the atrium shop before going back to tweaking graphic design on an in-flight meal napkin, and pilots grab a post-flight beer in the pub.

It's an electric place, and the international ease is obvious; these people you see now could be in the sky over the Arctic in several hours, serving ramen noodles to anxious passengers on their flight long-haul. Can you tell we were kind of in heaven?

Our tour of Cathay's HQ covered everywhere from the crew training mockups and flight simulators to the entire hotel (and its breathtaking top-floor lounge) reserved exclusively for Cathay employees. It's difficult to describe everything, so we hope our photos above help tell the story. Let it suffice to say that this was a once-in-a-lifetime chance (unless we decide our future holds wings on our lapel).

In a way it's sad that CX City is not open to the public, because such awesome things as a whole Cathay Pacific History Museum are tucked into it, complete with a DC3 cockpit simulator for attempting a landing at the notorious old Hong Kong airport, Kai Tak. Want to view all the flight attendant uniforms of Cathay's past, including the Nina Ricci-designed ensemble? They're all there, as is every little shopping discount card passengers receive on their in-flight meal tray.

Every step was a revelation, especially walking into the massive white garages of the flight simulators, the large capsules softly bobbing on their hydraulic legs to mock actual flight. If we had to narrow it down to a favorite place in CX City, however, it's got to be The Headland Hotel. Never heard of this hotel, you say? That's because The Headland is not advertised on any website, nor will it let you walk in and book one of its many rooms. The Headland, you see, is a private hotel for Cathay Pacific employees, complete with all the trappings of a usual luxury hotel (fitness club, bar, swank lounge, etc). Head to the top floor for the moneyshot: Catalina's, the hotel's restaurant, overlooks all of CX City and Hong Kong Airport.

Even on a foggy day, the view was staggering. 747s drive around the terminal like little die-cast playthings, while Singapore's A380 launches up into the sky with ridiculous ease. The whole of the lengthy airport is laid out at our feet—one of our most favorite airports in the world—and we could've lived up there. As it always is, though, we had to jet.

The view from Catalina's

[Photos: Cynthia Drescher for Jaunted]

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