Jungle Fever

May 1, 2008

DALLAS, TX - Dallas-based architecture firm Three is proud to announce its design of the recently opened Rosewood Mayakobá resort.  Located in the Riviera Maya on the Yucatan Peninsula, the five-star resort is a truly unique destination surrounded by white sand beaches, clear lagoons, and exotic flora and fauna.  Challenged to create a distinctive design with Rosewood's A Sense of PlaceTM vision, Three used the surrounding ecological system to inspire their architectural vocabulary. 

All Photos: Laura V. Baiamonte

"Originally, the design team envisioned the resort as a modern-day Mayan fishing village, but we soon realized we wanted to do more than mimic the vernacular Mayan architecture," said Carl Ede, Three principal and director of design.  "We wanted to create a resort that felt as though it literally grew up out of the site and was as much as part ‘of' the jungle as it was ‘in' the jungle.  This resort was designed to fit this unique site." 

The resulting contemporary design consists of 128 guest suites, either beachfront on the white-sand shore or on the clear tranquil lagoons in the mangrove jungle.  Each guestroom is created from materials found in the jungle and reflects the distinct environment in which they reside.  Embracing walls appear to rise out of the earth to form the units tucked into the jungle along the lagoon.  Sloping roof slabs provide open, exclusive views of the Caribbean or the lagoons and treetops of the mangrove jungle.  Shading wood latillas of indigenous, renewable wood create a natural airiness and allow filtered light to enter the interior and covered terraces similar to the jungle canopy. The outdoor shower leads up to a roof top private garden, and the main level features a serene plunge pool overlooking the lagoon.  Units range from 800 to 3,700 square feet, and each lagoon suite has a private dock which guests can reach by one of the resort's electric boats.  These canvas-covered boats move silently through the lagoons without disturbing native wildlife.

Each guest begins their journey the moment they arrive at a clearing in the jungle featuring an open-air lobby.  A simple horizontal plane extends out of the jungle and provides a sheltered arrival with exposed limestone, which forms a covered walkway through the lobby leading to the restaurant nestled in the trees overlooking the pool and lagoon. At the center of the lobby, water spills over the edge around the "cenote" stair, which descends to the water taxis and resort transportation below.  Water is ever-present throughout the property flowing under, over and through spaces inside and outside the resort.

"We wanted to design a serene environment immersed in the therapeutic waters of existing lagoons and cenotes, which were sacred to the ancient Mayans," added Ede.  "We feel as though we succeeded, especially with our conceptual design of the spa.  It was literally built around an existing cenote, a water well formed when limestone collapsed into the subterranean fresh water springs of the Yucatan."

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A retreat-within-a-retreat, Sense, A Rosewood Spa, is physically and psychologically separated from the resort. Via bridge, guests reach the 11 treatment rooms and eight spa suites on the private spa island designed around the jungle and existing cenote.  The spa also features an outdoor meditation platform, lap pool, and relaxation deck.

Additional guest features include three relaxing pools, an elegant restaurant, cigar bar, beachfront grill, raw bar and tequila library, spa café, tennis facilities and an 18-hole Greg Norman golf course and clubhouse.  Indoor and outdoor meeting and event spaces are also located on the property.  

OHL, the resort's Spanish development company, spent six years researching the biology and waters of the challenging Yucatan landscape.  Their team of biologists, ecological engineers, architects and land planners found networks of freshwater canals and lagoons underneath limestone that had been hidden for a thousand years.  After painstakingly transplanting and grafting thousands of native trees and flowers, today, Mayakobá's landscape is not only authentic but has set a standard for environmentally sound resort developments all over the world.

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