When the Great Gatsby meets Dubai


What happens when a visionary developer, an international fashion brand and a local designer come together? The 8 happens.

IFA Hotels & Resorts is at it again, with a new property developing on The Palm, Dubai. IFA is the largest foreign investor on the Palm Jumeirah.

Its developments include the Kingdom of Sheba, The Palm Residence at the Fairmont Heritage Place and the Golden Mile. Now the company is introducing another contemporary and timeless design, with the help of local design firm Pallavi Dean Interiors and furnishing by Kenzo Maison.


Khaled Esbaitah, CEO, IFA Hotels & Resorts explains: “Led by the vision of UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, we are committed to furthering Dubai’s position as a thriving tourist destination. IFA Hotels & Resorts has always believed in the value that the Palm Jumeirah would bring to Dubai.

“With such a limited amount of coastline in such a vibrant and growing city as Dubai, we have always felt that resort living in close proximity to the city would be a winning formula.”

Known as The 8, the new development is favourably positioned. According to Esbaitah, even during Dubai’s economic crisis, beachfront developments fared better and retained value more effectively in comparison to developments situated in more urban environments. And while estimations of return profit for owners are subject to the state of market conditions, IFA predicts owners receiving a net return of around 8%.

“The economic and, in particular, the tourist sector will guide [the return on investment], once the properties are completed,” confirms Esbaitah.

The beachfront property is geared toward attracting both local and international tenants and owners. And with The 8’s strong position and Dubai’s economy in an upward cycle, IFA further cemented the future status of the hotel and apartment complex with an upscale design and elegant finishes.

Designed by Pallavi Dean Interiors and furnished by Kenzo Maison, The 8’s interior concept prioritises the view of the beach and beautiful outdoors, while the furnishing pays tribute to a glamorous lifestyle made most popular by the Great Gatsby.

IFA requested a fashion-based concept, as they “felt this was in keeping with the architectural style of the project and that this style lent itself to stepping away from the ‘traditional’ properties that have been developed on the island to date.

“The 8 was designed as a contemporary development to be in keeping with client feedback. While fashions do change, certain styles remain classic and The 8 has a timeless quality.”

At the beginning of the conceptual stages, Dean and Esbaitah knew they had a great ocean-view and to not include it in the design of the space would be a waste of great landscape.

Dean explains: “It’s so site specific. We thought, we’ve got this gorgeous ocean-view and what can we do with it? So we came up with that form of the building and we wanted beautiful landscape areas.

“Literally every apartment has a view and it’s not a one-metre deep balcony—every balcony is a terrace.” Upon walking in, guests are greeted with a polished, refined luxury that envelopes the space from floor to ceiling.

With crema marfil marble lining the floors, a Swarovski light installation behind the reception desk, and a massive sculpture privately commissioned for The 8, the hotel and residence project aims to simultaneously tackle not only the fashion world, but also bring in a retro glam vibe and high-street art.

“I didn’t want to do the big, long reception desk because everything our firm does is evidence-based design and research-based design. So we did a lot of research and what is the new trend and what is the new way you should experience a hotel lobby? It’s all about quick transitions,” says Dean.

She adds: “You want to be quick. So we had three individual reception desks and the backdrop to them is this Swarovski installation with images of fashion being projected onto it. So [IFA] didn’t get live models, but they got interactive art as a backdrop.”

Rather than cluttering the lobby, Dean decided to go with an understated and refined look. She used only a sculptural piece to draw the eye, while the beachfront functions as a serene background for the work.

Additionally, the palette remains neutral with glimmers of gold delicately detailing the interior. With half of the development allocated to residential units and the other half for the hotel, finishes, materials and fit-outs had to boast a perfect marriage between the halves.

Dean explains: “The kitchens, the wardrobes, everything has that super high quality design. When you walk in and touch every door handle, you’ll wonder if you’re in a hotel. So we’re using the same finishes for the hotel and the apartment.

“The theme of fashion and luxury is taken through to every finish. We haven’t gone cheap on any of the finishes. Typically, you wouldn’t find marble on the floor, but we’ve gone for crema marfil marble for all the floors. All the floors have that gorgeous marble flooring, which Esbaitah has gone to Spain to source.”

According to Esbaitah, the expected tenant:owner ration will be a mixture of both long term tenants and holiday home owners. “We have two distinct product offerings that cater to investors seeking to place long-term tenants, as well as those looking to own properties, specifically tailored as hotel apartments, for the holiday let market.”

While IFA has seen a variety of people buying, including residents of Dubai and the greater GCC, the company expects a significant take-up from local residents, as both tenants and owner occupiers. Appealing to such a big number of cultures and nationalities, Dean tuned in to her local sensitivities and applied modern trends in culturally-aware ways.

While large hoteliers have been installing transparent glass panels between the bathroom and bedrooms, some guests see it as a lack of privacy, rather than an enticing quality.

In response, Dean applied a thin strip of frosted glass that attaches to the two walls that stand perpendicular to each other and that separate the bathroom from the bedroom. This allows natural sunlight to come in from the bedroom, while also maintaining privacy.

“It’s almost curated,” says Dean. “We spent so much energy and time curating it and that’s why I think the end result will be so polished and so refined.

“We’ve gone for this understated elegance, which can be seen from the back-lit onyx in the elevator lobby. It’s going to feel a bit glam, a bit like the Great Gatsby, but it’s not going to be in your face. It’s not about going for a trend, it’s about timeless style.”

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