Descending from the triple-height ceiling of the lobby of the new Garza Blanca Resort and Spa in Cancun, Mexico, are 1600 light fixtures. Against the distant gold ceiling, they appear to be floating, an ethereal element in a vast, dramatic space.
“The wow factor is a very important part of our design,” says Carlos Alberto Palomera González, Project Executive Design Director for Garza Blanca and a member of the Tafer Resorts design team. “The lobby is very important: it creates the first impression for each guest. It needs to be large enough to allow for a bar and for reception space, and the lighting helps moves guests through the lobby while also creating drama.”
Opened north of Cancun’s hotel zone in the Spring of 2022, Garza Blanca is the newest in a chain of Mexican hotels owned and operated by Fernando González and his family. Other properties in the Tafer stable are located in Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, the Sierra Madre and Riviera Maya.
The design of Garza Blanca, says Fernando González Jr., the executive vice-president of Tafer and son of the chain’s owner, was driven by the site.
“The mangroves are on one side and the ocean is on the other,” he says. “They determined the architecture, which is organized so that all guests have views of either mangroves or the water. We base all our new designs on already existing buildings in the group. With each hotel, we try to learn from the past and make it better.”
In Cancun, which has no shortage of luxurious resorts, the Garza Blanca sets a new standard, one based on old notions of how the best hospitality comes out of comfort and ease.
“We try to create luxury that is also cozy,” says Fernando González Jr.
“The colors and materials we use are very important for that,” says interior design director Ana Valdés Navarro. “Cancun is dominated by blue sea colors, which we used throughout the building. We also used a lot of natural stone, and for furniture and lighting, we use very high-end materials and golden shades. Especially during the ‘golden hour’ around sunset, the golden shades in the lamps and ceiling, together with soft fabrics, make for that wow factor, when everything looks magical and everyone looks great.”
Cancun’s hotel zone has its own building codes; the Garza Blanca is limited to half the height of the buildings there, measuring ten stories instead of the 20 stories allowed in the hotel zone.
“We use the strongest building codes in various areas for the best construction practices,” Fernando González says.
Carlos González points out that, in the case of railing heights, he and his fellow designers used United States building codes, which are more stringent and call for higher railings.
“For hurricane codes, we use those of Miami-Dade County,” he says. “Each project is different, depending on size and scale. But in each case, we try to design the best building for the place.”
At Garza Blanca, where the terrain is marshy, that meant the U-shaped buildings is atop footings that measure 100 feet.
“But the water table is very shallow,” says Fernando González. “As soon as you dig, you find water. So we needed to use a special concrete that will stay dry. And, we have a lot of hurricanes, so we also have to make sure that the building’s structure stays dry during storm surges.”
As important as soft, welcoming fabrics, dramatic and artistic lighting and welcoming spaces are to a sense of luxury, the essential safety underpinning a building is even more so. That may be why some of the most luxurious buildings we know are also some of the most established: true luxury is built to last.