Sneak Peek: Christian Louboutin

Post by Mark

The Christian Louboutin is currently under construction in Salhiya but judging by their current progress it looks like they’ll probably be opening up right after Eid if not before.


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Sneak Peek: Al Hamra Tower

Post by Mark

One of the best things about blogging is the fact I get invited to check out a lot of cool work in progress projects like Messilah Beach, Missoni Hotel and The Regency Palace. My dad’s an interior designer and as a kid I used to tag along with him on Friday mornings to various construction sites which is why now whenever I get invited to visit one I can never say no. It brings back good childhood memories and that’s why when I was asked if I wanted to tour the Al Hamra Tower I jumped at the opportunity. I’ve been a big fan of the tower for a long time to get a tour of it before completion would literally be a once in a life time opportunity since they’re only going to build it once.

First a bit of history and some facts. Al Hamra used to be Kuwait’s and the GCC’s first indoor cinema. It had two large theaters, one played Bollywood movies while the other played Western movies. Al Hamra Tower is being built in the same location where Al Hamra Cinema used to be located. It’s currently the second tallest building in the region with Burj Khalifa being the tallest. It’s the tallest asymmetrical structure in the world (no side is like the other side) and it’s also the second tallest concrete building in the world.

So my tour started off with a video presentation of the tower. It wasn’t really boring since there was a presenter and I was able to interrupt and ask questions. After the presentation I was taken to the mall that’s located at the bottom of the tower. The mall is made up of five floors and each floor will be around the size of a floor at Al Raya mall across the street. The fifth floor will hold the Al Hamra Cinema. Whats special about this cinema is the fact it will be the first non-Cinescape theater in 50 years. Back in 1953 Cinescape got a 50 year exclusivity for cinema’s in Kuwait. That exclusivity expired in 2003. The mall will be a luxurious one and having Hermes there is a good start.

Once we were done walking around the mall we headed to the main tower lobby (pictured above) which is really going to be huge when completed. Although the tower is super tall your average wait time for a lift will be under 30 seconds, the lift also travels at a speed of 10 floors a second. To get to the top floor of the tower we had to take a lift up to a lobby on the 54th floor I think and then swap to another lift and continue up to the very last floor.


[YouTube]

Once we got to the last floor it was filled with scaffolding since they still have a few more glass panels they’re installing at the very top. But the space up there is just astonishing, the ceiling is incredibly high and the view is just overwhelming. I shot the video above to try and show what I was experiencing and seeing but you really need to be there (Trivia: Can you tell when I hit my head on a scaffolding? Luckily I was wearing a hard hat!). Once completed this last floor will sadly be a private invite only chairman’s club and not a restaurant like I had previously heard. This means very few people will actually get to enjoy this beautiful view.

It’s hard not to like Al Hamra Tower, it’s an office tower done right and we don’t have many “done right” projects in Kuwait. I really can’t wait for it to launch which should be September of this year. Below are some pictures I took today.

Update: Forgot to mention that the windows will be cleaned by a team of robots and it will take a month to clean all the windows. Burj Khalifa on the other hand employs 36 window cleaners who take 3 months to clean all the windows. Burj Arab I believe uses 2 people who take a full month to clean their windows.


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Sneak Peek: Missoni Hotel

Post by Mark

Back in 2008 I posted about how Missoni Hotel was going to open up here in Kuwait and yesterday I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek tour of the place.

I noticed two things when I first walked into the lobby, the first was the amount of colors that filled the place and the second was the cleaning lady vacuuming using a Dyson. The hotel is full of beautiful summer colors and wild fabric designs that magically seem to all work together. I spent the whole time amazed at how tasteful everything was put together, it’s just incredible the amount of thought and work that went into it.

The second thing I noticed as I mentioned earlier was the Dyson vacuum cleaner but I then also spotted Bang & Olufsen speakers in the lobby ceiling followed by Bang & Olufsen TV’s in the hotel rooms. I even spotted Bodum toasters and very cool looking pots and pans in one of the hotel rooms mini kitchenettes. It’s a hotel that’s design driven, from the typeface the hotel room numbers are written in to the power plug sockets in the wall, everywhere you look you see good design which is very rare to see here in Kuwait.

They have 169 rooms so it’s not a small boutique hotel and the majority of their staff are from Italy so really once you walk into the hotel you could easily forget you were in Kuwait. The rooms had some very beautiful furniture which I right away asked if they were going to be available for purchase (turns out they will be). The hotel launches March 1st and they’re located in Salem Mubarek Street opposite American University of Kuwait in the same building where Symphony Mall is. I shot the pictures in this post but they will be sending me some more pictures which I will add to this post once I get them.

Update: Arabian Business has some more pictures which you can check [Here]


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Sneak Peek: Cocoa Room

Post by Mark

Cocoa Room is a new chocolate dessert concept by Basil AlSalem the Slider Station, Burger Boutique and Open Flame Kitchen creator. It’s his new dessert place that is opening up right next door to Slider Station. Last month I passed by Cocoa Room for the first time with some friends for a tasting session and yesterday night I passed by again with Nat and both times the food was amazing. The current tasting sessions include some new dishes that will end up on the Slider Station menu alongside the new desserts that were created specifically for Cocoa Room. Not sure where to start, maybe with the interior first. It’s small, but very cozy with a custom fitted velvet sofa running seamlessly alongside three walls. You come into Cocoa Room from a small doorway inside Slider Station and at night it’s very dimly lit with a large glass window that overlooks the Slider Station street entrance and waiting area outside. It looks very trendy and wouldn’t feel out of place if you stuck right in the middle of Soho.

Food wise I ate a lot. First time there I had 10 of the potentially new Slider Station dishes and then topped it off with 7 desserts from Cocoa Room. It was beyond filling, I felt like a python that had just devoured a sheep. Yesterday on the other hand I went back for a more moderate tasting session. Instead of eating everything I chose my favorite dishes from my first visit, I had some fried mozzarella balls on a Spanish salsa sauce, a veal and mushroom on potato crust starter, spicy lamb chops called Bangkok on Fire and finally pink spaghetti. For dessert I went with the Oreo fondant, chocolate lollipops and Nutella souffle. One thing I have to highlight here is that the lamb chops were the best lamb chops I ever had anywhere while the freshly made pink spaghetti was the best spaghetti dish I’ve ever had in Kuwait. I actually wanted to go back last night specifically to have those two dishes again. I’m really hoping they’re going to add them on the Slider Station menu very soon because they were really that good.

Now Cocoa Room on the other hand was supposed to open up soon but now the launch might be postponed since they just acquired the space next door so they might end up expanding Coco Room before it even opens. For now though you can enjoy some of the pictures I took below last night.


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Sneak Peek: 52 Degrees

Post by Mark

Last night I posted a sneak peek of the new Choowy Goowy Cafe that’s opening up at 52 Degrees and today Nat passed by and was able to send me pictures of 52 Degrees as well. The place so far looks really cool and that has a lot to do with the fact it was designed by the Kuwaiti architect Ahmed Al-Baghli, the same guy behind the beautiful MELENZANÈ. Nat on the other hand created the 52 Degrees identity. You can check out some sneak peek pictures below, they are soft launching tonight.

For those of you who don’t know what 52 Degrees is, it’s basically a department store that will be filled with Kuwaiti products and creations from clothing and accessories to food and desserts.


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Sneak Peek: Choowy Goowy Cafe

Post by Mark

Choowy Goowy Cafe is currently under construction but it looks pretty cool so far. It will be opening up at 52 Degrees by the first week of February. On the other hand 52 Degrees is having their soft launch tonight (Sunday) at Tilal Complex.


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Sneak Peek: Fatburger

Post by Mark

Fatburger is opening up mid July at Spoons in Mahboula. I’ve never tried their burgers but Marzouq has and judging by his pictures and review it should be pretty good. I can’t wait…


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Sneak Peek: B+F Open Flame Kitchen

Post by Mark

Yesterday I had a meeting at Caribou Coffee in 360 Mall and while there I spotted a friend of mine from B+F. Since their new Open Flame Kitchen project is located right next to Caribou Coffee I practically held him at gun point and forced him to give me a sneak peek at the place. I had only seen a 3D rendering before of their pizza oven which they had accidentally published on their Facebook group but other than that I hadn’t seen much else.

Well I saw the place yesterday and I managed to snap two pictures which I’ve attached to this post. Keep in mind the place is currently under construction and there is no seating, lighting or anything of the sort in place yet. There are just four large projectors to provide enough light for the construction workers. But, with these pictures you can at least get a glimpse of the interesting forms and shapes that being developed for OFK.

There are two main attraction points you will spot when you first come in. On the right side of the restaurant is their grill area where they will be grilling their steaks and burgers (the picture above). On the left side of the restaurant is their pizza oven (first picture on top). Whats cool about the pizza oven is that its an unusual shape and is covered in real gold leafs. The pizza oven also has this black circular metallic bars revolving around it which they’ve nicknamed the tornado since it takes the form of one.

They will have two separate outdoor seating areas and also a VIP room. The whole restaurant was black with black floors, black walls and a black ceiling. It’s all still under major construction so by the time it launches it will look completely different.Which brings me to the the most important subject which is the launch date. The soft opening should be at the end of June or beginning of July while the tasting should start on the 21st of this month. I’ve been nagging Bassil (the owner) for the past year to invite me to the tasting and so far it looks like my persistence has paid off since I’ve been invited to the tasting! I will NOT be on a diet for the tasting although he assured me their new menu has a lot of healthy food. Taking one day off a month shouldn’t be a problem… I hope (Fahad??).

Note: I should have mentioned this for the people who don’t know but B+F Open Flame Kitchen is part of the bigger family B+F Burger Boutique, Slider Station and B+F Roadside Diner.


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Sneak Peek: Infunity Revisited

Post by Mark

I woke up this morning to a phone call from a friend in charge at 360 Mall asking me if I wanted to try out the roller coaster at Infunity. Infunity hasn’t opened yet and won’t be open for a few more months but today they were testing out the roller coaster and if I accepted the mission we would be the first passengers on it. I though it was a fun idea since I never beta tested a roller coaster before and agreed to meet him there before lunch.

Last time I passed by Infunity was in October and since then the place has changed a lot. As I mentioned back in October, Infunity will have a bunch of cool things going for it including a very large climbing wall, Go-Kart Drifting (very cool), an indoor roller coaster designed and built by the same people who create ones for Six Flags, and also a ton of other stuff I’m not sure if I am allowed to share.

When we first got there it turned out the German engineers were still working on the roller coaster so I walked around and checked out the place and took some pictures to kill a bit of time. Nat hadn’t been to the place before and I wanted her to see everything anyway. Once they were ready we went up the stairs to the boarding area. They had just finished testing the ride with sacks full of sand and now we would be the first people to ride it. We got into the seats, fastened the safety harness and took off. First of all the whole place was very dimly lit by a few portable projectors here and there. There was no one in the whole place except for three German engineers and the five of us so it was very empty. We were also the first people to try out the ride so there was that slight fear in the back of our minds that something could go wrong which added to the excitement. The ride although short turned out to be incredibly fun. The roller-coaster although on a fixed line actually rotates so one point you could be facing forward, the next backwards or sideways. The ride also takes you through one wall and then spits you out from another side and once the ride is completed the area behind the wall will actually have fake snow that comes down while you pass through. It was really a lot of fun and the whole time I felt like I was either going to get thrown from the track or hit my head on some pole, I loved it. We rode it a couple of times before we headed to lunch.

Now hopefully I am going to go back again once they start trying out the wall climb or drifting. I shot a video of the ride in the coaster which I might put up later but for now you can check out the pictures below.


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Sneak Peek: New BMW 5 Series

Post by Mark

I was dropping my Beemer off at the dealer today for a service when I spotted a closed booth that contained a car inside. Turned out to be the new BMW 5 series and it looked really good, much better than the new BMW Gran Turismo. I spotted one when I was in Lebanon and it looked really ugly, like if you took the already awkwardly looking X6 and had King Kong step on it and squash it. Seriously don’t know what they were thinking with the GT. Anyway the 5-series I saw today was the 535 and it was already reserved for someone.


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