90-room hotel and spa in picturesque resort town of Kuressaare in Saaremaa

Location: Kuressaare, Estonia
Client: Norbert OÜ
International invited architecture competition: 2002, 1st prize
Completed: 2004
Size: 8,000 m2

At the beginning of the 2000s many Estonian sanatoriums were rebranded as spas, although the changes the establishments went through were more formal than anything else. Tarmo Sumberg, a visionary in the hotel industry decided it was also time to provide spa services to healthy clients looking for relaxation after an exhausting week at work.
The hotel was named after the famous Estonian singer Georg Ots, a name which evokes nostalgia in Estonians but also for visitors from Finland and Russia, where he performed in front of large audiences in some of the most notable opera houses during the Soviet period. The hotel focuses on couples and families – large groups are not welcome as it would spoil the atmosphere. This stance has not been compromised during the 10 years the spa has been open and by now the hotel has managed to acquire quite a number of regular customers.

The Georg Ots Spa Hotel was opened on the same day as Estonia joined the EU, 1 May 2004. On the neighbouring lots GOSPA residencies have been built: spacious summer flats with large terraces, sea views, vast private areas and access to services provided by the hotel.

The form of the Georg Ots Spa Hotel, the first wellness spa establishment in Estonia, has been designed from the inside out and the focus is on how the visitor feels inside the building. This is expressed in the two wings of the hotel that both provide magnificent views, one overlooking the Medieval castle, the other Kuressaare bay. The spa is located in a separate wing of the building to keep the noise and humidity of the pool from disturbing the guests; at the same time both the indoor and outdoor swimming pools are viewable from the hotel rooms. On the ground floor the spa is divided into the water park and the sauna area, the second floor is designated a quiet wellness zone. The two wings of the building are connected by a reception area with a cosy fireplace and sitting area. The service logistics of the hotel are concealed, so that the guests can spend their visit in a calming and carefree atmosphere.

The exterior architecture of the building is shaped by the views from the rooms and the functionality of the wings – the external finish has been designed to require as little maintenance as possible. The materials include pigmented concrete and Corten steel, which are maintenance free and compatible with the windy maritime climate of Estonia.
The idea behind the interior design was to share Estonian sensibilities, especially those characteristic to Saaremaa. These are expressed in the materials, colours schemes and details of the hotel rooms and other spaces. The ethnographic elements and maritime motifs are stylised, which adds a more sophisticated touch to the design.

The carpets in the hallways and rooms are inspired by the striped patterns of the Saaremaa national dress; the headboards for the beds have been constructed using traditional basket weaving techniques. The walls are decorated with personal photographs sent in by local people, provides intimate contact with the life of the community.

Interior of the year 2004 (The Estonian Society of Interior Architects)
Best new 100 hotels 2005 (Condé nast Traveller)
Top 10 Value Hotels Worldwide 2006 (Gayot)
The best complete architectural design in Saaremaa in 2004 (Kuressaare town government)
The best tourism development in Estonia in 2004 (Union of Estonian Tourism companies)