Ula Case Study: The Making of an Award-Winning Beach Bar and Restaurant Design
Nestled on the sands of Dukes the Palm Hotel on the Palm Jumeirah, the transformation of the old steakhouse into Ula. A name signifying ‘Sea Jewel’, marked the genesis of an award-winning beach bar and restaurant design. With a vision to create a boho-chic Mediterranean retreat, the design team embarked on a journey to overhaul the underutilised space into an inviting destination. Ula’s exceptional design not only earned it the prestigious 5* ‘Best Leisure Interior, Dubai’ award at the International Property Awards. Moreover, it is also a contender in the ‘Best in Arabia’ competition, recognising the unparalleled sophistication and allure it brought to Dubai’s beachfront social scene.
1. The Challenge
The previous steakhouse restaurant, despite its high-quality cuisine and the enviable location at Palm Jumeirah, failed to fully utilise its potential. The challenge was to rejuvenate and repurpose the space into a beach bar and restaurant that would become the heartbeat of Palm Jumeirah’s beachfront.
2. Client’s Ambition
The ambition was clear – to create a venue that could accommodate a range of activities. From serene beachside lounging and spa collaborations to vibrant sunset parties, targeting a discerning clientele that spans both Western expatriates and Emirati VIPs.
3. Capacity & Functionality
The approved layout was chosen for better flow and accessibility for both customers and operational purposes. The remodelled beach bar and restaurant design needed to comfortably host:
Indoor seating for 190 patrons.
Pool Dining and terrace with a capacity for 260 guests.
An intimate Beach Bar for 60 visitors.
Sunbeds and beach lounging areas accommodate 110 individuals.
4. Revitalising Design Strategy
Seamless Spatial Integration: One of the core principles in the restaurant design was to craft a singular, harmonious space that allowed guests to flow from indoor dining areas to the outdoor beach bar with ease. Additionally, the design aimed to create a dynamic and integrated beachfront experience.
5. Design Philosophy
The design ethos focused on unrefined, natural beauty. The use of untreated materials and a colour palette inspired by the Mediterranean environment set the stage for a warm, inviting ambience.
6. Key Design Elements
Shading Innovation: Confronting the harsh climate was a priority. The solution was a smart shading design that balanced protection from the heat with the need for natural light. Furthermore, it ensured comfort for the beach bar and restaurant guests throughout the year.
Bohemian Elegance: Macramé details and strategic placements of pampas grass echoed the boho theme, while the artificial olive tree, a symbol of Mediterranean landscapes, stood as an ‘Instagrammable’ centrepiece.
Functional Artistry: It was not only a visual delight, but the olive tree also highlighted the restaurant’s versatility by being repositioned to accommodate various events. They recycled 200-year-old olive trees from Spain and cut them down when they no longer fruit. Once imported to Dubai, make them into bespoke shapes and sizes according to their requirements
7. Commercial Synergy
The addition of shisha cabanas and retail space for beachwear was not just an aesthetic choice but a strategic commercial move. It further enhanced Ula’s market appeal as a beach bar and restaurant.
8. Sustainability and Legacy
Eco-friendly Practices: Emphasising sustainable practices, the refurbishment included upcycling and the use of eco-sensitive treatments. Our team at Broadway showcased a commitment to environmentally responsible design.
9. International Acclaim
Ula’s design was globally acknowledged when it won the 5* ‘Best Leisure Interior, Dubai’ award. Now, it’s also a contender for the ‘Best in Arabia’ accolade and setting a benchmark for beach bar and restaurant designs.
10. Client Testimonial
Paul Evans, CEO of Solutions Leisure Group, said: “We have had the pleasure of not only working with, but being a partner of Broadway Interiors for almost a decade. Chris Barnes and his team brought our unique vision, Ula, to life. Situated on the white sands of Dukes the Palm hotel, Palm Jumeirah, overlooking the glittering waters of the Arabian Gulf, Broadway Interiors created a true step away from it all. Organic, earthy and grounded, they, once again, took our vision and rooted it in value and connection. Through intrinsic design and subtle nods of detail, Broadway Interiors effortlessly brought a gentle yet meaningful energy to the Dubai social scene.”
Chris Barnes, Founder of Broadway Interiors concluded: “In my over twenty years in the UAE’s dynamic landscape, I’ve seen many venues come to life and fade away. The journey of designing Ula, however, stands out as a clear testament to the power of design that resonates deeply with both individuals and the environment.
Our vision for Ula was never about creating just another beach bar and restaurant; we aimed to curate a space that provides a transformative experience, weaving itself into the heart of its community.
While the awards acknowledge our design excellence – indeed, Ula has just earned the 5* ‘Best Leisure Interior, Dubai’ award at the International Property Awards and is up for further recognition in the ‘Best in Arabia’ competition – the true reward comes from winning the hearts of those who step into the world of Ula. It’s still an honour to watch Ula succeed as a cherished venue on Dubai’s shore.”