Puerto Escondidio Hotel

WORDS Jo Buitenbach PHOTOS Jaime Navarro

A boutique hotel in Mexico is all about its lush surroundings, striking design and moments of peaceful contemplation.

The port of Puerto Escondido is an escape. Travellers from all over the world retreat to its golden beaches and waves, to walk, meditate and help release turtles in local sanctuaries.

On the southern tip of town, Casa TO has added an element of thoughtful luxury to this tiny utopia. Completed in August 2022, the hotel was designed by renowned architect Ludwig Godefroy. Working to a very succinct brief of “nine rooms, and lots of freedom”, he and his team have married tradition and the avant-garde in a unique structure, surrounded by a tranquil natural setting.

Made largely of concrete, the materiality of the build was of the utmost importance to Ludwig. “My search for simplicity has led me to create clean and abstract architecture, composed exclusively of mass materials such as concrete, wood and stone. All these materials look better under the action of time,” he says.

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Casa TO takes inspiration from myriad sources, including Oaxacan temples, where enclosed spaces create a sensory experience. There’s also a nod to the reticulated pattern of two historical hydraulic works: the 6th-century Basilica Cistern in Istanbul, and the Hornsey Wood Reservoir in Finsbury Park, London, built in the late 1800s. In relation to these references, Ludwig says that his “architecture is willing to get rid of the unnecessary, to concentrate on the very essence of the structure of the building, offering a contemporary reinterpretation”.

Casa TO
The focal point of Casa TO is the covered infinity pool and solarium, inspired by the work of iconic architect Le Corbusier.

A focal point of the building is the covered infinity pool and solarium. The former alludes to the vaulted volumes and signature style of iconic Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier, with rectilinear lines, exposed load-bearing walls, lightweight structures and open-plan interiors. And sustainability is a central theme: there are solar panels, a zero- plastics policy, and a water-treatment plant that facilitates the reuse of water in irrigation, toilets and other types of non-drinking consumption, while the biologically stabilised solids obtained from the process are used in compost. The star of the show is the building’s smart design, but both the interiors and the landscaping have been carefully considered too. The interiors were created by Casa TO co-founder Daniel Cinta, who looked to instil a sense of luxury with the use of simple and honest elements. The natural surroundings, in particular the pattern of a Madagascar Blue Bismarck palm tree that stood on the original site, were a major cue for these spaces.

Daniel had furniture specially made by local artisans from the Puebla, Guadalajara and Oaxaca regions, and when it came to taps and fixtures, he selected brushed stainless steel that would be lost among the tones of concrete. This unobtrusive element means that glassware and textiles in shades of yellow, green and blue stand out.

Inside the building, a mini jungle was created using the likes of banana and passion fruit trees as well as selected local plants. Outside, the landscape was fashioned with the idea of a slow process of appropriation, where eventually the temple-like structure will be covered with vines, and slowly disappear into the lush green forest.

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