Shangri-La, Qaryat Al Beri hotel in Abu Dhabi could well be the first Shangri-La hotel to install a solar power system to heat its water.
On 12 August 2005, work commenced on the Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri in Abu Dhabi. Two years later to the day, the main part of the hotel had its soft opening and just 12 weeks later, running at full capacity.
The general operations of the hotel are not dissimilar to other five star hotels. Most of the customer-facing services are kept in-house and specialist services like landscaping and waste are outsourced.
So just what is it that makes this hotel different from its competitors?
During an interview with facilities management Middle East, the hotel's assistant chief engineer, Christian Tjenderasa, revealed the hotel's desire to install solar power on the roof of the building.
If implemented, the hotel could see 80 2.7m2 solar panels installed over an area around 217 m2. Tjenderasa says the panels will produce 480,000 kilocalories of energy and a device called a calorifer will be used to heat the water by circulating it over coils. Up to 12,000 litres of the hotel's water will be heated through solar power.
"Engineering suggested to management that we have solar panels on top of the building to generate heat," says general manager of the hotel, Adrian Rudin.
If the hotel is successful in its application, the Shangri-La, Qaryat Al Beri in Abu Dhabi will be the first of its kind to implement solar power in a Shangri-La hotel. "This is a first for Shangri-La in the Middle East. Hopefully it will become a standard for others, dependant on their locations," says Tjenderasa.
Many argue that although solar panels are an expensive option from the outset, they do produce a reasonable return on investment. They are also more environmentally friendly for the earth's atmosphere and in line with the Shangri-La's corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme.
"We think the ROI (return on investment) will be around three and a half years, it was the obvious thing to aim for," claims Rudin.
Rudin and Tjenderasa believe the hotel could start seeing the benefits of solar power as early as April 2008.
"We chose to look into solar power due to its ability to produce energy all year round.
"We have the space to apply the technology and it is inline with Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts' commitment to being environmentally friendly and aware," says Tjenderasa.
Other environmental programmes will also be launched throughout next year, with a focus on water and light savings.
To recognise its efforts, Rudin says the hotel will be applying for ISO 14001, the Environmental Management Standard.
"We are very conscious about global warming and we have just rolled out a new programme that focuses on what we can do to help prevent it," he explains.
Phase one of the resort, the main hotel, is situated between phase two of the resort, the villas, spa and serviced apartments.
The spa will open in November and Qaryat Al Beri will be the first destination in the UAE to offer Chi, the spa at Shangri-La. The seven villas and 161 serviced apartments are set to be complete by the end of this year or beginning of 2008.
Hoarding has been strategically placed to block construction on the right and left of the hotel."There's no disruption to hotel guests at all. Only a few workers are still on site to fix problems and night work has been limited," says Rudin.
Rudin and his team are currently in the process of snagging the Chi spa and preparing it for its soft opening.
Planned preventative maintenance (PPM) is in place and there are 77 engineers available 24 hours a day to fix maintenance problems.
"We have a system called 'service centre' and every call is channelled to one service centre and then sent to an engineer," says Rudin.
Guest rooms are on a schedule to be fully serviced twice a year.
Commenting on the development of the hotel and resort, Rudin explains that what he found the most challenging was also what he found the most rewarding. "I was the first employee and came here with a laptop and a printer. I've enjoyed the experience and the reward of building up the team, interviewing individuals and watching it grow. This was also the biggest challenge."
Tjenderasa says enjoys seeing the systems work together and finds language the biggest barrier.
"The biggest challenge for me is the language, I often need to ask someone to translate for me or the message gets lost," he explains.
To help combat the language obstacles, during the interview process the hotel focuses on interviewee's command of the English language. "We have also employed an English teacher. Departments are busy improving their language skills. Communication is key to the success of the hotel," says Rudin.
The hotel has been built on a 1km strip of land and is only 80 to 100m wide from roadside to sea. It overlooks the newly built Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.
Facilities available during the hotel's soft opening includes food and beverages, two swimming pools, one beach and a temporary gymnasium. The whole resort will be fully operational by the first quarter of 2008.
Owner: Al Jabar Group
Interior Designer: Wilson Associates
Situated: On the 21 acre Qaryat Al Beri development, which will also feature a souk
Number of rooms: 214 hotel rooms and suite, seven themed villas and the 161 serviced apartments
Managed by: Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts
Number of in-house staff: Just over 600 on board (as of end of October), will increase as entire project is completed
Preventative maintenance in place: Room ppm, HVAC ppm, Kitchen & Laundry, Electrical
List of Amenities: business centre, ballroom, five conference and meeting spaces, five outdoor pools, a health club, 1km of beach, CHI spa
Power source(s): ADDC
Water consumption and controls: Daily water reading and water safe campaign
Energy efficient lighting: Sensor and energy saver bulbs
Timer controls on energy systems: Timer for outside lighting and fountain
VFD controls on high wattage machinery: VFD on cooling tower fans and pumps
HVAC management for common areas: BMS control
In-house or outsourced by who?
Asbestos management: n/a
Catering: In house
Elevators maintenance: ETA
Energy management: In-house
Irrigation: Emirates Landscape
Lakes maintenance: in-house
Landscaping: Emirates Landscape
Pest Control: UNIMA
Security: In-house and outsourced to Falcon
Swimming pool treatment: PSG
Waste management: Onyx
Water features: In-house
Access Control: VingCard
Bathroom fittings: Grohe
Emergency lighting: CEAG
External lighting: Various brand
Fire blanket: NAFFCO
Fire extinguishers: NAFFCO
Gym equipment: TechnoGym
HVAC/Air conditioning: YORK
Internal lighting: Lutron
Room interiors and designer: DEPA
TV - smart technology: Samsung
Vacuum cleaners: Taski
Water pumps: Grundfos