Project: Sheraton Grand Chennai Resort and Spa

Client: AR Foundations

Operator: Sheraton

Location: Chennai

Site Area: 10.29 Acres

Built-up Area: 243,000 Sq.ft. & 59,000 Sq.ft. landscape

A Beach Site with a lot of Constraints!

AR Foundations is a leading Chennai based developer, specializing in High-end Residential, Commercial, IT Park and Retail development. This is AR Foundations’ first hospitality project. Having collaborated with FHD Group on several successful projects earlier, AR trusted the project with FHD. The project started when AR Foundation presented a site in East Coast Road to FHD Group. The AR Resort site is placed in between the stretch of ECR towards the west & Bay of Bengal towards the East, Madras Crocodile Bank to the south, and Blue Bay Resort to the North. The site is 45km from Chennai and 10 minutes away from Kovalam Drive.

The 10.29 Acre site, owing to its adjacency to the beach, falls under Coastal Regulation Zone, which brings a lot of restrictions with it.

  • CRZ has a 200m no construction zone from high tide area
  • Beach is a public access area that needs a public road for access. A part of the site needs to be designated for this
  • Open Site Requirement should be provided with access from the road. FHD’s design provides this along the Northern edge, to retain maximum street frontage to the client’s business.
  • Further, building setbacks are required.
  • Taking away all these areas, the final buildable area is restricted to 2.24 acres, that too away from the beach.
  • The FSI limit of 0.3 allows very limited development.
  • Maximum allowable height of 2 floors, further restricts the building.

With these constraints, it is a challenge to achieve enough built space to generate revenue and to maximize rooms with beach view.

75% of the Site is Un-developable

The site contour varies from +99m near the road to +94m on the coast. The contour creates the scope for the concept.

What program is Profitable? Convention center? Or Resort?

The initial brief to developing a convention center cum wedding destination. FHD made their first proposal for the convention center. Economically, Convention center draws local guests for events around the week, while rooms draw revenue through local and international tourists, but mostly on weekends. FHD and the client recognized the need to balance the two, and the program added few rooms, and eventually, the project became a resort cum hotel with banquet facilities. Thereby, weekends draw tourists for rooms, while weekday banquet events bring guests to stay in rooms as well.

Creating the UN-INTERRUPTED view

The form of the overall building begins from the buildable area based on setbacks. By adapting to the terrain contour, a part of the built volume is staggered below. This further opens up the opportunity to use a terrace and a basement, thereby increasing the usable area. In a beach resort, the beach is the central focus and crowd puller. In order to create an unobstructed view from the road to the beach, the building massing is cut along a central axis. The central axis is emphasized by providing reflecting water pool along it. The most valuable unit – Presidential suite is floating over the central axis for its extraordinary view and symbolic importance. Grand staircases along the axis, across levels, accentuate the spatial experience.

Idea to Program

The program is organized around the central landscape, creating areas with different views. View towards beach, partial view to the beach, and view to the landscape. King suits are along the beach and partial beach views. Some of the units are expandable. Corner suites are special units. Junior suits are along the road. The presidential suite is provided as a floating volume above the central beach-view axis. Landscape and water bodies are provided along the central axis and SPG Area (Special Privilege Guest Area) is provided along the water features. The dining area is provided with exterior and interior views. The basement is used for parking and the terrace is used as a public space. The banquet hall is provided along the front corner, having its private entrance, as well as access to the central court. The level differences are connected by grand staircases for the experience.

Organization of spaces

The building plan is strongly influenced by 3-Dimensional programmatic positioning, making it highly efficient. The plan focusses on clean edges and clarity of circulation. The Resort offers amenities like Banquet Hall, Restaurant, Bar, Spa, Gym & Kids Zone. The Resort has been tailored with 126 Rooms of all kinds of Views, like Sea Facing, Central courtyard Facing, Landscape Facing & Partial Sea Facing Rooms. Rooms are arranged on double-loaded corridors, and yet achieve views for each unit due to strong visual features in the middle. The dining area visually opens out to the courtyard between staggered blocks. The banquet area has ample pre-event space and flexible event space with independent access and exit. The pre-event space spills over to the central feature area. The recreational area connects parking on the basement in West block and Hospitality units on the Upper ground floor in East block. Services are provided on the Lower ground floor which buries itself under the parking zone.

Every room opens to a View

Individual units come in different organizations and user types, while all of them emphasize outdoor balconies and views. The option of connected Twin units offer flexibility to Operator to rent them as independent units or larger units depending on seasonal market needs. Corner suites come with multiple balconies and living space. The presidential suite comes with a private pool and a view deck that provides a view across the main access.

Client & Operator

Ar Foundations, after thorough consideration of developer operated vs third-party operated hotels, chose to proceed with a third-party operator as they bring in a better booking system as well a higher premium value in return for a management fee. AR Foundations picked Sheraton as the operator based on its international reputation, project location, and product mix.

The Learning Curve

Sheraton Grand Chennai project provides a number of success points for FHD and the client:

  • Sheraton Grand Chennai is AR Foundation’s first hospitality project, and its success is a template for other new aspiring developers who want to develop hospitality projects.
  • Sheraton Grand Chennai represents for FHD, one of the best projects in translating design intent on paper into the constructed building. Both the construction and finishes quality is top of the line.
  • A project that began with a cot of byelaw constraints translated the limitation into a landscape design opportunity.

Client Feedback

Mr.Amarnath Reddy-Managing Director of AR Foundations, in a recent interview, explains his satisfaction at completing a successful project, which was complemented by the advice provided by FHD Group.

“ There was a little study done to arrive at the numbers but major credit should go to Mr.Dhamotharan (Director – FHD Group). He guided me through the whole process.“

– Amarnath Reddy