With Expo 2020 Dubai now only 126 weeks away, construction activity in the host country is picking up speed. Developers operating in the hospitality sector, in particular, are ramping up efforts to meet delivery deadlines before the UAE welcomes the 25 million visitors that are expected to attend the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East.
Assass Investment, the company behind Auris Hotel, is among the developers banking on this anticipated tourism boom. And with its project on course to be handed over in the fourth quarter of 2018, the company is assured that the hotel will have already been running for more than a year when the expo opens in October 2020.
Located in Nakheel’s Al Furjan master-planned community, only minutes away from the Expo 2020 site and the Al Maktoum International Airport, Auris Hotel is a $16.3m (AED60m), eight-storey hospitality project that consists of 248 rooms, spread across the property’s first to sixth floors. It also features lounge, dining, and reception areas on the ground floor, and a spa, a gym, and a swimming pool on the topmost floor.
Aimed at the mid-market segment, the project is classified as a three-star urban and business hotel. Draw Link Group (DLG), however, has made it its goal to produce a hotel that will exceed the expectations that guests typically have of three-star properties.
“We can consider it an ‘upgraded’ three-star hotel,” says Kais Ben Salah, senior architect at Draw Link Group, explaining that regular three-star hospitality properties don’t feature the kind of materials and concept that can be found on the project.
Appointed in June 2017, the consultancy fills three roles for the 6,968m2project, working as not only the designer and fit-out firm but also the client representative.
Ben Salah – quoting a statement released earlier this year by Draw Link Group’s chief executive officer, Daousser Chennoufi – notes that with an interior that “incorporates urban elements for the bedrooms and public areas”, the hotel is designed to embody ‘urban regeneration’, a theme that “combines architectural materials with urban connotations layered with softer materials, with an end goal of reaching a setting that is urban, art-driven, comfortable, and practical”.
Offering examples to support Chennoufi’s statement, Ben Salah says that the pool deck boasts a “Mykonos theme”, while rooms are fitted with wardrobes made of materials that combine “metal mesh and wood”.
“It’s a challenge because the budget is for a three-star hotel, but as a designer, we want to make people feel that they’re staying in a four- or five-star hotel. We don’t want to design the same standard rooms found in other three-star hotels.”
With construction progress having already crossed the 45% mark and the mock-up room – which represents 90% of the guest bedrooms in the property – ready, there’s a chance that work on the hotel may be completed in August, months before the end-2018 opening date target, says Ben Salah: “Civil works are almost 90% completed. In terms of the interior design, gypsum work is up to the seventh floor, and tiling is being done in the bathrooms, up to the fourth floor.”
He explains that parquet, carpets, and similar products will only be fixed in the rooms once air conditioning (AC) has been installed, to prevent temperature-related damage.
“[Most of] these products are already ready in our warehouse, but because of the heat and the weather conditions, we cannot [implement] them just yet,” he tells Construction Week. “We need to wait until all the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems have been installed. Once MEP work is complete, the glass [façade] will be fixed, and then we’ll work on the carpet, the wallpaper, and other finishes. That will mostly be done in the last month of [construction].”
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