September 19th, 2013 – West of Fiji and southeast of the Solomon Islands is a small island nation known as Vanuatu. Time moves a little slower in Vanuatu, not that anyone there actually minds, in fact this is a big part of the appeal of the place. Emerging ever so slowly on the island is a half-realized luxury resort on a spectacular tract of land where the forest meets the sea. “We see the bones, the inner working, the structure – the important business of architecture before the detailing of surfaces and slick styling. This is architecture at its rawest.” Remarked photographer Peter Bennetts, in regards to the beauty behind Architect Kristin Green’s soon-to-be new hotel, La Plage D’hotel Du Pacifique.
The first of 18 villas are nearing completion with a strategic design that allows wind to pass through with little to no need for air-conditioning. Here, modern forms take on an ancient roman bath providing escape from the demands of the city. Areas of the resort are separated by dancing concrete limbs intertwined casting shadows to relieve one from the tropical sun.
While building the fortress, Green explored a cinematic experience, coupled with the ideas of leisure, romance and dreaming. With these experiences in mind, the architect created an open air roof garden for dining, cocktails and sun bathing, along with a casual poolside grill bar and a formal restaurant. In addition to the restaurants, the establishment features 18 undulating villas, a spa, swimming pools, and outdoor facilities including; Pétanque, beach tennis, swimming, handball & board games.
All components of the villas are custom made; complete in-situ concrete board marked walls, floor & roof, concrete benches, day beds, cast-in-place basins and handmade light fittings, inbuilt furniture, sunken baths along with timber herringbone windows which are hand carved from local timbers by local craftsman and hand cut stone floors. Green is regularly on site coordinating fabrication techniques and ensuring consistency of local construction methods.
Each villa is conceived as a robust, cyclone ready building, the result of a series of key relationship studies between man, building & the tropical landscape. The nature of the body disrobing, exposure, privacy & the personalized experience offers a certain romance and seclusion for its patrons.
The resort’s spa offers a place for the leisure, relaxation and sensual decadence that one would expect from a quality 5-star experience in the Pacifique. A concrete slide, colonnade and capital recall the Ancient Roman baths, a direct homage to Emperor Hadrian (the pool is literally measured from & at Hadrian’s villa in Tivoli, outside Rome); ‘only here can one truly dream of being lost in time’.
Irregular clusters of Pandanus & palm trees, a simple landscape of grass and white sand ground surface make bare feet in Vanuatu is an absolute must. The tree roots emerge from the ground like something of a child’s dream, creating gentle barriers and shadows. The architecture of La Plage D’hotel Du Pacifique is designed to protect from violent storms, and offer patrons are a chance at romance, to dance, dream and escape; rekindling love, offering hope for the future & their well being.
Photography by Peter Bennetts
August 12th, 2013 – Luxury is no longer enough for the modern traveler. Instead, the sophisticated globe trotters of today are in search of true authenticity. Mexico, is a historically enriched region that is flourishing with a new generation of boutique hotels that provide a genuine, culturally relevant experience needed to ignite the ultimate travelers high. Mexican Destinations such as Tulum, Veracruz and Puebla are staying true to their roots, by shutting out some of the big name hotels in order to keep smaller, local hoteliers in business. Among the bona fide boutique Hotel’s is Azul Oaxaca, a tiny new establishment in central Oaxaca.
Celebrated Mexican architect Hector Esrawe, founder of Mexico City based design studio Esrawe, transformed a crumbling building into a contemporary space that still preserves the warmth of Oaxaca by providing an atmosphere created in careful detail by local artisans.
The attention given to working with local artists means more than simply that Hotel Casa Azul de Oaxaca is just a well-designed hotel; it is a statement about the importance of Mexican design in the international landscape.
From the design of the lobby, to the rooms, to the menu with Oaxacan specialties like shrimp in yellow mole, and the films that play in the hotel’s screening room, the Casa Azul radiates the unabashed cool that comes from embracing an ancient culture and re-envisioning its place within the current aesthetic landscape.
Cool shadowed walkways leading to patios, cactus, and hidden retreats within the walls of Hotel Casa Azul de Oaxaca make for an environment open to the interpretation of each guest’s personal experience. Once hidden, the dominance of Oaxacan design is only a stay away.
Photography Courtesy of Azul Oaxaca
August 7th, 2013 – In need of a soulful soak under the Northern Lights? Less than an hour’s drive from the cultural landmarks of Reykjavik and set against a backdrop of majestic mountainous lava fields, stands the new Ion Hotel. Designed by the Santa Monica based architecture firm Minarc, the Ion exists in a land of myth and legend, on an island where fire meets ice, surrounded by hot springs, glaciers, and the mystical glow of the Northern Lights.
In early moments of the design phase, the architects at Minarc became overwhelmingly inspired by the environmental surroundings of Mt. Hengill, near Thingvellir national park. This inspiration manifested in a piece of architecture that incorporates innovative materials, sustainable practices, and the natural features of Iceland into its design.
The prefabricated, panelised building system exceeds environmentally safe building standards. In addition to the use of sustainable materials, Ion is surrounded by hot springs, which provide geothermal hot water and energy.
Driftwood and other natural materials are used extensively in furniture throughout the hotel. Beds and chairs are built from recycled materials. Mirrors are framed with indigenous Birchwood. Lights made of lava and found-wood illuminate the rooms.
Relevant images of the Icelandic horse, the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, and other Icelandic outfit the walls of the hotel rooms. Each guest room is detailed with restrained lighting effects and subtle color palettes, as well as an abundance of natural daylight. Large picture windows in each room offer breathtaking views of Lake Thingvallavatn and the surrounding mountains, over which nature’s own theater unfolds as the most spectacular light show, the Northern Lights, comes to life.
On the deck of the hotel, a rectangular heated pool stretches out from the building, toward the hilltops, where guests can admire the colorful lights rushing through the sky above them.
Lastly, Ion offers its guests a perfect viewing room at the Northern Lights Bar. A unique place to experience the night sky. The double height windows and the comfortable lounge area gives travelers the perfect spot to experience the views over the dramatic landscapes and the night sky.
July 30th, 2013 – Scattered among a grove of cork and olive trees, the 56 private suites that make up Évora’s new Ecorkhotel give travelers the opportunity to experience a contemporary and eco-minded lifestyle. Designed by architect José Carlos Cruz, the architecture is a refreshing reminder of Portugal’s traditional whitewashed plaster structures re-worked with a purist twist by balancing elements of simple form with nature. To relate the building to it’s surroundings, Cruz outfitted the entire exterior of the main building with recycled cork cladding, a 100% natural product harvested by hand from the native cork oak – making the Ecork the first and only hotel in the world with this feature.
The town of Évora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, due to its rich history and well-preserved old town center. Évora is still mostly enclosed by ancient medieval walls, and houses a large number of monuments dating from various historical periods, including a Roman Temple. As the world has deemed this nearby land universally important, the realization of the Ecorkhotel was created with respect for the local history and consideration for nature.
The hotel was designed with maximum energy efficiency in mind, using geothermal and solar energy to heat and cool 56 villa suites. In addition to the geothermal and solar technology, eco-minded materials such as cork wrap the exterior of the main building, working as a thermic and acoustic isolator.
To mimic the twelve acres of rolling hills that the hotel is situated on, the architect designed large rolling curves that hang over the hallway that leads in and out of the main building.
A gridded pathway of yellow bricks directs hotel guests through rows of connected boxy white villas, each with a small kitchen and private terrace, flat screen television, and eco-friendly linens.
The walls of the hotel’s courtyard and the villa terrace partitions have rows of cut-out shapes that cause interesting shadows throughout the day, and double as a glowing lantern in an ancient forest at night.
The Ecorkspa has five treatment rooms, four being for private purposes and another room for couples treatments, the indoor swimming pool, a Turkish bath, and a sauna. The spa also features a relaxation room with a Chromotherapy device, where trained chromotherapists claim to be able to use light in the form of color to balance “energy” wherever a person’s body be lacking, whether it be on physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental levels.
July 3rd, 2013 – Praia do Forte is known to be one of the most beautiful and pleasant coastal villages on the Northeast region of Brazil. So pristine, in fact, that the Brazilian government hopes to preserve the untouched qualities of the beach side village by declaring it an Enviromental Protected Area. It is here that Tivoli Hotels & Resorts, a 75 year old hospitality group, erected 42 sophisticated and refined tropical homes for the company’s most recent establishment, Tivoli Ecoresidences Praia do Forte.
The Ecoresidences have been skillfully designed by two of Brazil’s most celebrated architects, Thiago Bernardes, founder of Bernardes Arquitetura, and Paulo Jacobsen, founding architect of Jacobsen Arquitetura. Each of the 42 houses were designed to stand two floors high and have a large living room and dining area, four spacious suites, bathrooms overlooking the tropical scenery, and a dazzling private swimming pool and deck on the roof of the first floor.
Bernardes and Jacobsen built the homes to reflect a refined version of the typical architectural style of the region. The two-toned boxy structures are outfitted with stone on the exterior of the first floor, vertical planks of wood on the exterior of the second level, and a thatched roof.
Thatching is a very old roofing method that has been used in both tropical and temperate climates. The craft of thatching a roof consists of layering the roof with dry vegetation so as to shed water away from the inner roof.
Inside each of the villas, Bernardes and Jacobsen created a contemporary yet calming ambiance by using natural materials with an elegant approach. Staying on the lux Praia do Forte property means that guests can enjoy three restaurants, 4 bars, 8 pools, endless water sports, 4 tennis courts, an amphitheater, a spa, beauty saloon, and 3 saunas.
The architects worked closely with famed landscape architect Fernando Chacel, a creative talent who Jacobsen actually interned for in the 70′s, to create a plethora of delightful flowers and greenery that decorate the equatorial property.
Photography courtesy of Tivoli Hotels & Resorts
June 10th, 2013 – When it comes to hotels in Miami, beach junkies find themselves limited to two very distinctive options. Behind door one is high-end establishments glittering with glamor and elegance. Behind door number two are a variety of spring-break-esque hotels where vinyl tiles replace vomit stained carpet. Ew. Miami’s hospitality industry has offered very few “in-between” choices, until now. The recent opening of the Freehand Miami Hostel, a reinvention of the historic Indian Creek Hotel, is filling Miami’s hospitality gap with its chic and authentic accommodations.
The Freehand is responsible for releasing an effortlessly cool and well traveled energy into Miami. This feel-good vibe is likely due to the New York City powerhouse creatives behind the establishment. Developed by The Sydell Group, hyped by the public relation gurus at M18, musically sculpted by Honor Roll Music, and designed by Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch of design firm Roman and Williams. “Our work continues where history dropped off or disappeared” Alesch explained, as it was up to him and Standefer to re-sparked a flame in the historic 1930s Art Deco building.
The two Roman and Williams designers were working with The Sydell Group on the ACE Hotel NYC when the development team approached them about designing a new boutique hostel in Miami. “It actually had no name when we started – We named it – We did the initial branding, naming, and logo for the project,” Alesch noted. Preserving the space was only one of the many challenges in rebuilding the Freehand, “oddly enough the largest obstacle was the Historic Commission in Miami – getting approval on a Modern Aesthetic is easy, getting approval on a historic or eclectic style is near impossible. We have no interest in a clean and contemporary look so we are confronted all the time with confused administrators and also architects who don’t understand our desire to be “unprofessional” in our choice.”
Vintage wood furniture pieces meet an impressive collection of weathered National Geographic magazines in the lobby as the back-door courtyard dripping with palms sets the scene for this Camp-ground gone tropical establishment. The cool yard-sale-style furniture pieces came from “all over the place!” Alesch explained. “We hunt everywhere, we have the best shoppers in the world working with us at Roman and Williams.”
The communal-style boutique hostel pays homage to an ‘endless summer’ as travelers make easy friends around the courtyard pool, artfully surrounded by the graffiti work of artist and photographer, Curtis Kulig, who repeatedly bombed ‘Love Me’ in bright colors across the courtyard fence. An absolute poolside favorite is The Broken Shaker, the Freehand’s tasty interpretation of a hotel bar that features specialty handcrafted cocktails with elixirs, syrups, and infusions made from herbs and spices from our garden, fresh-pressed produce and exotic ingredients from around the world.
The Freehand offers private and shared accommodations, the Super 8, Shared Quad, Private Quad, and Bungalows shelter groups of travelers, while the Standard King claims the adventuring duos. Each of the shared two-toned yellow and blue hostel rooms are outfitted with lake cabin paraphernalia such as worn ladders, wood paneling, bunk beds, and bulky red hooks to hang your towels. Your endless summer begins at $40 a night. Enjoy!
April 21st 2013 – There is something about a body of water, small or large, that instinctively beckons for our bodies to jump in. Most of us start as splashers, but over time we grow to be relaxers, making a hotel pool an essential tool for any mind-mellowing getaway. We went ahead and hunted down the coolest and most current hotel pools around the globe so you can make and educated decision about the future of your next swan dive.
Normally when you think of tropical hotels, palm leaf ceilings, shabby-chic wood huts, or bamboo constructed walls come to mind, but the Cassa De La Flora is Khoa Lak’s first modernist hideaway. VaSlab Architecture took a risk when they started going down a different path and designed cutting edge architecture and it mixed with stunning tropical landscaping. Not only does each villa have it’s own private pool here, a large pool is sits snug on the rooftop and stairs directly into the turquoise waters.
The Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa is located between Positano and Amalfi is a historic Monastery fully transformed into a boutique hotel. The hotel is considered to be one of only 39 castle hotels in all of Italy, originally converted from a monastery into a hotel in 1924 where it was run for three generations by Roman hotelier Mr. Marcucci. The Santa Rosa is filled with four levels of gardens, an infinity pool, and views of the Gulf of Salerno right in it’s backyard.
Singapore-based Guz Architects are well known for creating bona fide tropical fortresses’ throughout southeast Asia. The firms latest project comes in the form of Coco Privé, a secluded resort on the Kuda Hithi Island in the Maldives. On the island, Guz Wilkinson, founder and principal architect at Guz Architects, designed on master residence, the Palm Residence, and five other private villas. The architecture reflects the natural charms of its surroundings, an elegant blend of modern and natural materials, where craft and attention to detail combine to achieve a spacious, elegant and intimate haven.
Cue Villa Egerton, one of the French Riviera’s most iconic villa estates. For the last century the villa has remained a fiercely-guarded secret summer residence, historically frequented by the world’s glitterati. But six years and several million euros later, the restored property is being brought to the rental market, billed as the Côte d’Azur’s most desirable holiday retreat. The villa now boasts one of the largest outdoor entertaining spaces in the region, complete with heated swimming pool, hot tub Jacuzzi, outdoor cooking and dining facilities, and a pool terrace bar. The existing mature trees were retained throughout the property, to protect the privacy of guests.
Grace Santorini is an exclusive boutique hotel located in the beautiful setting of Imerovigli in the northwest of the island, high above the Caldera, the Grace Santorini is the perfect vantage point from which to view the famed Santorini sunsets that envelop. This photograph is the view from the personal plunge pool in their honeymoon suite, but the hotel also offers guests access to a few other supremely stunning pools overlooking the ocean.
We’ve been keeping a close eye on Singaore’s PARKROYAL on Pickering ever since WOHA Architects released their architectural renderings of a lush four-story hotel full of tall sky-gardens, reflecting pools, waterfalls, planter terraces and cascading vertical greenery, a few years back. Recently completed, the hotel’s greenery flourishes throughout the entire complex, and the trees and gardens of the hotel appears to merge with those of the adjoining park as one continuous sweep of urban parkland. Massive curvaceous sky-gardens, draped with tropical plants and supporting swathes of frangipani and palm trees, are cantilevered at every fourth level between the blocks of guest rooms.
Situated amid the pristine scenery of the Swiss Alps, and with stunning mountain views in every direction, The Cambrian offers the kind of location that tense desk huggers all over the world over spend their days dreaming about. Designed by Peter Silling & Associates, the establishment Includes heated indoor and outdoor swimming pools, the hotel offers a lifted experience, amongst the Swiss mountain tops.
Off the northeast coast of Taveuni lies this tiny private island hideaway, Laucala Island Resort, where they capture the best tropical ambiance, the beauty of the scenery, and the exotic flavours of Fiji. In this world you can find the ultimate in luxury, romance, privacy and seclusion. The property has a series of lagoon like pools mixed with modern architectural elements, like rectangular pools with see-through glass sides.
We could not make this list without including the rooftop pool at Singapore’s Marina Sands Bay. The super structure, which was designed by Moshe Safdie is the world’s most expensive standalone casino property, with a budget of a staggering $6 billion. Towering over Singapore is the infinity pool that stretches the length of the elongated pod-like structure at the top of the building.
Six Senses Yao Noi was built on the site of a former rubber plantation. Many of the rubber trees were kept to create shade from the sun as well as keeping soil from eroding. In addition, the landscape and gardens have been improved with the philosophy of re-generating the tropical flora as it would have been if the area was left untouched. Enjoy wonderful panoramic ocean views from this villa, with a private pool and terrace for lounging and alfresco dining. There is a separate bedroom, a bathroom with outside shower and a sitting room.
Velassaru Maldives is a distinct Maldives Island hotel inspired by local architecture. Minimal chic revealed in teak, stone, thatch. Simple colour tones with a dash of bright green, vivid turquoise, refreshing yellow. Four premium Maldives water villas come with your own infinity pool overlooking the turquoise ocean. Sun-bathe in utter privacy. Warm natural light caressing your skin. Slipping into the shade for a nap. Indulge in a long, relaxing bath in the free-standing tub at our exclusive water villas in Maldives.
Nestled into the Santorini mountainside, along the main thoroughfare of central Oia, sits Katikies Hotel. The luxury boutique hotel, which has been one of the hottest places to vacation in the village, has recently been renovated. The new contemporary decor mixed with the preserved Aegean architecture gives Katikie visitors the best of both worlds. The hotel blends fantastical landscape with endless stairs and a jaw dropping infinity pool tucked into the white mountain.
The Viceroy Bali, a villa resort in Ubud with 5-star hotel service, consists of 25 luxury pool villas. It is majestically standing in Bali’s “Valley of the Kings”, a name given by locals for the generations of Balinese royalty who resided in nearby villages. The photograph above was taken at dawn over the hotel’s Lembah Spa.
May 2nd, 2013 – 10 years after the opening of Barcelona’s Hotel Amrey Sant Pau, the Spanish-based hospitality group is opening the doors to it’s second establishment, Room Mate Pau. The hotel, which was designed by renowned architect and interior designer Teresa Sapey, is decked out with vibrant color pallets, charismatic graphics, and cosmopolitan decor.
The 66-suite hotel is located in the center of Barcelona, steps from Plaza Catalunya, and La Rambla; the most famous pedestrian street of the city.
Sapey’s reputation of using bright colors and bold objects in her designs is what made her a perfect choice for the lively Room Mate Pau Hotel. The Italian architect was called upon by the owners to create a hotel that is both friendly and stylish.
The building, which has just undergone a full restoration, now has an atrium full of piercing eye balls, and an elevator shaft outfitted with a huge mural of a ambiguous person wearing a houndstooth patterned dress coat. Spacey transformed large wall patterns into cool backdrops to unique and minimalistic furniture pieces that create a one of a kind experience for hotel guests.
Photography By Room Mate Pau
April 25th, 2013 – We’ve been keeping a close eye on Singaore’s PARKROYAL on Pickering ever since WOHA Architects released their architectural renderings of a lush four-story hotel full of tall sky-gardens, reflecting pools, waterfalls, planter terraces and cascading vertical greenery, a few years back. The initial renderings of the hotel looked like a botanical wonder-world, leaving us curious to know if WOHA’s principals Wong Mun Summ and Richard Hassell could vividly translate their rendering art into reality.
The recent unveiling of the property is proof enough that creatives at WOHA, whom have have long been advocates of the ultimate ‘green city’, were able to execute the creation of the garden hotel, that actually doubled the green-growing potential of its site. At the PARKROYAL greenery flourishes throughout the entire complex, and the trees and gardens of the hotel appears to merge with those of the adjoining park as one continuous sweep of urban parkland. Massive curvaceous sky-gardens, draped with tropical plants and supporting swathes of frangipani and palm trees, are cantilevered at every fourth level between the blocks of guest rooms.
The hotel breaks new ground by introducing the state’s first solar-powered sky-gardens. Amongst its other energy conservation features are the use of automatic light, rain and motion sensors, rain harvesting and NEWater (recycled water). Nature-inspired materials and textures such as light and dark wood, pebbles, water, and glass are used throughout the design of the hotel. The 367 elegantly furnished guestrooms and suites offer spectacular views of the city and the hotel’s sky-gardens. A soothing color palette of calm greens and natural wood, accented with abundant light, provides a relaxed and tranquil atmosphere for the guests throughout their stay
Set outdoors amidst landscaping and waterfalls, the fifth floor is a dedicated wellness space which incorporates fitness and recreational facilities including an infinity pool overlooking the city, jacuzzi, fitness center, outdoor terrace and a 300-metre garden walk. Colorful birdcage-shaped cabanas are positioned around the pool area, providing comfortable chill-out spaces. The award-winning St. Gregory spa, which will be launched in March, offers signature therapies and a wide range of luxurious body and beauty treatments.
One of the PARKROYAL’s feature establishments is the Orchid Club Lounge, located at the top level of the hotel, commands 360-degree views of the city skyline. Equipped with private meeting spaces and dedicated Club Concierge service, guests staying on the handsomely furnished Club floors will also enjoy a host of privileges such as champagne breakfast, evening cocktails and canapés, all-day refreshments as well as priority check-in and check-out service.
For its innovative and sustainable design, PARKROYAL on Pickering has been awarded the BCA (Building and Construction Authority) Green Mark Platinum, the highest rating for green buildings in Singapore. It is also the recipient of the Solar Pioneer Award as one of the first in the country’s hospitality sector to use a solar energy system.
WOHA’s desire to restore a feeling of community to Asian cities is crucial to their architecture, and reciprocity is intrinsic to their vision of the city at large and to their projects in particular. The PARKROYAL on Pickering is a very public and very Singaporean hotel. The scale of the architecture responds to the intricacies of the city: the height of the ubiquitous tree canopies, the size and orientation of the adjoining tower blocks, and the proportions of the historic streetscapes.
The over-riding concept was that of a building-as-garden for an idealised green city. As WOHA say… “We wanted to recreate an urban street scale, so that people walking and driving could pick up interesting details. And we wanted to work with the building’s mass and appearance, so we could avoid the usual city scale of building-as-silhouette, and so we could implement a garden-themed aesthetic.”
Photography By Patrick Bingham-Hall
March 9th, 2013 – A fallen South Beach landmark is now upright and back to life. On a sleeping lot at the southwest corner of 17th Street and Collins Avenue, Miami hospitality group Menin Hotels boldly reinvented a Tropical Art Deco treasure through the lens of modernist luxury. The Gale South Beach, which is originally The Regent hotel from 1941, was designed by the creatives over at ADD Inc. The new establishment juxtaposes terrazzo floors, exacting light fixture replicas, stucco accents, and existing porthole windows with plush, contemporary flourishes such as silk wall coverings, dark wood paneling, and hand-woven area rugs.
The 1940′s structure has been reconstructed to house the 87 room establishment. When Menin purchased the property, it had been left dormant for so many years, much of the original structures had to be demolished, but the renovation promised to preserve the vintage luxury of Tropical Art Deco, integrating elements of contemporary opulence with tones of an Italian-themed escape.
A stroll through the lobby reveals a first glimpse of the ‘40s replica, rich with deep wooden-hued floors and panels from imported oak. A balance of light pours from classic chandeliers and ‘40s sconces, along with natural sunlight outlined by white marble window frames. Art Deco-inspired loungers transport company back to the famous era, which continues to translate throughout.
To celebrate the Gale’s history, the hotel houses The Regent Cocktail Club, a wood stricken libations tribute with a permanent and approachable home for the cocktail culture in South Beach. Just steps beneath Gale Hotel’s first floor, is the Rec Room, a subterranean lounge is anything but ordinary, offering an upscale yet approachable environment, reminiscent of a friend’s 1970’s basement.
The white and blue suites are covered in Russet wood, silver silk curtains and and crisp linens. The Gale adorns five different room selections boasting a 40′s South Beach glamor aesthetic with a complement of contemporary tranquility. Designed to cater to every type of retreat, from overnight to extended vacation, guest rooms vary in size, while still maintaining mutual design themes and elements.
Bedroom walls are clad in a black photo frame collage depicting the splendor of the ‘40s. Cozy beds and modish furniture are the main focus of the lengthy room, laced with Italian accents, marble bathroom.
On top the old Regent is a lengthy infinity pool that peeks onto the shore line and Miami’s signature white stucco structures.
Photography Courtesy of Gale South Beach Hotel
April 2nd, 2013 – If overly crowded nightclubs, vomit stained hotel carpets, and half coherent collegiates is not really your spring break cuppa tea – you’re not alone. It’s time to hang up your beads and head to some destinations full of cool eclectic shops, mind-soothing beaches, and drool worthy brunches. Spring Break For Design Lovers is an alternative guide to nifty products, design savvy shops, and sensational cities booming with charm and creativity.
April 2nd, 2013 – Nothing captures the essence of an exotic retreat quite like a tree house. The boutique Balinese resort of Alila Ubud has just put the final touches on four new Terrace Tree Villas, which will let visitors truly experience the lush natural landscape.
Located high above the Ayung River, the hotel has been laid out as a Balinese hillside village complete with its own community centre and pedestrian lanes. The resort’s rooms and villas stand above a ravine on stilts and are set into the banks of the river valley.
Architectural firm Kerry Hill Architects has made use of traditional Balinese design, but transforming it into modern geometry in the exotic creation of our Ubud villa hotel. Smooth plaster walls and concrete meet thatched roofs; terrazzo tiles meet gravel or crushed rock; wood meets glass, making for one of the most uniquely designed boutique hotels Ubud has seen.
The architects devised and open-plan interior layout that is inspired by the natural setting combining the warmth of wood and recycled teak with elegant furnishings to create a relaxing, magical hideaway. Stunning views are available from every corner of the villa with the opportunity to wake up with the sun and take in the views from the bathtub that seemingly floats above the valley.
From their lofty hillside perch on the sunrise side of the resort, the 120 sqm tree houses allow guests to systematically unwind in the lap of nature high above the valley. Guests can enjoy serenity and relaxation out on the spacious wood-decked terrace, surrounded by soothing views of lush plantations and rice paddies on the banks of the valley. Delight in glimpses of Ubud wildlife.
Below the tree house like villas a signature emerald green infinity pool is cantilevered over the valley below, blends the best of contemporary style with traditional Balinese architecture.
Photography by Ubud Villa Resort
March 20th, 2013 – On the shores of Corsica’s Porto-Vecchio, La Plage Casadelmar, a 15-suite boutique hotel will soon be opening its doors. Beloved French architect Jean-François Bodin, also responsible for creating the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha and the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine in Paris, took an old stone structure then used natural materials and simple lines to add a contemporary blend to the coastal surroundings.
To Gian Luca Bertilaccio, General Manager of La Plage Casadelmar, “Good design is about bringing out the best in your materials.” The hotelier continued to explain that he feels blessed to be in Corsica “because what is at hand is marvelous. The light here is pure and crisp. The elements, the colors, the food, the warmth you get from the people, these are all our raw ingredients. Our passion is to make these raw ingredients inspire us to create a hotel that has a genuine goodness about it. That is what this project is really about.” Bertilaccio uplifting design philosophy is what paved the way for Bodin’s architectural concept.
Bertilaccio used the natural treasures of the island of Corsica as inspiration. Corsica is well-known as a chic, seaside holiday destination. Set directly on a private, white sand beach in the bay of Porto-Vecchio, the hotel has uninterrupted views of the surrounding bay. Within easy reach is the charming old town, teeming with glitzy boutiques, international dining, lively bars and quaint architecture, all topped off by a laid-back seaside vibe. Just south of Porto-Vecchio are two of Corsica’s most famous beaches, Palombaggia and Santa Guilia, and in the summer, the modern harbor is flooded with luxury yachts and ferries.
An establishment that is privileged enough to have ocean front property is destined to showcase it. Bertilaccio added a series of twisted triangular tents over teak wood terraces to enhance the contemporary aesthetic. An arrangement of comfy conversational furnishings constructed out of earthy materials allows for hotel guests to eat, drink, and enjoy the views.
Inside and out, old stone has been blended with volcanic rock, resin, glass and 300 year-old oak, while the color scheme draws from the Corsican shoreline, with moss and olive couches, bright turquoise cushions, sandy browns, white and cream. The rooms follow a similar color palette and are decorated with lush plants and plush furnishings.
Everything here is inspired by life on the beach, from the outdoor day beds to the natural woven fibers and pastel colors. To add artistic depth to the property, the design team introduced decorative pieces collected from world travels, and the casual, savoir-vivre lifestyle of Porto-Vecchio.
March 7th, 2013 – Less than an hour away from Lisbon, the Areias Do Seixo Charm Hotel is nestled deep into the dunes of Portugal’s shoreline. Algrave-based architect Vasco Vieira dreamed up a magical place where originality, comfort, and sophistication move in perfect synthesis with the land. The eclectic hotel is full of an array of charming decorative accents and maintains an environmental conscience philosophy. When the owners purchased the property to build the Areias Do Seixo, they found that the land was riddled with the ruins of an old aviary. In an eco-minded response, Vieira made sure that the rubble and ruins from the old aviary were recycled into the foundation of the new hotel.
The 14 dreamy rooms are extraordinarily unique, taking the bold colors and designs of exotic destinations like India and Morocco as a starting point, and blending them with modern minimalism and imagination to create beautiful color pallets, earthy aesthetics, and irresistible bathrooms. Beds are framed with driftwood; warm gold Chinese cabinets; pod-like woodburners suspended from the ceilings, and burnished silver lamps. For those wanting privacy, there are 4 self-catering villas, each sleeping up to 7.
The overall experience that the hotel wants to give to its guests is a a trip filled with smells, tastes, and colors – a chance to reconnect with earth. The upmarket eco design doesn’t just come in the form of bed sheets and recycling, the food served at the hotel comes fresh from the hotel’s garden each day. The insulation of the building was conducted using cork on the wall cavity. The heating and cooling of water is done through the use of Geothermia, an ecological system that allows the efficient usage of the temperature existent within the earth. Circuit of compost transforming the organic matter produced in the unit into natural fertilizer for application to agricultural land to explore in the unit. To top it all off, the company is being completely transparent with their consumption data as they have implemented an Eco Clock on their website where anyone can check how much water, gas, and energy the hotel is using at the moment.
March 4th, 2013 – Singapore-based Guz Architects are well known for creating bona fide tropical fortresses’ throughout southeast Asia. The firms latest project comes in the form of Coco Privé, a secluded resort on the Kuda Hithi Island in the Maldives. On the island, Guz Wilkinson, founder and principal architect at Guz Architects, designed on master residence, the Palm Residence, and five other private villas. The architecture reflects the natural charms of its surroundings, an elegant blend of modern and natural materials, where craft and attention to detail combine to achieve a spacious, elegant and intimate haven.
As soon as guests get off the boat they are greeted by a long wood dock that is decorated with oil lanterns, large vases, and crisp white furniture. The dock leads guests straight down a jungle path into a modern oasis that is the lobby. Just like it’s waters, it’s crystal clear that this destination is designed for the discerning few, where privacy and exclusivity extend far beyond the expectations of the ordinary. The Palm residence has an open plan, free-flowing design coupled with a palette of natural earthy hues and sweeping views of the ocean. The first floor of the residence has a fully stocked library, cocktail bar and wine room, and an expansive living room filled with bespoke pieces to the mirrored ceiling of the large dining room that hosts up to eight of your family and friends. Above, on the second floor is the master bedroom, a second living room, and an infinity pool where a king-size sun lounger sits inside the water.
There are five other villas on the Island, the Starfish Villa, Heron Villa, Trurtle Villa, Manta Villa, and the Gecko Villa. Each of the villas are situated in different parts of the island to allow for maximum privacy and relaxation. All of the villas come with a private pool and are very spacious. Among the facilities are a library, cocktail bar, gym, and steam room, as well as a personal chef for those out-of-hours cravings. Activities on the island go from feeding stingrays to exploring the chef’s garden. With unparalleled beauty and wondrous coastal scenery, a tapestry of 1192 pristine islands lay like emeralds amidst the azure blue of a crystal clear sea and an abundance of natural sea life make their home in the vivid turquoise coral reef.
February 27th 2013 – Before the Casa De Flora Hotel & Resort opened its doors last year, KNSTRCT reported on the new resort. Now, a year and change into the opening we’re going back to see if the modernist meets tropical aesthetic is working out. A telling sign of success is the hotel was just voted one of the best new hotels by Conde Nast Traveller’s Hot List 2012 and won the Travelers’ Choice 2013 Award – not a bad welcoming into the hospitality world.
A Creative edit that captures the Casa De La Flora by Design Hotels
Normally when you think of tropical hotels, palm leaf ceilings, shabby-chic wood huts, or bamboo constructed walls come to mind, but the Cassa De La Flora is Khoa Lak’s first modernist hideaway. VaSlab Architecture took a risk when they started going down a different path and designed cutting edge architecture and it mixed with stunning tropical landscaping.
The risk turned out to be rewarding as the resort is being praised for putting Khoa Lak on the map as the new high profile, yet humble destination hotel in this beautiful town of the southern Thailand. The resort sits directly on the palm-fringed beach of Khao Lak, giving its guests stunning views of the Andaman Islands and a clean sandy beach to sink their toes into.
The owner of the new age hotel is Thai businessmen Sompong Dowpiset, who presented some challenges to that architects in the initial design phases. Dowpiset asked Vasu Virajsilp, principal architect at VaSlab, to create a unique resort that includes a series of pool villas with maximum ocean views possible. Facilities as reception lounge, swimming pool, pool bar, beachfront restaurant, spa, fitness, and library are the must-have programs in this hotel. The owner challenged Virajsilp to create a bold look of architecture that still yields to warmness and nature after its implied name, “flora”.
VaSLab’s metaphorical design manifested from the act of “arising flora”, where each concrete versus wood villa reflects as a flora form, emerges from the ground, and blooms to reach the daylight. Deviated walls and tilted roofs are characterized throughout the series of 36 cubic-form villas, where these tapered elements do not only recall the act of arising flora but they widen the rooms’ perspective frames when looking outward to the sea.
In addition to the unique suites, a reception lounge, swimming pool, pool bar, beachfront restaurant, spa, fitness, and library are all located on the property. On a side note, eco-friendly credentials come in the form of an ozone (low-chemical) purification system for the swimming pools and waste-water and rain water recycling, which was smartly integrated onto the angling architecture.
The continuity of the architectural lines can be seen also in interior space and with interior elements such as built-in beds, coffee tables, and built-in cabinets. Custom-made furniture designed by Anon Pairot Design Studio carries this thematic design as some of them represent organic form of a flora.
The landscaping and hardscaping work came from the talented designers at T.R.O.P., who extended the lines of architecture into a set of charming path ways, pavement blocks, green walls, as they act like its architecture’s root, stem, and branches.
It’s a tricky thing, trying to achieve a modernist look in paradise. Very rarely, will the harsh lines and minimalistic aesthetic of modern architecture mesh well with the traveler who is seeking an authentic tropical experience.
With that said, VaSlab managed to successfully achieve this rare juxtaposition by respecting the surrounding nature and allowing the architecture and vegetation to happily interact with one another.
Photography Courtesy of Casa De La Flora
February 20th, 2013 – To be perfectly honest, we didn’t really know what to expect when the master blenders at Chivas Regal requested we join them and the Chivas Brotherhood in Texas for a night of whiskey slinging. Turns out whiskey drinking isn’t just reserved for crotchety country club retirees who wear plaid golf pants and smoke stogies in leather-backed chairs. Upon arrival, our expectations of Elks Club members, kicking up their argyle socks, and telling stories from ‘Nam dwindled – fast. Instead we were embraced with a vibrant and all around cheerful group of gents in skinny suits and comb-overs… otherwise known as Chivas Brothernood members.
Said Brotherhood members have access to the Chivas 1801 Club, where the cult-like band of brothers share some commonalities; friendship, authenticity, and their love for good ol’ fashioned whiskey. In the 1801 Club members come together for exclusive, invite-only events at private venues in major US cities. We caught up with the pack in Houston and got schooled on their drink of choice.
Just because their whiskey is aged for decades, doesn’t mean the Chivas mentality is. The gathering had an old school, boy’s club feel with an approachable appeal – Think Mad Men meets The Hangover with an adventurous dash of Into The Wild. Glowing gold light fixtures hung over the custom branded pool table, a ferocious taxidermy bear head served as wall decor and regal dogs were painted in elaborate antique frames. Throughout the night bartenders presented a master mix of assorted cocktails. Chivas’ 12-Year was effortlessly blended into tasty drinks like the Gentlemen’s Pleasure Punch, laced with Lillet Rosé, Morello cherry Cordial, cranberry juice, and fresh lemon, topped with sparkling water.
We were privileged to sip on a variety of Chivas’ aged whiskeys. Chivas’ 12 year old is an expression of a unique tradition that has continued unbroken since the Chivas Brothers first introduced the world to the rich, smooth Scotch whisky. We learned that Chivas Regal’s 18 yr includes over 20 of Scotland’s rarest single malt whiskies, giving this well balanced whiskey a smooth touch of wood and spice, with a scent of vanilla. Chivas Regal 25 Year Old Original is a rare and exclusive blend of the finest Scotch whiskies, with aromas of stone fruit, creamy marzipan, nuts, and chocolate-orange.
Beyond sipping Chivas’ aged 12 yr, 18 yr, and 25 yr, we also were impressed by the delightful Gallantry Cocktail. Here’s how they whipped it up:
A rich and deserving reward for bravery in an uncertain world. Chivas 18 shaken with fresh lemon juice, a teaspoon of orange and ginger marmalade shaken with egg-white.
- Glass: Rocks
- Garnish: Whole Kumquat
- 50ml Chivas Regal 12yo
- 30ml Fresh lemon juice
- 15ml orange and ginger marmalade syrup
- 1 dash egg white
How to make:
Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with ice.
Another tasting favorite was the Brother’s Keeper
Brings forth the classic Speyside style; honeyed richness tempered by soft fruity accents.
- Glass: Rocks
- Garnish: A chunk of crystallised honeycomb
- 30ml Chivas Regal 12yo
- 5ml Honey syrup
- 1 piece lemon peel
- 1 dash peach bitters
How to make:
Serve in a rocks glass with ice and stir well.
To cap off the night, partygoers were each handed a glass of Chivas’ limited 25-Year for a lively toast. It was the perfect end to a perfect evening. And with that we raise our glass – Cheers to the Chivas Brotherhood. Thanks for letting us run with the wolf pack for the night.
January 31st, 2013 – Architects Alexey Goryainov and Mikhail Crimea of Moscow-based firm Arch Group, took the industry by surprise a few years back when they built the first Sleepbox Pods, affordable white sleeping quarters for travelers to have a quick rest, at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport. The resting pods helped reshape the traveling experience for people going in and out of Moscow, in a positive way. Because of its success, Arch Group has teamed up with businessman leonid chernikov to open the first SleepBox Hotel near the Belorussky Railway Station, in Moscow.
The Sleepbox Hotel consists of 46 double-unit wooden pods, and 10 single-unit pods constructed from aluminum and plastic. Arch Group designed a spacecraft-like environment for the interiors, with white panels, bending up from the wall to the ceiling and contrasting black accent pieces. The pods sit side-by-side and are spread out over four floors, each of the small rooms has a TV, bed, mirror, and storage space – the necessities. The restrooms and showers are located in a central area where they are to be shared amongst the guests, five on each floor. The hotel also features a community laundry area, and a smoking lounge.
The investor of the hotel, Leonid Chernikov, began to investigate the hostels in central Moscow, but there were not enough and most of them were not pleasant places to stay. Chernikov saw a need for an affordable and clean hotel which led him to Arch-group. The architects explained that it took nearly a year to find the perfect location. “For about a year it has taken to find a suitable space near one of the stations, where people come Aeroexpress. Their proximity is important because capsule hotel is designed mainly for people in the tourist sector of Moscow.”
On the ground floor there is the reception area, boxes for visitors and huge information booth – where tourist can find a map of the city subway and schedule Aeroexpresses. The reception also has three iPads, for hotel guests to go online and find interesting information. On the second and third floors are arranged wooden sleepboxes for two. Inside each of them – two beds, a shelf, dresser, mirror and wall outlet. Some of the sleepboxes have windows, but any of them can be closed curtain.
January 18th, 2013 – Any resort that lists their recreational activities as desert surfing, Camel riding, and sand skiing, is sure to perk some interest! The Desert Lotus Resort is located in the mystical Xiang Sha Wan, the “Sand Bay” of the Gobi Desert, in Inner Mongolia. Beijing-based PLaT Architects designed the concrete-less resort to work like a ship floating in deserted. The creatives at PLaT had to invent a new structural system that is fixed in the sands by panels and a prefabricated steel support skeleton. Free of tiles and bricks for construction, the resort is built with low carbon environment friendly materials to utilize solar, water and wind energy in the desert, reducing environmental pollution and strengthening ecology protection.
The architects use traditional Chinese idea of “Zhen”, which is, in simple words, the art of repetition of the same elements. Square white tent tops, rotated 45 degrees are connected together in a circular formation. The rotation of the squares in the same angle generates triangles. In consideration of the structure, shading, and wind, the architects integrated the function, form and landscape, resulting in a form of a lotus flower. The hotel aims to be an example of sustainable tourism in the desert, through networks that generate electricity and water in their own self-sufficient system for the provision and operation of the building.
The winters in Inner Mongolia are long, cold, and dry with frequent blizzards. But the spring, summer, and autumn are polar opposites to the winter, they are short, hot and arid, a time known for dangerous sandstorms. The adventure junkies who make the long trip to the stylish low carbon resort come to enjoy the mystical orange sand dunes, and the warm Hantai River, a branch of the Yellow River more than 200 kilometers wide. Stand and look into the distance here to see a vision of the colored sand hills that meet the charming glow under the sun as the breeze blows over the dunes making music.
January 15th, 2013 - In the Encanto Hotel, the potential for amazement is constant. Architect Miguel Angel Aragonés designed the hotel, which is settled on the cliff side of Acapulco, with complete concentration and relaxation in mind. Aragonés took every little detail into thought while he designed the stunning 44 suite hotel, specifically the spiritual details, physical details, and economic needs of the establishment.
This specific region of Mexico, at the Bay of Puerto Marqués, has a jungle that goes all the way to the shoreline, causing the hotel to light up in the midst of the natural greenery. The crisp white architecture feels like a freshly cleaned sheet blowing from the line as it dries in the sun. Aragonés says that the architecture of the Encanto is a sort of like a labyrinth, a method some use for meditation purposes, where all exits lead to the ocean.
The architect candidly explained that he intentionally designed very private spaces throughout the “labyrinth”, narrow at times, with corners where only two people will fit.
“Everything was playfully created to generate continual momentum from the sea” Aragonés explained “to compel those staying there to seek and find a way out.”
Encanto is home to three eateries including Flor de Mar 360°, the hotel’s signature restaurant, lead by Mexican Celebrity Chef Monica Patiño, who conceived a menu of local cuisine with intricate Asian flavors.
One wouldn’t expect that the The Encanto Hotel was actually built with few resources, economic materials, and local labor. Under these conditions, Aragonés took a less is more approach to the interior design, allowing much of the existing resources to funnel into the architecture. The approach complements the architects goal of having very little distractions in the design of the hotel, allowing guests to take in more of the natural surroundings.
Aragones Labyrinth consists of long exterior hallways covered in marble and teak wrap around the hotel and lead to ethereal vistas of the horizon.
A black bottom pool with infinity ledge on one side and teak deck on the other is outfitted in Balinese loungers, oversize sofas, and surrounded in palms.
In 20 suites, Aragones integrated nature into the architecture by creating very little visual and structural barriers between the interior of the room and the terrace. A nearly frame-less sliding glass door is all that separates the room from the terrace, where a maturing trees springs out from the concrete flooring.
January 7th, 2013 – Industrial designer turned interior designer Dorothée Meilichzon has been known to add her own personal touch in the spaces she designs. The designer, who has been traveling the world with her mother since she was a small child, recently created a wine bar in Saint-Germain where she literally sewed the pillow cushions with her own two hands. Perhaps, this is a creative medicine that Meilichzon prescribes to in effort to add an authentic element of depth to the spaces she dreams up. The new Hotel Paradis is no different.
Situated in the capital’s 10th Arrondissement, Hotel Paradis Paris is within easy reach of Galeries Lafayette and the large department stores on the boulevard Haussmann. Deceivingly so, the hotel, which has the look and feel of a posh Parisian establishment, is actually fairly affordable with rooms starting out at $85.00 per night!
Why stop at designing the interiors? Meilichzon and her team also designed the graphics for Hotel Paradis. A grouping of five different sarif and san sarif fonts make up the white graphics on the glass in the lobby, announcing the hotel to people passing by.
Meilichzon used a series of intricate large scale printed wallpapers above the wainscoting to create focal points at eye level.
Large birds, winded clouds, and other decorative arrangements are a consistent theme throughout the wallpaper in the hotel.
A small bistro exists adjacent to the lobby where guest can comfortably eat on custom upholstered banquets, marble tables, and stylish mid-century wood dining chairs.
The upholstered backing of the banquettes in the bistro are seen again in the hotel’s suites as headboards on the beds.
(Photography by Kristen Pelou)
December 11th, 2012 – Colonel Norman Macalister used to rule the roost at his beloved Macalister Mansion 100 years ago, when his small village of George Town, in Malaysia, was a tiny British shipping port. As time rolled on, the English left, and George Town has grown into a vibrant international metropolis that proudly displays its English, Chinese, Indian and native Malaysian influences. Here, the Colonel’s mansion has been transformed from a prim and proper estate, into a quirky and sophisticated lifestyle destination for art lovers and adventure seekers.
Owners of the Macalister, Dato Sean and Datin Karen, teamed up with Colin Seah, principal of Singapore-based design firm Ministry of Design, to re-work the mansion into an 8 suite boutique hotel with 5 unique hot spots to socialize and dine. The owners are proud locals, avid art collectors, and well-known investors in the local restaurant scene, which is why it comes to no surprise that the duo helped Seah in nearly every aspect – from the specially commissioned art on the walls, to the personalized and intimate service, to the unique combination of historic beauty and present-day dynamism that characterizes the hotel.
Regenerating the historic colonial building wasn’t easy. The owners wanted to reinvent the “hotel as a complete holistic concept, with all rooms, restaurants and lounge areas belonging to a single, unique vision.” Under this philosophy, each space of the mansion needed to have its own distinctive aesthetic and ambiance, but working synergistically. Upon Entry, a fractal bust of Colonel Norman Macalister welcomes guests as a bow to the Macalister’s history.
A turquoise scalloped canopy and ornate wooden doors open onto the reception area. There, the mansion’s original brick walls are exposed, reminding visitors of the building’s history while also showcasing contemporary art from local artists.
The Living Room Encompasses all day dining and provides a casual space to hang out, Seah restored and preserved the mansions original architectural features in this space, then added a playful color theme and an assortment of contemporary furnishing pieces.
Hanging plants reach their way down from the ceiling along with a collection of white and gold light fixtures to meet the artistic bistro-styled furnishings for hotel guests to enjoy herbal tea’s and an international cuisine.
Directly adjacent to the Living Room is a game room for some more day time activities. Here, guests can crack open a book, shoot a game of pool, or watch a movie.
The Den is an intimate hideout with a wide selection of cigars as well as blended and single-malt whiskies. The dimly lit space provides a night time atmosphere for hotel guests with its intricate tri-color tile floor pattern that runs up the walls, a central black leather poof, and a Gothic styled chandelier.
The Bagan Bar showcases some of the more striking aspects of the hotel’s original architecture: an ornate archway divides the room, and two columns frame a bay window nook. However, the dynamic copper-clad bar and lighting sculpture bring the room into the 21st century. The Den is a place to relax and unwind with a glass of quality whisky or cigar. Specialist in Single Cask and Single Malt whiskies which are sourced from renowned distilleries around the world!
Visitors can access the hotel’s eight suites directly from the reception! Each suite is different from the next, from a privately commissioned love sonnet in the Bridal Suite, to the spiral staircase and turret room in Room 4, to the Grace Tan textile piece in Room 7 that pays tribute to the tartan colors of the Macalister clan.
Room 3, for example, boasts a wrought-iron balcony as well as a fabric collage by Malaysian artist Lee Meiling, while Room 8 features exposed truss beams from the building’s original construction.
Wall art by Malaysia-based UK artist Thomas Powell examines the history of the mansion and commemorates the life and times of hotel namesake Sir Norman Macalister. A decedent pattern of tiny tiles help create a unique bathroom area which is provocatively open to the entire suite.
(Photography: Design Hotels & CI&A Photography)
December 3rd, 2012 – Hidden in an ancient valley on the western edge of Phuket, The Naka is Duangrit Bunnag’s most daring hotel to date. Not only because the Bangkok-based architect, Duangrit Bunnag, set out to redefine the idea of an indulgent island escape, but also because he single-mindedly followed a dream: one that would allow the hotel’s guests to float among the trees. The result is a discreet, tropical hideout, with 94 glass-built villas cantilevering out from the mountainside to give endless panoramas of the sparkling Andaman Sea.
With an outdoor pool attached to each of the secluded living spaces, guests have all the privacy they need to find their natural equilibrium. At the rooftop spa, which overlooks the forest and the ocean, cicadas provide the spellbinding soundtrack to soothing body scrubs and massages. Guests can also unwind in the hotel’s Olympic-sized infinity pool, or feel the powder-fine sand between their toes on the wave-lapped private beach. Fresh market produce is served at the hotel’s three restaurants, including The Nava, which sits along a natural watercourse that Bunnag integrated into his final design. Here, as with the rest of the hotel, there’s a sense of being cocooned in a secret valley. Design Hotels, the company who represents the Naka, walks us through the new property which will open it’s doors this spring.
Designing The Naka should have been easy. The 1,740-acre plot provided plenty of space, and the valley location – complete with a private beach on Phuket’s west coast – was already postcard pretty.
But Duangrit Bunnag, one of the best-known minimalist designers in Thailand, is a man who likes to challenge himself.
Instead of opting for traditional Thai bungalows or a blocky concrete high-rise, he created a forest of stone- and glass-built villas. Soaring away from the mountainside, these spacious and simplistic pods give guests 180-degree views of the sand-edged shoreline.
“I wanted to create something different, and nobody has ever dreamt of that in Thailand,” Bunnag said. “Actually nobody has done that in the whole world: a six-meter cantilever of the whole room.”
Rather than uprooting the valley’s trees to make way for his ambitious villas, Bunnag decided to use them as a guide. If his plans overlapped with a mature tree, he would either change the dimensions of the building, or move it to another part of the plot entirely.
The result is that the villas appear scattered across the valley, with well-established trees – many of them more than 50 years old – sprouting up from the gaps in between. In order to support the local population of cicadas and butterflies, indigenous plant species were also added during construction.
At the center of The Naka are four wooden pavilions. The pagoda-like lobby is built around a series of upright columns, making the most of natural ventilation, while the onsite wedding chapel, accented by glinting black marble, welcomes couples through its semi-transparent façade.
Both the sweet-smelling spa and The Meka (a rooftop café 40 meters above sea level) offer views as far as Patong. This notion of being close to town yet sheltered from its day-to-day bustle is key to Bunnag’s concept.
He wants guests to know that they are cocooned in a secret valley, with total privacy guaranteed until they choose to go out in search of excitement.
(Photography: Design Hotels)