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The Ritz-Carlton Shares Its Secrets to Beautiful Hotel Design

Article by Regan Stephens 07.28.2017

“How do you design a hotel that’s unlike any other in the world?” poses Theresa Fatino, global design partner for The Ritz-Carlton. The collection of hotels and resorts around the world is synonymous with luxury, offering guests lavish accommodations, thoughtful amenities and exceptional service. Enduring memories are not built on these elements alone, however. Each property’s considered design results in an environment that cannot be replicated anywhere else. “We believe luxury is in the details, and we love to surprise our guests with special touches that make lasting impressions,” says Fatino. The design’s impact can be experienced in properties spanning the globe, with Zen gardens in Japan, fleeting art installations in Puerto Rico, and the creation of other magical realms beyond.



A quiet haven thoughtfully integrated into a property’s indoor or outdoor space invites guests to a restorative oasis. At The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto, for example, Zen gardens and a three-story waterfall create a peaceful welcome, whether guests are returning from a day of business meetings or an immersion in Buddhist temples and palaces. The hotel also merges traditional Japanese and modern design seamlessly and is home to a collection of art revolving around the 11th-century novel “The Tale of Genji,” with over 400 works by mostly Kyoto-based artists.

Looking to nature can also serve as inspiration in immersing a traveler into a destination. The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman rises from the seashore like a grand, fantastic sandcastle — and that’s by design. Architects created an exterior of stacked towers and a façade painted the same creamy shades as the resort’s white-sand beach. Inside, designers layered bold colors that reflect the Caribbean island’s geography and tropical landscape, with pops of bougainvillea pinks, lush greens and sunny yellows. Guest rooms feature special touches such as sky-blue walls and a beige, geometric carpet that mimics a sun-dappled seafloor, while suites are decked out in rich woods and nautical touches reminiscent of luxury yachts. 

Evoking a sense of place for The Ritz-Carlton, Tianjin meant more than just surveying the Chinese city’s surroundings — it meant gracefully blending Tianjin’s East and West influences, and reflecting its traditional and modern points of view. The hotel’s Neoclassical façade is suggestive of a prominent historical landmark from the 19th-century, when classicism and eclecticism merged, fusing European and Chinese architectural aesthetics. An energetic color palette was specially developed for the interiors, using yellow, cobalt blue and celadon — evocative of Chinese ceramics and jade treasures — with black and white to create definition and contrast. The overall effect is both authentic and timeless.

By mindfully integrating local culture, The Ritz-Carlton imparts a fundamental sense of place into the design of each of its properties.  Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, situated in the Ubud forest of Bali, Indonesia, draws on the area’s Hindu temples, ancient spiritual sites and verdant natural beauty to accomplish this. Traditional Balinese décor with vivid painted wall panels and rich textiles adorns the rooms in villas that open to Balinese gardens, rice paddies and the Ayung River.

Once the home of a monastery dating back to 1355, Penha Longa Resort near Lisbon, Portugal, embodies the same serene spirit. Part of the resort spa, the property’s Labyrinth is an authentic re-creation of France’s Notre Dame de Chartres Cathedral labyrinth where guests can walk the winding, peaceful path to focus and de-stress.

Original artwork can also add character and dimension to a setting — whether highlighting the work of regional artists or capturing the beauty of the surrounding landscape. Puerto Rico’s Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve recently launched an on-site art program with two distinct elements. Unique, ephemeral art installations, organized by local foundation Arte Fits, are integrated into the resort’s lush grounds. The resort also features a permanent collection of works by Puerto Rican artists, curated by resident artist Sofia Arsuaga, who provides tours of the property’s pieces. Guests can also take inspiration from the surrounding paradise and join one of three art workshops led by Arsuaga.

The Ritz-Carlton, guests will find signature hospitality, luxury and comfort, but each property — from a sophisticated urban locale to a casual-yet-luxurious seaside retreat — is designed to exceed already elevated standards. By going beyond thoughtful décor —  integrating history and contemporary local culture, and adding original artwork, quiet spaces and small touches that surprise and delight — the design creates an unforgettable place that is uniquely Ritz-Carlton.