Escape From Everything at This Silent, Solar-Powered, Artisan-Made New Hotel on the Mexican Coast
The main strip of Zihuatanejo, near the southern end of Mexico’s Pacific coast, is basically a resort town — choked with all-inclusives, timeshares, jet skis, infinity pools, and all the other hallmarks of Big Travel, which favors convenience and familiarity over intimacy and locality. But drive an hour south, into an area of tropical wilderness below the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains that’s interrupted only by small towns, and you’ll arrive at Hotelito, a 13-bedroom boutique hotel that’s the epitome of considered, off-the-grid peacefulness. When we visited the hotel this past winter, as it was opening, there was no one and nothing on the beach as far as the eye could see, and the only “activity” we did was visiting a longtime sea turtle sanctuary nearby. Its design merges inspirations from Japanese modernism and Brutalism with traditional and contemporary Mexican materials and makers, its tiles sourced from the Guadalajaran studio Tata Ceramica, its bathtubs handmade by artisans in Michoacan, its public spaces accented with local Parota-wood sculptures by artist Joselo Maderista, and its tables set with Oaxacan pottery, among others. It’s the kind of place you head to if you really, truly want to get away.
The hotel is part of a larger, also newly built residential development called MUSA that — dropped into 62 hectares of remote jungle — could have been just as problematic as a big resort, had it not been conceived with sustainability at the forefront. Its founders, Mexico City-born designer Andrés Saavedra and Canadian entrepreneur Tara Medina, took pains to ensure that low-impact and resource-preserving solutions were engineered into every aspect of the project, from small things like grey-water systems, soil regeneration, and cooling roof gardens to an overall design scheme that’s low-density and sustainably landscaped. Hotelito itself is entirely solar-powered, with open-air bathrooms that are optimized to vent steamy air and conserve water. Eventually, if and when MUSA reaches its full scope — with a community of homes as well as a sculpture garden, contemplation pool, grocery store, and laundromat — the hotel’s guest experience will expand even further, though you can’t blame us for being totally satisfied just lazing around in a saltwater pool and enjoying the remarkable, absolute quiet.
PHOTOS BY ALEJANDRO RAMIREZ OROZCO