Matteo Thun dismisses luxury bathroom “fallacy

Oct 23, 2011 by Louise Oakley


Matteo ThunMatteo Thun

 The idea of hotels offering large, luxury bathrooms that offer more than just bathing is a fallacy, according to designer and architect Matteo Thun.

“In hotels, the talk is always of living bathrooms or of luxury bathrooms offering more than just bathing. However, this take on luxury bathrooms is a fallacy,” said Thun, who has recently designed the new Onto bathroom series for Duravit.

“Bathrooms in hotels are not getting bigger, they remain small spaces. If you want to integrate them into the living or sleeping area, you simply have to take down the walls. With the exception of the toilet that, for reasons of hygiene, should remain a self-contained room,” said Thun.

He added that keeping bathrooms small does not impact negatively on the guest experience.

“The guest’s main concern is a great shower – and the concept I’ve just talked about offers more than enough space for that!” said Thun.

He explained that the most important consideration for hotel bathroom design was “water and the pleasure that can be had from it”.

“This doesn’t actually mean using more water, but incorporating the fascination of a dynamic element. For this reason, we avoid sharp corners and edges so that the individual can move around freely and instinctively wearing nothing but his birthday suit.

“Hygiene and cleanliness are of fundamental importance – which is why we stopped working with tiles more than 25 years ago,” said Thun.

“Another very important element is light — every bathroom should have natural light — and nothing but indirect light sources,” he asserted.

In terms of trends for design in the future, Thus predicted that the high-tech trend will take a back seat in the coming years.

“Low-tech and individuality will be the order of the day,” Thun said.

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War-torn Libya welcomes new tourism possibilities

Dec 5, 2011 

The end of the 42-year Gaddafi era brings opportunities for war-torn Libya’s tourism sector according to a report from Euromonitor International.

Prior to the conflict in 2010 arrivals to Libya reached just 1,245 thousand trips. The vast majority were for leisure purposes, accounting for 80% in 2010, as the country was only slowly opening up to the rest of the world for business.

While the civil war in Libya negatively influenced the development of the travel and tourism industry in the country, international airlines have resumed flights to Libya since the fall of the regime;including Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways which operates 21 flights a week to Tripoli; Qatar Airways, Lufthansa, Alitalia, Turkish Airlines, Royal Jordanian and the Hungarian operator, Malev.

According to Euromonitor: “One of Libya’s unique selling propositions is its vast territory, which is unscathed, and offers diversified natural resources, providing opportunities for the development of ecotourism and adventure travel in the future. In addition, a wealth of attractions and Greek, Phoenician and Roman heritage offer untapped potential which could be an attractive investment opportunity.”

Hotel accommodation has been underserved for many years and international brands such as InterContinental, Marriott, Mövenpick, Radisson and Four Points by Sheraton are increasingly targeting cities such as Tripoli, Benghazi and Burdi.

The report added that the establishment of good international relations and relaxed visa requirements would further help to open Libya up to international travellers and boost its global appeal.

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Qatar firm eyes $500m spend on Turkish dry hotels

Nov 27, 2011 


Arab tourists in Turkey
Arab tourists in Turkey

A Qatar-based hospitality company is set to invest at least $500m in Turkish hotels operating under Islamic traditions.

Semi state-owned Retaj Marketing and Project Management is looking to build multiple hotels to attract conservative Muslim holidaymakers in Turkey, according to the Anatolia news agency.

The hotels would operate on Islamic principles, with no alcohol or smoking allowed.

The news agency quoted Mohamed Johar, a board member of the company, as saying Turkey’s economic achievements in the past decade had played the biggest role in convincing Retaj to invest.

 “Inspired by this development, we have taken the decision to invest in Turkey,” he said, adding that Retaj was also interested in joint investments with Turkish businesses in other countries.

Johar was quoted as saying the company is engaged in talks with Turkish construction company Koray to carry out the planned projects in Turkey.

He added that Istanbul was likely be the location for one hotel while the northwestern province of Bursa may be another but a final decision on locations was yet to be made.

Last month, Retaj revealed ambitious plans to expand to 20 hotels across the Middle East region over the next five years.

Retaj currently operates four hotels in Doha – Retaj Al Reyyan; Retaj Residence and Retaj Residence-Sharq; and Retaj Al Ghanem.

Ahmed Khorshed, regional sales & marketing, Retaj said demand for ‘dry’ hotels in Qatar was booming.

“In the beginning it was very hard to predict if there would be demand for creating such a hotel in Doha. But we have found that the demand for ‘Islamic’ hotels is more than at regular hotels. For example the year-to-date occupancy in Doha hotels is 63 percent, whereas the occupancy at our hotels is 87 percent.”
The company recently signed a deal to take over a five-star hotel in front of the Islamic Museum in Doha.

The 107-room hotel will open in two months and will be called Retaj Royal. Plans are now in the pipeline to expand the brand across the region, beginning with the UAE and Kuwait in 2012.

“Our plan for the next five years is to reach 20 hotels in the Middle East. We want to open in Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah; as well as Egypt, Malaysia, Turkey and Indonesia – any country that can accept the Islamic way of running a hotel.”

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The Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) is now open

The Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC) is now open and will have its official launch on December 4.

From December 4-8, it will hold the 20th World Petroleum Congress — the largest oil and gas gathering in the world — and welcome its first 5000 delegates. The convention centre, which has been in planning and construction for the past five and a half years, has total capacity for 27,000 people at one time. It features a 2300 seat lyric theatre, three auditoria, a multi-purpose conference hall for 4000 guests, 40,000m² exhibition space and 52 meeting rooms. QNCC general manager Adam Mather-Brown said: “The QNCC is not just a meeting place, it’s a vision that has materialized from years of hard work and dedication involving many multi-skilled teams”.

A member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, QNCC was designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki. The centre’s signature façade comprises a 250-metre long curved steel tree structure reaching up to support the exterior canopy. It was inspired by the Sidra tree, used to symbolize the Qatar Foundation’s three key pillars of education, science and research, and community development. QNCC is the first building of its kind built to the gold certification of the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED). Qatar Foundation vice president of capital projects and facilities management Saad Al Muhannadi commented: “The opening of the QNCC will undoubtedly advance Qatar in the field of infrastructure and build human capacity on a global scale”.

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38.6% of investors across the globe indicated a ‘buy’ strategy for the next six months

The Middle East showed one of the largest market growths in investor ‘buy’ sentiment alongside Europe and Africa, while in the Americas ‘buy’ sentiment decreased slightly but remains the highest out of the countries, according to the firm. The firm’s proprietary survey is directed toward the world’s 6000-plus leading hotel investors and owners.

Upscale assets continue to be the most sought after asset type globally, though midscale properties have gained favour, the study showed. Private equity and real estate funds are the most likely buyers around the world in the near-term.

The ‘sell’ sentiment continues to be strongest in EMEA at 13.8%, and lowest in the Americas at 7.8%. The Spanish resorts continue to top the global list of ‘sell’ targets (60%), followed by Marrakech (40%) and Moscow (36.4%).

Investors active in EMEA exhibited weakened hotel operating performance expectations both in the short and medium term.

“Yet fundamentals have not shown any deterioration, and on a city level, 54% of all cities tracked in EMEA are anticipated to show growth in the coming six months and 81% when considering the medium term,” said Arthur de Haast, global CEO for Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels.

Logos, product and company names mentioned are the property of their respective owners.


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Estate Investment in Safety – Convenience – Luxury

The idea behind CarLoft®

Safety – Convenience – Luxury

Just imagine having your very own green oasis at the heart of the city. Your children are playing within arm’s reach while you relax in the whirlpool or improve your golf handicap on your putting green in your aerial garden right next to your flat – whatever storey you live on! Imagine living in the city centre – but in your own private location. Even though you can hear the pulsating city centre, it’s like living in a house in the country. Imagine having all the benefits of life in the big city – without all the usual drawbacks.

Are you looking for that something special? Welcome to the world of CarLoft®.

Fed up with looking for somewhere to park? Afraid of your car being vandalised? Nervous about dark alleyways and gloomy underground car parks? Your worries are a thing of the past. Imagine living in a flat – but parking your car on the same floor! Using the special CarLift, within just two minutes you can be either zooming off or back in your own home again – a loft with unparalleled standards of safety, comfort and exclusiveness.

CarLoft® is a pioneering modular loft scheme with a garden and a garage on every floor. All these brand-new luxury flats come with at least one adjacent parking space known as the CarLoggia, reached via the CarLift. When you arrive outside the building, the CarLift recognises your car from the built-in transponder and knows which floor you live on. And still seated inside your car, you’re taken straight to your home in total safety.

The lofts have a modular structure. Use the CarLoft® configurator to compile the living, sleeping and optional areas just as you need them. You can design your own CarLoft® individually or with renowned interior designers.

Another highlight is the aerial garden. Each loft has its own garden laid out just as you wish – perhaps with a sandpit for your children or an illuminated pond next to an open fireplace. CarLoft® spells a unique way of life – at the heart of the city, yet with all the advantages of a large country house. CarLoft® is protected by international patent.

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KSA’s Kingdom Tower construction to start in weeks

Construction work on Kingdom Tower, the 1,000m superscraper set to steal the crown of world’s tallest building from Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, is scheduled to begin within weeks, the architect firm behind the project has confirmed.


The $1.2bn tower, which is backed by Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed, is the Gulf state’s most ambitious building yet and will be constructed in three phases over five years.

“Construction of Kingdom Tower is scheduled to begin in January,” a spokesperson from Chicago-based Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture, designers of the superscraper.

Founding partner Adrian Smith was also the architect behind the 828m-tall Burj Khalifa.

The giant structure will include a Four Seasons hotel, apartments, offices, three lobbies on the upper floors and the world’s highest observation deck on the 157th level.

It will be located in the first phase of Kingdom City, a 5.3m mixed-use development north of Jeddah, which overlooks the Red Sea and Obhur Creek.

Smith said in August the main lessons learned from designing the Burj Khalifa that transferred over to Kingdom Tower centered on the stepped or tapered tower design.

“Wind forces are significant in a tower of 1km,” he said. “When the wind moves around a building, it creates negative pressure areas behind the building, which creates little tornados or vortices, which push the tower from side to side.

“One of the ways to mitigate that is to step the tower, or slope it. Sloping is more effective but it is a little more expensive.”

Prince Alwaleed’s investment firm said it planned to use a mix of bank financing, cash and revenue from the project to build the Jeddah-based skyscraper. The tower’s price tag is expected to be significantly less than that of the $1.5bn Burj Khalifa, thanks to a decline in construction costs following the financial crash.

Saudi Binladin Group in August won the deal to construct the tower.

Prince Alwaleed told Arabian Business in August the project would be “transformational”.

“These are the kind of projects l like to do,” he said. “These big projects need vision, strength and guts to do.”

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Anything is Possible

Possibilities: Anything is Possible.
By Stephen M. Klein
Friday, 4th November 2011

With the recent passing of Apple icon Steve Jobs and all the articles and insights on this visionary, it made me think of what is possible. 

Steve Jobs’ biggest legacy may not be Apple, or the Mac, or the iPhone or iPad. His legacy may very well be his belief that anything is possible – with vision, imagination and persistence.

What Does This Mean for Us?

Jobs changed the way virtually everyone worked, lived and interacted.  His influence transcended the technology.  It was life-changing and culture-changing.  Beyond the technology that he brought us, didn’t he really bring us dreams of the future?  How can we make things, our lives, and the lives of others better?  Did we learn to think “outside the box” and imagine?  Now the trick is to successfully apply these important lessons to our everyday lives.

Making Our Industry Better

Technology may very well be the key to maintaining the banking industry.  Imagine a world of all-electronic transfers of money.  Imagine the ultimate smart phone that lets you handle all of your banking needs in one interactive device.  It’s here.  Just as printed books, newspapers and magazines will soon be relics, over time traditional banks as we know them also will be archaic. While some customers may still prefer to visit branches, those numbers will dwindle significantly over the years, rendering traditional branches virtually obsolete.


Imagine a totally paperless world of banking, with all transactions handled electronically and remotely.  It will revolutionize branches and the whole delivery system.  For those who come into the bank, think of kiosks with Mac-like devices expediting customer transactions.  Much like the airline industry with online booking, check-in and even baggage check-in, banking is headed in the same direction.

The Challenge

The real challenge is to take the lessons learned from Steve Jobs and apply them effectively to the banking industry.  While there will still be a segment of customers who desire personal service, the reality is that the future is filled with technology, whether we love it or not.  The trick for a community bank is to retain some semblance of personal service, while still embracing technology.  It will allow them to compete on a more cost-effective basis and offer a broader array of products and services competitively.

Embrace the Future

We as a country and an industry are going through a metamorphosis.  Many other parts of the world have actually passed us in terms of creative technology and embracing cutting-edge alternatives.  Like it or not, we must all adapt or perish, so let’s embrace it and think creatively and proactively. 

We should all be asking ourselves what consumers will want or demand in the next three to five years, and then go about repositioning ourselves for the inevitable changes. Let’s embrace the possibilities, instead of resisting them.  Welcome to the future!

Steve has served as a member of Graham & Dunn’s board of directors and as chair of the firm’s Financial Services Team.  He counsels financial institutions about federal and state banking matters and related securities law and financing issues.  Steve utilizes his background and experience as a bank regulator with the Comptroller of the Currency and as an accountant on Wall Street in advising our diverse group of banking clients throughout the Western United States.

Steve assists financial services companies in creatively structuring and successfully implementing mergers and acquisitions and has been involved in well over 100 transactions as counsel for buyers or sellers.  Graham & Dunn has been a leader among law firms in the Western United States in the number of deals in which it served as counsel during the past decade.

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STR Global’s Market Forecast is projecting mostly year-on-year improvements in revPAR

STR Global’s Market Forecast is projecting mostly year-on-year improvements in revenue per available room for the remainder of 2011 with some slowdown expected in 2012 for the 45 markets available.

The gains will be led mainly through increases in rate rather than through occupancy increases. The top 10 performing markets for the remainder of this year and 2012 are listed below.

The range of performance between 2011 and 2012 reflect the expected slowdown. RevPAR growth between 10.5 percent (Cologne) and 24.7 percent (Hong Kong) is forecast for all 10 of the best performers in 2011. The forecast for the best performers in 2012 has RevPAR growth within a range from 6.0 percent (London) to 9.6 percent (Singapore). Whilst growth is still expected during 2012, the difficult and relatively fast-changing changes in the broader economy could very well change the forecast with the next quarterly report. T

op 10 Performers – year-end RevPAR % change in local currency 2011 2012

1  Hong Kong 1 Singapore 2 Dusseldorf 2 Hong Kong 3 Singapore 3 Athens 4 Beijing 4 Munich 5 Dublin 5 Cologne 6 Moscow 6 Beijing 7 Copenhagen 7 Milan 8 Milan 8 Stuttgart 9 Amsterdam 9 Copenhagen 10 Cologne 10 London Source: STR Global The STR Global Market Forecasts, quarterly reports that track and forecast hotel performance across 45 markets in Europe, Asia/Pacific region and by market segment in Regional U.K., London and Paris Luxury/Upper Upscale, are available with immediate effect. The Market Forecasts include future-looking data for supply, demand, revenue, occupancy, average daily rate and RevPAR, as well as valuable economic analysis and market commentary building on STR Global’s forecasting experience. The reports include at least 18 months of historical monthly data and a five-year annual forecast horizon. STR Global and Tourism Economics, an Oxford Economics Company, have partnered to create the STR Market Forecast. The reports use a number of robust equations that combine STR Global’s historical data with Tourism Economics’ rigorous modelling and economic knowledge to forecast hotel performance. The STR Global Market Forecast reports can be bought via annual subscription or on an ad-hoc basis. “We are pleased with the launch of our forecast product which complements our suite of reports”, said Elizabeth Randall, managing director of STR Global. “The Market Forecasts are an invaluable tool for decision makers and are extremely useful for investors and owners looking at the potential performance of both existing and new markets”. For more information on the Market Forecast reports from STR Global, please visit or email

Logos, product and company names mentioned are the property of their respective owners.

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UAE firm injects $240 million into Red Sea resort

Saraya Development has received an infusion of US $240 million from an Abu Dhabi-based investment firm to complete its developments in Aqaba in the Red Sea.



Abu Dhabi daily The National reported that work stopped on Saraya three years ago due to the global financial crisis.

Mohamed Turk, chief executive of Aqaba Development which owns a stake in the project reconfirmed that the money had been received, saying: “The declaration of this new partnership or new cash injection will be announced [soon] as well as the identity of the investor.”

According to the paper, 60% of the villas for the project were already sold. The project was intended to include waterparks, villas and hotels managed by the Jumeriah Group.

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