You’d be forgiven for thinking a Paramount Hotel would be full to the brim of gimmicks and kitschy movie memorabilia. The soon-to-open property in Dubai’s Business Bay is most certainly not that. Instead, its 92 suites, 730 rooms, five food and beverage outlets, and wellness facilities are elegantly designed, and subtly infused with a sense of Hollywood glamour and clean California lifestyle.
Look through the photo gallery above to see more of the hotel.
Damac Towers by Paramount is a four-tower development by Damac Properties, done in collaboration with Paramount Hotels & Resorts, which is run by chief executive Ghassan Aridi, who is also head of Dubai destination management company Alpha LLC. The project includes a residence tower and the hotel, which is one of 23 Paramount-themed properties opening up around the world. Dubai's, however, is its flagship "big hotel", vice president of operations Alessandro Redaelli confirmed to The National when we took a look around the property today.
It’s due to open on September 1.
A sense of drama
From the moment you step inside the hotel, you’ll be imbued with a sense of the talkies. A glamorous spiral staircase, with marble steps and gold bannisters, sits to the side of the entrance, winding upwards. The marble floors in front of you glitter with gold. And the “welcome and goodbye” area straight ahead, in its own private cove that leads on to the residences and retail section (where you’ll find Paramount merchandise), boasts giant screens depicting three different scenes for morning, noon and night that surround the check-in desks. Go upstairs, and you’ll see dimly lit, chic hallways that are lined with behind-the-scenes black-and-white pictures from classic movie sets that are exclusive to this hotel.
Inside the rooms
There are five categories of suites: The Godfather, Silver Screen, Carole Lombard, Gatsby and the Producers Suite, which has a private screening room and hammam. These are not designed to resemble film sets; instead elements that recall classic Paramount movies have been incorporated into the decor. For instance, your dressing table mirror has those quintessential show lights around it, and in the Godfather suite the chair resembles the one in the film’s barber shop set. In the corner of each room you’ll find a spotlight on a tripod. In every bathroom, movie quotes are inscribed into the shower’s walls (it becomes a bit of a game to guess which film they’re from).
Despite the garish glitz and glam of the movie industry, the decor is sophisticated. The floorboards are made of light woods, neutral shades of white and tan are used throughout, and large windows portray gorgeous city views. A giant LED TV screen is hidden in a massive mirror in front of a sparkling white bed – and that interactive entertainment system gives you access to much of the back catalogue of Paramount Pictures films. So you can kick back, relax, and commence a movie marathon, if you want.
Right now, the hotel is about 90 per cent finished. As it was originally only supposed to be a residence, when plans changed the interiors were re-imagined, and the project ended up being delayed by two years. But now it’s on track to open in September, confirms Wael Soueid the general manager, or “director” (as is stated on his business card). Soueid joined the team just two weeks ago, leaving his position as area general manager for Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spa in Abu Dhabi. “It’s been extremely interesting and extremely busy, preparing for a September opening,” he says.
Where to eat
It’s not just the rooms that will open by September, either. Five new food and beverage outlets are to come, too. There will be L cafe in the lobby with The Cheat chocolate lab, where chefs will create cocoa treats in front of guests. The Pacific Groove is a California-style raw bar and grill. The Craft Table, which is already open and shared with the residences, is an artisanal cafe and bakery that serves roasted coffee, grab-and-go dishes of locally produced ingredients, as well as fresh grocery items.
Then there’s The Stage, the all-day dining spot that will dish up international cuisine across live cooking stations and can accommodate up to 400 diners.
Finally, there's a hidden speakeasy-style bar that you'll need a password to access. Inside, Prohibition Era-America inspires the decor, and "interactive" images on the walls depict moving actors and actresses from across the ages (think of the moving pictures on the walls of Hogwarts in Harry Potter, if you will).
Four more third-party-operated restaurants are due to open in the second or third quarter next year, too. Two licensed venues will be located on the ground floor of the hotel, while two more unlicensed spots will be by the entrance of the residences tower. Details of these are yet to be confirmed.
One thing we do know for sure, however, is that there will be a brunch hosted at the hotel eventually. “Of course we will [have one],” says Redaelli. “But everyone does brunches, so it needs to be done in a way that it’s a real brunch … We need to be different.”
Rubbing shoulders with A-listers?
Now, that just leaves the movie element: the cosy screening room on the first floor is where movies old and new will be shown to a maximum of 70 people. This will be open to the public (not just hotel guests) on a first-come-first-served basis. While Vox Cinemas has the rights for movie premieres, you can expect to attend screenings of brand-new movies here 24 hours after they’re released.
Then there are the actors. Can we expect to see the Hollywood A-list milling about in the lobby any time soon? “Of course we want to have actors come here,” says Redaelli. “But the purpose is to keep the experience for the people. If Tom Cruise comes to Dubai then of course we want to have him here … but the idea is not for people to think ‘oh if you come to the hotel you might meet Tom Cruise in the lobby’.” The idea, he says, is to share the “A-list experience” with everyone, and “not keep it just for a few”.
While everything is certainly on track, Soueid says there’s still a bit of work to do before it’s complete. “There’s lots of work going on behind the scenes,” he explains. “There’s a lot of recruitment to be done, getting ready with our cast members.” That’s his term for staff.
At the moment there are only 10 executive team members onboard, but Soueid says they want to open with a full team of 400, and those people will be “auditioned” (not interviewed) in various locations across Dubai (“a movie theatre, or a beach, for example”).
And what about the “opening scene”, we ask? Is there a big bash planned for September? “That’s a secret,” Redaelli and Soueid say simultaneously. When the hotel in Bodrum opened, Nicole Kidman attended. So can we expect any big names at the night in Dubai? “This is a surprise,” says Redaelli. “We [would] like to have an A-list actor coming for it. We’re working on it.”