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We ex­plore the hos­pi­tal­ity de­sign trends from near and far that are chang­ing the way we travel

ex­plores hos­pi­tal­ity de­sign trends from near and far that are chang­ing the way we travel.

Trav­el­ling: it’s the best way to con­nect with your­self and the rest of the world. And for ar­chi­tects and de­sign­ers, it’s al­ways been a ve­hi­cle for ask­ing what it means to be hos­pitable. So, we’ve looked to top lo­cal and global in­dus­try ex­perts to iden­tify the top trends.

Dubai-based de­signer and hos­pi­tal­ity ex­pert Omar Nakkash says that high-tech in­no­va­tions and a pref­er­ence for lo­cal ex­pe­ri­ences are lead­ing the lat­est de­vel­op­ments.

“A new dig­i­tal wave and an em­pha­sis on lo­cal ex­pe­ri­ences are tak­ing over the ho­tel in­dus­try,” says Nakkash. “Smart rooms are bring­ing the con­cept of per­son­al­i­sa­tion to a level that was un­think­able just five years ago, from fea­tures like streamed in-room en­ter­tain­ment and smart­phone apps con­trol­ling elec­tri­cal de­vices, to voice-ac­ti­vated tech­nol­ogy.”

He also em­pha­sises a fo­cus on cul­ture. “Lo­cal ex­pe­ri­ences have also been a top pri­or­ity. Airbnb’s dis­rup­tion of the in­dus­try has in­spired tra­di­tional ho­tel com­pa­nies to ap­peal to a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion of trav­ellers who want to ex­pe­ri­ence des­ti­na­tions like a lo­cal would, from be­ing of­fered lo­cal pro­duce in their rooms and on the res­tau­rant menu, to cu­rated lo­cal ex­pe­ri­ences. Nowa­days, the in­dus­try is fo­cus­ing more on au­then­tic rather than in­signif­i­cant ‘ tourist’ ex­pe­ri­ences,” he con­tin­ues.

The top ten trends in­clude ex­pe­ri­enc­ing au­then­tic lo­cal cul­ture via lo­cal ser­vices, fair ser­vices (an au­then­tic ex­change be­tween trav­ellers and the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion), hi-tech op­tions for sav­ing time and money, brand loy­alty via prove­nance, in­tu­itive din­ing, spir­i­tual get­aways, dig­i­tal detox, en­vi­ron­men­tal aware­ness and per­son­alised lux­ury – and, of course, In­sta­gram-friendly spa­ces.

Ac­cord­ing to the Ac­corHo­tels Group’s 2018 trend re­port, trav­ellers are look­ing to be in­spired by the de­sire for unique and un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ences.

Lead­ing the way are two new lo­cal gems: Al Seef, in the new tourist dis­trict in Dubai; and Zabeel House – the lo­ca­tion for the 2018 id De­sign Awards.

Al Seef by Jume­riah can be found amidst the rooftops and court­yards of a souk lo­cated in Al Seef – a new dis­trict of restau­rants, cafés, shops and plazas si­t­u­ated on a two-kilo­me­tre prom­e­nade on the south bank of Dubai Creek.

The 200-room ho­tel is spread across 22 tra­di­tion­ally de­signed Ara­bian bayt (homes) and or­gan­ised in small clus­ters of two to three build­ings, joined by a bridge that pro­vides a walk­way above the souk and shar­ing a com­mon court­yard.

In the same area is the re­gional favourite: Zabeel House. De­signed by Stu­dio HBA (Hirsch Bed­ner As­so­ciates) and with ar­chi­tec­ture by Atkins, its fu­sion of con­tem­po­rary de­sign, art and lo­cal charm and loft-style vibe make it a five-star stay at a three-star price.

“Nowa­days art has taken a place in ho­tel in­te­ri­ors it did not have pre­vi­ously. As op­posed to [the ap­proach of] hang­ing com­mer­cial art on a wall be­cause it feels empty with­out it, art is now a part of the over­all con­cept and in­te­grated,” says David T’Kint, De­sign Di­rec­tor and Part­ner at HBA Dubai.

In­for­mal yet re­mark­ably invit­ing, Zabeel House of­fers 200 rooms in three dif­fer­ent sizes for solo trav­ellers, cou­ples or fam­i­lies, as well as an ideal busi­ness lo­ca­tion with am­ple cre­ative spa­ces to work from and five meet­ing rooms.

“One of the [key] facets of Dubai is the au­then­tic sense of en­ter­tain­ment in an en­vi­ron­ment of new ex­pe­ri­ences. Zabeel House em­braces this fresh, un­ex­pected take on the ho­tel ex­pe­ri­ence with a new of­fer­ing; a col­lec­tion of ‘ In­sta­grammable’ ar­eas,” he con­tin­ues.

These top In­sta­grammable spa­ces in­clude: the vast open-plan lobby that fea­tures a group of hu­man sculp­tures rais­ing their hats to you as you en­ter the ho­tel; the ab­stract art dis­play called the ‘cityscape’ which por­trays Dubai’s trans­for­ma­tion; and the stereos that adorn the re­cep­tion desk and the spa.

To keep guests on their toes, rooms fea­ture fun de­sign ad­di­tions, in­clud­ing an as­tro­naut hold­ing tightly on to a moon-shaped lamp, a word-search above your bed (clue: some of them glow in the dark to make it eas­ier to solve) and or­ganic liq­uid ameni­ties by OSMA, wrapped in cer­ti­fied eco-friendly and biodegrad­able pack­ag­ing. And only fil­tered tap wa­ter is avail­able – no plas­tic bot­tles are al­lowed.

Zabeel House MINI,

its sis­ter prop­erty next door, fea­tures high-tech helpers and lo­cal ser­vices, such as self-check-in (al­though there’s also a staffed check-in desk). And in­stead of a bell-boy wel­com­ing you in the lobby, a large artwork on the ceil­ing spells out ‘You are wel­come’ in Ara­bic.

Other sweet ameni­ties in­clude an amaz­ing roam­ing barista serv­ing a spe­cial Boon Cof­fee blend; and a pop-art map of Dubai on the ceil­ing plus a mu­ral in every room that says ‘Dubai is Al­ways a Good Idea’ – the per­fect start for your In­sta­gram sto­ries.

Al Seef by Jumeirah, wel­come area

Zabeel House, lobby

Zabeel House Mini, Pocket Room

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