Speed has its own unique requirements of form, and the pursuit of speed is one of the areas of human endeavor where function serves to define everything in design - even beauty. In nature, we look on the cheetah, the marlin, and the falcon in awe as animals existing on the pinnacle evolutionary aerodynamics - their existence is defined by speed. But we also revere these creatures for their beauty - the very same biological design as much impressing our sense of aesthetic wonder as our stopwatches.
One can track the history of Formula 1 racing in pure design terms, as the laws of aerodynamics and our understanding of them have charted their own evolutionary course. The cigar shaped car of the post-war years (when Formula 1 was established) sitting high on the four powerful haunches of large thin tires has been molded and distorted into the wide-wheeled tarmac-hugging exoskeletons we see roaring round race tracks today. Whatever the form of these machines, their sheer capacity for velocity summons beauty in our imaginations.
As a sporting event, Formula 1 has also evolved - it is now the multi-billion dollar nexus point between the raw grace at the height of automotive design, the style and celebrity that money and beauty always attract, and some of the most glamorous locations in the world. The Riviera chic of Monaco’s street based Grand Prix is often cited as a highlight of the Formula 1’s globetrotting circus, which trails the world’s wealthiest fans and most beautiful supermodels.
Premiered in November 2009, The Yas Marina Circuit is one of the new generation of Formula 1 racetracks. Designed by leading track designer Hermann Tilke, and featuring innovations such as the longest straight in Formula 1 and a tunnel joining the pit lane with the main circuit, the circuit will again be the setting for the final race of this year’s Formula season, the Formula 1™ Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Reputed to be one of the most spectator-friendly and exciting developments in grand prix racing for years, the circuit is set in a custom-built environment to rival even the classic glamour of Monaco - Yas Island.
Created by Abu Dhabi’s leading property development, management and investment company, Aldar, and located minutes away from Abu Dhabi’s International Airport, Yas Island has been purpose-designed to become the region’s leisure and retail hub. At the state of the art marina, boats may berth literally at trackside, where there is a berthing facility for 140 super-yachts and capacity for 2000 yachts. This combined with the exclusive Yas Yacht Club and access to the island’s other luxury facilities, means that the Island is already on the way to becoming one of the world’s elite sailing destinations. Yas Island also features the first true Links Golf Course in the Middle East, designed by renowned course designer Kyle Phillips, and Yas Mall which, featuring four exclusive department stores and four hundred of the world’s leading brands stores and labels, will make it the regional retail destination. Ferrari World Abu Dhabi marks another first at Yas Island, the world’s first Ferrari theme park and most expansive indoor attraction of its kind. Visitors can immerse themselves in the world of the most venerated luxury sports car, Formula 1 manufacturer and Italian icon, and get their adrenalin fix on the twenty rides - including the world’s fastest rollercoaster.
Despite such glittering company, it is The Yas Hotel that perhaps demands the attention most forcefully, evoking such a sense of immense power and sheer velocity that you could be forgiven for expecting it to rise up and boost off into the stratosphere at any given minute. Echoing the aerodynamic muscularity of the super-yachts berthed in marina below and the Formula 1 racecars powering around the track upon which it sits, the T-shaped hotel features two vast elliptical main towers upon which is draped an extraordinary 219 meter steel and glass lattice. The Gridshell comprises over five thousand diamond shaped glass panels and flows across the two towers and their top floors, its multitude of colored lights reflecting this enormous structure’s changing emotions - it is a quite breathtaking vision.
Once inside The Yas Hotel, guests’ expectations for the spectacular in no way diminish. Reinterpreting the Arabian mashrabiya with lightweight latticed walls that reflect the Gridshell, New York Architects Asymptote Architecture have ensured that the lobby demarcates intimate spaces from the enormity of this great building. A variety of Executive Suites employ expansive glass panels to maximize the dramatic contrast between the desert sun and the Arabian Sea and the Marina Executive Suite, which lends unrivalled private views of the racetrack and the entire island. Continuing with the exclusive and ascending into the rarified views through the Gridshell, the double height loft space of the Yas Presidential Suite features original contemporary artwork, MoMA furnishings, private dining capacity for sixteen serviced by a full chef’s kitchen, a private elevator, and a private lap pool on the terrace.
As well as all the luxurious touches and facilities that one would expect - a state of the art gym, an exquisite events Ballroom, and a fully equipped luxury spa, ESPA at The Yas Hotel - cuisine and hospitality at The Yas Hotel is already a leading attraction on an international level. Executive Head Chef Daniel Nuss has used his extensive global culinary experience to put together an amazing choice of fine dining. From Origins, the world cuisine food boutique, to the classic Indian Tandoori cuisine offered at Angar, the South Asian delicacies found in the Noodle Box, and the locally-caught bespoke seafood prepared to diners’ specifications at the marina-set Nautilus, each restaurant is run by revered chefs who are experts in their culinary field.
In bringing the two coolest new nightspots to Abu Dhabi, The Yas Hotel drafted in one of the marquee names in bar and clubland and the brand behind the globally chic Buddha Bar franchise, George V Eatertainment. While rooftop bar and lounge area Skylite offers guests a chance to fully unwind in complete privacy in the cabaña and chill-out atmosphere, the exclusive Rush Bar is one of the most adrenalin fuelled and exciting bars in the Middle East. There are two points which connect the two separate structures of The Yas Hotel, one being the Gridshell, the other an enclosed bridge which hangs thrillingly low over the racetrack itself, and gives revelers an unparalleled backdrop in which to enjoy their choice from the extensive fine wine and cocktail list.
It is perhaps this image of Rush Bar which best sums up The Yas Hotel, where the heady confluence of speed, elegant and futuristic design, and one of the world’s premier sporting spectacles is enjoyed by some of its most glamorous spectators.
- Ben Stewart
The Yas Hotel
Address: Yas Island
Tel: 02 656 0000
The Yas Hotel