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High-Tech hotels: Celebrity boutiques & features ‘bordering on sci-fi' are the future design
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 19 - 09 - 2015

A new Design Theater for 2015, created by leading Italian designers WT Studio, was unveiled at the Dubai World Trade Centre where the 16th annual The Hotel Show Dubai, is set to take place on Sept. 28-30. It will host some of the international experts who will discuss the future of hotel design in the Middle East and Africa with news and predictions of sci-fi features and celebrity owners.
Issam Ezzeddine, project director and design architect at the National Engineering Bureau will present on “Sustainable town square in the UAE” on day one of the Design Theater on Monday (Sept. 28).
He said: “Architects and experts in the design industry sector are working hard to come up with innovative aspects that shape the future of architecture. The future is closer than you might think — current projects are already answering the imagined needs and desires of the next generation. While much remains to be done, the young population and significant capital resources of the MENA states are key advantages.
“Hotels are scrambling to anticipate travelers' future needs, and some changes already taking effect can help us get glimpse of what's to come: bathrooms will get bigger; guest rooms will get smaller; air-conditioning will be controlled via mobile phones; rooms will be equipped with high-tech LED and other lighting features; rooms will have minimalist design and open shelving; and there will be more local flavor.”
He continued: “Lobbies will become high-tech multiuse spaces and overall, hotels will integrate high-tech amenities that border on sci-fi. Hotels are literally looking to science fiction to gain an edge on competitors, launching futuristic amenities like robot butlers (the Botlr, currently only at the Aloft Cupertino and Aloft Silicon Valley), robot luggage handlers (the Yobot at New York's Yotel), virtual reality experience (WXYZ bars at Aloft Hotels), fingerprint scan room entry (at the Alma Barcelona), retina scan room entry (at the Nine Zero Hotel in Boston) and finally, infrared body scanners (at Seattle's Hotel 1000). Dubai is still to catch on, but given its tendency to take themes from the world's best and create them into something uniquely impressive, we can anticipate an interesting, high-tech future.”
An example of a futuristic hotel design coming to Dubai is the much-anticipated ME Dubai Hotel designed by award-winning architect Zaha Hadid. Melia Hotels International is set to discuss the project, due to open in the $400 million Opus development in Business Bay in 2016, in more detail at The Hotel Show's 2015 Vision Conference as part of the “MEGA Projects — An Inside View” panel on Monday. This is the first hotel designed by Iraq-British architect Hadid, famed for being the first woman to receive the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize and for her distinctive, neo-futuristic buildings. Gabriel Escarrer, vice chairman and CEO of Melia Hotels International recently described ME by Meliá as a “new-generation hotel brand” and the architecture of the ME Dubai Hotel, which features innovative style with metallic finishings as “jaw-dropping”.
Italian architect Simone Micheli, with studios based in Florence, Milan, Dubai and Rabat, renowned for futuristic hotel design, will present “Hotel as Opera” on day two of the Design Theater. He said: “In Dubai, architecture and design is developing so much, enriching the landscape with new forms, structures, ideas; giving birth to extraordinary works when the desire of trying something new is associated with smart research based on proper human needs. Architecture and design in the MENA region is both influenced by ultramodern thinking and advanced research, combined with the strength of a culture, which kept clear the values of its ancient past. The original combination of intents is showing great, unexpected results! Restaurants and hotels are becoming organic and interconnected spaces able to offer to visitors everyday more detailed, deeper, unique experiences that stay in people's minds.”
Anil Mangalat, design director at MMAC Design Associates, will contribute to a lively panel discussion on “Delivering on the design for hotel projects” on day three of the event, Wednesday (Sept. 30). He said: “Dubai is influenced by trends from around the world but it is also fair to say that the rest of the world is influenced by Dubai. The past years have seen several iconic projects realized that have secured Dubai's place on the world's stage. Regionally, Dubai has long been a pioneer in the architecture & design sector and now draws on both talent and experience to stay ahead. This, coupled with a visionary leadership, state-of-the-art infrastructure and business friendly policies puts Dubai at the forefront of design within MENA.”
He continued: “An interesting development in the past five years has been the rise of boutique designer hotels, especially in Europe. Owners of these hotels range from well-known chefs in Paris to Scottish Tennis players. They infuse their hotels with a touch of their quirky personality and offer a twist on traditional hospitality. I believe that the Middle East will not be immune to the Boutique Hotel trend. A few of the larger well-known international ‘Boutique' brands like the Edition, Morgans, etc. have already made their way here. I suspect that small-scale boutique hotels with unique offerings will spring up in the coming years to meet the demands of the new age traveler.”
Other Design Theater topics include: “The development of hospitality design in the GCC market”; “Local authenticity vs international polish — where should the balance lie?”; “Storytelling in hotel design” and “Innovative and sustainable vision in architecture and design”; while speakers include: Paramount Hotels & Resorts; National Design Academy; WT Studio; MKV Design; S&T; Pallavi Dean Interiors; M&J London and the Association of Professional Interior Designers (APID).
Interiors exhibitors at The Hotel Show Dubai this year include its Interior Partner, S&T, one of the leading global interiors and contracting companies, who is unveiling a new brand and a unique design and build fit-out concept, with an official unveiling set to take place on day two (Tuesday, Sept. 29) of the event; plus many more.
The Hotel Show is organized by dmg events and belongs to the dmg hospitality portfolio comprising of The Hotel Show Dubai, The Hotel Show Saudi Arabia, The Leisure Show, The Vision Conference, The Middle East Hotel Awards, and The Middle East Pool & Spa Awards.
The Hotel Show Dubai is an important business forum for the hospitality industry in the Middle East and Africa, expecting to welcome over 18,000 attendees from the global hospitality industry this year. — SG

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