AmEx's New Denver Centurion Lounge Takes Inspiration from the Rocky Mountains

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Although airline passenger numbers are still lagging, American Express is moving ahead with the opening of its latest Centurion Lounge at Denver International Airport. The newest outpost of AmEx’s premium lounge opened this week, just in time for the peak of ski season. 

“Historically, Denver International Airport has been one of the top airports our U.S. premium card members have traveled to,” says Alexander Lee, American Express vice president of travel experiences and benefits. “While many may not be ready to travel now, we are happy to provide our card members with a safe and comfortable place to relax whenever they may be ready to travel again.”

At 14,000 square feet, the new Denver location is the second largest in the Centurion Lounge network—equivalent in size to the one at Los Angeles LAX, and slightly behind the recently opened one at New York JFK, which is the largest at 15,000 square feet. 

Rocky Mountain vibes

Guests will find a variety of casually arranged seating areas as well as workstations for productivity. Some Centurion Lounges contain amenities like day spas, meditation rooms, and spacious family rooms. This one will have a unique fun factor in the form of a game room with adult-size versions of classics like checkers and Connect Four. (Lounge attendants will sanitize the games after each use.)

The décor throughout will pay homage to Denver’s natural surroundings, with a geometric ceiling installation mirroring the mountainous Colorado terrain, a custom mural of the Rockies, and a two-sided living wall of plants visible from both the lounge and the public concourse a level below.

Food and drink options

AmEx Centurion Lounges are known for featuring local, high-profile culinary talent. In Denver, James Beard Award–winner Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson of Boulder’s Frasca Food & Wine will serve as executive chef. “I was inspired by my travels through the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region of northeastern Italy to create this menu, incorporating a variety of local and artisanal ingredients,” Mackinnon-Patterson says. Among the dishes on offer are swirly gubana French toast, savory rigatoni al portonat, hearty chestnut soup with honeycrisp apple and speck, avocado bruschetta toast, and the chef’s signature tiramisu.

Many other airport lounges have either closed their buffets altogether or switched to a point-and-serve system where items are individually plated for guests and then delivered to their table by an attendant. At the Denver Centurion Lounge, however, visitors will be able to order (and customize) dishes from a cooking station, which will be prepared à la carte and served individually by a lounge representative.

Mixologist Jim Meehan oversees the AmEx Centurion Lounge cocktail program, and peppers his lists with location-specific libations. Here, that will mean drinks like the Rocky Fence with Woody Creek Rye Whiskey, Leopold Brothers New York Sour Apple Liqueur, and Cocktailpunk Apino Bitters; and the Bragging Rights, with hot filtered water, lemon, Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar, and maple syrup. In a nod to Denver’s brewing heritage, this particular Centurion Lounge will have a specialty craft beer bar with a changing selection of suds from Colorado’s breweries. Guests will find options like Helles Lager from Tivoli Brewing Company, Incredible Pedal IPA from Denver Beer Co., and Off Dry Stem Cider, among others. There will also be wines selected by AmEx’s consultant, Anthony Giglio.

New health and safety protocols

As new Centurion Lounges debut—and existing ones reopen after shuttering in the earlier days of the pandemic—AmEx has introduced new COVID-19 guidelines. Protocols include the installation of new HVAC systems and air filters, more frequent sanitizing of common touch points, adding hand-sanitizer stations, and implementing contactless check in through the AmEx app. Face coverings are required for guests at all times. Seating arrangements have been spaced out to adhere to social distancing rules and are disinfected between each use. Shower facilities have been closed, and spa services, where offered, are restricted to non-practitioner activities like digital mediations. Visits are also limited to three hours before departure.

Aside from that, the entry requirements remain the same. To get into a Centurion Lounge, travelers must have a personal or business version of The Platinum Card from American Express, the personal or business Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card, or the rarefied invite-only Centurion Card (commonly known as the “Black Card”). A boarding pass for a same-day departure is also required. Platinum cardholders may bring two companions for free, while Centurion cardholders are entitled to invite immediate family or up to two companions for free. Additional guests cost $50 each. Those with the Delta SkyMiles Reserve Card can also enter if flying a Delta-marketed or operated flight and can bring up to two guests at a cost of $50 each.

The new lounge is situated in the mezzanine of the airport’s C Concourse—the one farthest from the main Jeppesen Terminal where travelers go through security—and will be open daily from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. The C Concourse mainly serves Southwest, Spirit, and Alaska Airlines, though fliers can take the airport’s train to other carriers’ gates in Concourses A and B. Under normal circumstances, the lounge will have capacity for 310 guests, but will be more limited for the time being. During peak times, would-be loungers can add themselves to a temporary waiting list and get a text notification when space becomes available.

Per city-specific regulations, Centurion Lounges in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Seattle are only open for takeout food and drinks. Among the other Centurion Lounges to open or reopen recently are locations at New York JFK, which welcomed its first guests in October, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, Phoenix, and San Francisco.

AmEx is also currently working on a new, expanded lounge at New York’s LaGuardia airport.

We’re reporting on how COVID-19 impacts travel on a daily basis. Find our latest coronavirus coverage here, or visit our complete guide to COVID-19 and travel.

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