Stickman designs ‘Bedouin meets Bohemian’ hotel in Fujairah

The Fairmont Fujairah Beach Resort, developed by UAE-based Mina Al Fajer Real Estate, was first announced in 2010, and since then has had its opening date pushed back. Last year, it opted on the side of caution, aiming for an April 2017 opening. However, the property has already soft-opened, with the official opening party planned for Q2 2017.

The general manager, Omar Souab, who was previously the hotel manager at the Fairmont Dubai, says that opening ahead of time was challenge.

He says: “We had initially planned to open on April 1, because we wanted to open the hotel and beach club at the same time. Then we moved the date to early January because we took a decision to open the hotel without the beach club. But then we had to open earlier (in December 2016), so my team and I overcame the challenge of opening the hotel two weeks before the target date which was a big achievement.

“It was not an easy task because we had to move forward quite a few training programmes but we managed, and I think that it was actually a good thing to do because it gave us time to fine tune the service and to make sure that we are at the level that we are today. The owners understood that it was important to open softly and then start building the service quality and fine tune the product before we did an official launch, and we supported that wish.”

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Photography by Brandon Barre.

The 180-room hotel located in the Mina Al Fajer mixed-use development was designed by Dubai-based design firm Stickman, and offers a mosaic-tiled swimming pool, children’s club, the second Willow Stream Spa in the UAE, a fully-equipped fitness centre and dive centre, along with five F&B outlets, expansive outdoor space, and three meeting rooms, including a large pre-function area.

When one approaches the property, it is reminiscent of traditional architecture in the region, but one step inside showcases the heavy focus on art – especially with nods to the region and its culture – which can be found across the entire property.

Marcos Cain, principal and founder of Stickman, says there was no predefined brief for the overall hotel and public spaces, so the design team worked with the operator to define the design brief, which centred on an Arabic bohemian art hotel concept.

He says: “The hotel was originally designed by another firm, however when the project was put on hold for many years, the previous design became outdated leading the client to choose to redesign the full property, which is where we came in.”

The design team faced a few difficulties with the restrictions created by the original design such as fixed bathroom locations, and certain architectural interfaces. Cain continues: “As with most projects, budget was a bit of an issue with this one, but in saying that we have tried to turn a negative into a positive by proposing this Arabic bohemian art hotel concept, allowing us to subtly create a space where we could embellish handpicked elements and commissioned art. We defined the sculptural pieces and artwork through cultural and social references displayed in a gallery setting or framed to capture a moment in time.”

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This approach worked well in the sense that the minimal feel of the space marries well with the resort setting and natural surrounding creating a seamless feelgood and fresh overall palette.

“Key cultural, sculptural and artistic elements are used to expose and define each space, adding worldly character and a unique sense of style while maintaining a sophisticated and luxurious DNA throughout.”

The simple palette of finishes, based around gallery white walls and black and white stone flooring is enhanced with references to contemporary Arabic architecture from arches to decorative ceiling details and motifs. Creating a new step in the Fairmont legacy, this general direction has defined a unique resort style hotel in Fujairah.

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