Mandarin Oriental, Dubai

Posted in Projects on 30 January, 2020

Overlooking both the pristine waters of the Arabian Gulf and Dubai’s glittering skyline, Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai is a stunning destination with an enviable beach setting. With its inviting interiors and unrivalled levels of service, the resort brings a new wave of luxury to the shores of Dubai.

Located in one of Dubai’s most prestigious neighbourhoods, the Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai’s rooms and suites enjoy a luxurious, contemporary feel with stunning city or ocean views. With six restaurants and lounges, a destination spa and kids’ club, this is one of the UAE’s most exciting new resorts.

Designed by Jeffrey Wilkes and Silverfox Studios – with the latter taking the lead on all F&B spaces, the Club Lounge and The Spa within the hotel – the chic beachfront retreat offers a wealth of accommodation, including 178 spacious rooms, most with private balconies, and 78 elegant suites with views over the city or ocean. Rooms are luxuriously appointed with oak panelled foyers and sumptuous furnishings such as mother-of-pearl-inlayed black lacquer chairs. Marble bathrooms feature a standalone bath and a walk-in shower – with the addition of a steam room for suites – and the bedrooms offer additional features ranging from small sitting areas up to more spacious or separate living and dining areas, depending on the room of choice. In addition, some rooms feature master bedrooms with king-sized beds. All rooms are decorated in a warming colour palette, with a sleek, modern and welcoming feel. Making use of soothing earth tones incorporated into chic modern design, rooms are furnished with elegant wooden fixtures – with suites enjoying wooden floors – offering ambient lighting, and large windows which bathe the elegant interiors in natural light. 

Guests staying in suites have access to the exclusive Club Lounge, which offers small private lounge work pods, a meeting facility which can be subdivided, a walk-in kitchen and kitchen table, a private veranda and garden space plus a drawing room, formal dining room and conservatory.

The resort offers a variety of cuisines and dining experiences in its six unique restaurants and lounges. These include Portuguese poolside restaurant Tasca by double Michelin star-holding José Avillez, signature Warayaki-style Japanese restaurant Netsu, an informal ground-floor restaurant with show-kitchens and family-friendly menus, The Bay, afternoon tea and light refreshment spot Noor Lounge, cocktails and light bites from Sun Vibe, and The Mandarin Cake Shop, ideal for cakes, chocolates and patisseries.

Interior design studio Silverfox Studios completed the design of Tasca, Netsu and The Bay, which each space requiring a unique approach. Tasca, the name, is uniquely Portuguese and relates to small family-run eateries where drinks and small plates are served from a bar area or kitchen. Silverfox’s brief was to maintain the unique qualities associated with the origins of the Tasca culture, embracing the casual friendly nature of these family bars/eateries, while adding this outlet as a chic, sophisticated and edgy component to the hotel’s F&B mix.

Tasca is at the centre of the property on the top floor, featuring views of the Dubai skyline on one side and over the landscaped pool courtyard and sea on the other. The ceiling height is low, and the back of house support kitchen is both small and distant from the commissary kitchen in the basement below. Given the brief, and the back of house constraint, it was natural to expose the bar/kitchen inside the space – an island with the kitchen sharing the same footprint as the cocktail/mixology stations. The active island kitchen has been created from black stainless steel and up illuminated bottle displays, resulting in a beautiful and functional space. Drinks counters at the bar are adjacent to the entrance, and seating around the island activates the kitchen, with the chef/guest interface being an essential part of the experience. There is also an adjacent table cluster flowing out of the indoor area to the pool deck and landscaped terrace outside. A lounge area at the back of the restaurant area features back-lit domestic built in shelving units displaying Portuguese art, literature and accessories.

A unique element in Tasca is the inclusion of a shallow dipping pool and terrace which guests are encouraged to use during the lunchtime to early evening service period. The space offers pagodas, seating and seating beds as well as a kitchen grille and drinks dispense station, and the outdoor and indoor spaces are connected by a trellis. When the bi-fold doors are fully open this trellis appears to be one structure, deflecting any impression of a boundary between the pool deck and interior. When fully open, the outlet stretches from one side of the hotel to the other, from the sea to the Dubai skyline behind.

For Netsu, the brief included a Robatayaki grill, a sushi bar and a lounge with a standalone bar/cocktail facility. The outlet is an energetic restaurant/bar Lounge venue for evening service only, and required a significant outdoor dining component. The architect’s drawings showed a dramatic double height volume, from which a split-level theatre concept was discussed. The upper level of the outlet became the bar/DJ lounge looking down onto a central show kitchen under within the restaurant. 

Silverfox’s Ideas related to Japanese traditional Kabuki Theatre triggered the subsequent train of concept thought and planning. The front of house kitchen location, size and circulation pathways reflect this Kabuki design philosophy which places the stage in the centre of the room, away from the main back of house kitchen. The sushi bar’s raised levels allow for it to have its own sense of place and for high barstool seating to oversee the main kitchen, a few steps lower.

The outdoor landscaping is a representation of traditional Japanese torii gates, typically at the entrance to a famous site, found in bamboo forests adjacent to or on a water body, such as a river or lake. Here, reflecting pools are surrounded by bamboo trees under the torii gate structures. Guests dine under the gates, within the landscape. Japanese fishing net hand-blown glass balls and Toro Nagashi lanterns float on water bodies and rise up, passing through the restaurant as suspended lamps above the kabuki theatre. The wall detail with recessed light is horizontal, representing lines of seating within the upper levels of the Kabuki Theatre, with gantries, lighting rigging, speakers and exposed services adding to this modern representation of the narrative.

The final decorative application is a representation of traditional Japanese 1950s kabuki poster advert graphics, which has been applied to the columns and the large anchor wall facing the guests. This mural artwork was painted on site in line with the art package and graphic designs created by Silverfox Studios.

In terms of The Bay, the Brief called for a restaurant that had several components, including a bar/drinks dispense and juice station, an area for Asian cuisine with the opportunity to close away that part of the restaurant from the remaining space, and a bakery at the entrance area. In keeping with the location and feel of the hotel, Silverfox Studios decided that the restaurant should maintain a casual open connection to the landscape, resulting in a sophisticated light and bright chic bistro.

Zoning between the different sections of the restaurant has been defined by use of space. Tall greenhouse garden trellises, over steel planter and ornamentation containers define a veranda which opens up to the adjacent pool terrace. Ceiling details blur the definition between outside to inside, breaking down the building envelope effect. The Asian kitchen has a series of sliding folding screens which can completely separate that outlet from the rest of the space for evening dining, and has its own veranda area in front of the beach for indoor-outdoor dining. 

The use of defined floor finishes within each zone reinforces the variety of seating group types. Some areas are used for meetings, some for soft comfortable lounge settings and others for defined dining events. Semi-private and private dining rooms at chef’s tables are available inside the kitchens, and buffet breakfasts, a-la-carte and bar drinking areas have all been accommodated.

Guests will also find a comprehensive wellness offering at the Mandarin Oriental, including an elegant spa spread over 2,000 square metres incorporating nine treatment rooms, two couples’ suites, a dedicated Hammam-style suite and a luxury VIP suite. The spa also features heat and water experiences and a fully-equipped fitness centre. A wide range of treatments are available, from the legendary Mandarin Oriental signature therapies to locally inspired offerings, using both native products and internationally-acclaimed brands creating treatments tailored to the customer’s needs.

The journey begins on the ground floor, where the guest is greeted by a spacious organically-formed series of timber and silk wall-covered screens and cup-shaped partitions. These shapes are designed to represent petals and flowering swirling cacti forms found in the arid desert planes of the UAE. 

Nestled within each cocoon are functions for the guest’s use – a retail section, reception, treatment assessment pods and health screening private rooms. A grand sculptural curved staircase leads the pathway from the reception area up to the treatment and Spa space above.

The corridors continue the organic design approach and invoke softer references to water and wave movement, space that appears to be in motion and that evolves as you walk along past the curved and sloping timber planked and fabric covered walls. The overlapping curved shapes conceal doorways to treatment rooms and separation panels which have been placed strategically in order to either expand or contract the amount of area given over to either the male or female side of the facility. These divisions are also placed within and between the rooms, which allows for larger private groups to combine and interact.

A unique aspect for this spa is long view corridors from VIP suites across the beach and out to the sea, all of which have relaxation lounge seating booths and privacy screens.

The relaxation room has been designed for total privacy – sculpted pods envelop the guest and allow for individuals to read, sleep or listen to soothing music programs. This space is adjacent to the water treatment rooms, vitality pools, showers and lockers, all of which benefit from natural light. Additional lockers and showers are available for both men and women at the entrance to the adjacent gym and exercise studios. The gym offers cages, free weights and combination equipment rooms as well as cardio machines and spin studios.

The Mandarin Oriental Jumeira, Dubai undoubtedly has all the right ingredients to provide guests with a luxurious, relaxing and unique stay. It’s clear to see that this impressive project will fit in perfectly with the group’s extensive portfolio of striking, world-renowned hotels.

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