Dubai-based CEO Thomas van Vliet
Paramount Hotels & Resorts CEO Thomas van Vliet says merging Hollywood and hotels is rather like making a movie, and reveals the concept and cast behind the operator’s first big release, the US $1 billion Damac Towers by Paramount in Dubai.
Like a film production, the concept behind Paramount Hotels & Resorts is the result of collaboration and creativity, which is why CEO Thomas van Vliet has devised a new word to describe the brand, "collaborativity”.
The Dubai-based official licensee of legendary silver-screen production company Paramount Pictures was established in 2012 and has already unveiled its first property, the US $1 billion Damac Towers by Paramount in Downtown Dubai, due to open in 2015, with a second hotel due to launch in Boao on China’s Hainan Island in 2016.
"The idea is like the film studio model, each new property will be treated like a major release, so you’ll have a group of very creative people working together to design, direct and detail a unique experience,” explains van Vliet.
"Since the company was established, we’ve been tirelessly working on creating the brand and it is collaboration between people outside our company, the people of Paramount in Los Angeles, Damac and our own team.”
Among the consultants brought in to work on the creation of Paramount Hotels & Resorts is New York-based architect and designer David Rockwell, founder of Rockwell Group, who has worked on design projects including W Hotel New York, Aloft Hotels, Gordon Ramsay’s Maze Restaurant, Nobu at Atlantis The Palm, The Walt Disney Family Museum and famous film-set designs.
Las Vegas-based Blau and Associates will be lending a hand in F&B concept development. The group has worked on some of New York’s top restaurants, and also has a large number of hotel clients in its portfolio, including Jumeirah Group, Kerzner International, Marriott, Viceroy and Hyatt.
London’s luxury branding expert Piers Schmitd, who names Armani Hotels & Resorts, De Vere Hotels, Dorchester Collection, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and One&Only among his major clients, is also on board. Meanwhile, Bangkok’s Goco is heading up the spa and wellness concept designs.
"We’ll have our own wellness and fitness concepts and our own F&B concepts, which will be a mix between our Paramount-themed concepts and speciality dining where we’ll work together with chefs from California, these could be Indian or French, Italian cuisine, Chinese, seafood or steak house with a Californian touch,” reveals van Vliet.
He has high expectations of revenue generation from F&B at the first hotel in Dubai, a significant proportion of which he expects will come from the captive audience of the three serviced residence towers that make up the four-tower Damac Towers by Paramount development.
"The hotel industry in Dubai at the luxury end has proven if you do food and beverage right it can become a significant part of your hotel revenue, beyond what is achieved in other parts of the world. So that is definitely our aim.”
Other elements of the brand include film, entertainment and technology, which will be incorporated in a "subtle way” according to van Vliet, who cites Hard Rock Café as an example.

The set
While many of Paramount’s pictures are well known worldwide, including The Godfather, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Titanic to mention a few, van Vliet acknowledges that often people don’t associate the films with the brand.
"If we show the logo of Paramount Pictures, people automatically connect it to film. If the second question is ‘could you mention a film that was produced by Paramount’, that’s more difficult. Most people recognise all of the films and know the titles, the names of the actors and actresses, so there’s a lot of knowledge, just not connected.”
Part of the Paramount Hotels & Resorts’ task will be to bring those films into the hotels.

"The way we integrate the films by Paramount will be through different touch points throughout the guest experience… as they arrive at the hotel, stay at the hotel, there could be elements of it in the limousine that drives you from the airport to the hotel,” says van Vliet.
"In-room entertainment will be home theatre surround systems inside the guestrooms as a minimum because I’m convinced that this will be a top expectation from all our guests,” he continues, adding that the Paramount properties will also offer access to the Paramount Pictures film libraries.
"We’ll look at themes for the entertainment throughout the year; give each month a theme, so in February with Valentine’s Day it could be love films. The hotels will also have a screening room; a high-end luxury theatre with lounge seating, a multi-functional environment,” he reveals.
The audience

While film and technology will be key components of the Paramount Hotels & Resorts offering, the profile of guests will be varied, not just film lovers. Van Vliet expects the Dubai hotel to be filled by a mix of leisure and business guests, though leisure will have the advantage.
"The chairman of Alpha Tours is also the executive chairman of Paramount Hotels & Resorts. What it means is that inbound traffic into Dubai that is already managed by Alpha Tours will, of course, have a lot of potential for filling the rooms and the residences of this complex,” he explains.
However, he is quick to point out that every hotel will be unique in its offering, and its audience. For example, while MICE facilities will be limited at the Dubai property, they will be a key part of the China resort.
"There will be a lot of creativity and innovation — not only in the technology, but also in the theme of the events using the Paramount background.”
While the brand got off to a rapid start unveiling two properties since its inception last year, van Vliet says there will be a limit to its growth, enabling it to carefully tailor each of its properties. “If people ask how big your chain will be in the end, we expect it not to surpass 50. We want to keep it quite a small chain, and each one of the properties will be unique.”
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