On the black volcanic sand of El Paredon beach in Guatemala, Swell, a boutique surf and lifestyle hotel with a boho-chic style, has opened its doors, immediately becoming a popular destination for travellers and surfers. Canadian architect Elan Ibghy and French designer Marie Bonnefond succeed in making the inspiration of local craftsmanship contemporary, incorporating wood textures and colourful Guatemalan fabrics into the various spaces.
A thatched roof dominates the hotel’s entrance and leads guests into an elegant indoor-outdoor lounge area with handmade wooden sofas and swings around an inviting bar made of locally sourced Guanacaste wood. Furnishings made by local carpenters make the ambience relaxed and comfortable, with an exotic style. A 20-metre swimming pool in bright turquoise blue separates the tropical garden from the lounge area, surrounded by a pine wood shelter. The architecture is characterised by a series of white, shiny structural elements – the Swim-up Suites – arranged along the pool. Each of these four rooms has a private terrace and a private bathtub. They offer a cosy, contemporary ambience with clean, polished concrete interiors and wall shelves, which contrast with the wooden furniture and the colours of the fabrics, all handmade. Private bathrooms and outdoor showers emphasise the contact with the tropical nature of the place.
In the surrounding area are the other suites, thatched-roof bungalows with intimate lounges and terraces, varying in style and comfort to suit every traveller. The special feature of these dwellings is the unique experience of sleeping lulled by the ocean waves in this exotic landscape. The various gardens scattered throughout the Swell Hotel are reminiscent of an oasis atmosphere, with hibiscus, lemon trees, large varieties of colourful bougainvillea and palm trees. The interior communal areas are decorated with murals by artists Pepallama & Thomas Meissner, depicting geometric shapes and animations reminiscent of local artistic traditions. The parks take on a very atmospheric appearance when the sun goes down, thanks to careful use of lighting. Lighting elements made of woven straw suspended in the lounge and restaurant area create plays of light that reflect on the surface of the pool water and on glossy white designer decorations. In the evenings, the Swell Nosh Bar offers typical drinks, juices or tasty dishes.
Swell’s strongest feature is its location in what is considered to be the best surfing spot in Guatemala. Therefore, guests are offered the possibility to rent boards and take private lessons at the hotel. In addition, at Swell’s Creative Studio you can practice yoga or relax in a hammock in the traditional “palapa” style of Swell’s beachside.
PROJECT Swell – Surf and Lifestyle Hotel ARCHITECT / DESIGNER Elan Ibghy and Marie Bonnefond LOCATION El Paredón Buena Vista, Guatemala YEAR 2018 PHOTO Alex St-Jean, Zac White, Alyssa Kim Yamamoto, Elan Ibghy, Marie Bonnefond