Beachside Hotel Brings Design to a Sleepy Stretch of Paradise

Troncones, one of Mexico’s best kept secrets, is a small beach town lacking the glitz and allure of the larger tourist traps. Businessman Rafael Skewes seeks to transform it into a modernist architectural masterpiece.

As you slide your toes into the silken sand of the village of Troncones, you’ll likely notice something unusual for most Mexican beach towns—you have the beach almost entirely to yourself. Though it’s a well-known destination among surfers, who revel in its spacious Pacific Ocean breaks, it’s a prodigiously kept secret from the usual tourist hordes that frequent the Mexican coast. It was that rare sense of seclusion that drew businessman Rafael Sainz Skewes to the town 19 years ago, while he was riding his motorcycle along the Guerrero Coast. He purchased a small section of beachfront property with the thought that he would do something with it “someday.” It wasn’t until November last year that his intention materialized, in the form of Lo Sereno Casa de Playa—a 10-room boutique hotel.

Tucked away from the beach behind a row of palm trees, Lo Sereno is nevertheless likely to invite a second glance thanks to the fact that its California Modernist–style massing is completely different from most of the other, more traditional architecture that surrounds it. For starters, there’s not a palapa in sight. “Every time I visited Troncones, I couldn’t find a spot that I’d really like to stay in,” Skewes explains. “It was all palapas and thatched roofs. Everything was made with love but not a lot of taste—there was no architecture or design.”

Skewes himself envisioned much of the original design (which was finessed by his architect friend Jorge Gonzáles in Mexico City) but enlisted architect Andrés Saavedra, based in nearby Zihuatanejo, to help bring it to life from a construction perspective. It was important to Skewes that they keep things simple. Elements of wood and splashes of mint green add warmth to the otherwise monochromatic color palette of grays, blacks, and beiges, which comes from the extensive use of concrete as well as granite and other types of stone (most of which was sourced locally from the mountains that loom behind the property).

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Also striking is that most of the surfaces of the walls and pillars and staircases are left close to their raw state—a tribute, Skewes says, to the skill that went into making them. “That wall over there took about one month to build because they did it stone by stone. The design might be minimalist, but it was done with care and I want to respect the workmanship. If somebody worked hard to craft one of the cement columns, why should I paint over it? We should really be proud of the basic, simple things.”

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