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07-15-20 | Feature

Integrating Cultures at the Nobu Hotel in Los Cabos

Resort Located on Southern Tip of Baja Penninsula
by Alexandra Hammarth, Marketing Communications Manager, WATG

The Nobu Hotel in Los Cabos, Mexico, features a zen garden influenced by Japanese garden design principals and is constructed with local Cabo materials. The courtyard in the background is framed by fire and native desert plants.
A Bursera micophylla tree sits at the center of a black granite fountain with an overflow edge. The area is framed with a bamboo hedge. The concept of the design was to provide a calm, cooling effect in the space as one enters the rock garden. 
This fountain is the backdrop to the rock garden and creates a separation between the group arrival space and the lobby, providing calming sounds throughout the space. 
Ipe wood decking connects the cantilevered pool bar structure with the sand. The bar includes poolside swim-up service and beachside walk-up service.
Reflecting pools connect the outside area of the resort. Plantings are interwoven within this area and include a mix of tropical coconuts and plumeria along with native elephant trees, agaves and drought tolerant oleander.
The dining furnishings are for an al fresco dining experience in the "Chef's Garden." The paving materials are compacted decomposed granite and the walls are Ohinagua marble. The plantings around the furnishings are vegetables and herbs used for the Malibu Farm restaurant. The sculpture beyond is a large Cabo stone set to reflect the surrounding mountain context.
Patios on the bottom floor of the resort are composed of Ipe wood decking and granite coping and lead to reflecting pools.
Basalt paving leads to the lines of bamboo which border the entrances to the Ohinagua arches. These arches complement the cooling focus of the entrance as they lead to the rock garden.

Nobu Hotel Los Cabos is a modern, luxury resort located at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula. WATG, a landscape architect firm based in Honolulu, Hawaii, provided landscape architecture and architecture services to deliver a resort at the intersection of exquisite cuisine, innovation and creativity, designed to honor the Japanese principles of the Nobu brand while infusing local flavors of Mexico. The hotel opened its doors in March 2019, unveiling a uniquely serene experience to Cabo San Lucas with 200 guest rooms and suites, multiple swimming pools, a chef's garden, a luxury spa with a hydrotherapy experience, meeting and event spaces and food/beverage venues.

In order to maximize the ocean views without obstructing nearby residences, WATG designed a series of low, horizontal buildings, all of which are connected by vast yet private courtyards. WATG carefully planned the resort to respond to environmental factors and the views. Partnering with a world-renown wind consultant, the team began by identifying and ranking a series of "zones" on-site based on levels of comfort for the guests and staff. With strong winds being prevalent in this region, WATG harnessed that data to designate a safe placement for the resort, as well as mapping out areas for outdoor corridors that provide natural ventilation and work with the wind, not against it.

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In addition to wind, the warm climate and strong sunlight inspired WATG to use light-colored materials and neutral tones throughout the project. These elements not only preserve the minimalist aesthetic but they also reflect the sunlight, rather than absorb it, during the day. However, the temperatures drop into a much cooler climate at night. This served as inspiration for the Yin and Yang landscape concept which can be traced back to Nobu's principles of harmony and balance. As guests arrive, they are immediately greeted by a large reflecting pool, meant to symbolize the cooling sensation that guests seek in warmer climates. The docile pool also serves as a reflective touchpoint for guests as they enter the resort, encouraging them to embrace moments of peace and serenity during their stay. At night, areas of the resort are transformed with fire-lit podiums, meant to represent warmth and heat.

As guests enter the resort, they're transported into a sculptural rock garden which was designed as a contemporary interpretation of the traditional Japanese zen garden. The architecture of the serene entry court leads to a stone-framed portal focused on the view of the grounds and the Pacific Ocean. The siting, orientation and building plans follow the principle of quiet, enclosed spaces leading to dramatic vistas which provide guests with sweeping views of the ocean, migrating whales and magnificent sunsets. Simple lines and light colors combine with granite, limestone, the local Cabo stone and finely finished woods to create subtle connections between guests and the environment. Indoor/outdoor living is at the heart of the Cabo lifestyle with color, art and texture.

Elegant materials provide luxurious ambiance to the hotel interior combined with Japanese joinery techniques integrated into bespoke furniture pieces, teak soaking tubs, Shoji inspired closet doors and trellises. WATG collaborated with an interior designer to ensure the smooth transition from exterior to interior, as seen with Ohinaga marble flooring that links the two seamlessly. The team thoughtfully selected sophisticated materials sourced from local artisans and craftsmen.

The resort grounds merge the locale, including indigenous plantings like Cardon cactus, agave plants and Palo Blanco trees. Due to the lack of swimmable beaches on-site (since the waves are too dangerous in this area), WATG designed a series of unique swimming environments and water features to bring elements of the sea to the guests. The entrance displays serene water features, including a minimalistic granite fountain, while each of the swimming pools carry their own luxurious concept. The 'Pacific' pool is a contemporary version of a lagoon pool with swim-out rooms, islands with private cabanas and lush landscaping to evoke a tropical feel, while the 'Cortez' pool uses clean lines for a modern look, featuring a swim-up bar and daybeds. Other pools include an adult infinity pool outside of the Nobu restaurant.

By capitalizing on ocean views, strategically integrating local plants and keeping the minimalist design vision throughout, guests can truly have a one-of-a-kind experience unlike any other in Mexico.

As seen in LASN magazine, July 2020.

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