The Address, Downtown Burj Dubai has been one of the most talked-about hotels in the Dubai market since it opened last October. Here, those responsible for its impact, from Emaar Hospitality Group head office through to the supplier of the hotel's signature crystals, let Hotelier Middle East in on some of the trade secrets.The Address Downtown Burj Dubai, with its unique 24-hour stay service and iconic 63rd floor bar Neos, has certainly made an impression in Dubai since it opened on October 1, 2008.
This can be attributed in part to its location in Dubai's up-and-coming Burj Dubai district, opposite its namesake tower and overlooking the spectacular Dubai Fountain.
This is no accident of course, as location is one of three defining characteristics of Emaar Hospitality Group's (EHG) The Address Hotels + Resorts brand, the others being guest benefits and service standards.
EHG corporate director of sales and marketing Amit Arora, explains: "The name ‘The Address' instantly promotes an emphasis on iconic locations. It is supported by the tag line "Where life happens", which in turn showcases the inimitable service and benefits that will drive the customer experience".
EHG senior marketing manager Sharon Marett adds that the tag line "communicates a redefinition of the hotel feel".
"Life doesn't just happen around them - their life happens at the centre of the action. The Address, then, becomes an entirely more important and engaging place. It becomes their Address," says Marett.
But how is this feeling created? Firstly, there is the building itself, with its unique shape inspired by the nautilus shell and the clever master-planning that links it to Dubai Mall and Souk Al Bahar.
Secondly, the attention to detail throughout The Address, inspired by the Arabian landscape and brought to life by interior design company Wilson Associates International (WA International), is both welcoming and functional.
WA International associate Helen Skea, who began her involvement with the project back in September 2005, says that is due to the team work approach of the main partners.
"We've pulled the interior and exterior floor together so the inside and outside work as one," says Skea.
"What's really important in how this project has been successful is that the whole team worked together, from landscape to architects to interiors to the mechanical," she adds.
This enabled WA International to play a highly influential role, working with architect WS Atkins to push out the front of the building to achieve the striking lobby and making a feature of the structural columns with woven embellishments.
However, both Skea and WA International's design director Claire Craig said the skeleton frame of The Address hotel was "crazy" to work within.
As well as making the design of the lobby a challenge, the shape means that The Address has 44 different room types, as opposed to the four or five at a typical property, says Skea.
"They're all lovely rooms," says Skea. "The smallest one - the standard king - is 55m², but these go down to around 48m² for the ones on the side of the hotel where the building steps in," she explains.
As well as the hotel rooms, WA International also designed the 624 apartments, which are based on floors 15 to 60.
"The whole philosophy of the apartments - which are fully furnished and fully accessorised - is that they can either be bought and lived in, rented out back in the hotel pool, or bought and rented out," explains Skea.
Again, there were many different types, says Craig, even some with bath tubs in the bedroom.
The company designed all the furniture specifically for The Address and worked with procurement specialist Cairncross Martin to source suppliers and manufacturers.
The only thing that changed once The Address operational team came on board, says Skea, was a redesign of the reception desk in the lobby.
The Address offers guests an in-room check-in service, so the traditional long desk was swapped for more residential style seating, thus completing the friendly lobby and fusing design with service.
With so many design highs, neither Skea nor Craig could pick their favourite. Hotelier showcases some highlights over the next few pages.
The Address philosophy: One size fits one
The Address aims to redefine services and processes in the hotel industry to achieve a ‘one size fits one' approach, through which benefits to guests and service excellence are a priority, explains director of public relations Laura Perez.
This is backed up by the brand's tag line - Where life happens - which aims to convey the message that the hotels offer a personal, approachable experience in a lifestyle environment, whether for business, leisure or group travellers.
The hotel brand philosophy focuses on benefits rather than hotel features to ensure guests obtain what they need out of their hotel stay with the latest useful amenities, facilities and services.
Perez highlights the following signature services:
• All check-ins are processed in the guest rooms upon arrival.
• Complimentary wireless internet is available throughout the hotel.
• The hotel has introduced many 24-hour services such as the 24-hour fitness centre, 24-hour business lounge, 24-hour club lounge.
• Suite and club room guests benefit from a total 24-hour stay without additional charges. This means that guests arriving in the afternoon, evening, or at midnight have the option of keeping their room for up to 24 hours without having to follow the traditional check-out time of 12 noon established in the hospitality industry around the world.
Emaar Hospitality Group (EHG) CEO Marc Dardenne says he likes the interior design of the hotel because there is "a surprise, unexpected factor in every area". He picks out the chandeliers in the ballroom and at Hukama restaurant as being "very special".
WA International associate Helen Skea says that while it is hard to pick any one feature of the main lobby, she likes it "when you walk in and see the sculpture behind reception".
Skea says that UK-based Amanda Brisbane creates her glass sculptures by hand, with the one in The Address reception weighing three tonnes and standing 4.5 metres tall.
Neos Sky lounge
The Address Hotels + Resorts area purchasing manager Marian Loan Chiriches says the sky lounge Neos is his favourite feature of the hotel: "apart from the fact that it is the highest located lounge in Dubai, the decoration and setting are quite unique," he says.
EHG corporate director of sales and marketing Amit Arora adds: "It is hard to select my favourite feature of the hotel, but Neos is definitely on top of my list. Its striking design and atmosphere encapsulates what our hotel brand offers: exclusivity, dynamism, a happening place. It is definitely a destination venue and a ‘must-see' place". Talking points
WA International design director Claire Craig says that as part of the brief, they had to make each of the public restrooms unique. Suppliers included Kohler and Bandini.
Designing the logo Emaar Hospitality Group LLC corporate director of sales and marketing Amit Arora explains the design of The Address Hotels + Resorts logo: "The ‘' is surrounded by a perfect platinum box. The square represents a home, a sense of place.
"The colour of the logo is platinum, a cool precious metal with a great shine associated with exclusivity and wealth. Platinum is an extremely resistant metal which melts at above 1773ºC, truly complimenting the black background of the brand mark exemplifying the cool meets warmth positioning of the brand philosophy," he says.
"Platinum is considered the highest possible, ranking above gold, silver and bronze, differentiating The Address from the norm," adds Arora. Purchasing manager's perspective
The Address Hotels + Resorts area purchasing manager Marian Loan Chiriches joined the team in September 2007 and worked closely with Cairncross Martin, the company appointed for pre-opening OSE procurement.
"Its extensive experience opening five-star luxury hotels was definitely a key advantage," says Chiriches.
He says the procurement process was not too challenging, "because of the variety of products that we have access to [in Dubai] and the wonderful geographical location of the UAE".
Chiriches says: "The products were not difficult to be procured; however, when you establish a new brand in the market you have to make sure that the products selected for the property are the best quality and also unique in order to differentiate in the market".
For example, sourcing the in-room bath amenities was quite challenging, reveals Chiriches.
"I would say that the selection of standard guest amenities took a little time until we found the right product which could represent us.
"We selected the Italian Angelo Caroli bath amenities. The luxury brand provides their bath amenities exclusively for The Address Hotels + Resorts."
Chiriches says that approximately 85% of the property's suppliers are companies with offices in the UAE: "At The Address we are trying to source and use local suppliers as much as possible.
"In general, the suppliers are flexible as the competition is quite high and they know that there are alternative options in the market. In these times, the suppliers are trying to keep their existing business," says Chiriches.
"The supplier has to be trustworthy, flexible and ready to assist you with any request. At the same time, from our side, we have to respect the supplier and see him as a business partner.
"Only by mutual respect can you develop a healthy business relationship," comments Chiriches. Back of house
In addition to the sparkling facilities front of house, EHG CEO Marc Dardenne says The Address offers excellent back of house services for its employees.
"While the design of the hotel is a great help to ease the operations, for us it is the commitment and enthusiasm of our associates which really assists in the smooth operations of the hotel," says Dardenne.
"The back of house facilities include our own state-of-the-art offices from where we can conduct business, as well as a top-class and well-equipped dining room for all our associates, which includes a lounge area and TV where they can relax and take breaks. We are proud to share that our back of the house areas are spacious, custom-made and look as immaculate as the front of the house," adds Dardenne.
Another highlight is the laundry, pictured, which is a really good example for the industry, according to director of public relations Laura Perez.
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