Hot Spa

Accolades don’t come much more impressive than an entry on Condé Nast Traveller’s Hot List. For a spa that only opened its doors in November 2005, this is high praise indeed, but amble around the Amara Spa at the Park Hyatt, Dubai and it becomes immediately evident what sets this spa apart from its competitors.

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By  Charlotte Butterfield Published  August 4, 2006

|~|Amara-body1.gif|~||~|Accolades don’t come much more impressive than an entry on Condé Nast Traveller’s Hot List. For a spa that only opened its doors in November 2005, this is high praise indeed, but amble around the Amara Spa at the Park Hyatt, Dubai and it becomes immediately evident what sets this spa apart from its competitors.

Condé Nast Traveller stated: “Spa addicts have no shortage of choices in Dubai, the hedonism capital of the Persian Gulf. What the Amara day-spa has going for it, is ambience and a convenient urban-oasis location… eight large, sleek treatment rooms have private walled gardens with rain showers and padded benches. They’re perfect places for lying naked or sipping mint tea by candlelight in the humid desert-meets-seaside air.” It was this desire to create a tranquil retreat in the heart of the city that led the clients, Mirage Mille to enlist the design services of Wilson & Associates in Singapore.||**|||~|Amara-body2.gif|~||~|Patrick Waring, deputy managing director, Wilson & Assoc. has designed prestigious projects across the globe from the Armani Hotel via Manzoni in Milan; China World Hotel, Bejing; The Mandarin Hotel, Singapore and The Four Seasons Resort, Goa, to name but a few, whilst his current local projects include Old Town Commercial Island Serviced Apartments, Old Town A & B (2 Hotels) and the Burj Dubai Armani Hotel. His approach to the design of The Park Hyatt was firmly based in research of the locale and surrounding natural and cultural environment.

Billed as offering a luxury waterfront retreat, the hotel is adjacent to Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club and Waring asserts that the enviable position overlooking the marina was a significant influence on the design: “The shimmering water, luxury yachts, light and reflections, the sunrise and sunset all influenced the overall ambience. The design brief from the client was that the hotel be a combination of Greek, Mediterranean and Arabic styles — a simplistic form of Arabic architecture combined with the crispness of simple Greek architectural building elements.

The design is influenced by Marrakech courtyard styling and is intended to appear authentic unlike many other Arabic projects in Dubai. It is an urban resort / retreat.”
Every room and public space in the hotel has a view over the Creek, and it is this intrinsic link with the outdoors, with nature and water that is key to the design. Waring continues, “the spa has a very strong interior/exterior connection. It has a sense of calm isolation; it is very serene. All these attributes are usually reserved for resort projects, where people normally have to gravitate for this experience.”
||**|||~|Amara-body3.gif|~||~|Detail in the architecture is realised through shadow and texture, which gives an overriding sense of calmness. There is a lot of natural light and water in the overall design. In the Amara Spa, colonnades and drapes give a special ambience to the transitional walk from the public areas to the treatment rooms. “My favourite part of the design is The Pool Lounge – a non-air conditioned pavilion located off the pool deck, with oversized furniture and exterior drapes. It is an oasis of calm and relaxation,” Waring says.

The aura of tranquility was created by using lots of white coupled with darker accent pieces such as Indonesian-inspired oversized furniture. The majority of the furniture and lighting were custom designed and made in the Middle East and Asia, with many pieces being sourced from Balinese firm, Warisan. Many of the other suppliers are based in Dubai, including the stone and tiles which were from Sital Marble, Dubai. Local firm, Interior Marketing, was commissioned for the upholsteries and window treatments, along with Walltracts LLC who supplied window dressings for the guest rooms. The sumptuous leather upholstery was by Townsend Leather, in Johnstown New York.

The accessories that Waring opted for added to the exoticism of the design; MJK Arabia LLC, were brought in to add some of the specialist finishes. The custom art and sculpture was from Cornellian Gallery in Dubai while the finishing touches such as the table-top accessories were sourced from Four Seasons Gallery in Dubai.

||**|||~|Amara-body4.gif|~||~|Designing for such a well-known hospitality group is often fraught with guidelines and restrictions, but Waring actually cites this as a positive: “Each Park Hyatt is unique and designed in response to the local market, so we weren’t restricted by designing within a brand. I do find though that it is often easier to design for a well-known hotel group as the operator gives very good, specific direction for the operations.”

Waring explains that unlike designing in the Far East or the West, there were various cultural considerations that had to be considered: “When designing in the Middle East, Arabic culture and religion has to be respected. For example, the following must be considered: sense of place (men and women must be separated in all areas of the spa), alcohol licensing laws, choice of artwork, etc needs careful researching.”

Jason Sloan, spa director adds: “The Park Hyatt’s vision for the spa was for a luxury day spa with many unique points of difference to be integral with the hotel look, feel and level of clientele.” He continues: “The Amara differs from other spas in the city because of our outdoor terraces and showers, the size of our suites, the genuine privacy given to all guests, the Middle Eastern flavour that is so integral to the design — there’s just so many things that sets Amara apart.” ||**||

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