Heritage meets modernity at Jumeirah's Saadiyat Island spa villas

Heritage meets modernity at Jumeirah's Saadiyat Island spa villas

The UAE’s first spa villas are located on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi. They are modern, stylish, Arabesque and boast an interior design reflective of the local context

Jumeirah Group, Hotel design, Abu Dhabi
ITP Media Group

Eight modernist private villas have been built by the waterfront at Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Resort in Abu Dhabi, with Arab motifs like mashrabiyas adorning them. The two-story luxury villas are the only purpose-built spa villas in the UAE and architecture and interior design company DBI Design says making sure they reflected the natural context in which they are situated was important.

DBI Design, which has offices in Abu Dhabi and Australia, started conceptual design work for the contemporary-style villas at the Jumeirah-branded hotel in way back June 2014. What makes the villas special is that half of them have been designed to provide the highest level of discreet pampering and relaxation from the comfort of the property. Four of the villas have been designed to accommodate spa features to provide a step-up in privacy-focused relaxation. This means that guests do not need to leave the villa if they want to make the most of the hotel’s award-winning spa facilities; they can invite a masseuse to the villa because four of them have purpose-built rooms for private massages with steps leading down to temperature-controlled swimming pools.

Director of interior design and architecture at DBI Design, Susan Rossi, tells Commercial Interior Design she wanted the villas to reflect the local context of Abu Dhabi, but with a contemporary look and feel for the Jumeirah villas.

“The villas are a study of aesthetic simplicity, celebrating the local region. We have drawn our inspiration from the beauty of Arabic architecture in a classic, contemporary interior design translation, which showcases the character of the local region.”

She explains that the villas provide “subtle references to the motifs and architectural devices found throughout historic Arabian buildings”. These details can be hard to spot at first, but they are there. Arab motifs are etched onto the double-wide doors. Arabesque lanterns hang from the ceiling in the bedrooms, while ceiling drapings are softly reminiscent of the UAE’s sailing heritage. Being close to the ocean, they also help to tie the villas to their natural surroundings on the coastline.

Black and white photographs depicting the UAE’s famous dhows hang from the walls of the villas, while colourful desert photography is also part of the mix of artwork. There are also embroidered canopies. And, like in most modern hotels, temperature and lighting can be controlled from the bedside at the flick of a button.

The villas have been years in the making and Rossi says one of the challenges the team faced was coming up with an interior design style that matched the natural topography of the 27km Saadiyat Island.

“It was important that the interior design solution was respectful of the modernist architectural shell, which settles naturally into the topography of the island, yet provides the character and personality of the region within the interior,” she says.

“The interior design celebrates the equilibrium between built and natural forms to achieve a seamless transition between the interior and the surrounding landscape, further enhancing the visual volumes of the villas and connecting the guests to the natural assets of this unique spa experience,” she adds.

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