KUWAIT CITY – Safir Hotels & Resorts (SHR) has reached out to the students of Kuwait University (KU) College of Architecture and asked them to dream up innovative new ways to provide a modern hospitality experience. The grass-roots method to product development is a unique approach to sustainable Corporate Social Responsibility rarely seen in the region.
Safir Hotels & Resorts (SHR) was established in 1993 by the Middle East’s first Arabian hospitality management company, the Kuwait Hotels Company (KHC). Kuwait-based and a subsidiary of KIPCO, the brand manages nine hotels across six countries. In 2018, a flurry of internal activity took place within the 26-year-old brand as it took measures to refresh its identity. Paying tribute to its name “Safir” and the role it plays in serving as an ambassador of each community that houses its hotels, part of its refreshed brand identity involves finding ways to include and give back to society.
Safir is currently in the process of developing new hospitality brands, one of which is to be positioned in the midscale hospitality market segment and aims to appeal predominantly to Generation Z and Millennials. Wanting the project to be truly home-grown, SHR has reached out to KU College of Architecture in an initiative that will enfold the university’s young local talent into the design process. Brimming with diversity and creativity, the Kuwait-based College of Architecture is a hotbed of inspiration that Safir Hotels & Resorts recognizes as an untapped source of raw potential.
“The youth are our future. They see things differently than we do, as their minds are still fresh, exploding with creativity, and unburdened by the restrictions and limitations that we sometimes impose on ourselves with the experience that comes with age,” said Safir’s CEO Fawzi AlMusallam. “We can learn from them just as much as they can learn from us. It is an opportunity to involve the youth of Kuwait whilst giving back – to provide them with a creative outlet and a chance to leave their mark on the world.”
The students of Interior Architecture Studio III – led by KU Professor Dr. Muhannad Al Bagshi and TA Interior Designer Noor Abdal – are focusing on developing concepts for two key areas of any hospitality experience: the hotel guest room and hotel lobby. For Safir, a key element of the students’ deliverables is finding modern and innovative ways to deliver a hospitality experience that uses space cleverly and efficiently, while still reflecting the local culture and the wishes and expectations of young hotel guests.
Abdal comments: “Our program is constantly seeking to stretch the boundaries of design, and this educational experience with SHR allows our students to fully grasp the evolving and expanding nature of interior architecture, as well as reinforcing the importance of collaboration on such projects. Offering our students the opportunity to integrate their local roots with the evolving technology and the highly tailored design choices of the hospitality industry.”
KU’s architecture students are being provided with guidance from KHC’s resident architect and Corporate Director of Design & Technical Services Lidia Janakievska, who is enriching the youth of Kuwait by sharing her vast expertise with them in the form of insight into hotel operation standards and parameters.
“The overarching design ethos for this project is simple: it is rooted in tradition and innovation,” Janakievska comments. “Millennials and Generation Z are a huge influence on hospitality developments these days. They are connected, curious, and hungry for new experiences, while still yearning for the familiarity and comfort of their culture. In a hospitality setting, they expect design essentials as well as those they haven’t seen before. With so many midscale brands emerging around the world, we would like to make a difference. What better way than by involving the audience?”
The initiative with KU is part of SHR’s broader Corporate Social Responsibility strategy, which in-turn aligns with KIPCO's. KIPCO believes in the importance of contributing to the development of Kuwait’s youth and helping them reach their full potential, which is why it and its subsidiaries have sponsored the like of LOYAC and its Protégé Program for over eight years, with no end in sight.
About Safir Hotels & Resorts
Safir Hotels & Resorts (SHR) is a hotel management company, owned by Kuwait Hotels Company (KHC), which is part of the KIPCO Group. Established in 1993, the company manages a portfolio of nine hotels in Kuwait, Egypt, Oman, Qatar, Lebanon and Syria. Most of its hotels are managed under the Safir brand, except for its flagship property “Marina Hotel Kuwait,” and the “Salalah Gardens Hotel” in Oman. Its portfolio strategy is aimed at growth in the MENA region in the midscale and upscale segments, managing both hotels and serviced residences. As the first Arabian hospitality management company in the region, the company has a wealth of experience in bringing value to hotel development projects and profitable hotel operations. SHR shares no connection to Oman’s Safeer Hotels, nor to Bahrain’s Al Safir Hotel.