Site visit: Hotel Indigo Dubai Business Bay

Once finished, Hotel Indigo Dubai Business Bay will represent Sunflower FZE’s first foray into the UAE hospitality market, but can the project hit its ambitious April 2018 completion deadline?

There are currently 97 construction professionals working on site.
There are currently 97 construction professionals working on site.

Hospitality development is picking up pace in Dubai. With more than 94,000 rooms already online, the emirate is planning to grow this number to approximately 164,000 by 2020. With 70,000 new rooms in the construction pipeline, it’s no surprise that a host of brands are planning their Dubai debuts.

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) boasts numerous operations in Dubai, but it has spotted a gap in the market. Its upcoming offering, Hotel Indigo Dubai Business Bay, is being touted as “the industry’s first branded boutique hotel experience”.

Three Indigo-branded hotels are currently under development in the GCC: two in Dubai and one in Riyadh. Sunflower FZE is the owner and developer behind the Business Bay project, which is the company’s first foray into the UAE hospitality market.

The 280-key, four-star Hotel Indigo Dubai Business Bay is being built just minutes away from The Dubai Mall and Dubai Design District (d3). Boasting contemporary Emirati elements fused into the design of the hotel, Hotel Indigo Dubai Business Bay will open its doors on 24 April, 2018.

The “lifestyle midmarket hotel”, as developer and owner, Jitendra Bhatia of Sunflower FZE calls it, will comprise 19 floors, three basement parking levels, and three all-day dining venues. Although ‘boutique’ typically denotes a smaller offering, Bhatia feels that a concept of 60 to 70 keys wouldn’t work well in Business Bay. As such, his team has “tailored the concept to fit the lifestyle midmarket [customers]” in the locality.

Construction work at the site is in progress, with piling, enabling, and shoring works complete. The main structural work is scheduled to end by October 2017. The architect behind the designs of Atlantis, The Palm, and Emirates Towers, NORR Architects and Engineers, was enlisted as the development’s consultant. NORR has inculcated elements from d3, which will be seen in its aluminium cladding and the granite base.

Sunflower hired creative director Kris Luckraj to incorporate local elements into the design of the hotel. South African firm, dsgn, was awarded the interior design (ID) contract, and Luckraj has been working closely with the company to infuse Emirati culture and heritage into the project.

Describing the project as “conceptually correct to the environment”, Luckraj says: “Hotel Indigo will bring to fore the culture of Dubai, the Emirati hospitality, and its Bedouin history. It will showcase the history of Dubai and how the emirate happened. Right from the pearling industry to the creek.

“Our story is based on life around the creek and, because we’re on the crossroads between the Dubai Design District on one side and the fashion district (The Dubai Mall) on the other side, we will be a mix of those elements as well.”

The first two floors, which feature granite bases, will tower up to 12m; both have been allotted extra height. Shailesh Bhandari, of Kulkarni Quantity Surveyors, the project manager for the site, says: “[These floors] will include: two all-day-dining restaurants, a plant room, health club, meeting rooms, and a swimming pool, as well as IHG offices and mechanical rooms.”

The third restaurant will be located on the roof of the building, and the rooms will stretch from the third to the 19th floor.

Indigo Hotel Dubai Business Bay is being developed at an estimated total investment of $62.6m (AED230m). The main contractor package is valued at $54m (AED198m), the enabling work contract at $3.5m (AED13m), and additional works at between $4.8m and $5m (AED15m-18m). 55% of the project has been self-financed by the developers, and the remainder has been sourced from lenders.

Shapoorji Pallonji was appointed as the project’s main contractor in July 2016. The mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) sub-contractor, Jamaheer Constructions, was hired last month. Sub-contractors for other works will be appointed in due course; the aluminium glazing and interior handrails contract is to be awarded in January 2017, followed by the pools and water features contract in February, and the landscaping work contract in March.

Contractors for kitchen, laundry, and cold storage equipment; fit-out works for front-of-house (FOH) common areas; fit-out works for guest rooms; finishes, doors, and ironmongeries for specialist areas; gym, steam, and sauna equipment; and extra-low voltage (ELV) system works will be selected in May 2017.

In April next year, an ID works package will be awarded. The final stage of appointments will involve the contract for internal and external signage, which is scheduled to be decided in July 2017.

The hotel’s ground-breaking ceremony took place on 28 October, 2015, but work didn’t commence until September this year. Nevertheless, Bhandari points out that piling, shoring, and enabling works are now complete. He adds: “We’ve completed pile-cap work for the elevators, [and] currently, we’re finishing the final works.”

Hotel Indigo Dubai Business Bay will be built in two phases. Phase 1 will consist of the main building, while Phase 2 will include the construction of the hotel’s podium area and swimming pool.

“For the podium area, which goes up to level two only, we will begin work later,” says Bhandari. “We are currently working on the main building, which will go up 19 floors, as that’s our priority. There [will be a gap] of 30 days between the two.”

Bhandari tells Construction Week that the concrete pours for the hotel’s main building and podium area will take place on 28 November and 17 December, respectively. MEP work is also scheduled to start soon.

Explaining project details, Bhandari continues: “The hotel will have nine lifts for which pile-cap work is ongoing. The building will have an aluminium façade with glass, which is scheduled to be completed by October 2017. The base of the building consists of granite cladding.”

With the entire building exterior comprising aluminium and glass, the developers are taking strong precautions to mitigate fire-related risks. Bhandari explains: “We are using the Dubai Community Development Authority (DCDA)-approved aluminium panels. We’ve not yet appointed a contractor; we’re in the process of finalising one. We’ve submitted our designs and required information to DCDA, and we’re expecting the permission soon.”

Value engineering on the project has been conducted by project manager, Kulkarni Quantity Surveyors, in conjunction with NORR. Bhandari continues: “We have looked into value engineering and had a discussion with NORR in the early stages of detail designing for MEP design requirements. For interiors, we have revisited the whole interior design plan after the initial concept was presented to us. Although we have maintained the theme of the ‘neighbourhood story’, we’ve made it more functional.”

Room dimensions will range from 28m2 to 52m2, with each room reflecting the Emirati culture. “Local artisans will be appointed to create local Emirati work; we will also use local fabrics for the rooms, with the entire design based on the shipping and dhow industry of Dubai,” says Luckraj.

Ultimately, Hotel Indigo Dubai Business Bay will measure 105m in height, and 23m in width. The main building’s substructure will be completed in February 2017, and fit-out works will commence in May. At present, there are 97 construction professionals working on site; at the peak of activity, the services of 600 labourers will be required. “We’re working 24 hours a day, six days a week. We expect all the work to be completed [on] schedule, with no delays,” Bhandari concludes.

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