It’s 9:32 a.m. when the wheels of my car are gathering dust along a nondescript road in Puerto Escondido. On this balmy morning on the Oaxaca coast, surfers are out before sunrise and nightlife revelers are still sprawling on the beach. My hand combs through a thick breeze outside my window and I wonder what crowds I might run into on my trip.
Hidden in some winding streets inland, sheltered by lush vegetation in an inconspicuous corner, I stopped at my destination. House at, a newly opened hotel in La Punta, was not what I expected to encounter in an otherwise barefoot beach town. The architectural project, carved in concrete, presented itself as a brutalist temple.
Imagined by Ludwig Godefroy, House at was literally designed with temples in mind – a place to immerse yourself in a state of contemplation. And after taking the hundreds of obligatory photos that the design asks you to take, that’s exactly what I did. I sat in contemplation. I captured the ethereal nature of the structure, which Ludwig says was “inspired by Muslim architecture, namely the Yerebatan Sarayı in Istanbul.”
The design is definitely Instagram-friendly, but apparently Instagram had no role in the design of the hotel. According to Ludwig, “Architecture should stir your emotions. I create an introverted architecture so that the atmosphere of each project stands the test of time and is unaffected by what happens next.
As the architect had planned, I would spend much of my time at the focal point of Casa TO – an indoor infinity pool and solarium. Here, the interplay of intimacy and exposure is evident. Floating face up between circular openings, I could gaze past the rows of bathers into an oasis surrounded by the sky. In this central space of 600 square meters, glimmers of sunlight expose raw materials such as concrete, steel, clay and wood.
Luminaires with finishes, luxury and simplicity seem synonymous at Casa TO. It is not too difficult. And while each element feels reduced to its essence, it also feels considered. The interior design by Daniel Cinta, co-founder of Casa TO, is not necessarily minimal, but rather seems succinctly edited. I was told that this sober simplicity was in fact inspired by the original state of the land. Before a Brutalist temple was built, a blacksmith’s green gate and a Madagascar Blue Bismarck palm tree stood in its place. Today, the hues of yellow, green and blue, along with the patterns found in these original elements, are found in every sight seen and every texture felt.
It may take a village to build a hotel, but it takes more than one to make it seem that simple. Even with only nine suites, a roster of Mexican artisans and design studios were called upon to bring Casa TO to life. There is furniture made by carpenters from Puebla, Guadalajara and Oaxaca. There are bamboo pieces designed by Tiago Solís Van Beuren. There are lamps from Natural Urbano Studio. There are fruit trees and other lush plants from local nurseries. And yes, there are vegan and cruelty-free bath products from For All Folks.
Inside the hotel walls, I got a glimpse of each community. Craftsmen, surfers, night owls. The people who make Puerto Escondido where it is. So while I may not have surfed until sunrise or stayed well past sunset as I had originally planned, I saw a new side to this beach town lively. A place that has long felt on the verge of reinventing itself. And with the opening of Casa TO, it seems to be. I fired up my engine once more, and this time I wondered what secrets similar to La Punta I had yet to discover.