Hotel Mar Adentro | Merges Technology With Modern Design
Article by Maria Giovanna Drago – A review of Hotel Mar Adentro by Miguel Angel Aragonés – San José del Cabo, México.
Mar Adentro is a hotel complex located at the far southern tip of the California peninsula in Mexican territory. It’s separated from the inland by the Sea of Cortez, a geographical area characterized by the prosperity of marine fauna and flora — it is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the category of natural goods.
The complex directly overlooks the beach, inviting guests to scan the horizon. It stands out among the succession of hotels along the coastline, not just because it is completely white, but also thanks to its essential and modern design.
It is composed of more than 200 rooms, suites, and villas. Mexican architect Miguel Angel Aragonés designed it in collaboration with traditional artisans. Its simple lines stand out, offering limpid spaces that stimulate feelings of well being in humans, together with the sky and the water.
Hotel Mar Adentro
The Sea Inside (Mar Adentro)
The accommodations cover three levels of water terraces, with such arrangements and differences in height to allow each level to have a clear view of the sea. Each terrace consists of a huge rectangular pool with a solo dry path — more or less articulated — that splits it in half. Villas and apartments are arranged on each terrace in an arc shape that makes them look like islands, while the panoramic side remains open toward the beach and sea.
Blocks of flats, which are the bigger buildings, have nude facades or regular big windows and are located on the highest terrace, while the villas are nestled on the others. The central buildings never exceed the immediately higher level in their height, while the ones on the two sides are higher to enclose the space in such a way that it looks like there is no rest of the world outside, just the panorama to enjoy, undisturbed by the underlying levels.
The architect ensures that every guest will have his own window on the sea. “Each room visually contains a piece of the sea. No one can resist gazing out at it,” he said.
The prevailing color is the pure white of the walls and curtains, providing a reference in a context dominated by the blue sky, together with the blue water of both the swimming pools and the sea. Green trees mark the boundaries of the tourist complex on the long sides adjacent to other hotels. The short sides host the accesses: On one side, the transit flows to the main road; on the other, to the private beach.
The layout, the landscape, and the colors recall the magnificent Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, by architect Louis Kahn, built in 1965. There the laboratories are organized in a horseshoe shape around a square with a stream of water at the center that visually connects with the sea in front. The rivulet ends with a waterfall on the next level, which is a secondary, more reserved square.
The Nest, the Solarium, and the Lawn
The pool of the main terrace — the upper one — is crossed by a slightly curved walkway that leads to three outdoor oval areas: the sushi bar, the solarium, and the artificial lawn. Dark gray slabs upholster the path. There are no railings on either side, so people have the impression of walking on water.
The first oval you come to is the sushi bar, called “Nido,” which means “Nest”. Indeed, it is located inside a nest-like structure that seems to float on the water, as there is no external flooring around. It’s made up of a dense network of wood branches — reinforced by a well-concealed steel structure — that creates a zone in dim light with two access holes at each end, connecting it with the walkway. All the furniture inside is white, including the long central table that runs from side to side.
Going beyond the “Nest,” the walkway descends slightly to reach the solarium. It is an oval area with a deep pool at the center that is accessible by a ladder to allow clients to have a swim. Candid beds with pillows are arranged around it, some of them sheltered by white curtains. Customers can sit here, lie down to rest in the shade, or sunbathe.
Immediately after this, the walkway continues with another curve and surrounds a green, oval lawn with white, modern design seats. Opposite, in the corner, is a small, shallow, artificial lake – also oval — while the perimeter is bordered by bushes, as if to imitate a private garden.
Mar Adentro is also a showpiece of high technology. The Hotel Mar Adentro offers its guests the convenience of modern life — the one we all hope to have in our homes — just a click away. No need to download a bulky app on a mobile phone; the reception staff consigns a tablet to each guest at check-in, with intuitive controls.
The idea originates from the desire to provide guests with the opportunity to personalize their accommodation and feel at home. They can manage everything with the tablet: They can regulate the opening of curtains, heat or cool the rooms to suit their favorite temperature, communicate with the staff about customized menus, request a new toothbrush, or even book a personal chef. Guests can have what they want without the usual physical interference of waiters, so that they can enjoy their holiday undisturbed.
Last but not least: Guests can adjust the intensity of artificial light and even change the colors, choosing between shades of rose, magenta, and tangerine. In the evening, the colored lighting of each room make the facades look like modern paintings. It must be a spectacle outside to see how the colorful atmosphere reflects in the ripples of the pool.
Human Proportions and Italian Interiors
The interior rooms have been built according to a modular system, with the same repeated module allowing guests to obtain larger accommodations according to their requirements. This system has facilitated the organization of the environments and their construction on site. Each module is obviously proportioned according to the architectural principles of ergonomics and space on a human scale.
“I always use human scale, no matter what size of building,” Aragonés said.
The interiors follow the same principle as the space modules. They were manufactured in Italy and then assembled on site. Aragonés has partnered with Poliform, an Italian brand of interior design. Together, they designed the modular system in 12 different options, in line with the essential style of the architectural building, which were assembled together to obtain the furnishing: wood floors, doors, fixtures, and furniture both of the residences and the restaurant area.
Alberto Spinelli and Giovanni Anzani, founders of the company, have collaborated on the design of some of the pieces. Aragonés chose Poliform because of the dedication and imagination of Italian manufacturers, where nothing is left to chance, but cleverly worked by years of experience.
Music and Architecture
Aragonés has revealed a secret: He likes to listen to music while he works. He says music is one of the five pillars in his life. He listens to everything, from Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens to Bach.
As we can see, Mar Adentro was born from the tune of many songs, as it also stands in company with the sound of the sea waves. Moreover, the Hotel Mar Adentro’s owner has included an exclusive music program — “musician in residence.”
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Organizers usually match dinner with great music, since the Hotel Mar Adentro is the ideal place to share the pleasure of a live performance together. For this reason, it has been signed as an exclusive partnership with the Los Angeles music venue Hotel Café, bringing the conviviality of the singers and music songwriters that perform once a month or during the holidays.
Choreographers and dancers from all over the world perform, too.
Among other services, Mar Adentro hosts the Abierto Spa Sea, an art gallery, private pools, a shopping plaza, five prestigious restaurants, and a movie theater. It’s obvious that it has been sold out for months even before the grand opening!
Hotel Mar Adentro looks like the perfect place to go to forget your problems and duties and enjoy life. How do you think the architect could have improved on his design to convey feelings of well-being? Is there more besides location, human scale, and colors?
Full Project Credits For the Hotel Mar Adentro:
Project Title: Hotel Mar Adentro
Landscape Architecture: Miguel Angel Aragonés
Design Team: Miguel Ángel Aragonés, Juan Vidaña, Pedro Amador, Rafael Aragonés, Alba Ortega.
Structural Engineering: José Nolasco
Location: San José del Cabo, México
Scope: Design a private residence
Completion: January 2016
Construction: Jorge Flores, José Torres
Collaborators: Ana Aragonés, Fernanda Kurth, Antonio Trinidad, Manuel De La O., Diego Amador
Heads Of Labor Work: Severiano Torres, Roberto Torres
Materials: Concrete, Steel, Travertine,
Photo: Joe Fletcher
Lighting: Taller Aragonés, Ilumileds.
Glazing And Sliding Windows: Taller Aragones, Javier Rivero
External Roller Blinds: Deko System Group (Model System Italia)
Wardrobes And Closets: Poliform
Interior Furniture: Poliform
Exterior Furniture: Exteta
Water Systems: Swimquip
Intelligent System: Control 4
Special Engineering: High Tech Services
Preliminary Project January 2012
Executive Project November 2014
Building Opening January 2016
Area: Covered Area 47,082.00 Sqm, Uncovered Area 26,454.77 Sqm
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