Richard Meier & Partners Architects LLP

Kanai Retreat

Riviera Maya, Mexico

2010 -

The Kanai Retreat is located on Mexico’s magnificent Yucatan coast line, comprised of lush mangroves and pristine beaches. W Retreat Kanai is the centerpiece of the Kanai Resort which includes four hotels and a Beach Club. The 180-room hotel has unparalleled accommodations, state of the art leisure, spa and fitness facilities, two restaurants and three bars. The Beach Club services the entire resort as well as future residential housing units along two surrounding golf courses.

A natural preservation order limits the development of the 183 hectare site to 3.8 hectares of buildable land and landscaping. Elevated above the flood plane, the hotel floats on a carpet of mangroves. The dramatic forms of the architecture are incised into the site against the infinite horizon of sea, sky, and landscape, juxtaposed by a playful merging of levels and floating planes that seamlessly connect indoor and outdoor spaces. Building and landscape flow into one another, as meandering gardens and courtyards, sinuous pools and waterworks intersect with terraces and foot paths.

The strong T-shape geometry of the main hotel building surrounds the main pool, maximizing daylight with its south-west orientation and engaging the spectacular views. The arrival is from the north-west, leading to a porte-cochere, flanked by the sculptural conference center. The north facade contains vertical circulation and service areas. This façade is divided into three distinct planes penetrated by viewing platforms overlooking the mangrove landscape. A perforated screen wall at the entrance is landscaped as a green wall and punctured by a vestibule to mark the main hotel entrance.

Set back superimposed stories provide generous terrace spaces for the individual guest rooms with unobstructed views toward the sea. The guest rooms have been developed as continuous living areas, with the interior space continuing to an exterior deck furnished with lounge seating, cocktail bar, exterior tub and shower. The decks are enclosed by retractable privacy screens and sun shading louvers.

The entrance of the Beach Club along the curvilinear wall reveals the view toward the ocean. Comprised as two distinct volumes the east wing contains the double height restaurant and the west wing provides administration, support spaces and a game room on the ground floor and a gym on the second floor. The curved deck that extends to the dunes is a lively gathering area for the pool and the restaurant. The second floor bridge connects the terraces and gardens of the two wings.

The architectural material palette, responsive to the local climate, includes stucco walls, natural stone, pre-cast concrete, concrete paving and wood that complement the dramatic interplay of stark architectural forms, light and shadow. The dynamic interweaving of nature, landscape and architecture embodies the spirit of W Hotels and the energy of the international clientele that allows for a unique experience unlike any other resort of the Riviera Maya.

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