Designed by Godwin Austen Johnson Architects (GAJ), this boutique hotel resort north of Khor Fakkan won the 2012 MEA Award for Hospitality & Leisure Project of the Year. The design draws inspiration from historical references in similar settings.
The slope and nature of the existing mountainside have determined the massing of the hotel form. It has been sited to reduce the cutting of the natural rock as much as possible. Vehicle access will be via a meandering road following the contours from Khor Fakkan.
The development is situated on the northern fringe of Khor Fakkan town at the base of the mountains, within a secluded sandy bay. With views out to sea and back towards Shark Island, the orientation of the bay and beach allows the complex to be secluded from the external environment.
As commonly found in the mountainous regions of the Arabia, the development would be built around the natural contours of the land and constructed using local materials and vernacular features. Spaces and forms will mitigate the climate while providing surveillance of the surrounding area.
GAJ devised two concepts – the ‘fort’ and the ‘hill town’. The fort covers the front of house facilities including reception, spa and gym, pool, restaurants and business facilities. These will be located on the hilltop, ensuring that the hotel is a prominent landmark visible from Khor Fakkan.
Meanwhile, the hill town, located further down the slope towards the beach, will contain over 100 suites and a series of clustered courtyards. Each courtyard will be planted with aromatic plant species and trees while suites will have sea views and building entrances to the rear.
The centre of the hill town will contain a town square with cafes rather than the traditional beach restaurant. In the evening, the plaza will become a secondary focal point to the fort with external spaces aimed at encouraging guests to relax and dine in an informal environment.
Suites will be finished in a slightly rough off-white render interspersed with natural stone elements based on natural colours and textures of the environment. The fort section will be constructed mainly from stone to reinforce its solidity. Timber pergolas and planting provide shade, modelling and depth.