x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Want an Italian hotel? Then go to Kuwait

Hotel Missoni opened in Kuwait at the beginning of March, the second property globally under the fashion brand.

The stylish bathroom at Hotel Missoni in Kuwait.
The stylish bathroom at Hotel Missoni in Kuwait.

Kuwait does not seem the most likely setting for Missoni's second hotel.

The fashion brand is meant to reflect all things Italian, but guests will not be sipping Campari cocktails at the bar or enjoying glasses of chianti over dinner in the alcohol-free state of Kuwait - which is not known as a tourism hot spot.

However, Pascal Gadet, the general manager of Hotel Missoni Kuwait, insists that the country is the perfect location for the luxury hotel, which opened in the capital city at the beginning of this month. The first Missoni hotel opened in Edinburgh two years ago.

"I think the vision with choosing the destinations we did was to really make sure that when we do go into the big cities - let's say London, New York, Paris - that we get it absolutely 100 per cent right," Mr Gadet said. "A lot of the designer hotels open and they stay on their own and there is no continuity."

The Missoni hotel, reflecting the designs of the Italian fashion house, has bold colours and striped and floral patterns throughout. Missoni, along with Versace, Armani and Bulgari, is part of a trend that has emerged in recent years for fashion names to move into hospitality.

The Missoni hotels are managed by the Rezidor Hotel Group, which has brands including Radisson Blu.

More than 50 employees were transferred from Italy to add to the Kuwait hotel's authenticity, Mr Gadet says, and customers, who pay rates starting at 100 Kuwaiti dinars (Dh1,328) for a standard room, are picked up from the airport in a Maserati as part of the experience.

Mr Gadet says the unlikely location of the hotel only added to its appeal.

"I think Kuwait is a very interesting market to do this," he said. "Its contrast perhaps is what makes it even more sought-after. This is what we are actually experiencing now.

"People can't believe that such an attractive lifestyle project would be in Kuwait, and that's exactly what makes people want to come. It's an underrated destination. Kuwait has a lot to offer, but we are basically pioneering."

The hotel so far has attracted a mix of business and leisure guests from Kuwait and the wider GCC, and it is hoping to lure tourists from the rest of the world.

"Kuwait was not really a huge leisure destination," Mr Gadet said. "We are really looking for a lot of new customers to Kuwait, not just trying to cut into the pie that is there."

Still, he concedes that appealing to a global audience is difficult at present because of unrest in some countries in the region.

The property was developed by CRC, a Kuwaiti company.

Missoni is also developing hotels in Oman, Brazil and Turkey.

 

rbundhun@thenational.ae