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Design Diary: UNICO 20°87°

(June 2017) posted on Wed Jun 28, 2017

A first-hand look at how the brand’s debut hotel in the Riviera Maya redefines the look and feel of all-inclusive luxury.

By Christina Green

click an image below to view slideshow

Luxury isn’t what it used to be. Just ask AvroKO. Early this spring, the New York design and concept firm—led by partners/principals William Harris, Greg Bradshaw, Kristina O’Neal and Adam Farmerie—took the wraps off its first-ever, all-inclusive project: UNICO 20°87° Hotel Riviera Maya. When it comes to wowing today’s high-end travelers, the 448-key property shows how careful curation is increasingly crucial to crafting a relevant visual narrative.

About a month after the hotel’s opening, Miami-based AIC Hotel Group (the sales/marketing arm of owner-operator RCD Hotels) invited BD and 15 other journalists to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula for the first press look at the UNICO Hotels’ debut property. As someone who spends a lot of time curating project and product photography based on what will pop on paper, I found the visit to be a refreshing reminder of how a tonal, minimalist palette can deliver maximal visual impact with the right materials.

The suite where I stayed at UNICO 20°87° Hotel Riviera Maya. All photos: Taken by Christina Green with an iPhone 7 Plus for Boutique Design

“We had worked on hotels that are close to the same scope, but are more vertically oriented and in urban environments,” said Bradshaw in a follow-up email Q+A. “However, this was our first project of this scale in a resort context.”

The designers’ goal was to strike a balance between refined and casual, setting the tone for a high-end beach hotel that would appeal to a sophisticated clientele who typically goes for a non-inclusive luxury offering. But achieving that interplay on a sprawling scale took more than artful eye; it required intensive, on-the-ground research.

“We visited a number of comparable resorts in the area that were not all inclusive, like Rosewood Mayakoba and NIZUC Resort & Spa,” recalled O’Neal. “We also knew that this would be an adults-only property, and that the restaurant concepts and the hotel’s architecture [by Mexican firm ARTIGAS Arquitectos] had already established. But beyond that, the client was really looking to us to provide the look and feel for the entirety of the project.”

The all-day dining venue, Restaurant 20.87, at UNICO 20°87° Hotel Riviera Maya.


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