designed: 2019 by ramzi makram-ebeid

In the midst of working on other design projects for Orascom Development in Gouna, I was offered the chance to redesign the new Casa Cook hotel, formerly Arena Inn.  Although I was initially apprehensive, once I saw the concept I immediately signed on.

The new management, Thomas Cook, wanted major changes in operations and services, which meant drastic changes in the design as well. The hotel’s new concept appealed to hip and happening crowds, those coming on holiday to party and have a good time. The space was to be earthy, sleek and chilled out; the layout needed to offer various seating and activity options suitable to those looking to socialize. 

My work was focused on drawing up new floor plans, rezoning the space as well as developing the furniture plan, which included built-in items. 

To begin, I wanted guests and visitors to flow throughout the space.  The lobby wasn’t a standard shape, but the four columns in the center made it ideal to have a reception on one side and a seating area on the other.  We then extended the space and installed two new windows facing the seating areas to overlook the pool and the sea.  

In the rooms, we wanted a design that would be coherent, functional and to make the best use of the space.  We implemented mastabas to create a complete bed and bedside table design, which gives the space a comfortable and clean-cut vibe. Using curtains instead of doors for the closets allows for easy access, meanwhile giving the wall to wall curtains a function.    

To optimize functionality and make the best use of the given space,  we resorted to exposed bathrooms. The head designer of the project liked the sinks I’d designed for Captain’s Inn, so I tweaked them to include a concrete base that would suit Casa Cook’s overall concept. By adding a floor to ceiling mirror in front of the sink, a clear divide was established.  Some rooms on the other hand have cantilevered sinks and extended countertops for a linear feel. 

The shower and toilet cabins utilize the same concrete found throughout the rooms’ walls and built-in furniture, staying true to the idea of repetition and consistency within the space.

The terraces of the ground floor rooms allow for privacy but do not obstruct the exterior elements.  When possible, we included mastabas so that the interior is extended outwards.  

The restaurant was originally accessible from the beach as well as the rooms, but Orascom was concerned about the noise factor and opted to make a single, larger entrance instead.  We rearranged the furniture to accommodate the same number of visitors and created a more communal and modern atmosphere. The buffet areas were given clear start and end points to allow for both seated guests and those enjoying the buffet to flow smoothly within the shared space. 

Apart from the makeover being a great success, designing Casa Cook was yet another amazing learning experience. Apart from the hotel and hospitality aspect, I also gained a lot from the design team as well as Orascom Development and Thomas Cook.