The world's first Warner Bros. Hotel opened yesterday in Abu Dhabi, just steps away from the award-winning Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi theme park and other attractions on Yas Island.
"Our vision is to position Yas Island as an international destination, and we want to visit the top of the list as one of the preferred destination for a family to enjoy entertainment and leisure," said Mohamed Al Zaabi, the CEO of Miral, the developer of the Yas Island resort.
I spoke with Al Zaabi, Warner Bros. Themed Entertainment Senior Vice President Peter van Roden, and Matthew Mullan, Cluster General Manager, Hilton Abu Dhabi via video calls last week to talk about the opening of the Warner Bros. Hotel.
"We strongly believe that customers want to have unique experiences. They want to have well-known names with with strong IPs, such as Warner Brothers and Ferrari and SeaWorld. And they also want to have a convenient experience where everything is available at their fingertips and everything is connected."
"Warner Bros. is a key player," he added. "They have a rich library with very strong IPs, and their IPs are very much well known in this region. And when I say this region, I don't mean only UAE or Abu Dhabi, I mean five hours' flight from from Abu Dhabi, where you have almost 60% of the population on this planet."
"We wanted something named Warner Bros. Hotel to have that feeling of being new and alive and different and vibrant," van Roden said. The hotel, which is part of Hilton's Curio Collection, offers 257 rooms, each with curated artwork reflecting the studio's history of storytelling. But the facility remains a hotel - and not a sleep-away theme park.
"You don't want to be sleeping inside of an immersive experience" van Roden said. "It's got an influence of the of the brands, but then it's a pleasant leisure hotel experience and first-class leisure experience."
Yet that does not mean the hotel is simply a brand statement, van Roden said. Warner Bros. and its partners worked to design the hotel as a "living, breathing content piece."
"The group came back to us with this idea that there would be these multiple content screens," van Roden said. "One massive five-story screen on the front of the building, which is pretty ambitious, and one up on the roof, poolside, in what they call the matinee, and then the columns in the lobby."
"It wasn't about putting Warner Bros. movie trailers up on them," van Roden said. "It was this idea that it was going to be bespoke content that was going to be created around our IP, that was going to have this feel and different kind of look to it. It blew me away, this idea that even the hotel is a piece of content."
"Everywhere in the hotel, we think about how the guest is going to interact, whether it's the memorabilia or the attractions of the characters," Mullan said. "I'm absolutely certain that every guest will be posting nonstop from the time in the hotel, whether it's by the pool, whether it's in the kids club, whether it's in the dive-in theater, or their interaction with the characters."
"This is one of the great partnerships we've ever had, and part of that is these guys are really committed," van Roden said. "They think about the fan, and they think about their guests, and they think about their territory."
"They have a sense of excellence and they are they are really astute at that - all the way to the top with Mohamed Al Mubarak [Chairman of Miral], who himself is a fan and collector of comics and a collector of art and an artist himself. It trickles down from the top."
"When we saw the outcome of the creative content, that was a moment of wow," Al Zaabi said. "We felt so happy. We felt, 'yes, we cracked it.' We did it, and it will be a unique experience."
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