Above Par

The design concept for the Montgomerie clubhouse and hotel from the start was incredibly gender specific. Unlike most hotels that have to appeal to a wide array of guests, the Montgomerie knew that an overwhelming majority of its clientele would be males between the ages of 30-60 due to the adjacent golf course.

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By  Charlotte Butterfield Published  March 2, 2006

|~|Montgom-body.jpg|~||~|The design concept for the Montgomerie clubhouse and hotel from the start was incredibly gender specific. Unlike most hotels that have to appeal to a wide array of guests, the Montgomerie knew that an overwhelming majority of its clientele would be males between the ages of 30-60 due to the adjacent golf course. This in mind, interior designer, Pia Sen, from LW Design Group in Dubai made the brave decision to make the interior dramatically and unashamedly masculine.

Having a niche market as the target audience meant Sen had to ensure that the whole design was geared towards golf-playing men. “Every decision, from the dark colours to the materials and even the furniture reflected the projected clientele. I chose oversized furniture, ideal for relaxing after a day on the golf course. We knew that men often travel in groups to play golf, so each hotel room can be twin bedded and there is a sofabed in each room as well. I never forgot who I was designing for throughout the project,” Sen says.
Ken Kosak, general manager, The Montgomerie, adds that the idea was to have “comfortable yet contemporary furnishings and design adorning the club throughout, creating a stylish while unpretentious environment.”

The dominant colour scheme throughout the property, from the suites to the public communal lobbies to the f&b outlets is dark brown, with accent splashes of red. The walls in the public areas are polished plaster but have the look of suede, with an added dependence on dark-stained oak panelling for the focal walls.

An abundance of leather is evident throughout, from the leather strap handles on the wardrobe doors in the bedrooms to the leather panelling on the reception desks. “The leather panels on the bars and receptions are some of my favourite things.” Sen explains, “It actually comes in 137cm wide rolls with the stitching already done and it is so easy to work with. It is from a French company called Elitis. You can choose a variety of colour combinations; black with white stitching, red with black stitching etc., it’s very versatile.” She continues, “for me, the choice of quality materials is incredibly important; this is a luxurious boutique hotel and I wanted the attention to detail to be impressive.”

The upper reception area originally had a lower ceiling, but because the feature window, installed by Atkins Architecture, is such a striking focal point, the Montgomerie realised the ceiling should be higher. Sen designed the chandelier herself and had it crafted in Italy. The dome in the centre of the ceiling is a reference to the Arabic heritage and it makes the exterior silhouette of the hotel more interesting and exotic. “The hotel wanted to reflect some hints of Arabic culture, but I didn’t want to make that a main theme, I wanted the Arabic inclusions to be very subtle,” Sen says.

Nods towards Arabic design include carved dark wood screens, with a traditional Moorish fretwork, the pattern of which echoes the repeated design in the ground floor carpet.
The carpets and loose rugs, made locally from Floors, provide splashes of colour in an otherwise dark and monochromatic scheme. Cornflower blue fuses with brown in the lobby and Spike Bar, and in the changing rooms the colour combination changes to greens.

||**|||~|Montgom-body2.jpg|~||~|In both the upper and lower ground floor receptions there are trademark LW ceiling panels that tally up with identical circular shapes beneath it, whether it be the reception desk, the bar, or a rug. “We often put these ceiling panels into our designs, it is a very good way of breaking up an expanse of space, ideal for a reception or large lobby area.” The echo of the shape beneath it too brings the space in on itself and creates an area of interest. “I think that’s something that designers like to do, to mentally separate an area.”

Challenging spatial dynamics were an issue in the fine dining restaurant, Nineteen as well, which incorporates a bar and a lounge. Using two types of flooring was designed to segregate the lounge area from the diners. The timber flooring is an American Blue Ridge Walnut from local flooring consultants, PaxKent. Sen admits that the wood is one of her perennial favourite flooring choices: “I used this flooring in Buddha Bar at the Grosvenor House as well; it’s great and looks good for a long time.” The marble flooring was from Stonewell and was a risky choice as it could have been too dark for the restaurant, but works as the furniture upholstery and the ceiling were white.

“Nineteen changed themes a couple of times, but in the end, we kept the same fluidity with the rest of the hotel,” Sen explains. Once again, leather is a big feature in the restaurant with US manufacturers Moore and Giles supplying all the leather for the furniture. All the lounge seating was imported from Promemoria, that is now available locally through Baituti. In keeping with the leather theme, crocodile and lizard skin textures are used on the table-tops and in selected accented pieces.

The dining chairs were custom made by Habitalia. “When I said that I wanted this light fabric on the chairs I think everyone thought I was crazy, but because the strip of leather at the top of the chairs is where people will be touching the chairs, the light fabric will see very little wear.” To the same effect, Sen used heavily textured and lightly patterned Donghia fabric on the large sofas.
The finishing touches were from a number of sources. Cornellian Gallery supplied all the artwork in the public spaces, including the specially-made framed artwork in the groundfloor toilets which is a real fusion between the Middle East and Europe.

The black and white photos are by Birgitte Godsk and reflect the Arabic culture with abstract close-ups of minarets, and traditional Arabic architecture framed with dramatic mounts. The accessories are sourced by a commercial accessory consultant, Diane Breeze. “I told her that the hotel was all about elegant simplicity. I didn’t want overly flamboyant pieces of sculpture or accessories that would take away from the design. Murano multi-coloured glass for instance would not have worked here.”

One aspect of the design that Sen would have liked to have done differently was to complete the feeling of being in an elite gentleman’s club by having roaring open fires: “I really wanted a gas flame fire both in the Cigar Bar and the restaurant to add to the ambience, but the concept of gas fires hasn’t really hit Dubai yet. It would have created a great atmosphere, but the oversized candles will have to do instead for now.”

Kosak adds: “I have not yet encountered a person who has not been in awe upon entering our new facility. Numerous international visitors have commented that The Montgomerie, Dubai is one of the most impressive clubhouses they have seen in their travels, and that it certainly bucks the trend in terms of traditional golf Clubhouses. That, to me, is a huge compliment.” ||**||

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