Designed to Dine

The five-star Al Bandar Rotana brings luxury to Old Dubai with five sublime dining destinations for visitors and guests to enjoy. Each restaurant, café and bar boast the latest F&B design expertly managed by Tricon Foodservice Consultants Ltd, a management and design consultancy with expertise in planning food & beverage and hospitality design. We caught up with Robert Plumb, Design Director at Tricon’s Dubai office to find out more

There’s a certain charm about Old Dubai, one that won’t allow visitors to be fooled by the ageing pretences attached to the name. Developments over the years have injected life and regeneration into the historic area – a stark contrast draws in visitors who wander through the fusion of 20th and 21st Century designs, where rustic traditional buildings weave around impressive new hotels.

Nestled in the midst of Old Dubai is the new, Al Bandar Rotana hotel. The five-star hotel, which opened its doors early last year, is the perfect example of the intertwining of old and new. Guests can soak in an uninterrupted view over Dubai Creek across to the iconic skyscrapers of Dubai, whereas other rooms host spectacular views spanning across the bustling waterway through the heart of Deira.

The arrival of this modern hotel comes hand-in-hand with new hospitality offerings and when competing with the growth in the area, a good hospitality strategy can set a hotel in a strong stead to tower over its competitors. Al Bandar Rotana decided to integrate the international influence in Dubai within the dining, bringing an offering of authentic cuisine as well as worldwide culinary favourites, all optimised by the stylish setting they’re enjoyed within. The authentic Italian dishes at Gusto Italian Restaurant, fine wines and tapas at Morgan’s Gastropub, global delicacies at Salt and Pepper, barista coffee and light snacks at Vanilla Lobby Lounge and cool refreshing drinks at The Deck Pool Lounge are all supported by a range of kitchens from a central commissary kitchen in the basement to stunning show kitchens, support pantries and uniquely designed facilities.

Tricon Foodservice Consultants Ltd were the appointed consultants behind the kitchen (and laundry) design which was stimulated by the uniqueness of the brand as well as the growing popularity of Old Dubai. Tricon have produced food, beverage and laundry designs for multiple hotels across the Middle East including many designs for the Rotana brand. They are a speciality management and design consultancy with expertise in planning F&B and hospitality design across multiple sectors throughout the world, with offices in both Dubai and London.

Robert Plumb, Design Director at Tricon’s Dubai office managed the Al Bandar Rotana’s kitchen and laundry design from the concept design stage through to the construction and hand-over of the project, he said, ‘Each Rotana hotel has its own identity from the name of the hotel to their food and beverage design. The dining facilities within their hotels have names that are not repeated anywhere across the brand. This allows for more freedom when concepts for the F&B delivery are considered. Having a good understanding of the brand and a strong relationship with the design team meant that we could create the best design solution when it came to the kitchens, stores and pantries, that would support each of the five individual F&B facilities as well as meeting room hospitality within Al Bandar Rotana.’

‘To optimise the creative potential here, Tricon worked closely with the client Al Ahlia Insurance Company, GA Architects and LW Designs – who were the interior architects on the project. Communicating regularly with the design team meant that we could develop a kitchen design that would reflect the ambitions of the interior architectures and allow Rotana’s Al Bandar showcase its own unique qualities,’ said Robert.

‘A particular highlight was the opportunity to design a show kitchen within the international all-day dining restaurant Salt and Pepper. We designed the show kitchen to open up the back-of-house and add a little bit of theatre to the dining experience, guests can watch the chefs in action as they prepare some of the breakfast, lunch and evening meals whereas the bulk of the food is prepared in the central commissary kitchen on the basement level.’ Robert adds.

With contrasted gold and white accents and a glistening white interior Salt and Pepper has the elegance expected within the Middle East and the added bonus of catering to all diners needs. A display of hot and cold food freshly prepared by chefs allows guests to make the difficult choice between whether they’re in the mood for (but not limited to) Indian, Japanese or Italian fare and whether to enjoy in the coolness of the restaurant or out on the sun-soaked terrace. At breakfast, guests will find freshly baked goods and continental fare that mirrors the five-star standard readily available.

To support the delivery of the quantity of food that is served here and throughout the hotel, Tricon designed a central commissary kitchen on the basement level where food is delivered, stored and prepared accordingly and distributed via a system of clean and dirty lift separation. The central commissary kitchen supports all of the restaurants, the Vanilla Lobby Lounge, staff dining, room service and the hotels meeting rooms and executive lounge. The combination of cuisines and overlapping service times means that the central commissary kitchen would need facilities to best prepare a high volume of varied dishes.

Robert said that, ‘Tricon worked alongside a variety of suppliers and manufacturers to ensure the kitchen could best deliver and cater to the needs of the whole hotel. Tricon contracted BOHEC Middle East to install Al Bandar’s kitchens and the cooking equipment was provided by suppliers including AMBACH, RATIONAL, Clay Oven and COOKTEK.’

‘The central commissary’s walk-in cold rooms were designed to store food for the whole hotel, and these were designed by Tricon and supplied by MISA. The best back and front-of-house fabrications, refrigeration counters and cabinets that fit in with the design of each restaurant were supplied by GINOX. Ventilation canopies were all supplied by VIANEN and the dishwash equipment by MEIKO.’

‘We ensured that the best and latest equipment was sourced and fitted within each of the kitchens to meet the demand of the all-day dining restaurant and speciality restaurants within the hotel and support Rotana’s aspirations for their other dining facilities,’ adds Robert.

On the ground floor of Al Bandar, guests will find Morgan’s Gastropub – a cool warehouse-inspired gastropub and bar with a combination of rustic and dark wood, steel and concrete décor that accentuates the modern feel of the hotel. The individuality is well placed, as the only gastropub in Dubai Creek, it’s somewhere to enjoy a combination of cuisines of some of the US’ and Britain’s most famed-for dishes which are supported by the hotel’s central commissary kitchen. Bob added, ‘the Rotana brand like to use a lot of visual elements, so we designed the feature bar, with the understanding that it would sit in a prominent position in the restaurant, this is a great addition to the hotel and for Rotana to drive revenue due to the stylish design, ambiance and variety of food.’

With views outstretching into the Dubai skyline, it’s no surprise to find elegant al fresco dining on the 18th floor. Al Bandar Rotana’s Italian restaurant Gusto makes the most of their surrounds offering a laid-back atmosphere and authentic-style Italian fare. Their menu also changes regularly ensuring that visitors can try something new every time they stop by for an evening meal. ‘To support this delivery, Tricon designed another show kitchen that reflected LW Designs and Rotana’s ambitions for the front-of-house design,’ adds Robert, ‘the back-of-house was made smaller to accentuate the visual delivery of the show kitchen here.’

As well as seated dining, more laid back options throughout the hotel offer additional flexibility and ease, with 24/7 in-room dining prepared using Tricon-designed pantries and finishing kitchens as well as pool-side dining for those wanting to lounge by the pool. In the lobby, the Vanilla Lobby Lounge is the ideal place to catch up with friends, grab a coffee over business or a light lunch. Ambient and bright with the décor dominated by soft woods and marble and a warm colour palette, it’s also the perfect spot for indulging in a sweet treat, from pastries to chocolate covered desserts, in this café-style venue or to takeaway to savour for later.

Al Bandar Rotana is one of several openings that Tricon is celebrating within the region in the past year, as well as other projects including the Drift Beach Club set in the grounds of the One & Only Royal Mirage, the Mina Brasserie at the Four Seasons Hotel and the Al Habtoor Polo Resort.



Article published in Hotel & Catering News Middle East – words by Chloe Laing