A hotel refurbishment is among the most challenging projects in the commercial construction industry, however it is rare and economically challenging for a hotel to close for a renovation, no matter how extensive the work is. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates, the first property of the hotel chain in Dubai, has just completed an extensive $100m renovation. The refurbishment of the hotel began in 2012 and was done in multiple phases, including the complete renovation of the public and dining areas, and all 373 guest rooms and suites, which followed the upgrading of conference facilities.
Adjacent to the Mall of the Emirates and the Middle East’s only indoor ski slope, the final 20 luxury Aspen Ski Chalets overlooking Ski Dubai are due to re-open this month, marking the completion of the final phase of the programme.
For the interior design of the public spaces and guestrooms, the hotel owner, the Majid Al Futtaim Group, appointed Wimberly Interiors, part of global design firm WATG, which specialises in hospitality projects, while Dubai-based Bassos Design did the interiors of both Olea all-day dining restaurant and Noir lounge and cocktail bar.
Susan Bruce, senior associate of Wimberly Interiors, comments on the project: “As with any existing building, there are always surprises and things you cannot anticipate because you don’t know what’s behind the walls until you start with the construction. The hotel stayed opened during the renovation process so the client and the operator worked closely together to stage each and every phase.”
The design team of Wimberly Interiors retained the high standards of luxury for which the Kempinski is generally known, but added subtle references to the fact that guests can go skiing on real snow in the desert heat.
Bruce adds: “We’ve played a lot upon the concept of Ski Dubai through the use of materials, such as crystals to evoke the icicles, the use of colouration – the blues and the greys, which you would find on the ski slopes, or light fixtures in the corridors that resemble a block of ice. That’s what makes this hotel unique and it is a great feature that you can go skiing in the Middle East and then stay here in the hotel. The whole design concept and style of chalets, which are overlooking the ski slope, is unlike anything else in the region.”
The first phase of refurbishment included the repositioning of the Aspen lobby lounge, along with the complete renovation of the reception area, as well as the main entrance and driveway to the hotel.
Grant Ruddiman, general manager of Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates, says that the entrance and a newly built six-lane driveway, done by WATG, is among his favourite features, not only for its aesthetic qualities, but from an operational perspective as well.
“The new porte cochére better facilitates the flow of traffic into and out of the hotel as every month we handle from 8,000 to 12,000 vehicles,” he says.
In the lobby, the reception desks are double-manned to allow guests to check in and out more swiftly. The expansive lobby area offers a sense of space and openness and allows easy access via the Aspen lobby lounge to the adjacent mall.