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Site visit: Novotel Sharjah Expo hotel, UAE

by Neha Bhatia on Jan 27, 2018

The project is being developed by an entity called Sharjah Expo Hotel LLC, which is owned by Basma Group.
The project is being developed by an entity called Sharjah Expo Hotel LLC, which is owned by Basma Group.

Hotel projects are rarely the incubators of creative or offbeat building programmes, with their architecture and construction typically driven by operator, designer, and developer requirements.

However, the developer-contractor duo working on a prominent Sharjah hotel has adopted an unconventional contract plan that could go on to become a trendsetter for the industry. 

Their detour from the usual to build the Novotel Sharjah Expo hotel is best evidenced by Klampfer Middle East’s (KME) role on the project. In addition to main contracting – one of its core strengths – KME is delivering fit-out, furnishings, and equipment (FFE), as well as operating supplies and equipment (OSE) services for the scheme.

The hotel is being developed by an entity called Sharjah Expo Hotel LLC, and KME is involved with the project through a design-and-build (D&B) contract. The development vehicle is owned by Basma Group, which is chaired by HE Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, a member of Sharjah’s ruling family. Basma Group awarded KME the hotel’s contract, worth almost $34.6m (AED127m), in 2016.

Upon its completion, Novotel Sharjah Expo will serve as the official hotel of Expo Centre Sharjah, and will be managed by Accor Hotel Services Middle East. The property’s floor plan features 200 units across three categories – standard rooms, club floor rooms, and executive suites – as well as a business centre, food and beverage (F&B) outlets, and two meeting halls, one of which spans approximately 200m2.

Sam Chehab, general manager of KME, says the project’s D&B contract has allowed the team to work through a speedy – if somewhat rare – setup to develop the hotel. For example, Chehab not only heads KME – the team building the project – but also operates as the client’s representative (CR) for the development.

“So, I engage with the consultant as a contractor and as the CR, and when I do speak to them – on every occasion – I make it very clear [which role it is as],” Chehab tells Construction Week.

“Ultimately, every decision, every conversation, and every initiative has always been to the advantage of the project, keeping in mind the builder’s and client’s bottom lines.” 

Upon his appointment as CR, Chehab says he realised that OSE and FFE delivery could be brought under KME’s remit: “[OSE agencies would have] come here and brought third-party labour. I said, ‘I’m here with my labour teams already, so I’ll [deliver] that’.”

Similarly, when Chehab realised that KME could also purchase the furnishings required for the project – such as doors and showers – and use his existing labour teams to install the products, the decision was made to include FFE within KME’s contract.

“It was more expeditious and made for more economical use of labour, and there were fewer [middlemen in the process],” Chehab explains. “It was a win-win situation for the client, the builder, and the operator teams.”

While this may sound like more work than most main contractors are accustomed to, Chehab says his team is ready to meet the demand for added resources to deliver FFE and OSE services.

“Usually, towards the end of a project, you expand the team, because the last 10-20% is always hardest to deliver,” he explains.

“You add resources to [advance] the job towards the end. At that point, you want to fix any snags very quickly before they accumulate and become worse. So, we would have ‘surged’ for three weeks anyway. Now, I’ll surge for six weeks instead, to do the OSE works as well.”

KME’s unconventional role on the project – Chehab estimates that while 20% of main contractors provide FFE services, provision of OSE works is “unheard of” – means that guests will begin occupying the property not long after the team’s work is complete.

Initial designs for the project were produced by architecture specialist Alessio, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) outfit, Sharjah Engineering Consultants.

In-house consultants, draftsmen, and engineers were deployed by KME to coordinate the inherited designs with the core client brief and local municipality guidelines. Meanwhile, Klampfer-Brayan Electromechanical Contracting (KBEC) has signed on as the scheme’s MEP contractor.