Rotana Salalah Five Star Hotel in Oman Building, Arabian Peninsula Project, News, Design
Rotana Salalah Five Star Hotel in Oman
Arabian Peninsula Beach Accommodation – design by GM Architects
10 Feb 2016
Rotana Salalah Hotel in Oman
Location: Salalah, Sultanate of Oman
Design: GM Architects
Renovating The Rotana Salalah – the largest five star hotel in Oman
THE ROTANA SALALAH
A LOCATION STEEPED IN OMANI ARCHITECTURE
The Rotana Salalah is the largest five star hotel in Oman and comprises 400 rooms ranging from 43 to 143 square metres in size. Situated in Salalah, the capital of the southern region of the Sultanate of Oman, it is one of the most
beautiful hotels in the country thanks to its exceptional setting.
Standing on the shores of the Indian Ocean and the famous Salalah Beach, the hotel looks out to a tropical landscape
and the Omani mountains. The firm GM Architects was chosen to reinterpret this special location in its entirety. Works
were completed in early 2015.
GM ARCHITECTS’ VISION FOR THE HOTEL
The work of Galal Mahmoud, founder of GM Architects, involved creating a new vision for the structure and interior
design of the Rotana Salalah while at the same time preserving the traditional Omani architecture with its arcades,
generous openings and moucharaby latticework.
While organizing the hotel layout into 400 rooms and suites, restaurants and bars, the underlying aim of the architect was
always to create a veritable window to the outdoors and the sea. In common with all his projects Galal Mahmoud sets
aside plenty of time for research in order to understand and immerse himself in the site. Such “contextual immersion”
allows him to develop a contemporary approach that is in symbiosis with the country’s traditional culture.
In the rooms and suites the architect once again introduces a traditional atmosphere without compromising on the
comfort of a five star hotel and its bespoke luxury services. Vaults comprising four bricked arches are retained in their
original state and the walls are rendered with textured or smooth sand-coloured coatings that evoke the warm hues of
Sober contours contrast admirably with the choice of colours: crimson for the wall at the head of the bed, slate blue
for the bedspread, fuchsia and brick reds for the cushions, and purple for the curtains. The dark-wood features add a
touch of character to the rooms, in particular the window decorations in the typical Omani style.
Bathrooms adhere to the decorative principles applied to the rooms but in a more sober fashion: walls and floors in
light-coloured stone, arches and alcoves, pendants, ochre and brick-red walls, and dark-wood furniture. They were
built with local stone and all the works were carried out by craftsmen from the region.
“We have an environmentally-friendly approach whereby we use what the country gives us, in order to minimize as
much as possible our carbon footprint,” explains Galal Mahmoud.
All the rooms have either a balcony or a patio so hotel guests can enjoy a magnificent view of the Arabian Sea.
When designing the Rotana Salalah, the architect and his team decided to pay special attention to proportions and
materials. Taking Omani architecture as his inspiration, Galal Mahmoud has transformed the inner courtyard into a
sublime pool of mirror-like quality. Arts and crafts sourced from local markets give the reception area an authentic feel.
The entire space sparkles once again thanks to the choice of colours, in particular emerald green, and the light fittings
shaped like water droplets. These combine not only to give greater warmth to this reception area but also to establish
Galal Mahmoud does not talk in terms of “lighting” but of “illuminating spaces” and creating architecture that has “a day
atmosphere and a night atmosphere”. In one of the restaurants traditional latticework, the famous Arabian moucharaby,
is referenced in abstract graphic pendants.
Warm colours, subdued lighting, window seats… Galal Mahmoud takes a modern approach to the traditions of Oman
which put hospitality first above all considerations.
ABOUT THE ROTANA SALALAH
INTERVIEW WITH GALAL MAHMOUD
What drew you to this project for the hotel resort in Oman? Are you familiar with the country?
I’m interested in all countries that are steeped in culture and history. This is the case for the Sultanate of Oman, a country which attracts me both on a personal and professional level.
So it was a pleasure to be able to say yes to working on the interior and exterior design of this five star hotel resort.
I was also very much taken with the hotel’s setting. Salalah is the second largest city in the Sultanate of Oman and the capital of Dhofar, one of the prettiest regions in the country. Oman’s natural sites and cultural heritage attract many tourists.
The Rotana Salalah stands on the shores of the Arabian Sea, at Salalah Beach. It’s really interesting for an architect like me to work on a project such as this, in such an exceptional setting.
Did you study the site before starting work on the hotel?
What were your main sources of inspiration?
Visiting the site in person and immersing myself in the location is at the heart of my philosophy. It is a very important concept for me, an approach that I like to call “contextual immersion”. For each project I make a thorough study of the site and the surrounding landscape, including local culture and history, in order to integrate contextual references such as climate, geography and even topography. It ensures a certain respect for the identity and culture of the place.
When it comes to the Rotana Salalah, this approach really did drive my work. I took the cultural references of the Sultanate of Oman and reinterpreted them in a contemporary language, and then integrated them into the final design.
Omani architecture, with all its arabesques, arcades, balustrades and arches, and the warm colours of the country were an essential source of inspiration for me. What choices did you make for the interiors? For the Rotana Salalah we decided to refine to the utmost the notion of interior design by making proportions and materials our priority.
We wanted to adopt a local style and retain the influence of Omani architecture on both the interior and exterior of the hotel, albeit in a modern and up-to-date way. The design’s guiding principles can be found in the objects that were carved especially for the project and in the latticework doors, whose transparency is greater than traditional moucharaby.
The idea was to recreate a sense of desert hospitality, a tradition particularly dear to the inhabitants of the region. Thus guests can discover in the various areas of the hotel a warm and friendly world of warm colours, subdued lighting, colourful fabrics, draperies and window seats.
All the rooms have either a balcony or a patio so that hotel guests can enjoy a magnificent view of the Arabian Sea and experience the unique lifestyle of the region.
‘LIVING OUT THE GOOD LIFE’ BY GM ARCHITECT’S
A CONTEMPORARY AND MULTICULTURAL APPROACH
Born to Egyptian parents and having an English grandmother and Lebanese citizenship, architect Galal Mahmoud lived in France for several years, after fleeing the civil war in Lebanon with his family in 1976. He graduated from the Ecole d’Architecture de Versailles in 1986, opening his first architects’ practice in Paris the following year. In 1996 he founded GM Architects in Beirut, specializing in the luxury hotel and upscale seaside resort markets.
During his many trips to Asia, Galal Mahmoud experienced true well-being and witnessed at first-hand Asian societies’ approach to living in the shape of lifestyles that are equally comfortable in an outside environment as inside a house. Galal Mahmoud takes this approach and fuses it seamlessly with the architecture ‘for living out the good life’ that is so characteristic of the Mediterranean region.
These experiences are at the root of Galal Mahmoud’s philosophy and approach to architecture, where the concepts of ‘well-being’ and multiculturalism are key.
AN INTERNATIONALLY-RENOWNED ARCHITECTURE AND DESIGN FIRM
GM Architects architecture and design firm specializes in the field of high-end tourism, notably in the creation of luxury
hotels and resorts. It is one of the largest such firms in Lebanon. The company employs 40 professionals including
architects and interior designers and is managed by Galal Mahmoud in partnership with Randa Chahine, Anwar Hajj and
Elie Waked. The firm has bases in Beirut and Abu Dhabi and is active worldwide. Its completed projects may be seen
in France, Africa, the Middle East and throughout the Mediterranean region.
GM Architects initially specialized in interiors for the luxury and residential markets. It has since branched out and
its expertise now encompasses interior design, landscape architecture and site evaluation and analysis in seafront
locations. The practice is currently working on a Sofitel in Morocco, a Sheraton Resort in Dakar and three private resorts
GM Architects is the only architecture and design company in the Middle East to work regularly with Accor, Rotana,
Starwood and Rezidor. This is due to the high standards of service it delivers, the painstaking care it takes both in
the development of a wider vision for each individual project and in the execution of its finer details and its ability to
deliver projects that meet the standards of the international hospitality sector and the requirements of the major hotel
chains. The firm’s creative approach to projects embodies the distinctive philosophy of French-Lebanese architect Galal
The ‘Museum of Civilizations’ project designed by GM Architects and presented at the 2014 Venice Biennale was
selected for the ‘Future project of the year’ category at the World Architecture Festival, Singapore in 2014. In March
2015, it scooped the ‘Cultural Regeneration’ category at the 26th MIPIM Architectural Review Future Projects awards,
before winning an ‘International Architecture Award’ in 2015.
Galal Mahmoud’s culturally diverse background has naturally led him to adopt a multicultural approach to all his projects.
His ability to apprehend the essence of a place, to be alive to the diverse influences that shape it, imbues all his projects
with a unity of vision, one that is genuinely informed by its immediate context.
‘Contextual immersion’ therefore lies at the heart of GM Architects’ way of thinking. Galal Mahmoud steeps himself in
the geographical, historical and cultural environment of each project. He makes these contextual components his own,
reworking them in a way that is relevant to and easily comprehensible by contemporary society, but also respectful of
the identity and culture of the location in question.
THE ROTANA SALALAH
Taqah Road, Al Saadah, Dhofar
Salalah PC 215 – Oman
+ 968 23 275700
Verdun Center. Concorde Building
10th Floor. Beirut – Lebanon
+ 961 1 346 770
Intersection of Zayed the first street (Electra) & Al Najda Street
Building P 1341 Tower C. Office 702
P.O.Box 52055, Abu Dhabi – UAE
+ 971 2 643 44 55
Rotana Salalah Five Star Hotel in Oman images / information from GM ARCHITECTS