Hotel Olympus Palace

Salou, Spain
architecture office Matic & Gerau

Hotel Olympus Palace

Large-size ceramic tiles with great effects

The water shimmering mysteriously blue through the glass panels of the rooftop pool is already visible from afar and makes the roof of the Hotel Olympus Palace an unmistakable landmark, especially in the evening. Hotel guests and passers-by who have become curious and visit this roof terrace find a new open areas with a large pool landscape designed by the Barcelona architecture office Matic & Garau. With sand-beige porcelain stoneware tiles of the Valley series of Agrob Buchtal, the restrained, elegant area invites to swim and sunbathe, but also to enjoy delicious drinks and events at the bar.

The wextensive renovation of the hotel, which was built in the mid-1970s and has around 250 rooms, was completed in 2018 and focused in particular on the 1600 m² roof area above the 6th floor. High above the centre of the city not far from Tarragona, there was previously only a small water basin, two whirlpools and a few areas for deck chairs. In their place, the hotel operators wanted to realize a spacious roof terrace with pools, fitness area, bar and plenty of space for sunbathing. "The aim was to create a spectacular roof landscape that would change the image of the hotel and which is unique in Salou," explains the architect Dubravka Matic. "The hotel guests should not only enjoy the refreshing water, the cool wind and the view of the Mediterranean Sea, but also the relaxed lounge atmosphere with evening events and concerts around the bar.

For the architects, the restructuring of the roof area was particularly challenging above because the location and size of the water basins had to be precisely matched to the load-bearing capacity of the existing structure, the existing pipes and the position of numerous vertical exhaust air shafts. Right from the beginning, the design concept provided for a raised pool area in the centre of the southern part of the roof area with a water surface approximately 1.5 m above the U-shaped sun-deck around it. This solution enabled long glass panels in the pool side walls, which offer swimming and diving bathers a view over the city and the sea, but also open up unusual underwater views in the opposite direction.

A glance through these glass panels into the interior of the pool reveals another special feature: large-size sand-beige porcelain stoneware tiles from the Valley series of Agrob Buchtal, which lend the 85 m² pool an unobtrusive noblesse thanks to their earthy relief structure and natural look. After tests carried out specifically for this purpose, the architects chose exactly these tiles because theyperfectly harmonize with the nearby sandy beaches and rocks of the Costa Daurada, but also because they make the water sparkle particularly intensely blue in the sun. "The light colour and the large formats should also create a modern appearance and avoid overheating," says Matic. The 60 x 120 cm format used for the pool floors and walls not only offers an exceptional visual impression but also the advantage of a low proportion of joints, so that the cleaning effort for the tiles is comparatively low despite the appropriate slip resistance. The same applies to the 15 m² whirlpool, which is also located in the raised pool area directly next to the 20 m long large pool.

The pairs of columns placed in the centre of the pool area were also cladded with large-size porcelain stoneware tiles of the series Valley. These pairs carry a kind of white pergola with a similar cross-section, which extends over the entire width of the building. The columns discreetly hide the ventilation shafts of the hotel bathrooms, while the pergola serves above all for creating a striking roof structure and accommodating the LED lighting.
The cover of the pool edge, the pool surrounds, the outer side walls of the pool and the floors of the sun-decks are made of a wood-plastic composite material. The architects chose this wood-like material to create a differentiated transition zone between the water basin and the northern part of the roof area with lounge, bar and further deck chair areas.

The latter areas, as well as the cladding of the pools, are also provieded throughout with Agrob Buchtal's Valley series in the form of 2 cm thick, sand-beige patio tiles in the format of 60 x 60 cm with appropriate slip-resistance. The laying was carried out on elevated posts: on the one hand, so that the rainwater - as before the conversion - can be collected and drained in the space between the roof construction and the roof. On the other hand, in order to be able to open the floor easily for inspection works. The result of the construction works carried out exclusively during the winter closing time of the hotel is a homogeneous, elegant roof landscape conveying pleasant expanse and sovereign generosity. The operators have thus achieved their goal: the Olympus Palace is the only hotel in Salou with such a diverse microcosm on the roof that is on everyone's lips today. The number of participants in music events has also increased noticeably. Both hotel guests and external visitors enjoy staying there - not only to sip cocktails at the bar, but also to take instagram-suitable underwater photos at the pool.

Photographer: Marcela Grassi