We speak to the team that has changed the way we hang out, eat and shop in Sahel this year.
Driving across the North Coast this summer, you might find yourself gravitating towards glowing lights and Skittle-coloured containers in the distance. Do not resist the urge and make your way into Hacienda Bay, where you'll find The Lake Yard – an epic set up, made up of multi-coloured shipping containers which house all our favourite local food, fashion and even furniture brands. The entire operation was built from scratch, and resides right in the heart of Sahel, and is a testament of great partnership between Blink Marketing Solutions and Palm Hills Developments. We speak to Mohamed Hamouda, Blink's Managing Partner, to find out how the seasonal hot spot came to be Sahel’s ‘it’ address this summer, as we settle down on a tire repurposed into a chair at the stunning location.
“It all started with Crates and Containers,” says Hamouda about how The Lake Yard came to be, as we kick back with a coffee from Café Greco, a cupcake from NOLA and a kebda sandwich from Kazouza, all of which have set up shop, or shall we say container, at the pop up dining and chill out experience. He’s speaking, of course, about the game changing event that saw nearly 5000 people head out to Palm Hills in 6th October last spring to indulge in a high-end-farmers-market-cum-fashion-bazaar-cum-family-fun-in-the-sun. “We combined the global trend for repurposing containers as retail or food outlets, and the retro fashion of using crates at farmers’ markets, which are increasingly popular across the world, and brought them together for an Egyptian audience,” continues Hamouda. What started off as activation in Palm Hills October became a cult phenomenon, leaving the market, yummy mummies and all, screaming out for a follow up.
“To build on the success of the Crates and Containers market, we thought of taking it to the next level. We already had a calendar in place to do it three or four times a year in Cairo, but challenged by our early adopting client [Palm Hills Developments], the idea just sparked - why not take it to Sahel at Palm Hills' beautiful spot in Hacienda Bay, around this huge crystal lagoon?” says Hamouda. Why not, indeed? Bustling with beach-goers when the sun sets, from smiling families to teens in tank tops to hungry foodies, The Lake Yard is a veritable Lego-hued yard, all wheelbarrows and double-decker containers, filled with all our favourite things. “But these aren’t just any containers. We custom-built them to suit the vendor. We’ve fit professional kitchens for all the food and beverage outlets, customised-shelving for the fashion and furniture brands, and thought about all the electricity needs for the likes of Toi Salon,” he says. Yes, there’s a salon there, ladies, try to keep calm.
The choice of vendors and outlets there is truly impressive. From Dokan Boutique’s gorgeous little home accessories, to Nile Eyewear’s unique shades and every cuisine, snack and dessert in between, all the brands populating the bustling beachside concept are homegrown. “Our exhibitor choice is based on finding the upcoming entrepreneurs and the local businesses that have proven themselves. A lot of them joined us at Crates and Containers and we’re continuing to support them, as they’re the reason for our success,” explains Hamouda with a deserved sense of pride. As for Hacienda Bay residents, they’ve gotten what they signed up for when they made their deals with the Palm Hills; a vibrantly well integrated community and a place to go to kick back, indulge and make memories, day and night.