Wake up with a Roar!A unique Resort in the heart of the Abu Dhabi Zoo
CEO of Emirates Park, Joanne A Hana, recently enlisted the help of the illustrious interior designers DZ Designto createa chic, contemporary “ZooResort” was aesthetically inspiredby the surrounding wildlife and offered a new level of comfort and a truly unforgettable experience.
Designing an Animal Paradise
Tucked away minutes from the busy highway connecting Abu Dhabi and Dubai, you will find theaward winning Emirates Park Zoo. It’s ranked as one of the “must do” activities and “top 5 places to visit” while visiting the Emirate according toTrip Advisor. As part of their continued efforts to expand and develop the venue, the Zoo recently underwent a series of exciting renovations to its Resort and its F&B outlets.
“The idea of the interiors aesthetic and colours come directly from the animals that live here” elaborates designer Dina Murali, Design Director of DZ design. “To see rescues from the region given shelter and rehabilitation is heartwarming. The colours of the Suites,with Premium and Deluxe rooms and the restaurant.flow seamlessly alongside the zoo and its animals” She adds,“The materials too, jute from Indonesia and India for the lights and rugs as well as handmade tiles for the flooring are close to its natural habitat. Care was taken not to disrupt the animals during construction and to ensure minimal intrusion to their space.”
‘To blend in with the surrounding’ was the key directive the CEO, Joanne A Hana, gave to the designers. “We want to create a space for families where theyhave the unique opportunity to interact and get up close to the animals from the time that they step into the Resort and created an enclosed space where kids are safe to run wild and enjoy a jam packed activity programme and educational entertainment ”.
The Design Team wanted to ensure they not only were able to bring their vision to life, but that they could carry their conservation and wildlife themes through as they went about completely restoring and renovating the resort areas of the all-day dining, reception, chalets and guest rooms. It was also essential that the design team were able to work within the core values that guide the company’s long-term vision, namely the implementation of sustainable business practices and the integration of projects into the natural surroundings.
Luxurious Safari Style
Since The Resort is embedded in the heart of the Zoo, the Premium Family Suites actually overlook the giraffe enclosure, we wanted to make sure the new designs reflected the habitats andoptimized guest experience and animal interaction. The One Bedroom Suites are decorated in bright amber while the toilets in the room are decorated in handmade black and white floor tiles inspired by the zebras who accompany the giraffes. The flooring is done in timber herringbone pattern with rugs under the bed and sofa in natural, dyed jute from India. Upturned Indonesia made baskets act as side tables in the living room complete with natural stone tops and scaled models of giraffe as accessory adornments.
All 25 Family Suites opens onto a patio with grey and white textures, lit by basket chandeliers woven with cane. The flowing sheers further romanticize the view from the room into the lush green outdoors and well into the animal sanctuary.
The living room has an adjoining dining with rope walls at the entrance; the pantry is suitable for a family to stay with the sofa doubling up as a bed for young hotel guests. On request, tepees are provided to instill a sense of adventure to the young minds visiting the Zoo Resort. Large windows keep these rooms well lit and airy.
The hotel entry is via an avenue of timber arches surrounded by lush greenery and chirping birds creating a winding passage that leads to the reception. The club lounge for the Chalets is decorated with large tree patterns and laser cut metal partitions which divide the Executive Lounge and reception. The timber beams on the ceiling include hand crafted individual cane lanterns.
“The new interiors of the zoo resort reflect our values of hospitality and service. It is the ideal environment in which to welcome our guests and young ones to interact, learn, respect and be a part of nature’s finest creations” says the CEO.
A Culinary Oasis
One of the key focal points they worked on was the renovation of the brand new all-day dining location – The Hide. A fun, modern space for kids and grown-ups alike, the venue welcomes you with anasymmetricaltimber coffered ceiling and upholstery filled with animal prints. The central trees divide the space into sections that lead to the juice bar and community seats.
We also included origami swallows on the wall taking flight, as well as gold and black turtles and rabbits. The reception desk has monkeys hanging around throwing light at the tree trunk desk beneath. The outdoor area has been designed to bring diners even closer to the animals and includes a children’s play area, wandering peacocks and a fantastic view of the exotic bird area and Zoo Zip and Climb.
Staycations with a Difference
The new designs and renovations in Emirates Park Zoo and The Resort speak to their overall commitment to providing completely unique experiences for visitors from start to finish. Whether guests are coming for a weekend trip or a family vacation, they will be able to enjoy bespoke activities that you can’t find anywhere else. This really is a city staycation with a difference, and one that is only minutes from the capital.
Their range of VIP Experiences offer a truly special level of animal interaction that brings visitors even closer to some of the Zoo’s most exotic creatures. Start the day early with a superb breakfast and choose to have it served in naturalistic caves whilst a giraffe fights you for the jam or opt to share your toast with a very chatty tropical bird on the terrace right outside your chalet. For the more adventurous, you can experience Brunch with the Big Cats, and sit at a table for lunch with purring pals just inches away. There is also the extremely popular Roarsome Lion experience in which you are transported to an African safari and will find yourself just a thin sheet of glass away from the King of the Jungle.
Overall Emirates Park Zoo and Resort has built an enduring reputation as a leader in responsible tourism, community engagement and environmental sustainability. Reflecting the direction of tourism and societal preferences, they have made recycling, waste reduction and eco-friendly approaches the very centre of how they conduct daily operations and animal welfare. Thanks to their commitment, Emirates Park Zoo now sets the benchmark amongst tourism destinations for sustainable practices. Every element is thoughtfully adapted to allow for reuse or recycling. Their extensive animal waste is converted into organic compost and used for Zoo agricultural projects and cultivation; an homage to the farming heritage of Emirates Park.
The animal enclosures and shelters were all built with discarded wood and they aim to be totally plastic and waste free by 2020. When it comes to the watering holes and pools needed for the animals, they use a bespoke water filtration system that actually saves over 100 thousand cubic litres of water every year. Further enhancing their eco-credentials, in 2012 they become the first zoo to open a sustainable resort in the centre of their property, and the recent renovations have added even more opportunities to save the planet.
A Habitat for Tourists
Visionary foresight and an innate understanding of changing mentalities have allowed Emirates Park Zoo to foster and capitalize on a (currently unmet) demand for authentic experiential holidays and animal interaction experiences within the UAE travel market. Since they are unique in their ability to offer these types of encounters, as well as their premium, wildlife immersive, accommodation provisions, their ROI is consistently around 20-40% versus the much lower rates for traditional hotel rooms.
The Abu Dhabi government is committed to expanding their non-oil GDP revenue streams and have therefore put the development of the tourism sector at the forefront of their current vision and proposed initiatives. As a local-grown brand, in a central location, with a very bespoke offering, Emirates Park Zoo is one of the destinations that will benefit from this drive and has already proven their ability to work with the government and other partners to create an unforgettable experience and first-class venue.