Maroma, A Belmond Hotel, Riviera Maya re-opened this August 2023, following an extensive renovation. And while Mexico is a trek for Australians to get to, the property can serve as interior design inspiration for those looking to create a bohemian-style home space.
Design studio Tara Bernerd and Partners worked on the hotel’s interiors, honouring Mexican tradition while enhancing features from its existing build by Mexico City architect Jose Luis Moreno in 1995. Its original white stucco buildings are aligned with the sacred geometry of Mayan masonry.
“This is our first project in Mexico, and as such, we researched the area thoroughly,” says Bernerd. “We have drawn upon the history and architecture of the existing site, as well as the surrounding landscape, to create a design that is indigenous to its environment and that completely embraces the character and identity of the space in which it’s set.”
Bernerd and her team hand-selected local artists to work with on the property’s interiors. This includes the likes of Jose Noe Suro, who crafted over 700,000 hand-painted Jalisco tiles for the guestrooms, Henequen Textiles, who created rugs woven from a hemp-like material sourced from the agave plant and artist Eduardo Ricon, who worked on shadow boxes to display native botanicals.
“We have brought in an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary pieces throughout the resort,” says Bernerd. “Materiality is key and playful touches abound. For instance, in one of the restaurants, Casa Mayor, timber tables have a mixture of tops with glazed lava stone or ceramic tiles and timber.”
Curved lines, organic forms and views of the glimmering Caribbean Sea beyond inspire a feeling of being aligned with nature. The property’s three pools have also been redesigned to feature Sukabumi tiles, handmade from volcanic stone, in the same turquoise as the region’s cenotes.
The hotel features 72 rooms, suites and villas, some with private pools and gardens. The Villa Maroma has four bedrooms, a full kitchen, a private terrace, and a pool. Maroma Spa by Guerlain has a biophilic design, with nine treatment rooms that look out onto the jungle. Healing rituals performed within them are inspired by the four elements of nature – fire, water, earth and air.
“Layout was key, and I am especially proud of the way we have managed to reimagine under-utilised areas and have created a balance between unique, dramatic spaces and cosier, slightly hidden areas,” says Bernerd. “The journey throughout the property was important.”
Chef Curtis Stone worked on one of Maroma’s restaurants, Woodend by Curtis Stone, which focuses on the connection between jungle and sea. Another restaurant, Casa Mayor, is helmed by Mexican-born Executive Chef Daniel Camacho. The menu features creative, colourful dishes with 90% of the ingredients sourced from Mexico.
Bambuco is a casual bar with seasonal herbal drinks and an extensive collection of mezcal, while Freddy’s Bar channels the lively spirit of Riviera Maya with live music and fresh seafood, including a locally-sourced raw bar. Every seat within Freddy’s Bar has sea views.
It’s Bambucco that Bernerd considers a favourite space in the property. She describes it as refined, with a décor that works throughout the day and into the evening.
“Its bar is situated on the upper level, and it takes centre stage in the room,” she says. “It has a very textured and layered finish, the front being made of carved pale timber pales, with dark-stained bamboo uprights, topped with an alluring dark green stone.”
Another design highlight for Bernerd is the cluster of chandeliers at Stone’s restaurant Woodend. It was designed especially for the space and inspired by local Mayan jade jewellery.
“The chandeliers have been created with local crafts made of shells, like the ‘tinklers’ from ancient Mayan dance costumes,” says Bernerd. “The main rings of the light are finished in a jade-coloured stone. The chandeliers enliven the central void of the palapa, bringing a true sense of occasion and drama.”
So, what’s the secret to interiors that look bohemian but are still luxurious? Bernerd says the key is for the design to feel considered yet effortless.
“Start with a strong, functional layout with subtle zoning out of the space, then layer the design with the right finishes and carefully-considered furniture pieces. That final layer of books, objet d’art and planters help to bring that essential feeling of home.”
Rates start at $1,095 per night for a Deluxe Room, based on double occupancy.