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The indigenous spirit of NIZUC Resort & Spa

March 4, 2014
The indigenous spirit of NIZUC Resort & Spa

Inspired by the local setting, architect and interior designer Alejandro Escudero has sought to integrate the NIZUC Resort & Spa with its natural and spiritual surroundings through architecture, landscaping, and decoration. Escudero has used natural materials, reinstated indigenous flora, and incorporated references to the native ecosystem to create a subtle backdrop to the stunning and enchanting landscape of the Quintana Roo coast.

Respecting the natural environment of the Yucatan peninsula, Escudero has utilized local and organic materials, such as hardwoods, limestone, granite, and stone to form the basis of his architecture. Rustic materials embellish these forms and, in many cases, make reference to the local – and often endangered – ecosystem. Most noticeably, a large wooden structure around the exterior of the lobby is cut with an intricate pattern and frames views of the lagoon. Here, the pattern mimics coral found in the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef system – the protected marine region lying just beyond the lagoon. In The Café de la Playa, the ceiling is adorned with an assemblage of mangrove branches left strewn after a hurricane. Mangroves covered the Cancun coast before resort development began in the early 1970s and they continue to play a valuable role in the local ecosystem. NIZUC is working to restore the local mangroves and dunes to their former state.

Native and endangered flora, such as the great tropical Ceiba tree, has been planted throughout NIZUC to help reinstate the region’s indigenous vegetation and to evoke Maya beliefs. The ancient Maya considered Punta Nizuc a revered area and used it as a gathering place to worship their gods. Central to the Maya belief system was the continuous circle of birth, death, and rebirth – transformation and new life. The Maya were at one with nature and believed the sacred Ceiba tree was the center of the world, connecting earth to the Spiritual World above and the Underworld below. Fittingly, it would stand – as it does at NIZUC – at the center of every city or village offering protection, enlightenment, prosperity, and eternal life.

The Maya originally knew Cancun as Nizuc, meaning either “promontory” or “point of grass.” These meanings reflect the important role location and nature has played in the architecture, design, and landscaping of NIZUC Resort & Spa as Escudero has sought to create a resort that recognizes the local environment and spirit of the region. Indeed, NIZUC brings spiritual and physical rejuvenation not only to its guests, but it also works to revive the local ecosystem and give life to the beliefs of its ancient inhabitants. 

Written by: Rebecca Gross ,Graduate student, MA in the History of Decorative Arts and Design, Following a Six Week Tour Of Latin America