Italian luxury comes to Dubai

Work is under way on what could be the most luxurious island address in Dubai — the Bulgari Resort and Residences Dubai on Jumeirah Bay Island. The 1.7-million-sq-ft development by Meraas and the iconic Italian fashion brand will house the Bulgari Resort, which will have 101 suites and 20 hotel villas, as well as a newly announced freehold residential component with six mid-rise buildings and 15 mansions. There will also be lush landscaped gardens, a promenade, yacht club and 50-berth marina.

“As the market matures, expectations and demand for quality, detail-focused and refined products are also rising,” says Cherif Hosny, Chief Hospitality Officer of Meraas. “Every unit in this development will offer magnificent views. Residents can enjoy private landscaped gardens and swimming pools and choose from designer furniture packages.”

The Bulgari Residences Dubai, which will have 165 one- to four-bedroom apartments, eight penthouses and three- to six-bedroom mansions, is the result  of a vision to create something exceptional, says Hosny. “In Dubai you have a lot of operators, but Bulgari for us is an important brand. It already has other hotels around the world — it is coming with a proven history.”

Raison d’être

Silvio Ursini, Bulgari’s Executive Vice-President, says the luxury brand may have found a perfect match in Meraas. “Dubai has always Pictures: Courtesy of Meraas  been a strategic market for us. We’ve been looking [for a business partner] for more than ten years but we’re never happy until we met Meraas [and] this visionary project — Jumeirah Bay Island — which had all the characteristics to be the right one.

“We fell in love with it because it’s intimate yet connected by a short bridge. It removes the inconvenience of having to travel far, matching the concept of a city resort.” Ursini likens the island to a precious stone and says there are indispensable strategic pillars that create a successful project.

One of them is location. “Unless the location is absolutely perfect the project doesn’t make any sense,” he says. “If you don’t start from a fabulous uncut stone, it’s not going to become the best jewel.”

But a perfect location is worthless without the right development partner to  finance and execute the project, which Bulgari found in Meraas — the most vital pillar, as Ursini concedes there are already plenty of great hotels in the market.

“Yes, the hotel will be outstanding, but what makes this project truly unique worldwide, and not only for our brand, is the community that we’re building  around it,” he explains.

Fabulous design

The community stands out with its restaurant-lined promenade, personalised services, including on-demand chefs, and Italian luxury lifestyle, Ursini says. 
In terms of architecture, residents can expect a touch of Latin mixed with a sense of the location. “We take inspiration from our culture,” he says. “The Romans built monuments and beautiful buildings all over the world. We like to think we are following in their footsteps with this hotel project.

“We mix Italian contemporary design with heritage, craftsmanship and attention to detail that are synonymous with our brand.”

In charge of the design is Antonio Citterio, who says they wanted to create the best address in Dubai and build a community that would mature gracefully. “Luxury is a perception of quality in our hotels, an identity we’ll keep,” he explains. “We’re not just creating a hotel destination, but a village for people to live in.”

The architectural concept, therefore, was to combine the brand’s character with elements of Dubai’s environment. “We’re interested in quality of life and timeless architecture using quality materials to create history,” says Citterio.

“This village will integrate into its natural environment and just become nicer over the next 20 years.” An example of this approach is the use of limestone, which reminds one of the desert as well as the architecture of southern Italy. Meanwhile, lava stone and basalt paving create contrasts in public spaces.

“Interpreting the place is one of the most important parts of the experience,” adds Citterio. “The hotel will have an abstract coral shading structure, for example.”

There is more

Ursini says the Dubai project is Bulgari’s largest and most ambitious. “This will represent a true lighthouse for the vision of our brand,” he says.

“We’re not going to do ten hotels around here, but this hotel will be our home in the Gulf.”

For Meraas, the development only represents a part of the job at hand for an  sland development that measures six million sq ft. “We are building and selling nonbranded residential villas on the rest of the island,” says Hosny. “We expect to complete the project by the end of 2017.”

Source: Nicole Walter, Special to PW


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