November 27, 2022

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A Mexican Architect Reimagines Baja’s Rancho Pescadero

7 min read

Welcome to T Wanderlust, a new travel newsletter from the editors of T Magazine. Twice a month, we’ll recommend global destinations and hotels worth visiting. Sign up here to find us in your inbox every other Friday, along with our T List newsletter each Wednesday. And you can always reach us at tlist@nytimes.com.


Italy

The Polish-born creative Lukas Lewandowski lived many lives before opening Casa Lawa, a lavastone-constructed guesthouse, kitchen and residency near Mount Etna in Sicily. After working as a stylist, gallerist and chef in Berlin and Amsterdam, he decided to pack up his apartment and move to a larger space in Italy where he could combine his passions for food, design and hospitality. “Making connections between people around the table is so special,” says Lewandowski, who, along with his salon-owner husband, Merijn Gillis, stumbled upon the 1812 house that would eventually become Casa Lawa last summer. Situated between Milo and Sant’Alfio, with direct views of one of the world’s most active volcanoes, the 10-acre property used to be an old palmento, or grape press. Upon learning that the former owner had turned the vineyards into fruit orchards, Lewandowski envisioned a future in which he’d use the apples and pears for cider.

When the couple opened Casa Lawa last summer, they filled it with eclectic items: a vintage mushroom lamp, a painting by the Dutch artist Jan Cremer, a 1970s modular Nuvolone sofa by Rino Maturi for Mimo Padova. There are three bedrooms, one of which the hosts occupy. “That’s the whole idea of giving people a very personal experience,” says Lewandowski. “Every morning, we serve breakfast and discuss the guests’ plans for the day; we go together to the local market, organize Etna hikes and visit winemakers.” While the area surrounding Mount Etna is sleepier than the crowded nearby coastline of Taormina and Catania, the owners hope to cultivate a community through the guesthouse’s weeklong residency program. “I’m inviting people who can contribute new values to the space,” says Lewandowski, who has already brought in a visual artist to help with branding and a baker to develop a house bread and other treats he can serve to guests. Next up? A fermentation residency, with a workshop on turning apples, pears and plums into winter cider. Rooms from $225; casalawa.com.

From the team behind Salt House Inn in Provincetown, Hotel Greystone in Miami and the new members-only lodging concept the Aster in Los Angeles comes Edgewood, a quaint 12-room inn in Kingston, N.Y. The Second Empire-style property, originally built in 1873 for the prominent brick merchant and manufacturer John H. Cordts, is in the Victorian style, featuring dormer windows with jigsaw trim, an iron roof with fleur-de-lis finials and a columned veranda. When Karl Slovin purchased the home from the Neo-Expressionist artist Hunt Slonem, it included antique furniture and oil paintings, a horse-drawn carriage that Cordts used for his honeymoon and a bar salvaged from the carriage house.

To help bring his hospitality vision for the Cordts Mansion to life, Slovin partnered with Salt Hotels’ co-founders David Bowd and Kevin O’Shea. (The trio also operate Hutton Brickyards, a nearby collection of luxury cabins.) The aforementioned carriage house bar now lives in the Edgewood restaurant, where menu options include Cheddar cheese-crusted chicken potpie, ricotta-stuffed gnocchi with pearl onions and mushrooms in beef bourguignon sauce. Historic furnishings are updated with sumptuous velvets and splashes of mustard yellow and other striking colors. “It’s very much inspired by the great English country-house resorts that I love to visit when home in the U.K.,” says Bowd. That’s how it’ll operate, too, he adds, “as a place where you can experience the rich history of the building but still enjoy rustic cuisine and great cocktails in opulent public spaces.” Rooms from $195, breakfast included; huttonbrickyards.com/edgewood.


France

The chef-owners James Henry and Shaun Kelly first visited the 18th-century estate that would become Le Doyenné with a clear aim: to create a rustic French farmhouse with sustainable agricultural practices and an undeniable sense of place. Six years later, the restored and converted farm, restaurant and guesthouse, which all inhabit the private estate’s former stables in the village of Saint-Vrain, is that dream actualized. The farm’s microseasons guide the 40-seat restaurant, which opened in June and features a rotating menu: crisp barbajuans (savory fritters), line-caught tuna belly from Saint-Jean-de-Luz, braised Kriaxera duckling and the pork chops of forest-raised local swine. “They change the way you work,” Henry says of the regenerative farming practices. “They empower you to be more confident in the product, do a bit less on the plate and stand behind that.”

With exterior plans by the French architecture firms Ciguë and 1024 and interiors by the Doyenné team, the farm’s environmentally conscious ethos extends to the design of its newly opened 11 guest rooms, complete with refurbished floorboards, reclaimed 18th-century terra-cotta tiles and antique furniture. Coco-Mat mattresses and La Chambre linens outfit each room; organic toiletries from Mélilot, co-founded by Henry’s wife, Emily, are based on aromatics (tomato leaf, chamomile, calendula) grown in the garden. From the moment you check in, a stay at Le Doyenné revolves around the culinary experience. Guests wander the farm before a pre-dinner aperitif on the terrace or gathered around the fireplace in the lounge. “We encourage people to take the time to visit the farm, to look at what’s growing,” says Henry. “It’s a good snapshot of what you’ll be eating that night.” And the following morning, too, where breakfast — freshly baked croissants and danishes, eggs from Le Doyenné’s pasture-raised hens — is served in the bright, airy dining room. Rooms from $120, including breakfast; ledoyennerestaurant.com.


Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur’s hotel scene has never had the cachet of neighboring hospitality heavyweights Bangkok and Singapore, but that’s about to change. Over the next few years, hospitality big shots such as Park Hyatt, Edition and Waldorf Astoria are set to make their Malaysian debut; boutique players have also sensed an opportunity, including the local hospitality brand Else Retreats, which opened its inaugural property in the 1930s Lee Rubber Building in Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown last month. It brought in the local design firm Studio Bikin, which oversaw the renovation of the flat-roofed Art Deco building and topped it with a three-story modern extension and an outdoor swimming pool. Inside, the 49 rooms and suites are swathed in pared-back palettes of gray and cream and furnished with warm woods and wickerwork from the Bidayuh tribe in Sarawak. Custom textiles by the Singaporean rug designer Omar Khan and minimalist artworks by the Malaysian painter Fendy Zakri add bursts of orange and teal. At street level, anchored by a dining table made from a 13-foot-long, centuries-old sculptural tree trunk found at a carpenters’ workshop in Penang, the restaurant Raw Kitchen Hall serves imaginative cross-cultural comfort food — think pad kra pao croquettes and miso jerk chicken. And later this year, the Malaysian chef Jun Wong will launch the more grill-centric Yellow Fin Horse on the fourth floor. “Kuala Lumpur is often seen as a market that is superficially rather dull,” says Else Retreat’s co-founder Justin Chen. “We hope our hotel can bring in a soulful sophistication for the global traveler to reimagine it as a worthy destination.” Rooms from $125; elseretreats.com.


Mexico

When Lisa Harper first visited Baja California Sur in the mid-90s, she spent 11 months camping on the beach in El Pescadero. Before returning to her job as C.E.O. of the Limited, she bought a parcel of land there and told everyone, “I’m going to open a little hotel on the beach in Mexico.” The original Rancho Pescadero opened in 2009 with a dozen rooms. By 2018, Todos Santos was gaining popularity among tourists; with 30 acres of undeveloped land, Harper decided to go all in. She closed down her little hotel on the beach and began a top-to-bottom renovation: The new Rancho Pescadero, which opens Nov. 1, was designed by the Mexican architect Alejandra Templeton of Indigo Añil. It has 103 rooms — most with views of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains or the Pacific Ocean — and highlights indoor-outdoor living with roof decks, plunge pools, exterior showers, fire pits and plush daybeds. Among the custom furnishings are wool rugs from Michoacán, steel headboards with leather tassel detailing made in Chihuahua, hand-painted trays from Guerrero and peacock-colored Talavera tiling in the bathrooms handmade in Tlaquepaque and Tijuana.

The centerpiece of the resort is the 25,000-square-foot spa with 12 outdoor treatment areas, a lap pool, a hydrotherapy circuit with an ice fountain, a Himalayan salt sauna and an apothecary where guests can craft their own essential-oil blends and tinctures. Three hotel restaurants source ingredients from Rancho Pescadero’s nine interconnected gardens, two farms and orchard, which grow everything from makrut limes and hoja santa to chiles; they’re also home to goats, chickens and bees. On-site guest activities include Mexican coffee tastings, Indigenous cacao ceremonies and garden conservatory classes — or simply lounging by the infinity pool with a view of the waves crashing in the distance. Rooms from $875; ranchopescadero.com.



2022-10-21 19:00:07

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