Ali Morris interviews owner Reita Gadkari and architect Uday Dhar for SLEEPER Magazine, the UK leading magazine for hotel design, development and architecture, on giving life to OTP Hotel.
Read all about how this boutique hotel in Sri Lanka was conceived, with its tropical-inspired architectural design, the quirky barefoot luxury concept and unique look.
Below, the transcript of her text and interview:
“Opened late last year in Thalpe, just a short tuk-tuk ride from the fort, Owl and the Pussycat – named after Edward Lear’s 1871 poem – is tucked away from the busy road on a plot that sits a little closer to the ocean than its neighbours, who are set further back and out of sight. The only sounds that can be heard are the birdsong and the tranquil crashing on the waves.”
I came at Owl and the Pussycat from a very personal point of view, says R. Gadkari
17 guestrooms, 10 of which are suites, wrap around a palm-dotted courtyard, which has a slim rectangular pool at its heart – a layout that exudes a relaxed and almost residential atmosphere. “I am not a hotelier,” says Reita Gadkari decidedly. “I have no background in hospitality, but in India and Italy [the countries in which Gadkari spends much of her time] we are accustomed to people coming and going all the time – our house in Italy is ran like a mini hotel” she laughs. “I also travel a lot and I took note of the things I liked and didn´t like about other hotels. So I came at Owl and the Pussycat from a very personal point of view.”
Gadkari started work on the hotel project in 2014 immediately after buying the land with fellow developer Shane Thantirimudalige. But when it came to bringing her vision to life, Gadkari enlisted the talents of her brother, New York –based architect Uday K. Dhar.
A colour drenched retreat full of intimate corners and spaces for quiet contemplation began to take shape
Inspired by the 20th century Tropicalia movement in Brazil, as well as the tropical projects of Barragan and Ricardo Legorreta of Mexico, Aldo Rossi of Italy, and Arquitectonica in Miami, Dhar spent the next two years managing the design and build. A colour drenched retreat full of intimate corners and spaces for quiet contemplation began to take shape.
Entered through and angled corridor that widens to reveal the courtyard, swimming pool and Indian Ocean beyond, Dhar wanted to create a moment of surprise for visitors as they arrive from the street. “The gate sequence was very important for me,” he explains. “As you walk in, the view widens dramatically; you are confronted by the pool and its waterfall feature, which replicates the effect of the waves on the seashore.”
The colours used for the buildings help to break down the idea of a monolithic standard hotel development, explained architect U. Dhar
Inside, the courtyard is cradled by the hotel two buildings, which are split into four volumes and painted in shades of sky blue against sun drenched ochre, and orchid pink against sea foam green – an aesthetic that recalls the pastel facades found in Miami’s South Beach.
“The colours used for the buildings help to break down the idea of a monolithic standard hotel development,” explains Dhar. “They create individual identities for the different buildings, but also enhance each other and work together as an ensemble.”
There is an imperceptible spiralling motion as you move through the spaces, says U. Dhar
The courtyard, which Dhar describes as the heart of the hotel, is based on a spiral design, hinged by the pool and broken up by subtle terraced levels that take guests to from the water to the garden, to the bar, to the sun deck and then the yoga platform. “There is an imperceptible spiralling motion as you move through the spaces,” says Dhar. “I wanted to give the user the sense of moving gradually higher and higher so you can look back down at the water and feel connected to the ocean.”
Stay tuned to read Part II of the interview to Mrs Gadkari and Mr Dhar
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