Patrick de Groot on the island’s newest social space
Time Out Bahrain staff
We chatted to Patrick de Groot general manager of the island’s newest social space, The Domain Bahrain.
First please tell us a bit about yourself, what’s your hospitality background and are you new to Bahrain?
I am originally from The Netherlands, but left many years ago and I have been working in the Middle East and Far East for nearly 20 years now. In these 20 years I have specialised in hotel development and strategic marketing. Before joining the team of Faisal Al Matrook to set up the group’s hotel division, I worked on a private business venture in retail and wholesale. I just love the thrill of a start-up. Prior to that, I worked for Dubai-based luxury hotel operator Jumeirah Group as director of development.
The Domain is due to open in August, tell us about the facilities ?
The Domain Bahrain is a social club and boutique luxury hotel housing 63 luxury suites and 68 rooms, all graced with wall-sized windows and views over the city and the Arabian Gulf. All rooms and suites are serviced by dedicated Domain managers and butlers. The Domain facilitates: valet-only parking lots, smoking and non-smoking rooms, special needs rooms, nine restaurants, lounges and bars, a boutique shop, a complete wellness, skincare and fitness club stretching over two floors including rooftop pool plus banqueting and catering.
It’s been talked about as a new social concept, what does this mean? Most global hotel brands haven’t really embraced social engagement. The Domain plans to take things a step further… instead of going online, The Domain Bahrain promotes social engagement off-line. A social director will actively look for opportunities to make introductions between members, guests and ambassadors (local and expat movers and shakers) alike. Introducing The Conversation – a social communication platform, embedded in The Domain app and website will provide further opportunity for those that like to engage with The Domain. Add to this mix the vibrant selection of restaurants, lounges and bars (the ultimate social spaces) throughout our club house, and …. THAT’s what we mean with a “new social concept”.
Where did the idea come from and how will you implement it to stop The Domain becoming just another hotel? Let’s start with NOT being a hotel, but a social club first and foremost. The luxury hotel component is just one of several exciting aspects of The Domain, a concept that has been conceived in Bahrain and for Bahrain by a team of experienced, passionate hoteliers. The concept of The Domain wasn’t created overnight, but instead has been developed over several years. The global acceptance of social media in recent years is a phenomena that has taken many by surprise. We hope to integrate social media in our business model, but at the same time would never want to lose real-time social engagement with and between our customers.
Will there be a nightclub on site and, if so, what’s the plan for this? The Domain will have a number of resident DJs, who will freely roam around the various social spaces, our restaurants morph into lounges, food is served to be shared. Music has been carefully curated to fit each time of the day and night and is there to entertain, but you will still be able to have a normal conversation. We do plan to bring in international DJs and other live performers.
The F&B side will be really strong, who are your chefs and what are their backgrounds? The Domain’s second in command and in charge of F&B is Kim B Andersen he is a former executive chef and happens to be from the hottest city on the global culinary map at present – Copenhagen. His Nordic partner and executive chef at The Domain is Kjell Kollin, who hails from Sweden and was previously executive chef of Jumeirah Zabeel Saray. I think a lot of the spirit of Nordic cuisine will run through most of the restaurants – simplicity, clear, crisp flavour, unfussiness and seasonality. In total we are bringing on board 66 chefs from various countries.
I understand your soft opening will coincide with Eid, will the whole property come on-line? The Domain Bahrain will “soft-open” at Eid Al Fitr – with a substantial number of its suites and rooms, as well as two social spaces; Le Sauvage - a grill room and Le Domain  - South of France cuisine. On September 15, we expect to open the rest of The Domain Bahrain to the public with additional restaurants, bars lounges and conference rooms, as well as Vie – our in-house wellness centre.