Saving space

InterContinental Hotels Group arrived in the region over 40 years ago with InterContinental Phoenicia in Lebanon pioneering the international 5-star hotel category in the Middle East.

Soft cream linen is teamed with complementary mauve accents.
Soft cream linen is teamed with complementary mauve accents.

InterContinental Hotels Group arrived in the region over 40 years ago with InterContinental Phoenicia in Lebanon pioneering the international 5-star hotel category in the Middle East. Now the hotel group has turned its attention to the burgeoning development in Dubai�s Festival City. The operator has elevated interior design to a lofty level in its new 36-storey venture with internationally renowned interior designers such as ‘Super Potato�, Gregory Gatserelia and David Tokiwa chosen to design the food and beverage outlets.

Hospitality specialist David B.Tokiwa & Associates, famed for its contemporary style will contribute sleek designs and modern lines as seen in its work in the second Wagamama restaurant located in the Greens, Dubai. Asian design heavyweights, ‘Super Potato�, will create a contemporary coffee shop and the multi-station authentic Japanese restaurant, which is set to become the hotel�s centre-piece. The latter 950 m² space with just over 200 seats will bring live action cooking stations into the very heart of the restaurant.

It is the design of the hotel bedrooms, though, that is the focus of this case study. Since unveiling its mock-up room, the spotlight has been on the innovative spatial layout that GA Design International has implemented in the 501 bedrooms, which include 120 suites, three Presidential Suites and one Royal Suite. London-based Terry McGinnity, executive director, GA Design International explains the theory behind the floorplans: “The room was designed to be a series of interlocking spaces and planes. The traditional boundaries and walls of the bathroom and entries between have deliberately been broken down to blur the line between the volumes, enhancing the overall room experience and expanding the feeling of space.�


The room sizes at the InterContinental Dubai Festival City are generous, with a standard hotel room measuring in at 44m². Yet McGinnity still persisted in formulating solutions that enhanced the space further to give the guests an open and free feeling.

A series of sliding screens and walls combine to give maximum flexibility and privacy allowing the guest to close off areas such as the entry hall so that room service can wheel in and leave a tray without disturbing guests. Cultural sensitivity was a key factor in determining this layout, and the architectural shape of the building contributed considerably to the spatial plan too.

Tom Meyer, area general manager of InterContinental Hotels Group, Dubai Festival City, said: “GA Design has shown an innovative approach to the main challenge of working on this project, which is the shape of the building. Its curvature means that instead of one room type, one executive suite and one main suite, we feature an enormous range of room types and more than 80 different arrangements have been implemented within the project,� said Meyer.

The finishes and furniture within the room are predominantly custom-designed by GA. McGinnity is known for his focus on luxury materials, meaning that a key challenge for him as a designer was balancing a luxurious look with practicality and modern designs to ensure the overall feel appealed to all. The hotel�s location in Festival City, and its proximity both to the airport and the business hub around DFC and Sheikh Zayed Road means that a high number of business travellers are to be expected and so a clean simple look was decided to be the best option.

“Using richer materials but along cleaner planes enabled me to effectively bring in the feel of luxury that this region loves so much, without actually compromising on the clean forms and steering clear of overly decorative elements,� said McGinnity. “By keeping the detailing clean and simple this emphasises the luxury of the materials used, from the bold richness of high-gloss Macassar ebony to the linen-panelled walls.�

This simplicity carries through to the windows where the fabric is understated to ensure nothing takes away from the stunning vista over the creek and the city beyond. “The views from the windows are so amazing, six layers of window curtains would ruin that, so the window detailing is understated. Overall, I�d say we�ve been very keen to stress that the architecture carries through into the interiors,� adds Meyer.

All surfaces have also been freed of lamps, literature, phones, etc to provide a calm and uncluttered ambience. Understated artwork for the mock-up room was produced by GA and provides subtle references to the region.

The stone grey Marquino carpet in the bedrooms is a bespoke design by GA which has been worked up by Cambridge Weavers. In terms of decorative light fittings these were also bespoke designs by GA and manufactured by various companies. The fabric is from both Sheers and Larson. The furniture is contemporary in style and the majority of this is bespoke designed by GA and outsourced by the fit-out contractor, DEPA, although the sofa is from Designers Guild and the leather is by Moore and Giles.

The bathrooms all feature panoramic views, with a separate wet zone incorporating a shower and a free-standing bathtub. All the sanitaryware is by Toto, with the exception of the ceiling-recessed bath filler which is by Kohler. This filler acts as a design feature whilst being functional and space-saving. “All of the fittings were specified because of their clean lines and simple aesthetic and are made of polished chrome and stainless steel,� McGinnity explains.

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