Everything about Mexico’s new Etéreo resort is created with respect to the region’s Mayan history and the country’s local artisans – from the on-site shaman, the traditional Mayan blessing at the entrance to each room, and the spa treatments healing at the new boutique of designer Carolina K and at decoration and art. There’s an obvious lightness and soothing energy to the property that’s immediately noticeable when you arrive after just a half-hour drive from Cancun airport.
The Auberge’s latest project sits above a protected mangrove forest, on a white sand beach on the Yucatan Peninsula. Designed by New York-based studio Meyer Davis, the property was built on a philosophy of sustainability and honors what makes the area magical in the first place. Everything feels part of the natural surroundings – lava rock, copper and native tzalam wood make up 75 oceanfront guest suites, outfitted with custom-designed furniture and textiles by local artisans, alongside works by the late Mexican artist Manuel Felguérez.
Each of the hotel’s five restaurants incorporates local cuisines like ceviche and fresh-caught fish tacos on masa harina tortillas. A kids’ club introduces children to Mayan traditions through crafts, and Yaotekatl (a Mayan shaman who has been practicing for two decades) offers healing practices at the resort through medicine-infused music and dance. It’s an instant break from real life (if your real life doesn’t include plunge pools on your patio and palo santo next to your bathtub).
This emphasis on embracing local talent, spirituality and sustainability extends to the in-house boutique designed and curated by Carolina Kleinman, founder of the Carolina K brand, who is also known for championing designers and craftsmen in South and Central America. “I think this area [where Etéreo sits] is pristine and very well preserved. It’s sitting on mangroves, nothing was happening, there weren’t even footprints on the sand there for many years,” she said. BAZAAR.com of its new on-site retail experience. “It’s peaceful, sand, meditation. And the Mayan culture is very much alive…and that’s what people don’t really know.”
Born in Argentina, Kleinman’s ties to the region run deep. “I moved to Tepoztlán, Mexico, a magical town just an hour south of Mexico City, in 2005, just when I was launching my brand,” she shares. “Since then, this country has been close to my heart. Being able to establish close relationships with craftsmen’s cooperatives has taught me the value of heritage and how vital it is for our culture, for our society to preserve it.”
To this end, Kleinman began to organize the space around the symbol presented in the architecture of the hotel by Felguérez, representing the infinite cycle of Mayan life and death with circles. “My goal was to take this concept and translate it into the store, from softening its rough edges with recessed wall niches made of chukum, an ancient Mayan stucco technique, to creating displays in the shape of nook,” says Kleinman. The tables were commissioned by Daniel Melero of Mestiz, and the clothes racks, jewelry displays and totems were made by Daniel Orozco Estudio, based in Tulum. Other artisans represented include Daniela Bustos Maya; Javier, creator and owner of the Rrres brand; and José Garcia Antonio, founder of Taller Manos Que Ven (Hands That See Workshop), who has been creating ceramic artwork since losing his sight 20 years ago. Kleinman has also partnered with Ensamble Artesano, an organization designed during the pandemic to support artisan groups from 36 different communities.
For ready-to-wear and accessories, you can find Carolina K’s recent collection featured throughout the store as well as unique pieces; menswear by Felix, a brand specializing in linen pieces made ethically in Argentina; and accessories and jewelry made by artisans in Mexico. There is also a selection of Pamela Love pieces based in New York, simply because her jewelry matches the spiritual and spiritual energy already alive in space. “I did a road trip around the Riviera, because I wanted to make sure I brought unique pieces that you can’t find anywhere else. … I selected brands based on their uniqueness and appearance sustainable”, explains the designer.
It’s all part of a larger narrative aimed at giving people what they want from travel now: beauty, a spiritual connection to a place, well-being, pleasure and stillness. “After what we’ve been through for the past few years, we all need time to reconnect with nature, to feel grounded,” she shares. “The boutique is at the center of the hotel at El Cruce, and our goal was to bring that connection through objects that showcase age-old techniques that can be passed down from generation to generation. There is also an outdoor gallery where we organize shamanic sunset rituals to merge culture and landscape into one experience.” If in doubt, call the shaman.
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