Having developed designs for renowned international brands, such as the InterContinental Hotel in Dubai Marina, but also for H72, the first boutique hotel in Sharjah, Draw Link Group, an architectural, interior design and fit-out company, is exploiting the current demand for a more diverse hotel portfolio to expand with new projects in both the UAE and Tunisia.
Commercial Interior Design talks to Daousser Chennoufi, the company’s CEO and key architect, about the future growth prospects of the hospitality market and what designers can do to support the much-needed diversification of the Middle East hotel landscape.
“The region has experienced a booming hotel market in recent years, but compared to Europe and Asia, it is still an immature market,” says Chennoufi. “In the past 15 years we have seen a lot of luxury hospitality projects, but I think that different segments of the market still need to be developed, such as budget or family hotels.”
Chennoufi believes it is imperative to expand the accommodation offerings.
He continues: “The key is to be innovative with design, to find and further develop other areas, offering tourists a wider range of accommodation and within different price ranges. I think this is where the market will grow and we are seeing a lot of new hotel brands entering the market offering more identity in terms of arts and culture with an emphasis on lifestyle, especially within the three-star range. Furthermore, we are getting to a stage where clients have a better understanding that luxury is not about how much you spend on materials, but is about creating memorable guest experiences.”
Leading up to Expo 2020 in the UAE and in addition to several other regional projects, refurbishment projects within the hospitality sector are evidently on the increase and Chennoufi advises that investors should rethink their strategies.
“Not all investors are thinking in the same way. Some refurbishments are done to refresh hotel or to make it look new. But I think a refurbishment is also an opportunity to upgrade the concept of a hotel and change whatever it is not working well in terms of design.
“My advice to anyone who wants to do a refurbishment is before they start buying new chairs or choosing new upholstery for sofas, they should take into consideration current market demands and respond accordingly. The market is constantly moving in different directions, creating different demands all the way from food and beverage venues to rooms, so renovation should not be confined to refreshing a space, it is a chance to redevelop and redefine concepts as well.”