Fabio Marigliano, general manager of The Chedi Al Bait, Sharjah, discusses how the property illustrates the Emirate’s rich culture, the culinary experiences it offers, and the story behind each unique design element.
Why did you choose Sharjah for this property, especially given how popular waterfront properties are in Dubai and Abu Dhabi? How does Sharjah vary from other emirates in terms of location, culture, and modernism for the hotel industry?
Sharjah lies in the midst of an exciting cultural renaissance, with the Emirate’s largest and most ambitious historical preservation project at its nexus. Located within the Heart of Sharjah, where Islamic heritage meets an inspiring contemporary scene, we’ve converted a collection of historic manor houses into what is now The Chedi Al Bait, Sharjah, a 53-key Emirati luxury five-star hotel that delivers bespoke services where beauty, unparalleled hospitality and a sense of home become inseparable.
The Chedi Al Bait, Sharjah sophisticatedly incorporates its contemporary Asian-inspired interpretations with the hotel’s Arabic influences in ways that preserve Sharjah’s indigenous culture and charming history, offering guests the opportunity to indulge in traditional Emirati graciousness in leading luxury accommodation at the heart of Sharjah.
What impact do specific designs have on the guest experience?
The Chedi Al Bait has successfully preserved its original historic structures whilst developing new buildings to complement the heritage while catering to the modern traveller.
What makes the property unique is that there is no standardised look; everywhere you turn, it’s different. This makes for the ideal vacation, perfect for travellers seeking relaxation, exploration and adventure, or just spending quality time with family and loved ones.
Is there a storytelling element to the design creation of this property?
The unique collection of five heritage houses at The Chedi Al Bait was once occupied by local families in their distinct cultural settings. These preserved historic structures paired with newer building compounds are a testament to Sharjah’s rich culture, from its carpentry and woodwork to its classic Emirati hospitality.
Throughout the property are elements of design which highlight its uniqueness. For example, the Elephant Door is original to the home of Ibrahim Al Midfa and dates back to 1944. Today, these beautifully wrought doors open up into the Bait Ibrahim Al Midfa, where the hotel’s majestic library and museum are located.
Deeper into The Chedi Al Bait lies the Maijilis Al Midfa. The striking architecture itself is a point of interest as it is the only remaining circular tower of its type in the UAE. But if the walls could speak, the ones here would doubtless tell some lavish tales of the life and times of the legendary Ibrahim Bin Mohammed al Midfa. Through his love for entertaining, his sense of hospitality has trickled down from the early 1900s, and his legacy of hosting friends and family within its beautiful walls remains.
What are the challenges you face?
Our location could not be residents’ or travellers’ first choice when thinking of a luxury retreat, especially with such an abundance of hotels and resorts in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Following the pandemic, travellers were eager for secluded escapes to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and this is exactly what we offer. We collectively made an effort to continue enhancing our guest experience while re-establishing our connection with new and existing guests, as well as our partners.
Tell us something about the restaurants at the hotel and their designs?
Emirati hospitality begins with satisfying the palates of guests. At The Chedi Al Bait, Sharjah, visitors can relish in rich Arabesque flair and savour the flavours of Sharjah through its culinary mastery.
We offer our guests a variety of culinary experiences where the East meets the Middle East and the best of the West at The Restaurant. Tables are set indoors and out, in the charming open-air courtyard, perfect for sampling the finest selection of contemporary, oriental, and far east breakfast dishes, freshly made to your order and served alongside homemade baked pastries. Guests can indulge in a veritable world of flavours including Arabic and Japanese cuisine for lunch and dinner.
Our unique dining experience extends to the wonders of the world in The Café, the heritage house of Bait Majlis Ibrahim Al Midfa. Guests will discover the only remaining circular wind tower in the UAE while sipping Turkish coffee and indulging in our pastries or homemade dessert creations.
Guests can also enjoy a unique gastronomical experience at Al Bareed, located at the heart of Sharjah’s very first Post Office within The Chedi Al Bait, serving artisan coffee, various desserts and pastries guaranteed to satisfy every sweet craving.
Guests are also invited to revel in authentic cuisine and delightful concoctions with our seasonal dining offer in one of the best restaurants in Sharjah and will dine graciously amid classic Emirati interiors.
How, according to you, is the hospitality industry evolving? What is your vision for the hospitality segment in the Middle East?
Following two years of uncertainty and constant turbulence and fluctuations in the state of the world, we have begun to see a significant increase in demand from travellers seeking escapes from their ordinary schedules and routines. We anticipate that this will only continue to increase, and I believe that many hotel groups will begin to enhance and expand their offerings to cater to the varying needs of travellers.
What does the future hold for “The Chedi Al Bait, Sharjah”? Do you intend to grow into other locations?
The Chedi Al Bait, Sharjah has definitely become a fan favourite, as it tells a very unique story of the heritage and culture of the Emirates, and we are proud to have built a strong relationship with our guests in order to ensure that we are constantly challenging ourselves and our offering to guarantee nothing less of a perfect guest experience. We have very exciting plans coming up later this year to further expand and enhance our property, and we are looking forward to making that announcement very soon.