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(July / August 2017) posted on Fri Aug 11, 2017

Luxury resort design has one goal now: Make the guest feel that every aspect of the property’s look, services and setting is “all about you.”


By Oriana Lerner

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It’s cool to stand out in a crowd. But, say the masterminds behind cutting-edge resort design, standing out in a crowd of just one (or two) is just as cool. You don’t need a tribe to be special, and this latest generation of retreats is all about unplugging from tech and a social set to focus on 360-degree experiences.

Soneva Jani
At Soneva Jani, guests don't have to share. A private pool and a view away from the other villas makes this overwater structure an aquatic hideaway. Photo: Stevie Mann

That starts with putting design in the background and using it simply as one more tool in the toolkit to help guests feel the entire resort experience was crafted with their individual preferences in mind. This is not the place for a riveting lobby focal point, a knockout wall treatment or anything so attention-getting that it interrupts the “feel” of the space. As the projects featured here show, luxury resort design now is about crafting an impression—not impressing the guest.



Soneva Jani
A stack of trunks replaces an ottoman at the foot of the bed. Similar shades in the walls and floor create a serene envelope. Photo: Richard Waite

Since that impression has to flow seamlessly between the exterior world and interior area, the new language of luxury starts with the site. It’s not a question of inside/outside, because the whole resort directs an individual experience, says Jose Cruz Ovalle, head of his eponymous Santiago-based firm and the creative force behind the architecture of adventure retreat company Explora’s seven hotels, including its latest, Explora Sacred Valley in Peru. For that property, Cruz's wife Ana Turrell, also part of his firm, worked on the "ambientation," including selecting FF&E such as chairs and carpets. The whole hotel needs to be laid out as a journey for the guest.

Explora Sacred Valley
Diagonal accents in wooden screens draw the eye to the view outside Explora Sacred Valley. Rough textures echo the terrain. Photo: Courtesy of Explora


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