Sydney Airport's $500 million revamp
Scattered among 20 boutiques, Sydney Airport's departure terminal now boasts offshoots of local foodie favourites such as Danks Street Depo and Bambino Wine Bar alongside international flavours like Montreux Jazz Cafe and the Seafood Bar - Caviar House and Prunier.
After three years and $500 million, the Sydney International Airport's new renovations may just put it among the world's best departure points.
Handling about 45 per cent of the country's international travellers, the airport wants holidays to now start after check-in through new additions to fashion, food and entertainment.
Scattered among 20 boutiques, the departure terminal now includes offshoots of local foodie favourites such as Danks Street Depot and Bambini Wine Bar alongside international flavours like Montreux Jazz Cafe and the Seafood Bar - Caviar House and Prunier.
In June this year the final store, Dermalogica, opened its doors and marked the end of the $500 million renovations that began in 2007.
The climb to the top couldn't have come any sooner.
In March, the travel hub was named by the ACCC as the country's worst airport for the fourth year in a row and car parking was the most expensive in Australia.
At the time, Sydney Airport called the report "out of date".
As proof of their efforts to gain passenger approval, in June the airport announced a short-term free parking option at the international terminal. It allows drivers to park for up to 15 minutes without incurring a fee, where previously they were forced to pay $7 for less than 30 minutes parking.
Another effort to improve passenger satisfaction in the airport is through its new restaurants.
If the best way to a man's heart is through his stomach, then the airport has won over a legion of new fans.
Before Customs, popular chains such as Hungry Jacks, McDonalds, Krispy Kreme and Oporto stand beside a version of popular Waterloo restaurant Danks Street Depot and the Montreux Jazz Cafe.
Inspired by the world's oldest and largest music festival, the Montreux Jazz Festival, the cafe opened in May with a live performance from Aussie jazz singer Katie Noonan. Diners can sample from a menu designed by Michelin-starred chef Gilles Dupont, which features traditional Swiss cuisine alongside the likes of the BB (King) Burger and Ella's (Fitzgerald) Cheesecake.
After Customs, families can check out Trattoria Prego for classic Italian fare, or travellers can nip into the the Seafood Bar - Caviar House and Prunier and treat themselves to half lobster ($32), or to a traditional Zakuska Vodka and Caviar Shot ($32.50).
For those in a rush, Itacho Sushi offers a wide range of grab-and-go bento boxes to take on board your flight, whipped together by Japanese sushi chef Yoshifumi Tanimoto and his team.
Aside from international fare, a large part of the push in the culinary range was to bring a taste of Sydney to travellers.
Local favourites such as yum cha hotspot China Grand and Danks Street Depot in Waterloo were invited to open an offshoot version of their restaurant at the airport .
Owner and executive chef of Danks Steet Depot, Jared Ingersoll, says he is "chuffed" to be one of several restaurants involved in the airport revamp.
"Sydney's such a diverse place though that (it's hard) to say anything that's iconic," said Ingersoll.
"Some people would argue yum cha or Harry's Pie, or a bowl of noodles from Cabramatta."
"(So) I do have a real sense of achievement being able to put that (Danks Street Depot) at the airport."
Ingersoll is hoping to now push the quality of airport food to a new level.
"Whenever I travel, you eat before you go to the airport or you just have to pay a lot of money for stuff that is just really not that pleasant," he said.
"(With us) it's just the whole thing of taking advantage of the best local Australian produce.
"We're using that focus on flavour."
The menu includes popular choices such as the toasted Reuben sandwich, crispy pork belly salad, and poached eggs and hash.
Other additions to the departures terminal include Australia's only Victoria's Secret store, the world's first Lonely Planet store and the world's first Wiggles store, which feature alongside up-market fashion outlets such as Burberry, Emporio Armani, Ralph Lauren and Oroton.
The airport has obviously come a long way since it was first opened by Queen Elizabeth in May 1970, but it's unclear yet if the recent changes have put it among the world's best.
In March, Sydney did not even rate a mention on the annual Skytrax Airport Awards for the top 20 airports, which are based on survey results from 9.8 million travellers.
However, the survey was conducted between July 2009 and March 2010, when some of the departure terminal's renovations were yet to be revealed.
The Skytrax Airport Awards, known as the "Passenger's Choice" awards, gave the top gong to Singapore's Changi airport, while Seoul Incheon came a close second and Hong Kong third.
Only one Australian airport - Brisbane - made the list at number 18.
With the next lot of results due out next year, only time will tell if half a billion dollars has turned the country's worst airport into travellers' little slice of heaven.