June 1, 2010

A Tropical Cocktail: Acapulco’s Hotel Boca Chica

With its retro furnishings and riotously patterned mosaic murals, the Hotel Boca Chica looks like it hasn’t changed a bit since the jet-set heyday of Acapulco, Mexico. But that’s a carefully orchestrated illusion. Spectacularly sited at the mouth of the bay, the 1950’s property had faded like the starlets who once paraded through its double-height lobby—finally closing in 2008. “The kitchen was full of cats, and the rooms were dark and creepy,” José Rojas recalls.

His namesake firm was one of three involved in the reincarnation. LAR Fernando Romero‘s namesake director—who also owns the hotel-supervised the construction process but hired Rojas to handle the real design work. And Rojas brought in a friend’s firm, Frida Escobedo.

All three architects could see that, beneath all the gunk, lay something special. “The building itself was amazing,” Escobedo says. “It was just a matter of opening up the rooms and brightening the interiors.”

Plaster was stripped away to reveal concrete-block screen walls, and bricked-up balconies were reopened and fitted with louvered doors. The 30 standard guest rooms and six suites got a mix of era-appropriate furnishings. For example, black swing-arm lamps inspired by Jean Prouvé coexist with bona fide Prouvé side chairs. Umbrellas are scattered like giant concrete or wooden lollipops across the terrace bar. On the other side of the hourglass-shape pool, the restaurant shelters beneath a huge thatched palapa. “Such structures are everywhere in the tropics,” Rojas says. What you certainly don’t see everywhere is a renovation that so adroitly straddles decades to create something distinctive, stylish, and new. 

Photography by Undine Prohl.

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