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    Pablo Blasco, CEO de TAHR arquitectos

    Pablo Blasco, CEO of the Mexican firm TAHR Architects, will participate in the fourth edition of the Latin America, Caribbean, Europe, and Middle East Meeting, which will bring together professionals in the design, construction, and business development of hotel projects and wellness centers as part of Piscina & Wellness Barcelona. This activity will allow for the exchange of experiences and serve as a space for dialogue to explore the growth potential of these markets, where European firms in the pool and wellness sector can provide competitive and innovative solutions. Blasco, the mastermind behind the architectural design of the iconic Zadún Ritz-Carlton Reserve hotel in Mexico, talks to us about his work and how architecture, design, and comprehensive planning contribute to creating unforgettable wellness experiences.

    Pablo Blasco, CEO of TAHR arquitectos

    Let’s start with the Zadún Ritz-Carlton Reserve hotel in the Mexican desert of Los Cabos, one of the most internationally recognized luxury hotels and recipient of numerous awards. What considerations did you consider as differentiating factors when designing it?

    The central concept of the architectural design is based on the idea that its buildings blend in with the desert and that the spaces flow from nature to the interior and from the interior to nature. From the outset of the project, our intention was to pay tribute to the desert by connecting with the true essence of the place through simple and elegant architectural elements. Leveraging its exceptional location, we aimed not only to offer privileged views but also to provide greater privacy and the feeling that each room has a unique and distinct ambiance.

    The design of Zadún offers a well-orchestrated composition of simple and balanced volumes, with the use of symmetry and delicate elegance. The use of large planes and horizontal walls gives the impression that the buildings emerge from the desert. Therefore, we were very careful in selecting materials that were in harmony with the surroundings, such as regional stone, steel, wood, plaster, and marble, in a range of tones from browns to ochres and sand. We also decided to create large cantilevers in black to accentuate the shadows produced by the unique desert light. Additionally, we sought the collaboration of world-class designers to provide the resort with iconic elements that align with the architectural style.

    The main pool, integrated with the informal restaurant, offers a relaxed atmosphere. Furthermore, in the window that opens between the dunes, a smaller pool was designed, nestled among large rocks, providing a sense of tranquility.

    In the center of the property, there is a natural depression that was used to accommodate the spa, where the intensive use of palm trees and abundant vegetation creates the sensation of an oasis in the middle of the desert and ensures the privacy required by guests.

    Regarding the sustainability of the project, at Zadún, we consider the use of environmentally friendly systems and technologies, achieving:

    • Reducing the energy load by using boulder stone, gravel, and desert vegetation on all rooftops.
    • Incorporating large cantilevers and appropriate glazing specifications to reduce excessive sunlight exposure.
    • Illuminating with LED technology, air conditioning units, and heat pumps for pools, all of which employ the latest technology and low energy consumption.
    • Implementing a comprehensive wastewater treatment plant for the hotel and residences, which provides sufficient water for irrigation.

    Another example is the approach we took to the construction process of all the buildings, aiming to minimize the impact on the natural conditions of the site. In the case of existing vegetation, it was carefully removed before construction began, taken to a nearby nursery for preservation, and a significant portion of it was returned to its original location once construction was completed. As a result, if you walk through the property, you can see that the vegetation is fully congruent with the desert environment, making the environmental impact virtually neutral.

    Hotel Zadún Ritz-Carlton Reserve. Image courtesy of Pablo Blasco.

    1. What would you highlight about the resort in terms of the wellness concept?

    Typically, when we think of the term “wellness,” we refer to specific areas within resorts or the services they offer as part of their activity menu. However, within the values of a Ritz-Carlton Reserve – Pure, Transformative, Rare, and Immersive – the concept of wellness is intrinsically linked to the brand’s philosophy, where caring for the body, mind, and spirit is an integral part of the guest experience.

    In this sense, every space in the hotel, from arrival to support and service areas, is designed to provide guests with a comprehensive well-being experience.

    2. The hotel opened during the pandemic. Did the opening of a luxury hotel of this caliber at that time bring any additional challenges or complexities?

    The pandemic posed a major challenge for the entire industry, and undoubtedly, for a newly inaugurated resort, it represented a greater problem as the initial years of operation are crucial in terms of stabilization, which significantly impacts the future of the business.

    However, it is important to note that precisely because it is a Reserve, the impact was less severe than in other hotel categories, such as all-inclusive or business hotels. In this case, since guests seek privacy, exclusivity, and minimal contact with other guests and staff, the risk associated with the health emergency was significantly lower. Nevertheless, it was necessary to comply with the regulations set by the authorities and make adaptations in service standards and certain areas of the resort to ensure guest safety.

    Hotel Zadún Ritz-Carlton Reserve. Image courtesy of Pablo Blasco.

    3. Zadún is located in Los Cabos, one of the top luxury destinations internationally. Do you believe that sustainability and wellness can easily coexist when it comes to designing luxury spaces?

    Certainly, the concept of wellness is intimately linked to the care, understanding, and enjoyment of nature. Additionally, the type and scale of architecture typically found in these types of resorts tend to have low impact and a high level of integration with the surroundings. However, it is also true that a luxury resort poses significant challenges in terms of sustainability, as the energy consumption for air conditioning, water usage, and the energy-intensive laundry equipment tends to be considerable. Therefore, it is necessary to continuously review the best strategies and implement the latest technologies to reduce the environmental impact.

    4. What architectural and design trends would you highlight in the luxury hotel sector regarding the use of materials, technologies, styles, etc.?

    Luxury hotels have many facets, depending on the philosophy of each brand. Moreover, urban luxury hotels differ from those located on the beach, in the countryside, or in the mountains. However, I dare say that in the last 15 to 20 years, the sector has been responding to a new type of traveler who understands luxury differently. For this traveler, luxury resides more in the experience and less in the glamour or excessive ornamentation that was prevalent in classic luxury hotels. Furthermore, this new type of traveler belongs to younger generations that are more aware of the importance of the environment and its care and preservation. As a result, luxury hotels tend to integrate more with the site, utilizing local materials and technologies, as well as collaborating with artists and artisans for the creation of art, furniture, and operational products (tableware, glassware, textiles, etc.).

    5. Do you believe that the implementation of wellness spaces is already present throughout the entire high-end hotel sector?

    More than wellness spaces within luxury hotels, the trend is for the hotel itself to be a wellness space that offers a comprehensive well-being experience, encompassing both architecture and service. I believe that every high-end hotel should incorporate the concept of wellness into its guest experience offering. While it is difficult to assert that wellness is present across the entire sector, I can say that those hotels that have not incorporated it or are in the process of doing so will have a competitive disadvantage in attracting a type of traveler who is increasingly interested in hotels that contribute to their holistic growth (body, mind, and soul) through the care and enjoyment of nature.

    6. The Mexican architecture firm ABAX was responsible for the architectural design of the Zadún Ritz-Carlton Reserve hotel. ABAX has undergone a rebranding this year and is now operating as TAHR. What prompted this change?

    ABAX has been a firm that, for 40 years, has been involved in numerous residential and hotel projects. However, starting this year, we decided to undertake a series of actions as part of a strategic plan that we have developed to project the firm into the future, reinforcing our position as an architectural design firm committed to the highest standards of design, processes, and customer service. With this change, we wanted to strengthen our offering as an architecture firm specializing in high-end hospitality and residential segments while not neglecting the development of projects in other typologies and all related services.

    Hotel Zadún Ritz-Carlton Reserve. Image courtesy of Pablo Blasco.

    7. Can you give us a preview of any projects you are currently working on?

    Currently, we are in the design process of our second Ritz-Carlton Reserve, this time on the island of Eleuthera, Bahamas. I can share that it will have 90 keys and 60 branded residences. We are committed to taking the experience of Zadún to ensure that this new Reserve surpasses not only what we achieved in Los Cabos but also becomes the best hotel within the Reserve portfolio on the continent and one of the best in the world, competing with Dorado Beach (Puerto Rico), Mandapa (Bali), Phulay Bay (Thailand), Higashiyama (Japan), or the recently inaugurated Rissai Valley (China).

    8. What is your motivation for attending the upcoming edition of Piscina & Wellness Barcelona?

    TAHR specializes in high-end hotels and residential projects where pools, wellness, and particularly knowledge of technologies for efficient, sustainable, and responsible water management are of vital importance. In this regard, I have a great interest and high expectations to learn about the latest trends and solutions related to the sector to seek their implementation in the projects we currently have in development, as well as in those we may undertake in the near future. Additionally, having contact with professionals involved in the pool and wellness sector at the international level and the opportunity to exchange ideas and perspectives significantly contributes to our growth.

    Cristina Benavides, collaborator of Piscina & Wellness Barcelona