Rocco Forte Hotels will open its first flagship brand in the Middle East this year with a spectacular 10-storey wave-shaped tower with a blue and green glass façade. CID speaks to design director, Olga Polizzi.
The Rocco Forte Hotel Abu Dhabi is the first property within the group to bear the name of its chairman and CEO and is the brand’s flagship hotel in the Middle East.
It has a visually striking glass structure, comprising 281 bedrooms, spa, and three restaurants set in the future commercial district of the Emirate’s capital. It is due to open its doors in Q4 this year (October, November, December), although a definite date has not yet been set.
The 28,000m2 project has 11 levels and is developed in conjunction with TDIC and the UAE’s Al Farida Investments Company. It has views across the city and Sheikh Zayed Mosque and will be surrounded by public gardens and an adjacent shopping galleria.
“Abu Dhabi is fast emerging as a hub for the Middle East and we are confident that our flagship hotel in the Emirate will set the tone for our planned expansion in the Middle East, serving the needs of travellers to the UAE and residents while creating anticipation for our other properties set to open in the region,” said Sir Rocco Forte, chairman and CEO, Rocco Forte Hotels.
The hotel combines contemporary Arab artwork using pieces by Lebanese artist Salwa Zeidan and Olga Polizzi, Sir Rocco Forte’s sister is design director.
“We want to be the first hotel in Abu Dhabi to deliver a stylish blend of European and Middle Eastern design to the city and give the hotel a sophisticated, contemporary feel,” said Polizzi.
“Like all Rocco Forte Hotels, the property needs to reflect its location by using local artwork and Middle Eastern accents in accessories and fabrics yet in earthy and sumptuous colours and tones.
I oversee all design for our hotels, along with our London-based design team. For our new hotel in Abu Dhabi, we selected Dubai-based interior design specialists KCA International, who work closely both with our team in London as well as with the architects WS Atkins & Partners.”
Each of the 281 rooms has leather accents and seating and the bathrooms carry the Arabic expression ‘May it rain on our desert’ etched above each bathtub, opposite a walk-in shower.
For the business travel and events markets, there is a separate floor containing seven meeting rooms, a business centre and a ballroom, which can accommodate up to 500 seated guests. It also has a pre-function area, VIP majlis and bridal preparation rooms.
The 2,000m2 spa includes a gym, yoga/pilates studio and separate male and female spa facilities.
“All bedrooms feature work by the poet/artist Ali Ahmed Said Esber, who is one of my favourite artists in the region,” added Polizzi.
“The suites will have abstract and lyrical paintings by Salwa Zeidan and a huge triptych by Fatema al Mazrouei will dominate the lobby. As another unique touch, we have etched the Arabic expression, ‘May it rain on our desert’ above each bath tub.
“We have worked hard on making the hotel elegant and contemporary without it being ‘too’ much. It needs to be contextual and sensitive to its environment. Personally, I like to feature local art in all of our hotels.