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07-28-22 | Feature

Park Hyatt Aviara Hotel Renovation

Five Star Hotel gets a Five Star Landscape Architecture Upgrade
by Lance Walker, WATG

Located in South Carlsbad, California, the Park Hyatt Aviara Hotel was recently renovated. WATG Landscape Architects from their Los Angeles office worked on the pool courtyard, including two pools, a slide tower, and a splash pad, and the event courtyard on the other side of the hotel, including a new staircase, fountain, and lawns. The outside area of the hotel that was renovated was 115,000 square feet.
This top-down view of the hotel shows the pool area with the family pool, slide pool, splash pad, adult pool, and various whirlpools. Also visible are the cabanas, with red roofs, and the many chairs that line the pools.
Pictured is the adult pool located adjacent to the pool bar on the lower terrace in the overall pool space. The pool's size is 2,150 square feet, and the adult pool area is 12,000 square feet, extending all the way to the luxury cabanas in the rear of the photo. The pool deck is made of champagne, rust, and linen colored concrete pavers with precast coping, chosen for their high quality and Ground Face finish.
This 15,000 square foot upper lawn area features a fountain and a variety of plant material. There is brick paving with beige colored concrete as well as a mix of succulents and dracaena draco planted. The lawns are made of synthetic turf and lined with phoenix dactylifera trees.
The two GFRC firepits on either side of the fountain on the upper lawn are 60" by 30", featuring glass protectors that isolate the fire from seated guests.
This fountain, located in the rear of the resort on the upper lawn, was designed to be a contemporary interpretation of a traditional California Riviera estate fountain. It features many low voltage lights that illuminate the water from under the surface on each level. The fountain is flanked by two symmetrical sitting areas, with chairs, tables, and firepits.
Found on the 3,200 square foot lower lawn, this sculpture can be seen adjacent to the grand stairs around the back of the hotel. It was designed by California-based artist, Jennifer Gilbert Asher, and abstractly symbolizes the fluid movement of birds. The steel sculpture is six feet tall and sits among date palms, bougainvillea, birds of paradise, boxwood, as well as a rose garden. The surrounding paving is brick with concrete.
The family resort pool is designed to satisfy the swimming desires of all ages. The pool was created with a beach entrance that makes entering the water easier. This entrance is made of tile that then transitions into plaster.
The pools are surrounded by umbrellas and chaises and the deck is surfaced with concrete pavers. There are covered day beds for relaxation nearby the pool in addition to covered permanent shaded areas recessed from the pools.
This is the slide tower that connects to the slide pool. The slides are about 15 feet tall and 75 feet long. The structure itself is made of pre-manufactured steel that has been powder coated and waterjet cut. The birds, reeds, and fish found on the tower are meant to pay homage to local marine life found in the nearby Batiquitos lagoon.
This early site plan shows a bird's eye view of the pool area, displaying the various additions to the resort. The waterslide tower, permanent cabanas, and splash pad are all viewable on this plan.

About thirty miles north of San Diego in Carlsbad, California, Park Hyatt Aviara sits atop a quiet bluff, overlooking the Batiquitos Lagoon State Marine Conservation Area with the Pacific Ocean in the distance. Originally, WATG, a multi-disciplinarian design firm with 7 offices around the world specializing in strategy, master planning, architecture, landscape architecture, and Wimberly Interiors, designed the architecture when the resort opened as a Four Seasons in 1997. Then, in 2009, Park Hyatt assumed management. A decade later, Xenia Hotels and Resorts purchased the asset with the intent to renovate the property. They invited integrated design team of WATG landscape architecture, WATG architecture and Wimberly Interiors to design a $50 million renovation of the luxury resort including the event lawns, swimming pool environments, lobby, interior public spaces, guest rooms, meeting space, and restaurants.

With the client's goals to modernize the existing property, elevate the guest experience, and maximize revenue potential, the design team found inspiration in the resort's unique site, including the surrounding Bataquitos Lagoon and its diverse species of birds.

Widely recognized as one of Southern California's most iconic resort destinations, the Park Hyatt Aviara has long been popular for its expansive spa, golf course, the San Diego region's only Arnold Palmer-designed course, and tennis program. Yet, the resort operator saw an opportunity to expand its events offerings through renovation of the meeting spaces and the transformation of its grounds. This specific prioritization adds wide-reaching value to the property by maximizing existing revenue streams and creating new ones. Improved outdoor spaces not only drive demand for outdoor events, but these amenities also draw more guests to stay on the property, fueling an increase in average daily room rates.

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To this end, the Park Hyatt Aviara's gardens recall a sophistication and elegance in the arrangement of the gardens, selections of finishes, and details of the site elements that suggest the grand estates of the California Riviera, ranging from Santa Barbara to San Diego. The plantings are a combination of native trees, including succulents, palms, and subtropical plants that feature coast live oaks, date palms, birds of paradise, and a collection of aloes and agaves. The result is a layered, textural, and lush, yet water-wise setting for formal events, family fun, and daily activities such as yoga classes.

A portion of the lobby, adjacent to the lobby bar, was converted to an outdoor California room and connects to the event lawn with a new grand staircase. This connection was transformative for the property and provides a smooth transition to the expansive grounds and views of the Pacific Ocean beyond.

The Park Hyatt brand is also well known, portfolio-wide, for its thoughtful approach to design and expertly curated art collections, giving each property a highly customized and localized aesthetic, indoors and out. Balancing the property's Spanish Colonial architecture, modern and transitional elements punctuate the outdoor event space, including two new iconic fountains, fire tables, and a large, steel sculpture by California-based artist, Jennifer Gilbert Asher, which symbolizes the fluid movement of birds through an abstract lens. A new rose garden was design in the old one's original location as a nod to its legacy. The team also identified existing mature palm trees on site to be stored in a field nursery and transplanted ensuring the resort would maintain legacy trees that establish an instant sense of scale.

A cohesive effort across WATG's landscape architecture, architecture, and interior design studios, the integrated design team helped the client envision the experience for each new space, how it could function operationally, and maximize the highly personal experiences that Park Hyatt guests have come to expect.

As a key part of the Park Hyatt Aviara design process, WATG developed spatial diagrams to illustrate how each space would function from a scale and operational perspective-mapping out logistics, activities, capacity, and functions. For example, the design team proposed ideal locations for stages, event tents, and seating arrangements. These details ensure that each space is flexible and complete with power and technology. Artificial turf provides ultimate flexibility with removable umbrellas for shade on hot summer days, flush power receptables, and sub-terranean sleeves for power cords to facilitate invisible and safe connections allowing a number of configurations.

A significant part of the renovation is to expand the Park Hyatt Aviara's offerings to a wider variety of guests with two new pool environments offering diverse experiences, amenities, and options for guests of all ages. The adult pool offers tranquility with dramatic views, a modern flush edge pool, two whirlpools, and luxury cabanas. The separate family pool provides space for play, including a waterslide tower, a tide pool splashpad, beach entry lagoon pool, and family cabanas. Featuring two twisting slides, the tower is adorned with powder coated, steel water-jet art panels, with patterns representing birds, reeds, and fish commonly found in the nearby Batiquitos lagoon, paying homage to Carlsbad's local wildlife and the artistic expression of the Park Hyatt brand.

While the Park Hyatt Aviara exudes a cool coastal vibe and enjoys Pacific Ocean views, it offers a secluded inland retreat rather than a beachfront setting, and guests are typically drawn to the resort for its expansive grounds, lush landscaping, and abundant amenities with a grand residential estate feel. The gardens throughout the renovated property create numerous opportunities to meander along paths and explore-including connections to a popular 3-mile walking trail along the lagoon-as well as occasions to pause within the mix of beautifully furnished outdoor spaces.

Since its grand reopening in October 2020, this AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five-Star luxury resort has been recognized in Conde Nast Traveler's 2021 Hot List and 2020 Readers' Choice Awards as one of the Top 15 Resorts in Southern California. Geoff Gray, Park Hyatt Aviara's General Manager, said of the design team: "We were fortunate to partner with WATG and Wimberly Interiors on the transformation of the resort. The imagination and integration of their design vision helped curate an effortless spirit of modernity that is a signature of the Park Hyatt brand."

Filled with local context, history, and art, the renovated property evokes the feeling of a grand coastal estate and emphasizes the seamless connections between indoor and outdoor spaces.

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