Parklane, A Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Limassol
An opulent hotel and resort in Cyprus refused to compromise on quality and luxury. The result was an incredibly customised AVL installation, bristling with bespoke technologies and a unique control and monitoring system over an unprecedented scale.
When ALA Equipment Co Ltd (ALA) won a tender to renovate bedrooms and some public areas at a hotel in Limassol, Cyprus, the integrator had no idea it would spend the next five years working to create a resort that surpassed not just others on the island, but most hotels in the world when it came to scale and luxury.
With the existing hotel eventually reduced to just a shell, the Parklane, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Limassol was nearly built from scratch at a cost of hundreds of millions of euros. Part of the Marriott Bonvoy group of hotels, the opulent facility covers 100,000 sq m of seafront land and boasts extensive banqueting and conference facilities, five restaurants, two bars, a spa and gym, 34 swimming pools, a play area for children and nearly 300 luxury rooms, suites and bungalows.
ALA won the contract to supply audio, lighting, video, automation, passive IT and networking to the hotel, a task that steadily grew as ambitions for the hotel expanded. With the owner insisting on maximum quality and cutting-edge technology, the final value of the AVL/IT installation amounted to tens of millions of euros and the brief was to make a hotel that would surpass what is currently available in terms of luxury.
Cyprus has a population of just over 1 million people and the chances of finding an integrator able to handle the complexity, scale, value and length of this project that was based in the small island country would seem unlikely. Luckily for the hotel owner, ALA – a company of just 15 people – has racked up several large scale, complex projects across Europe and had the skills and resources to deliver.
Andrea Piemonti, managing director and project consultant headed up the ALA team that included Tony Lyssiotis, Piemonti’s fellow managing director; Nicholas Stavrinos, head of engineering, technology and programming; Ilia Petkov, site and project manager; Kyros Kyrou, head of IT infrastructure; Stephanie Vrahimis, executive of sales and project administration and Eleni Zannettou, head of accounts. This core team was supported in project execution by Georgi Kutsev, Hristos Atanasov and Michalis Menelaou.
In a project of this scale there were many other contractors and suppliers. ALA had to navigate working effectively with everyone from architects to interior designers; making sure the technology installation complemented visions for how the spaces should look, while not compromising on the quality the equipment delivered.
ALA handled all cabling and a vast Nexans 7,000-point fibre backbone at 40Gb installation which forms the backbone of the AV/IT systems. All AV and IT signals are routed over the network without exception. ALA also handled all 35,000 network points including telephony and WiFi. To offer an idea of scale, there are 48 state-of-the-art rack rooms. Each room contains multiple 42U racks with the total racks nearing 520 units, fully populated with audio, lighting, video and automation equipment.
When it came to the cabling - the only way to effectively manage an installation of this size was with detailed and systematic routing, labelling and numbering. It was a task that fell to Kyrou who has managed to bring not just order to the cabling, but a kind of beauty too!
Having every component on the network was crucial for the level of monitoring, maintenance and control that ALA wanted to deliver. However, that came with its own challenges. There are 55,000 network points and devices and Piemonti says there simply wasn’t a tool on the market to manage and control that number of devices to the level that ALA wanted. The solution? ALA built its own system.
The cloud-based Integrated Remote Management Application (IRMA®) was designed, written and programmed by ALA specifically for the project. “This took four years,” says Piemonti. “While we were installing the project, we were also busy writing software to control and monitor the project.”
IRMA® carries out remote diagnostics and fault finding and will direct alerts to different departments depending on the severity and type of problem that is reported. It continually monitors uptime by heartbeats so you can see whenever it skips a beat. It’s a truly smart system; if there’s a problem, IRMA® can order a spare part and contact the technical support by itself.
ALA also chose to make a huge investment in Extron technology to deliver the project. Part of the reason came down to not just the technology but the willingness by Extron to work on a project that demanded a high level of support. Stavrinos adds: “We have made this unique ecosystem with Extron and I think it’s a first on how we manage power, with automated shut down across all kit when we power down specific spaces.”
In addition to programming the IRMA® system, all Extron control configuration was done in house by ALA and IRMA® was designed to interface with Extron systems. Extron kit forms the base of all control and signal switching, routing and extension. Nearly 400 touchpanels, ranging from 5-inch to 17-inch were installed. This is the biggest deployment ever of Extron touchpanels in a hospitality project and the strength of the relationship between manufacturer and integrator meant that ALA had new touchpanels before they were publicly available.
Jérôme Guéras, VP of sales for EMEA at Extron, elaborates: "Our long relationship with ALA was the foundation for the successful implementation of the project."
Various levels of secure control access and programmed pre-sets are offered, from central control to local control. In addition to the touchpanels, iPad control apps are provided. ALA designed one GUI for continuity across the entire project. A high level of automation was programmed into the system as well. This process took more than one year.
Guéras adds: "The advanced configuration of our touch panels made it easy for the experienced ALA team to set up and deploy the systems swiftly, and expand it when required with minimal efforts. This project is probably the best example of using configuration based control in large scale projects and thereby delivering huge time savings for the integrator."
While site-wide, comprehensive control was delivered, behind the scenes ALA compartmentalised the vast installation. Individual areas were isolated into “watertight” zones. Petkov explains: “We’ve kept each area and each rack separate. If audio signal processing isn’t working in one of the restaurants, it won’t affect other areas of the hotel.” Redundancy was also built into critical and important systems.
An incredible lighting installation was a key part of the project and an aspect where ALA had to work with architects and interior designers to deliver an aesthetically pleasing installation. From an elaborate chandelier in the foyer, to the swimming pools and spa and even down to the toilets and corridors; most of the lighting installed was bespoke and made in Italy under ALA’s strict specifications.
Lighting design is a distinct skill and one that many AV integrators would outsource. However, Piemonti and his team demonstrated the diversity in their capabilities to take on a hugely challenging and complex installation with the support of close ALA associates and executive lighting designers, George Tellos and Mauro Franchi.
Two hundred thousand LED spotlights and 80km of LED strip were installed. Every single light can be monitored and controlled though the IRMA® platform and powered by the ALA exclusive networked driving system.
A major investment was made with Harman on the audio side with Dante chosen as the audio networking technology to feed BSS Soundweb signal processors, with BLU Link feeding the amplifiers.
The BSS Audio installation included more than 200 DSPs and nearly 200 break in and break out boxes. More than 500 Crown Networked amplifiers were installed. Loudspeakers are exclusively JBL with 4,700 units installed spanning its AC point source series; AW outdoor speakers; Control series, in-wall, ceiling, wall mount and Mushroom landscape speakers. A massive VTX system was installed in the ballroom, with the support of several Vertec and VRX speakers.
Nearly 500 Samsung screens were installed including more than 400 hospitality TVs measuring from 43-in up to 65-in. DM series monitors from 22-in to 75-in and QM series monitors from 65-in to 85-in were also installed. Three SH37F stretched displays rounded off the installation.
Two ballrooms were kitted out for the hotel with technology that represents a lot of industry firsts. The Diamond Ballroom (800 sq m) is the larger of the two and has an integrated JBL VTX system cleverly mounted with a bespoke enclosure, so the line array can retract and extend into the wall with an automated door.
The Litec trussing and ChainMaster chain hoist installation is more akin to a theatre than what you might expect from a hotel ballroom. More than 170 DTS customised moving head lights are installed across the ballroom, where 70 alone are for the stage on chain hoists. Each light can be controlled with the Extron control system via the MA Lighting network.
Two Soundcraft Vi3000 audio mixers where installed in the ballroom, one in the FOH and one on stage. The entire lighting system is controlled by a fully redundant MA Lighting grandMA2 system, consisting of one full size desk and an RPU back up system. The lighting control functions the grandMA2 consoles offer can also be accessed via the Extron control system.
To offer uncompromised projection quality and power, five Christie Crimson 25,000 HD projectors were used in the ballrooms. With no ceiling lifts available to handle the units for this application, ALA worked with Future Automation to custom build suitable projector lifts, no mean feat when you are dealing projectors that weigh nearly 80kg each. Projectors fire on to Screenline projection screens.
The Park Room is slightly smaller at 500 sq m but copies the technology template of the larger space and boasts a terrace and view out over the Mediterranean Sea.
Both ballrooms are kitted out to such a high standard that, regardless of the event, no rental equipment is ever required. The hotel can let equipment and provide professional staff to operate it and thereby ensure that they are completely in control of the quality of the system offered to their customers and guests.
Four separate meeting spaces also borrow some of the AV design from the flagship ballroom spaces but at a smaller scale and with some differences. Four 85-in Samsung displays are provided here alongside three Christie 12K video projectors. Samsung’s Flip display is provided for collaboration and can be moved around the space.
Rooms can be divided in two. Videoconferencing on the double screens is offered. Room control is provided via Extron kit from podium positions in each room with video switching and scaling handled again by Extron.
JBL ceiling speakers and ceiling mounted subwoofers are concealed above the space. BSS Soundweb handles DSP functions that assist with splitting the spaces when necessary. AKG wireless microphones and a Televic D-Cerno discussion system comprising 10 chairman units and 60 delegate microphones, are provided.
Audio and video can be flexibly routed between all the meeting and conference spaces. Outside each room Samsung 22-in portrait displays can show company logos, information on meetings and details on speakers. They are powered by Samsung’s Magicinfo server.
A fantasy castle was built on site for children. Stavrinos says: “It’s like a ‘Disney’ castle and lit up with RGBW lighting and controlled with grandMA lighting control consoles. The castle has a sleep room which we treated differently. We made a moon in the ceiling with an LED strip around it with little custom spotlights in the shape of stars.”
In-room technology includes Extron 5-inch and 7-inch touchpanels via which guests can access a huge range of services as well as comprehensive in-room control. JBL Professional 5.1 sound systems extend to the suites. Chromatherapy lighting in the bathrooms provide colour changing designed to encourage different moods.
“Harrods Interiors [luxury interior design company] were involved with the project and they wanted to give the rooms a homely feel,” explains Piemonti. “That helped a lot in the room design and how we approached the automation.
“You don’t want people to be confused by the technology so we kept it as simple as possible. We designed a GUI for the touchscreen that provides simplicity to control lighting, audio, video, climate and in room service.”
The exposure for ALA and Piemonti personally on this project was huge. The island is a small community and hospitality and tourism dominates the economy. The hotel reopening was hotly anticipated but after a five-year project, and essentially a complete rebuild, expectations were boiling over.
ALA is a local company with global experience, and this was a project right on their doorstep. Piemonti felt the pressure. “We were spending multiple millions on technology,” he says. “We had the expectation of the client, the people on the island and the other hotels. When the hotel finally reopened, we knew we would be open to scrutiny. Everything had to be right.”
The result is luxury and technical sophistication that is unparalleled on Cyprus, as well us much of the world. But, rather than disgruntling competition, reports from resort staff suggest that the uncompromising approach to quality is demonstrating just what can be achieved and the Parklane stands to lift other Cypriot hospitality businesses with its rise. The conference facilities are unparalleled, and this is set to be one of the hottest conference hotels in Europe.
In another external confirmation of what has been achieved by ALA, the hotel is one of the elite Marriott, Luxury Collection hotels and there’s more to come with ALA already collaborating with the owner on a new tower attached to the hotel.
AKG wireless microphone system
BSS Soundweb London DSPs, break in and break out boxes and I/O cards
Crown ComTech, DCiN series and I-Tech amplifiers
Denon DN-700C CD/media player
JBL loudspeakers, subwoofers and line arrays
Soundcraft mixing desks
Televic D-Cerno system
ChainMaster hoist systems
Future Automation ceiling lifts
Nexans fibre cabling
Extron IP Link Pro Control Processors and TLP Pro Touchpanels
iLight/Eaton keypads and controllers
MA Lighting grandMA lighting consoles & networking
Swisson DMX splitters
DTS Automated Lighting
ALA Networked Driving System
Bryant SDI infrastructure
Christie Crimson 25,000HD and D12HD-H projectors
Denon Blu Ray player
Extron DTPCrossPoint 4K matrix switchers and DTP extenders
Samsung 22-in to 85-in LFDs and Magicinfo license
Screenline motorised projection screens
Sony Play Station 4 consoles
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