From cenotes to murals, Canopy by Hilton Cancun La Isla whisks guests away to a wonder-filled world.

The newbuild Canopy by Hilton Cancun La Isla may be part of a large-scale mixed use development, but HBA San Francisco and architect AOMA ensured that the guest experience is anything but “big-box.” The 174-key urban resort instead draws on two of the most memorable and locale-driven aspects of Cancun: art (especially street art) and the joy of swimming in a cenote.

Both of these concepts draw on the idea of a guest journey defined by discovery. Cenotes beckon with a sense of intrigue that deepens as one approach. Murals invite a closer look to discover rich details hidden within the overall image.

“There has been a sense that luxury and playfulness are mutually exclusive. But we think this project does a good job of blending those things, of answering the millennial call to be both at the same time, to rethink those old definitions,” says HBA San Francisco Partner Meghann Day. “We want guests to be instantly at ease [after all, it is a resort destination] but beyond that, we want them to feel energized and delighted.”

The curiosity-first experience begins as soon as guests walk in the door. A chandelier made of woven fiber art hints at the unique design touches throughout the property. Architectural lighting adds shadows that bring the movement of the jungle inside while a latticework ceiling beckons guests further into the public spaces and evokes the root system seen at the entrance to a cenote.

In the café, lower ceilings underscore the more intimate environment as guests transition out of the bustle around them. Wall treatments inspired by the regional architecture incorporate a truly authentic local accent, white oak and walnut ground the otherwise airy space. A secondary egress point provides access to La Isla mall while an outdoor terrace overlooks a canal and connects to nature via an adjacent mangrove garden.

The bar is anchored by a massive feature mural that layers paint colors and line work over angular concrete blocks prominently found in Mexican architecture. Split face granite fronts the bar, while black oak raised panels and a polished top enrich the visual mix. An accessible communal table resembles solid stone, and a second communal table made from salvaged peroba wood seats smaller groups. Local found wood on the bar stools further brings nature and the spirit of place into the bar area.

The mezzanine, where coworking spaces and boardrooms are located, uses a warmer palette and residential inspirations to offer flexibility and comfort while working. The transfer lounge continues those deep tones while introducing a lighter, crisper touch in the restrooms that are echoed in the pool, pool bar and pool restrooms. The fitness center offers visual connection with both the pool bar and the outdoors.

Moving toward the most private areas of the hotel, the guest corridors pick up the beachy palette with white marble borders on the inset carpet and cenote teal blue at the back of the door drops. Inside the guest rooms, local muralists’ work adorns the guest room wall and headboard with scenes of the jungle, flowers and the cenote-inspired ladder. The signature open closet serves to divide the bedroom and vanity areas, cleverly separating the two functions without visual obstruction. In king rooms, the nightstand/minibar combination unit hides the refrigerator drawer behind a laser cut panel, which also houses the coffee and honor bar services. It additionally doubles as a table for the day bed. A hanging swing at the window provides another curiosity-inducing moment of differentiation.

The hotel meets the modern traveler where they are. The way people experience new locales has changed. “Being a ‘tourist’ is a thing of the past,” says Day. “Today’s culturalists and influencers thrive on true connection with the communities they meet. In pursuit of the most vibrant and authentic experiences possible, they explore the neighborhood bars and restaurants, listening for the local musicians, and tasting the local flavors. They seek to soak it all in, to discover what the others have not.”

Project: Canopy by Hilton Cancun La Isla
Location: Quintana Roo, Mexico
Design Studio: HBA
Photo Credits: Will Pryce