Time Out Dubai sits down with Thomas van Vliet, CEO of Paramount Hotels & Resorts, to bring you an exclusive low down on a place that he says is, “For the creative, by the creatives”.
And scroll to the bottom to see some spectacular images shot from the construction site, all highlighting the sheer scale of this remarkable project.
1 It’s not going to be like Hard Rock Café, or Planet Hollywood.
“Those are both excellent companies that do what they do very well,” says van Vliet, “but that is not the design direction we are taking.” In other words, don’t expect a bunch of gaudy movie props popping up all over the place, or Arnie’s Terminator motorbike hanging from the ceiling. “The niche we are targeting is a luxury lifestyle hotel experience, enhanced with subtle elements of theming through associations with the Paramount Pictures studio. Our primary associations are Paramount Pictures Entertainment & Technology, Hollywood Glamour and California Lifestyle, and our secondary association is Creativity.”
2 That said, it will have a Godfather Suite…
“That suite is one of my favourites,” says van Vliet. “It incorporates that classic movie in terms of the styling of the furniture and its colour scheme, as well as some key quotes from the movie incorporated into the design.”
3…But that won’t come with a free horse’s head in the bed.
“No, it most certainly will not!” laughs van Vliet. “We want to treat our guests like stars, who, upon arrival, should feel like they just walked onto a movie set. We don’t want to terrorise them!”
4 You’ll be able to live in it permanently, or just come and stay.
The hotel will have 823 rooms located in one tower and is connected via podiums to three other towers containing 1,194 serviced residences. The hotel and serviced residences will have their own separate pools – but both conceived to have the look and feel of a pool deck on Sunset Boulevard, “with cabanas and a bar/lounge for food and beverages and entertainment” – as well as, of course, two screening rooms, where people can watch either Paramount movies or mini film festivals curated by either genre, date or individual actor, actress or director. “These unique screening rooms will have a joint capacity of 140,” says van Vliet. “They will also act as lounges, which can be used for private functions. They will have a small stage and finger food and beverages will be served while you’re watching a movie. They will also be surrounded by the other hotel’s F&B outlets, so you can really make a night of it.”
5 Ah yes, the F&B outlets…
Paramount Hotels & Resorts will contain no less than 12 food and beverage outlets, including the screening rooms and the bespoke pool areas. “With the reality that there are too many restaurants of any theme in Dubai, so as to differentiate ourselves and in line with one of our brand associations, all our F&B outlets will be designed with the California Lifestyle in mind.” The majority will be third-party brands that have not yet been decided upon. Mainly aimed at the residences, there will be a deli grocery, called “Craft Table” also offering delivery services. In addition, a speakeasy lounge is planned, accessible only by invitation and with a “probable” ban on mobile phones and cameras, “so that people there can genuinely relax”. There will also be specific F&B packages based around in-room dining, with special movie packages available. “We will also offer in-room make-up services, so you can get made over – like a movie star – before you go out… We have already designed the personal make-up trolleys that our make-up artists will use,” van Vliet says.
6 Dubai is the perfect place for it.
“Yes, because Paramount Hotels & Resorts, the brainchild of our Chairman Ghassan Aridi, was established here in Dubai,” says van Vliet. “He signed a long-term exclusive and worldwide license agreement with Paramount Licensing Inc., the licensing division of Paramount Pictures Corporation in LA. It was a unique opportunity, mixing luxury lifestyle hospitality with more than a century of high-class entertainment. Plus, Dubai is one of the top tourist cities in the world. When the crisis hit in 2008, what did continue in Dubai was the construction of hotels. But what didn’t continue was the construction of other supporting facilities and attractions needed to fill those additional hotel rooms, unfortunately an unsustainable situation from a long-term perspective, even with the significant double digit annual increases in arrival numbers at Dubai International Airport. Now with the present development of Dubai theme parks, Ain Dubai, the Dubai Frame and Dubai Opera, new markets can be tapped into and it makes total sense.”
7 And this city is just the start.
Paramount Hotels & Resorts actually have more projects planned in Dubai, as well as in Doha, Riyadh, Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi in Malaysia, Hainan Island in China, Los Angeles and Miami. “In the future, we will have hotels that are part of a Paramount theme park – these will be Paramount Park hotels and they will have heavier theming,” says van Vliet. “Possible locations include the UK, Spain, South Korea and the US. And because all of these theme park developments are ‘green-field’, you are looking at a minimum of five years lead time.”
8 Brilliantly, each new Paramount project will be treated like a “new release”.
“That’s how Paramount Pictures treats every new movie it produces, and that’s how we’re going to treat every new hotel we develop. Each hotel is going to be unique. Just like Paramount Pictures has always approached every new movie as a new venture, so too will we. None of our hotels will be the same, with highly creative teams each time creating a unique experience, of course enhanced with a range of signature elements, which will be present in all of our hotels.”
9 And even the work and general areas are going to be fun.
In addition to the usual work stations, the business centre (or “work/play suites”) at Paramount Hotel Dubai will also double-up as a grown-up play area for those who don’t want to knuckle down, with pool tables, food and beverage service and even karaoke stations. On your drive in from the airport you will also be handed a mobile device showing trailers for all of the Paramount Pictures movies you’ll be able to see in your room or on LCD screens on workout equipment in the fitness centre – on top of the Paramount Pictures movies channel there will also be a channel showing new releases from other studios, “because if you want to see the new James Bond movie [that is distributed by Sony] you should be able to see the new Bond movie” – your arrival at the lobby area will be like nothing you’ve ever seen before. “When people arrive at our hotel they’ll feel like they’ve just stepped onto a movie set; like they are in an actual movie,” says van Vliet. “The lobby design will be timeless Hollywood elegance with contemporary styling enhanced with subtle theatrical elements and cinematic lighting. And we’re not going to have a check-in area with a reception counter. We are going to use pods. We want people to feel relaxed, and a counter doesn’t relax anyone. Our reception area will be a lounge experience, with 360-degree digital signage. The furniture won’t change but your environment will. You’ll be transported into new environments depending on when you arrive or depart.”
10 As to how you’ll feel by the time you leave?
“By the time people leave I guarantee you that no-one will ever say, ‘I don’t know why this hotel is called a Paramount hotel,’” says van Vliet. “Anybody who is creative will love coming to stay with us. Disney and MGM already have their hotels, whereas Paramount Pictures is synonymous with quality filmmaking; with escapism and adventure, but not for operating luxury lifestyle hotels. And that’s where Paramount Hotels & Resorts comes in. Our experience will be unique, pure, elevated, glamorous and Californian, which will make you feel energised, focused, excited, special and relaxed… like a star.”
360 The number of degrees the digital wall in the check-in area will span. It’s the centrepiece of the digital signage and media mapping throughout the hotel.
140 The capacity of the two screening rooms in the property, which will show Paramount movies or mini film festivals curated by genre, date, actor or director.
22 The number of stars that surround the mountain on the famous Paramount logo, “symbolising adventure and escape; a lifestyle of global culture”.
12 The total number of food and beverage outlets that will feature within the new property, including the two catered screening rooms.
ON THE CONSTRUCTION SITE