The Great Outdoors
The experts explain the trends and must-have items for outdoor space
The right furniture is critical to creating ambience outdoors and pulling in the guests. Suppliers reveal their top tips for choosing the best products for your hotel
Dedon, the outdoor furniture company, has been in business for more than 20 years and produces a wide range of products designed for outdoor use.
There has been an increase in the use of outdoor space in hotels in recent years, according to Dedon international contract director Angel Salvador.
“The importance of outdoor living has been a growing trend in Europe, the US and the Middle East for quite some time, so hotels now intensify the usage of their outdoor space. People find their way back to the basic things in life and they take nature and being outdoors as their source of inspiration and relaxation,” says Salvador.
“When Dedon started with the vision of an outdoor living room, it simply identified a demand, a niche, which nobody had covered before. Being outdoors is one thing, living outdoors is very different. Therefore, creating exceptional outdoor areas is just the extension of the indoor living area. Beautiful furniture is beautiful furniture, no matter if it’s inside or outside,” he adds.
During Milan Design Week 2010, the company presented the first pieces from its new collection Play, which was designed by Phillipe Starck.
The collection, which is based on a concept of interchangeable combinations of materials and colours, paves the way for ‘a future of specially customised furniture and an array of possible combinations’.
Play includes pieces of outdoor furniture that can be redesigned to achieve a personal fit, ordered online, produced upon request, and includes the opportunity for the purchaser to have some input in creating the final product, which Dedon believes makes the process of buying outdoor furniture much more ‘liberating and fun’.
In terms of design, Salvador is keen to point out that there are different considerations to take in when creating furniture for outdoor use.
“The approach of designing outdoors is totally different just due to the fact that the material used to create these livable areas needs to withstand very tough climate conditions, such as sun, rain, dust, cold and warm temperatures and so on. Another important factor in the design of outdoor spaces is that you need to be able to mix the architecture and design within a natural environment,” Salvador adds.
One of our best selling products, and a classic for the contract business, is our Holiday collection. It consists of eight different furniture components, suitable for lounging, beach, bar, pool and dining. Holiday has been extended with the addition of two more dining tables, which fit perfectly with the simplicity of the range.
Parasol garden furniture works closely with suppliers in Indonesia to bring the latest products, trends and designs in outdoor furniture to the United Arab Emirates.
According to Parasol managing director Mark Sault “trends in outdoor furniture have changed massively in the last few years”.
“The design aesthetic and comfort factor are all important. The influx of the European Beach Club look has influenced many hotels into creating a grown-up chilled out area, which with our climate really makes the most of the outdoor spaces,” he says.
Following the global economic crisis, Sault says that hotels are looking at their outdoor areas as a way of enticing customers with new surroundings without needing to completely refurbish their properties.
“The credit crunch has taught many businesses to tighten their belts and hotels are no exception. By utilising the often stunning outdoor space they can create new venues, increase covers and create a winning ambience, all for a relatively small outlay,” maintains Sault.
“Hoteliers are really viewing the outdoor spaces as a value added area rather than just as an add-on to the interiors.”
Sault believes that the use of outdoor furniture is particularly important in the Middle East, as both tourists and locals want to sit outside and enjoy the weather — particularly in winter.
“All hotels in this region should really encompass al fresco dining. It is essential to have comfortable and stylish furniture to reflect the entire ambience of the particular hotel. Given that some of our leading hotels have spectacular vistas they must ensure that their furniture enhances the sense of occasion,” he says.
“Tourists and residents alike love to enjoy the outdoor atmosphere, which is available for many months of the year. Hotels should create an escapist fantasy — and by creating outdoor havens they will help any visitor feel relaxed and indulged,” observes Sault.
The current demand in outdoor furniture, Sault says, is for furniture which compliments the outdoor swimming pool area.
“Great sun beds, day beds and loungers are yet another essential — for many tourists these represent the area where most of the holiday will be spent. It is therefore essential to ensure comfort, quality and a great design,” he stresses.
Many hotels in the region have really impressed with their exterior layouts. We particularly liked the work we did with The Horizon Lounge at The Habtoor Grand, where we created a real chilled out beach club style. It has really succeeded in becoming a great venue with style and a warm ambience.
Desert River represents European seating, lighting and contemporary products for homes and commercial projects.
Desert River owner Claudia Van Der Werf says that hotels in the region, particularly in Dubai, are using branding to make their outdoor spaces stand out.
“Dubai has always been known for its glamorous outdoor venues, but nowadays every hotel has to have at least one outdoor venue that is branded, for example; The Sky Lounge, The Terrace, The Peroni Lounge at Bussola at the Mina Seyahi. So rather than just having an outdoor place to have drinks, hotels make a concept of it and market it as such, to maximise revenue,” she asserts.
Van Der Werf says that the current trend in outdoor furniture is about producing quality furniture on a post-downturn budget.
“The trend is for clean, modern lines with a twist. Quality remains a focus, of course, for heavy duty use but staying within budget is equally important nowadays. Our European products are all in the mid-to-high end of the price range but they are never excessive. We offer good value for money.”
Desert River has launched several new products this year such as the Slide range from Italy and is continuing to do well with its established ranges.
“The outdoor furniture favourites from Desert River include the Blofied range; inflatable sofas which are available in three new colours and in a four-seater option, which can be used to good effect for outdoor lounging,” she says.
New products include the Karim Rashid designed Blos arm chair —specifically designed for outdoor use. It is available in various funky colours. Also new is the rap bench seat, designed by Karim Rashid. Both products are very different from the traditional wooden or wicker outdoor furniture which is usually on offer.
Falaknaz the Warehouse
Falaknaz The Warehouse has been operating in the furniture industry in Dubai since 1996. The company initially focused on providing a range of indoor teak furniture and subsequently expanded its reach to include areas such as accessories, lighting and teak and synthetic garden furniture.
Falaknaz The Warehouse marketing manager Stephen Foot believes that the essential item for hotels to use in outdoor spaces is an umbrella.
“For essential products, it’s got to be an umbrella for sure. It is easy for staff to use, you can reposition it. It’s so hot here that you need shade and it’s got to be a good fabric,” Foot says.
“We have noticed, with Dubai being windy, that people buy inferior umbrellas and then they break in the conditions; the wind, the sand, the heat. The new range of umbrellas that we are launching is made up of quality products designed for the hotel industry.”
In addition to the trend for umbrellas, Foot says that he has noticed a recent preference for the use of synthetic materials in outdoor furniture products.
“Trying to make (synthetic) look a little more natural; that will be the next big thing for design,” Foot says.
“One of the important things for hotels to think about is maintaining outdoor furniture. The thing with a synthetic product is that it is lightweight, the staff can move it, but also when it comes to cleaning you just jet wash it and it’s done — you don’t need to do anything else and it’s very low maintenance, you don’t need to do much to it if it’s a good synthetic,” he adds.
Foot cites the Burj Al Arab as a hotel which has made good use of the outdoor space, particularly pointing at the area around the pool and the bar area as examples of outdoor space done well.
It is this use of outdoor space in hotels which Foot believes is such a big attraction to tourists if utilised properly.
“I think people come here for sunshine, and sitting by the beach and the pool – it makes hotels realise that their outdoor space is one of the key selling points.
“People want to get out of rainy England and top up their tan, so I mean that is the big pull and they have to make it enticing. There is competition with hotels to try and lure the customers in. Have a nice ambience, a nice feel and it really adds to the value of a hotel,” Foot asserts.
We have a range called Malta which is a synthetic range with a modular design — so you can make it up for the areas you want it in. That is always a very popular range, we are always running out of it and that is the number one outdoor furniture product I would say we are always selling.
Gandia Blasco started business in 1941 in Valencia, as a producer and manufacturer of blankets. Following the production of other textile products during the early 1990s, the company launched its first outdoor furniture range in 1996.
Current trends in outdoor furniture are leaning towards the high end of the market according to Gandia Blasco area sales manager Alejandro Morelló.
“What is popular at the moment is the chaise lounges and the special items which are used to create VIP areas. In a VIP area you would have day beds, or a double chaise which gives your privacy when it is covered. This creates more luxury and is the sort of outdoor furniture that hotels are using for their VIP areas,” says Morelló.
And according to Morelló, the use of outdoor space in the region has not yet reached its full potential.
“The use of outdoor space in the region — it’s just starting. Here in the Middle East it’s just recently that people see that it is important to have outdoor furniture as it makes their hotel more special and it is the way to make a difference between one hotel and another one,” he says.
“Nowadays everybody is starting to recognise across all of the brands that it is important for hotels to have this outdoor space, for the quality of their property.”
In this region, people enjoy being outside. I think it is quite important if hotels have a swimming pool to have the correct chaise lounges and a sofa where people can sit and relax. A beautiful outdoor space will add more value to a hotel.
Zenia Home launched in 2009 as a wholesale company which supplies a range of outdoor garden furniture and accessories to commercial and private clients.
Zenia Home managing director Reem Nassar maintains that the essential outdoor products for any hotel are sunbeds and outdoor seating.
‘Sunbeds are important as well as seating. Lots of hotels in the area have restaurants with outdoor seating because of the lovely weather we have here. With seating, it is good to have square seats which attach to one another depending on how many people you have at the table. As a practical consideration, it is also important that they are stackable so that it can be put away,” maintains Nassar.
In terms of the materials that are used in outdoor seating, Nassar believes that hotels are looking for options which are both practical and attractive.
“Rattan is popular at the moment, synthetic rattan. It is right for the weather here as it can take the humidity and the heat — it is even fine if it rains. You just hose it down to clean it and it is very light weight because it has an aluminum frame,” she says.
As the popularity of outdoor furniture increases, it is the lounge culture which Nassar believes is dominating the outdoor furniture trend at the moment.
“In terms of trends, daybeds are very popular at the moment. Primarily hotels are looking for sunbeds, daybeds and side tables. Also dining tables, especially those that are round or square that can fit four chairs at the table — they are very popular with cafes and terraces,” asserts Nassar.
Why use outdoor space in hotels?
It is important to use outdoor space because we have such a lovely winter here. The sun is out for so many days of the year and people who are coming here on holidays, that is what they come here for — so hotels must make the most of it.