One of the guest rooms at the new Riviera Maya Edition at Kanai.
Photo: nikolas koenig

Hotel of the Week: The Riviera Maya Edition Is a Minimalist Paradise

Designed by Rockwell Group, the 182-room property in Mexico features a plethora of amenities including a cenote-inspired spa

Set on a pristine stretch of white-sand beach, where a tropical mangroves meet the sea, the new Riviera Maya Edition at Kanai perfectly encapsulates the fast-growing hotel brand’s commitment to holistic sustainability. Conceived by Rockwell Group and Edmonds International, the architecture was thoughtfully designed to be light on the land, with a minimal footprint that occupies just ten percent of the 620-acre reserve, which is home to hundreds of species of birds as well as lizards, sea turtles, and white-nose coatis.

Indeed, the entire property—which includes 182 guest rooms, 30 suites, and one jaw-dropping Sky Rooftop Villa—feels fully integrated into the lush landscape, a sense that’s enhanced by the design itself, which pays homage to the ancient local culture with a site plan organized around a central oculus inspired by the cenote sinkholes that were sacred to the Maya people.

The main pool at the Riviera Maya Edition at Kanai. Photo: nikolas koenig

For its first hotel in Mexico, the Edition’s classic minimalist palette has been adapted to feature an abundance of warm woods and creamy stone, not to mention a profusion of greenery, as evidenced by the triple-height lobby’s explosion of hanging plants that create an immersive, jungle-like atmosphere. (Flowering orchids also abound.) In lieu of windows, the lobby is enclosed by a series of wooden shutter screens that allow light and air to flow naturally throughout the space.

The sizable rooms, all of which boast private terraces and face toward the ocean, also feature stone floors and slatted wood paneling that echoes the lobby screens, albeit on a more intimate scale. (Notably, the guest accommodations on the ground floor are equipped with their own outdoor plunge pools.) For the sculptural furnishings, the Rockwell team crafted bespoke four-poster beds, custom lighting, nightstands, and curving sofas—all of which hew to a neutral, serene color palette.

The circular spa lounge with a cenote-inspired oculus. Photo: nikolas koenig

There is a sense of theatricality, too, thanks in no small part to Studio 54 empresario and hotelier Ian Schrager, who founded the Edition brand in 2013 with Marriott International. Schrager is known for his exacting attention to detail as well as his ability to create buzzworthy destinations for the jet-set crowd. Case in point is the soaring Lobby Bar, draped with dramatic scarlet curtains and anchored by a massive marble bar set against a striking grid of Mayan ceramics that stretches all the way to the ceiling.

The top-tier food and beverage program is overseen by a pair of celebrated Mexican chefs, Francisco “Paco” Ruano from Guadalajara and Tomás Bermúdez from Mexico City. The site’s signature restaurant, KI’IS (Mayan for zest) was created by Ruano as a way to meld flavors of the Pacific with ingredients sourced from Riviera Maya. The beach club restaurant, called SO’OL, is helmed by Bermúdez and features Mediterranean fare with a Mexican spin.

The spa area features indoor-outdoor treatment rooms and a private pool. Photo: nikolas koenig

Of course, it wouldn’t be an Edition property without a spectacular spa, and the one here forms the centerpiece of the resort, located beneath a sculptural wooden yoga dome that curls around an oculus water feature inspired by cenotes. Guests descend down a spiral staircase (another Edition signature) to find a central lounge beneath the oculus, a series of hydrotherapy pools, a Turkish hammam, and an infrared spa, as well as a variety of indoor-outdoor treatment rooms.

The crown jewel of the property is undoubtedly the Rooftop Sky Villa. At 27,000 square feet, the sprawling accommodation is said to be the largest hotel penthouse in North America and features five rooms each with a private plunge pool, a massive entertainment terrace with a waterfall-edge pool, and a sunken garden lounge with breathtaking ocean vistas that stretch to Isla Mujeres. Don’t be surprised when you start seeing it pop up in your favorite A-listers’ Instagram feeds.

KI’IS restaurant. Photo: nikolas koenig

Between Kitchen and the Lobby Bar is a captivating black-and white photo display featuring 80 images extracted from authentic film strips by Gabriel Figueroa. Photo: nikolas koenig

The pool bar. Photo: nikolas koenig

The lobby bar’s monumental backdrop features a grid of Mayan ceramics. Photo: nikolas koenig

The Sky Rooftop Villa. Photo: nikolas koenig

Cover: One of the guest rooms at the new Riviera Maya Edition at Kanai.
Photo: nikolas koenig


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