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I went behind the scenes with Singapore Airlines to see how it’s massively upgrading the onboard experience on the world’s longest flights

Singapore Airlines has teamed up with a spa where a week-long stay will set a visitor back $10,000 to make its 19-hour flights more enjoyable. ...
Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

  • Singapore Airlines has turned to the Golden Door Spa to give its ultra-long-haul flights an upgrade.
  • Golden Door chef Greg Frey Jr is crafting a brand-new menu based on items served at the spa. 
  • Singapore Airlines currently flies three of the top 10 longest flights in the world. 
Singapore Airlines is a recognized leader in aviation when it comes to flying the longest commercial flights in the world.

Singapore Airlines Airbus A350
While an airline might have one or two routes than rank in the top 10 longest in the world, Singapore Airlines has three. In 2018, the airline took its place on the throne with the relaunch of non-stop flights between Singapore and Newark, in addition to non-stop flights to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR
Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Some changes were made during the pandemic, including limiting US flights to a single route between Singapore and Los Angeles. Slowly but surely, though, routes that were lost were added back and others were amended, with Newark being temporarily replaced with New York.

Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR
Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Inside the new world's longest flight: What it's like to fly on Singapore Airlines' new route between Singapore and New York

Singapore is reopening to the world with its new "vaccinated travel lane" program and travelers booking non-stop flights from the US will be able to skip quarantine if they meet the requirements. And waiting for them onboard will be an entirely new offering come January.

Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR
Onboard a Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900ULR.

Singapore Airlines is now partnering with the Golden Door Spa in San Marcos, California to craft a new onboard wellness and dining offering, comparable to what the wealthy experience during their visits to the spa.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

Singapore Airlines is partnering with the ultra-exclusive Golden Door spa to redefine luxury on the world's longest commercial flights

Insider went behind the scenes with Singapore Airlines in Golden Door's California kitchen to see how airline and spa chefs are working together for a brand-new culinary experience onboard the world's longest air journeys.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

Inside the Golden Door Spa, the California retreat loved by the wealthy that's $9,950 for a week's stay

Chef Greg Frey Jr is the executive chef at Golden Door. His job is to ensure that spa-goers not only enjoy their meals but that the food being served contributes to the overall wellbeing of the guests.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

It's a delicate balance between controlling portions and crafting a meal that will satiate enough so that guests aren't asking for more. He jokes that his job is to ensure that patrons aren't sneaking off to the local In-N-Out Burger amidst a wellness retreat.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

"The food is not meant to be very overarching, very high-end, and very fancy," Frey told Insider. "I'm here to feed you not to starve you."

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

Helping bring Frey's creations to the airline world is Antony McNeil, Singapore Airlines' global food & beverage director, along with the executive chefs of the airline's contracted catering facilities.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

Awaiting us in the Golden Door kitchen were around 20 menu items that Frey had crafted under the partnership. Some of the dishes can be found on the Golden Door menu during one of its week-long programs while others were crafted specifically for Singapore Airlines.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

"There are some dishes that are on here that are created solely for our partnership, but there are many of these that are big favorites for our guests," Frey said.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

The Golden Door's signature dish, served like clockwork every Sunday, is the miso-glazed black cod. For the spa-goers, it provides energy for the next morning to take on the day's activities while for airline passengers, it could give them the energy to take on the day after a long flight to the US or Singapore.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

Meal choices are very deliberate in that each ingredient serves a purpose. It's a skill that Frey has spent the better part of the last decade honing while at Golden Door.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

Some of the other dishes that Golden Door spa-goers will enjoy over the course of the week that may soon find their way onboard Singapore Airlines planes include the portobello meatballs in an heirloom tomato sauce with risotto…

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

Smoked fennel duck with chow-chow sauce…

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

Citrus grilled shrimp salad with ginger balsamic dressing…

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

And blue crab tower with wheatberry salad.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

Travelers on the non-stop flights between Singapore and the US spend as much as 19 hours on the plane, giving them ample time to try a variety of the menu items across the three meal services.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

Frey sources the ingredients for his meals from the Golden Door's multi-acre garden just beyond the main resort area. Insider toured the garden, as well, and found a cornucopia of produce intended to feed the 40 weekly Golden Door visitors.

Golden Door Spa and Resort
Inside the Golden Door Spa and Resort.

"I want to go out and see what are the ingredients and then those formulate and percolate into an idea," Frey said. "Until I have that plate in my hand and I'm actually putting these things together, I really have no idea what it's going to look like."

Golden Door Spa and Resort
Inside the Golden Door Spa and Resort.

Frey's journey to learn the ins and outs of airline food required visiting one of Singapore Airlines' contracted catering facilities and go onboard the Airbus A350-900 ULR being used for the flights. Luckily, aviation runs in the chef's blood as Frey's father worked as a pilot and mother as a flight attendant, both for Trans World Airlines.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

But even with the differences in cooking, Frey says that cooking for an airline isn't much different than cooking for a clientele paying $10,000 per week for a spa visit.

Golden Door Spa and Resort
Inside the Golden Door Spa and Resort.

"How much did I have to really change from what I'm doing here at the Golden Door? Very, very little," Frey said. "This is taking what we do here at the Door and curating it for the airline."

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

A focus on nutrition also doesn't rule out desserts and sweets, it just means they'll be healthier than, say, an ice cream sundae.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

Chocolate chip mint cookies, spiced apple cake, persimmon pudding cake, and ginger snap cookies are just some of what passengers will soon enjoy.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

Singapore Airlines stressed that the food items on display were still technically in development, even though they looked ready to serve onboard.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

To that point, two of Singapore Airlines' own executives had concerns that the sauce for one of the dishes was too sweet, and questioned whether it could be toned down or balanced out with the accompaniments.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

But that's all part of the process to ensure guests will have the best culinary experience possible.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

The investment in food and wellness gives passengers another reason to pay the premium attached to the non-stop services, most of which only offer business class and premium economy class seating.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

Countless airlines fly between the US and Singapore, but not all are offering the level of wellness that Singapore Airlines hopes to.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

The difference between the Golden Door and Singapore Airlines' previous wellness partner, Canyon Ranch, is that Frey's methods aren't as calculated.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

"We're not focusing so much on calories and calorie count, we just want you to eat well," McNeil said, noting that traditional Singapore Airlines fare will still be offered through pre-order programs like "book the cook."

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

Giving travelers the freedom to choose their own preferences on the ultra-long-haul flights is paramount to Singapore Airlines' executives.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

"The purpose of this relationship is to develop a robust and a very flexible wellness program," Betty Wong, Singapore Airlines' division vice president of in-flight services and design, told Insider. "We want to make sure that these options are available, but at the end of the day, the choice is yours."

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

Picky eaters can rejoice as that flexibility means there will be no shortage of options onboard. "If you want [to eat] a burger, eat a burger," McNeil said.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

Frey and McNeil worked in tandem during our visit, complementing each other's actions as they moved around the kitchen, resulting in beautifully plated dishes that tasted as wonderful as they looked.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

The challenge for both chefs is making sure that the items look and taste the same at 35,000 feet as do on the ground in San Marcos.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

"The only thing I did keep in mind was just in the challenges of [airline] catering versus [at the Golden Door]," Frey said. Airline food is cooked to a certain point prior to a flight and then finished off on the airplane, spending time in cold storage in between.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

If Frey gets it right, Singapore Airlines might find itself with a similar return rate to that of the Golden Door. "65% of the clients that come once here come back another 10 times in their life," Frey said. "I see most people at least once more."

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

Insider had the opportunity to try some of the menu items and found each was bursting with flavor and perfect for in-flight cuisine.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

The new Singapore Airlines and Golden Door collaboration will take flight in January 2022 on the Singapore-Los Angeles route before being expanded to San Francisco and New York flights.

Inside the Golden Door spa — Singapore Airlines Golden Door Spa Partnership
Inside the Golden Door spa.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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