Island life

Published: MEA

Island life

UAE: Working on numerous projects to a single, fixed deadline is a challenge in any line of business. James Ling reports on how Ateïs Middle East achieved this for a string of hotels on Yas Island...

Alongside the Formula One track, its Yacht Club, a golf course, and a shopping mall, Yas Island in Abu Dhabi is soon to be home to the Ferrari World theme park – with the result that is rapidly becoming a regional hub for tourism and sporting pursuits.

Alongside these venues there are more than 20 hotels planned for the island, which is owned and operated by Aldar Properties. The first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, held at the tail-end of last year, provided a fixed deadline for many hotel projects in the Emirate. While the Yas Hotel grabbed headlines for its stunning design and prestigious track-spanning location, there were others on Yas Island and in the surrounding area that all needed to be completed and open in time for the race. Three of these hotels had their life safety, audio and automation requirements met by Ateïs ME.

Holiday Inn

Just off the island and close to ADNEC is the 11-storey Holiday Inn, with its three restaurants, gym, spa, rooftop swimming pool, bar, five meeting rooms and three shops on the ground floor. For this project Ateïs ME supplied the combined public address, voice evacuation and background music system, with the installation itself handled by local partner M/S BMTS.

Ateïs ME chose a decentralised system for the project, with the lower portion of the hotel is covered by an amplifier rack in the basement, while the upper levels are looked after via a separate rack at the top of the hotel. ‘The rack located in the basement covers the basement, ground and mezzanine floors. The upper levels are covered by a rack on the lower roof,’ explains Ahmed Bairakji, regional business manager for Ateïs ME. The two racks have been networked via fibre-optic cable. ‘We did it this way to make the installation easier,’ he continues. ‘We prefer a decentralised system as it provides flexibility and redundancy as an added value.’

The installation started below the hotel in the two basement car park levels. Here the company installed its MSH musical horn speakers to overcome the difficult acoustic environment. ‘It’s one of the few applications in Abu Dhabi where the operator and client have allowed us to use such equipment,’ says Mr Bairakji. ‘The general overview for the project was a low-profile, wall-mounted speaker. However it cannot perform in such a difficult environment. The Ateïs MSH speaker is extremely powerful and provides better music and excellent sound intelligibility.’

Each floor of the hotel was divided into separate circuits with redundancy built in. The mezzanine level has multiple restaurants and several meeting rooms, and it was decided to consider each of these areas as a separate zone during normal situations. ‘It’s a new evolution of PAVA (Public Address Voice Evacuation) systems, as many music channels can operate in different zones, either locally, or via the Ateïs intelligent fibre network that can carry 48 audio channels’ explains Alaa Adly, head of design at AEC consultants, the main designer of the project. ‘During normal operating you can listen to the BGM or play from an external source without affecting the other zones using the intelligent URC volume control and channel selector.’ explains Mr Bairakji.

The URC (Universal Remote Control) is a password-controlled wall-mounted unit, which consists of a small LCD screen volume control switch and audio jack socket. Each zone has its own URC that can be used to manage the audio output in the area. The panels are connected to the controller via Cat5 and Cat6 cabling and are each addressable.

In the meeting rooms, the system has been used for a synchronisation between the sound and the projector, which enables it to be used to run a presentation for live events. On the upper levels there is a similar concept of the URC controlling the systems for the gym, spa and bar.

Rotana and Centro Hotels

On Yas Island itself are the neighbouring 281-room Rotana and 259-room Centro Hotels. Owned and operated by the same company, these two hotels have been able to share a basement rack room, which handles the BGM and A/V across both sites in a centralised system. Again it was tough competition to win the contract for the two hotels. For this project, Ateïs ME supplied the BGM and automation equipment, which was implemented by another local partner, Emircom.

For the Rotana, the BGM side of the project covered the public areas of the hotel, the restaurants, F&B outlets, spa, health club, gym and executive lounge, with each of these being regarded as a separate zone and controlled from its own URC. Each of the 19 zones can also be controlled via the central system in the rack room where a GUI can be used to alter the volume or mute the system as well as for channel selection.

The hotel also requested splashproof speakers for the bathrooms of the guest bedrooms. ‘It became one of the main requirements for the guests,’ says Mr Bairakji. ‘There are splashproof speakers in the bathroom of each room with slim volume controllers and linked via mini-amplifiers to the TV unit.’ This enables guests to continue listening to the entertainment system when they are using the bathroom.

‘This concept has been known for many years, however, Ateïs ME brings a new evolution to the pot – better sound fidelity and music capability can now be realised in the hotel bathrooms. More over, via the EVAC Box, the splash proof speaker at the bathroom can now be integrated with any conventional 70V/100V existing system in the hotel.’ explains Hussam Al Haddad, general manager of Ateïs ME.

The project also included the outdoor spaces around the hotel, such as the pool and bar area. ‘They were interested in having music in the outdoor areas to give visitors to the island the impression of luxury,’ says Wael Noureddine, regional sales manager of Ateïs ME Abu Dhabi. To achieve this, rock speakers were placed in flowerbeds and next to the palm trees that surround the pool.

For the Centro Hotel, the project focused on the nine meeting rooms and ballrooms. It supplied 8Ω ceiling speakers driven by mini amplifiers, touchscreen units for each meeting room and the ballroom, DSP, video switchers, and wireless microphones. ‘Control, audio and video has been supplied by Ateïs ME as Ateïs equipment,’ says Rakesh Ravindran, regional system engineer, who was responsible for making sure that the entire system was commissioned to success.

The touchscreen controllers have been a particularly important part of the project for Mr Rakesh: ‘Using this kind of controller we have controlled the video signal, the audio signal, the projectors, and the screens, with the provision to also control the lighting and the AC system. It is a cascadable and modular system, so more can be added in the future if expansion is deemed necessary ’.

Mr Bairakji feels this project is a nice reference for the manufacturer to have. ‘A one step solution manufacturer is what the operator is usually looking for; ensuring smooth integration and high sound fidelity is the added value with an Ateïs solution’.

For all three of these hotels, one of the biggest challenges was the timescale. With the fixed deadline of the Grand Prix, Ateïs ME was asked to complete the installation in less than a month. ‘Since we have a full fledged office and resident engineers in Abu Dhabi we were able to do this before the deadline.’ explains Mr Bairakji.

Yacht Club

A further project on the island, but one that was not governed by the Grand Prix, was at the recently completed Yacht Club. The building was constructed mainly for exhibitions and the annual Yacht Show. While not a large-scale project, Mr Bairakji feels that it reflects the luxury and variety of options that can be supplied by Ateïs ME: ‘This is one of my favourite projects,’ he says Mr. ‘I’m proud that Ateïs has installed the solution.’

Here, the manufacturer has supplied professional CCS6 20kHz ceiling speakers to be used inside and out for the background music at the Yacht Club, as wells as column and cabinet speakers. ‘All these speakers have a wide frequency bandwidth to guarantee high-fidelity sound,’ says Mr Bairakji. Ateïs ME also supplied seven LAP DSP-based 96kHz sampling rate audio processors. ‘It comes with the entire DSP audio library, such as equalisers, filters, mixer, matrix, compressors and automatic gain control. All these features are essential when we talk about foreground and background music.’

The site has been divided into different zones for the bar, restaurant and business centre. Again, these each have a URC to provide intelligent volume control and channel selection for each zone via a Cat6 infrastructure: ‘We don’t use the traditional method of variable resistors to control the volume or change the channels anymore. We use a data link for communication between the LAPs and the URC,’ explains Haider Al Attar, technical manager of Ateïs ME head quarters in Dubai.

Seven intelligent touchscreen units were also supplied for the installation. These are used for volume control and are also connected to the video mixer, the controller and the LCD screens. ‘From this unit you can control the music channels as well as the video displayed,’ says Mr Al Attar. ‘It gives the end-user luxury.’

The main challenge for the project was to blend in with the interior design of the Yacht Club. ‘It was a difficult design and the challenge was how to match the decoration.’

One thing that Mr Bairakji believes has helped the manufacturer with all of these projects has been that it has an Abu Dhabi office as well as its Dubai office. ‘We have all the capabilities, whether it’s technical, commercial, estimation or engineering. Our support and supervision is always there.’