Two New Resorts Reveal a Current Trend in Hotel Design

Architects Jim Olson and Alessandro Munge are the visionaries behind two world-class properties in Mexico and Canada that are changing the face of design

With more than 700,000 hotels and resorts worldwide, the hotel industry is continually developing new ways to differentiate its properties, as seen in the recent trend of using cues from residential design to inform the look of its spaces as well as pulling in cultural references from the surrounding area. Big-name architecture firms, like that of Olson Kundig and Studio Munge, are innovating their design portfolios with hotels that are a healthy mix of residential-inspired aesthetics thoughtfully balanced with modern-day amenities and style—creating enlightening and inspiring spaces of alluring luxury.

One way Jim Olson of Olson Kundig achieved this balance for his JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort & Spa was by honoring the cultural location and setting of the property. He made sure that the hotel design—inside and out—captured the spirit of Mexico. “The entrance and public spaces are modern but inspired by Mexican haciendas,” says Olson. “The natural environment and desert landscape comes right up to the building.” Vistas throughout the hotel focus on framed views of mountains and the surrounding landscape. But perhaps the most important aspect of the hotel’s design is the view of the ocean—a feature that epitomizes the architect’s idea of architectural awe. Architectural awe is not about one grand piece, rather it is about all design elements working harmoniously to create beauty, just like you often see in residential homes. When guests enter the property, they are immediately lured to the ocean. “The ocean is framed like a Rothko painting,” says Olson. “This grand gesture connects guests with the magnificent power of the sea—a theme that is repeated over and over again in more intimate ways throughout the resort.” Whether Olson is designing a home or hotel, he says, “I think of it as one big continuous environment—landscape, architecture, interiors, and art that all flow together as one.”

"When guests open the door to the hotel, I want them to feel a rush of beauty and calm"

Alessandro Munge

Alessandro Munge of the Vancouver-based Studio Munge is the visionary behind the new JW Marriott parq Vancouver that is set to open in 2017. “When guests open the door to the hotel, I want them to feel a rush of beauty and calm—and get a sense of modern tranquility mixed with luxury,” says Munge. The rooms and corridors are a very important part of this serene journey. Munge and his team decided on a fresh and light palette as well as using natural materials, such as Canadian stone for the floor and beautifully grained wall panels, that are in tune with the overall design scheme. The woods are expressive in grain tone, the painted entry doors brighten the corridors, and natural and abstract leaf-patterned carpets complete Munge’s vision. The bedrooms are expressed in a soft palette as well, featuring mostly bespoke furniture. “By sharing the same color theme as the corridors, the spaces feel larger and more open,” says Munge. “It plays into the overall feel of the hotel that is very sophisticated and yet relaxed.”

It is no secret that guests of luxury hotels have come to expect the unexpected—those delightful touches that make it unlike any other place in the world. By combining a serene sophistication with a locally inspired design, these two architects are achieving just that.