“Tea is quiet and our thirst for tea is never far from our craving for beauty.” – Norwood Pratt
There is a special place in Austin where I like to spend my time. When I’m not ready to drive through intense traffic and a long commute home, I will visit Departure Lounge for a mental break and to order a soothing cup of hot tea.
I typically sit near an inspiring work of art that is a sliding door created by Thailand artisans. I could stare at its beauty for hours.
Departure Lounge is unique in that it is a coffee, wine, travel agency, and event center.
It exudes a zen atmosphere and vibe surrounded by cultural art in an elegant décor of black and white furniture. Artisan chocolates, pastries, cheeses, and sandwiches are also offered.
Departure Lounge is a member of the Virtuoso luxury travel network. Its travel advisors don’t charge fees for travel planning and they may be able to assist with complimentary upgraded experiences. It has several travel magazines in its lounge and streaming videos that provide information on possible destinations.
Anyone can schedule an appointment with a travel advisor based on the client’s availability.
A significant part of Departure Lounge’s décor is adorned with stunning works of art from artisan groups throughout the world. Several pieces of the handmade art are provided by the nonprofit Ten Thousand Villages (Austin location) and Departure Lounge sells the artwork on its behalf.
Before I started frequenting Departure Lounge, as a consumer I had no awareness of Ten Thousand Villages, its mission, or the conditions under which some people in other countries work to produce products to supply to other countries. Ten Thousand Villages helps artisans in developing countries earn income by selling their products through fair trade partnerships. The fair trade model helps to create job opportunities, provide safe working conditions, cease child labor and human trafficking, promote gender equality, and so much more. Ultimately, it allows people to hold on to their dignity by working to provide for their family's basic needs by preserving their art. As consumers, it allows us to appreciate the art and to have some exposure to a culture that we may not have previously known. Because of Departure Lounge, I volunteered at Ten Thousand Villages to learn more about fair trade, the artisans’ stories, and their art.
When I do eventually leave Departure Lounge, my spirit always feels lighter than when I arrived. It’s as though the art has an energetic connection and life force that have formed a bond between the artisan and me as the admirer of the art. The beauty of the art, the artisan stories, and the significance of fair trade stay with me as I drive home.
Location: Departure Lounge, 311 W. 5th Street, Austin, Texas 78701, 512-322-9399, Hours are Monday-Friday from 9am – 9 pm and Saturdays from 11 am – 9 pm