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Online Exclusive – JW Marriott Mexico City

Jun 25, 2014

Before the Mexican capital and its upscale Polanco district existed, the Aztec empire was ruled from Tenochtitlan—an ancient civilization, the ruins of which are now buried beneath Mexico City. “The design attempts to recreate the story of Polanco, drawing on the fact that the city sits upon Aztec ruins,” says designer Kathryn Mickel of the JW Marriott Mexico City property, bringing Aztec society to life with a modern Mexican twist.


“Beginning with the guestrooms and corridors, the custom carpets throughout the property were heavily influenced by abstractions of Aztec shapes and symbols,” says Mickel, who is managing principal of Scottsdale, Arizona-based Monogram by Callison. Along with the distinctive carpet patterns, the baths feature exotic marble in the shower and a simple porcelain tile for the remainder of the wet walls. Electric mirrors and vanities with wood, woven resin panels, and metal accents modernize the look.


“In addition to the modern elements, we wanted to honor the history and beauty of traditional Mexican art and craft throughout the property,” Mickel explains. In the lobby, 50 handwoven baskets were replicated from original Aztec designs by a local artisan and now make up a feature wall. “The basket wall blends old and new simultaneously,” she adds.


A hanging shell fixture above the concierge desk also brings in a sense of place. “The approach to materials really all tied back to the past and authenticity,” Mickel says. For example, the designs for custom chandeliers in the public areas began with a desire to reference Mexico’s long tradition of jewelry making. Silver-toned metals and other materials, like in the abstract art piece behind the welcome desk, bring to mind the mica and crystals found in Aztec jewelry. The piece, as well as the hand-tufted rugs in the lobby, was made based on the discovery of original hand sketches. For a punch of color and authenticity, strands of genuine Mexican ponchos were also repurposed to create yarn-based artwork throughout the lobby and rest of the hotel. “Our efforts to source locally proved to be our biggest challenge,” explains Mickel. “We wanted to use as many local artists and locally sourced materials as possible.”


The name of the hotel’s signature Mexican restaurant, Xanat Bistro—meaning “vanilla bean,” referencing the central use of vanilla in the menu—reinterprets the flower associated with the flavor in its signage and tone-on-tone wallcoverings. Along with the crème-colored main dining area, the restaurant includes a private wine room and a patio space. “I’m partial to the patio,” says Mickel. “The weather is so magnificent for most of the year in Polanco. To me, there is nothing more romantic than alfresco dining.”


Xanat recalls this view of modern Mexico City with floor-to-ceiling photographic images on the walls. Taken by a local photographer, these images of historic landmarks are layered with textural elements like balcony grills for an ethereal quality and appear throughout the entire hotel. “The images not only highlight locale but become striking colorful accents to a modern neutral palette,” says Mickel. “You know you are in Polanco when you stay at the hotel.”


hdtalks: the interviews

During HD Expo 2014, Hospitality Design’s Michael Adams sat down with HBA’s Michael Bedner to talk about his half-century in the hospitality design industry. View the video.



Produced by: Emerald Expositions
Nielsen      Contract Design | Hospitality Design | K+BB | DDI

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