The upcoming AR Hotels and Resorts is a hospitality project by AR Foundations of Chennai. AR Foundations are one of the reputed builders of the city who are dedicated to principles of professionalism, proactive attitude, ethical and transparent business practices. They hold a diversified product mix of residential, commercial and retail types along with banquet space and hall. This project is aimed to create a fine beachfront living experience for incoming tourists and locals. Finally, the design came up as a retreat to rejuvenate the self from the daily struggles and busy city life. The design and planning of AR Hotels and Resorts are carried out by FHD Group. FHD Group is a leading architecture and design firm with a strong base and experience in both residential and commercial sectors. FHD is the designer of five other projects with AR Foundations.
The site for AR Hotels and Resorts is well connected to Chennai city through the East Coast Road running along the western side. It is adjacent to the serene beach on the east. On the southern side is the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and the northern side is occupied by private property and the Blue Bay Beach Resort, Chennai. The hotel site is about 42 kilometers away from the Chennai International Airport and 45 kilometers from the Chennai Central Railway Station. The Kovalam beach is a 10 minutes drive from the spot.
The beachfront site has a clear rectangular shape with a total area of 10.08 acres. With no unusual corners and offsets, the site zoning was efficiently done without area wastages. Initially, there were no boulders, trees or water bodies on the site. This saved a lot of time and funds on preparing the site for construction. Being adjacent to the beach, two-third of the area is registered under the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ- 200mts towards the land from the High Tide Line) which has been unconstructed. Deducting the areas for CRZ and road expansion, 2.24 acres were left to develop. The FSI of the site had to be under 0.3 that allowed 33 percent of constructed land. Further, cutting site setbacks and OSR (Open Space Reserve) area, a sum of 11.535 sqmt calculated as the effective site area.
The contour of the site decreases from 99.0 near the road to 94.0 in the developmental zone. The land level drops further down to 92.0 and rises to 94.0 near the beach in the non-developmental zone of the site. An interesting slope generates the possibility to play with levels in the design of floors and terraces. Though there are threats of high coastal winds and the humidity of Chennai, a proper massing of the building could mitigate the same to a large extent.
The building mass of this particular site is an outcome of the existing slope. The effective built mass area is split into two blocks with two different earth levels. This concept is adopted to minimize the cutting and filling expenses to the least. The first block which is nearer to the sea has two levels- the lower level and the upper level. The second block, or the entrance block, also holds two levels- the ground level and the first level. Being higher than the first block, both the levels of the entrance block get a clear view of the sea in front. Basement lies below the ground level of the entrance block. The floors couldn’t go higher due to a height restriction of 9 meters from the road level. Also, the designer made sure that the overall experience of this place to be visually connected to the beach.
The viewing perspective were given priority and keeping intact the feeling of openness guided the design progression. A green court which runs throughout the breadth of the building separates the two blocks. This court consists of water elements, seating spaces and rich landscaping to add to the serenity. Furthermore, a huge puncture made in the middle of the entrance block acts like an atrium or inner courtyard to liven up space and keep it connected to the exterior. To create a seamless connection of the entrance with the sea, water pools with access ways flows through the length of the two blocks, giving a direct view and walkway to the beachside.
The flow of traffic on the site is quite distinguished and separated as per the function. The hotel has entrance along the NW corner and along with SW corner. The incoming guest vehicle can come in from the entrance, drop off the inmates at the entrance block porch and lead itself straight to the basement or the exit, entrance block porch and leads straight to exit. The service vehicles and administrative staff enter the site through a separate service lane which ends at the loading and unloading point at the back and exit from the same service lane. A segregated circular path ensures a hassle-free flow. There is also a demarcated path for buggies which is made available for the guests to take a round trip of the resort.
The front elevation of AR Hotels and Resorts is an expression of grandeur. The long 150 meters of the span divides into three parts. The division of spaces inside the building reflects a changing element of design on the facade. The northern part which houses the banquet hall and pre-function hall is clad by stone panels of varied textures on the outside. The conference rooms, suite rooms, etc. belong to the southern part. To provide necessary privacy to these areas, louvers were chosen to adorn the elevation of this part. The central core is occupied by the lobby and long access way to the rear. This dropping zone on the outside is topped by an expansive and well-lit porch which marks a posh welcome.
The lobbies and waiting for area is designed to bring in the sense of luxury in the most subtle way. The water body starts from this point that continues through the length, till the end. The lobby leads the guests into the open courts with landscaping and floating planters over reflection pools to soften the ambiance. Louvered partitions separate the guest rooms on the ground level from this open area to maintain the utmost privacy. Each suite here is offered its landscaped area adjacent to the partitions to enjoy nature’s company within the confines of the room. The continuous access way on the ground level descends to the upper level of the first block through a grand staircase. On the ground level deck, the lounge areas are set a few steps below so that the view of the sea is not hampered at any viewpoint. The deck ends at the infinity pool with dining spaces, cabanas, and landscaping to complete the picture.
Proper distribution and segregation of spaces and its function is the most important factor to be considered for any successful hotel/resorts experience. In the planning of this hotel, the function, accessibility, services and the principles of Vaastu Shastra were taken into consideration. In the first block, the lower level consists of 14 sea-facing guestrooms, accounts office, HR office, kitchen services, and staff rooms. The upper ground level, which is the same level of the basement, holds 14 sea-facing rooms, 13 courtyard-facing rooms, landscaped courts, gym and spa areas. A service core runs vertically from the ground level to the lower level. The ground level consists of the entrance lobby with reception & lounge, the pre-function and banquet halls, back offices, the central access way with water body, bar, open decks and service areas. There are 6 sea-facing rooms, 11 courtyard-facing rooms and 11 partially sea-facing rooms on this level. The first level is dedicated to the guest rooms. It holds the presidential suite, junior suite rooms, and executive suite rooms, in a total of 55. The presidential suite, with the premium view, is built on the central deck area connected to the two sides on the first level, giving the feeling of a floating mass. The kitchen was earlier placed on the south-east corner of the site to fulfill the Vaastu Shastra principle. But, due to hassles in the connectivity of services, it was placed at the north-west corner which is considered the second-best option for kitchen and related services.
The interior experience of each guest room and suites bestows a sense of tranquillity and euphoria. Wood, being a dynamic and traditional material, governs the design scheme of the spaces. Wall paneling on the bed back, wooden flooring and wood-based furniture make a strong contemporary statement. Topped up with wall lights, lamps and panel lights, the decor is uplifted with a soft glow. The minimalist white ceiling and upholstery mark the understated yet elegant appeal. The toilet and bath area is also lavishly finished to keep up the design quotient. The suite room is opulent with separate living, dining and sleeping spaces. An elaborate design teamed with chandeliers, hanging lights and wall units perk up the decor of this area. The lounge area of the lobby, bar and sitting areas are few other scenic spots in the resort. With richly decorated double-height ceilings, partition walls and designer furniture. Their areas are embellished with contemporary lights to amplify the effect in the evening. The richly adorned corridor, banquet hall and pre-function areas set the mood right for short term visitors too. A mix of glossy and matte surfaces with intelligent textures and hues create awe-inspiring interiors of this resort.
The ground level consists of the entrance lobby with reception & lounge, the pre-function and banquet halls, back offices, the central access way with water body, bar, open decks and service areas. All-day dining, swimming pool and grand staircases (which will be starting from ground level and connected to the upper level and low level which leads to open space) are available. There are 6 sea-facing rooms, 11 courtyard-facing rooms and 11 partially sea-facing rooms on this level. The first level is dedicated to the guest rooms. It holds the presidential suite, junior suite rooms, and executive suite rooms, in a total of 55. The presidential suite, with the premium view, is built on the central deck area connected to the two sides on the first level, giving the feeling of a floating mass.
Special attention is given to create appealing views which the inmates would overlook from the inside. Lushly planted decks with patio and garden furniture let the inmates feel like living in the lap of nature itself. Some guestrooms have their own landscaped area, some overlook the sea and some get the view of the inner courtyards.
The CRZ which had to be left unconstructed holds a beautiful garden with curved passageways. Rich greenery creates the feeling of walking through a forest. Relaxing zones are created with cabanas and decks for enjoying the cool sea breeze. No hardscape or plantation is planned on the central axis of the landscaped area so that the view from the decks of the hotel is not hampered.
The overall design of the AR Hotels & Resorts at Chennai was an outcome of creative heads from all departments including ergonomics experts, anthropologists, plumbing specialists, geologists, climatologists, survey specialists, etc. The area dedicated to each space was calculated with ergonomic and anthropologic calculations. The capacity of the kitchen, kitchen consultant (back of the house), banquet hall, bar, toilets, and other services were derivatives of building standards and the location of the plot. Note: FHD has not designed interiors and landscaping, they are only into architecture.
Sustainability and intelligent planning is part of the design concept. The locally available materials including wood, stone, and glass would reduce the transportation costs significantly. Pre-determined issues and service errors were solved beforehand by troubleshooting them and refining the overall design.AR Foundations and FHD Group, together, created this resort based on user satisfaction because it is the end-user who would actually be experiencing it. It is evident from this hospitality project that a skillfully designed space can not only be satisfying as a whole but also can improve well being and productivity in life. A momentary change in lifestyle and surroundings can bring us closer to nature and induce knowledge of self. Being part of a hustling and bustling lifestyle of Chennai, this resort holds the power to induce wellness and positivity, giving the city dwellers a chance to utilize the ignored strength.