With construction scheduled to commence anytime now, the new Ritz-Carlton resort and exclusive collection of luxury-branded residences in Costa Rica will be nestled in one of the most prized coastal locations of Peninsula Papagayo in the northwestern region of Guanacaste…
SB Architects has revealed the design it led for Nekajui, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve and Nekajui, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve Residence. The resort and exclusive collection of luxury-branded residences will be located in Peninsula Papagayo, a private club and resort community in Costa Rica’s northwestern region of Guanacaste. Collaborating with landscape architect and land planner, EDSA, and a market leader in experiential lodging, Luxury Frontiers, SB Architects created a design reflective of the Guanacaste region and the Ritz-Carlton Reserve brand, which is renowned for creating immersive and meaningful escapes in the rarest corners of the world.
Costa Rica, rich with almost five per cent of the entire world’s species, is known as a ‘blue zone’, a destination where data indicates people live longer and healthier. The new Ritz-Carlton resort’s design and architecture pays deep respect to the region’s biodiversity. “Today’s discerning travellers and buyers are seeking the most beautiful, remote landscapes to relax, explore, and deepen their connection to nature,” said SB Architects President and Principal, Scott Lee. “With immersive hospitality concepts informed by research into the traditions and architecture of the Guanacaste region, our team designed Nekajui as a place to soak up the local culture, satiate a thirst for outdoor adventure, and experience the peninsula’s natural wonders through the Ritz-Carlton Reserve brand.”
Nekajui, a Ritz Carlton Reserve will encompass 107 guestrooms and suites while the Residences will include 36 rare villa and estate homes. The exotic sanctuary is in Costa Rica’s Área de Conservación Guanacaste (ACG), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As a sensitive nod to Costa Rica’s position as a prime ecotourism destination and one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, SB Architects’ site-sensitive design weaves tree-house type structures and tents alongside villas, with a light-on-land approach that allows the design to be guided by the natural, steep contours of the land.
SB Architects conducted research into local architectural elements and reinterpreted them for its design, which immerses guests and residences authentically in the locale and delivers experiences tailored to the ethos of Guanacaste. A ‘classic zone’ at the heart of the resort draws from traditional, hacienda-style architecture and honours Spanish influences, while a ‘transitional zone’ showcases an interpretation of architecture found in the local Guanacaste region across guest rooms, suites, and branded residences. An ‘organic zone’ encompassing the guest lodging, beach club, and wellness spa features iconic treehouse-style architecture inspired by the natural environment and distinctive site.
An understated arrival pavilion in the local architectural vernacular leads guests to a spectacular central open-air courtyard, where La Casona and beautifully crafted guestrooms and suites are rooted in the Classic Costa Rican Hacienda Architecture. Comprised of a collection of buildings at the heart of the property, La Casona welcomes guests to the arrival pavilion, an event centre resembling a Guanacastecan church, and three main ocean front buildings that include the Great Room/lobby, barista bar and marketplace, boardroom, and suites on the top levels, all facing the ocean. La Casona also leads guests down one level to a three-meal restaurant, a hidden rum cave to savour the finest regional rums and exclusive tasting events, and to the main pool and pool bar. As guests move out further from the resort, the scale of buildings becomes smaller, and the guestrooms and residences showcase an elegant, clean, and light transitional interpretation of the architecture found within the local region of Guanacaste.
The branded residences are intimately scaled buildings tucked into the hillsides, featuring entrances from the second level, and delivering great privacy to owners. Ranging from 2,200-6,300 square feet, most of the two-to-five-bedroom villas feature spacious outdoor living areas, views from master bedrooms and bathrooms, canopied terraces, outdoor kitchens, and private pools. Designed in a transitional Costa Rican style, the homes feature modern interiors with a distinguishing feature – the Great Room – conceived as a modern version of the salón in Spanish colonial architecture.
“SB Architects’ contemporary reinterpretation unifies the kitchen, dining, and living room spaces into one grand salón,” said SB Architects Vice President Marcelo Balzano. “The Great Room is the arrival point in every home at Nekajui Ritz-Carlton Reserve Residence, a place where residents can reunite with family and friends in an exotic coastal retreat.”
Nekajui winds organically from coastal bluffs down to the sandy beach, offering unparalleled access to the peninsula’s natural beauty and a multifaceted architectural journey. SB Architects conceived the notion of giving guests the option of staying close to the heart of the resort at La Casona, in one of the guestrooms scattered across the site, or in tents or treehouse-type structures that are more remote and the most casual and organic in design. The design caters to a wide audience with varying tastes and appetites for adventure travel, allowing people to delve as deeply into nature and organic experiences as they desire.
The beach club, designed in a whimsical, rustic style akin to the tent structures, features its own natural lagoon-like pool, with another pool and three-meal restaurant experience situated above at La Casona. An iconic funicular carries guests down from the main pool to the secluded beach club, which is designed high above the sand and pushed back to respect the coast. Whisking guests 200 feet up and down the coastal hillsides, the funicular offers bird’s-eye views between the arrival core and the beach club destination. Here, guests will discover the organic shaped pool and a casual private dining experience that extends above the sloping mountainside, along with sandy pathways leading to the ocean.
Main image credit: Gencom