November 17, 2016

HKS’ contemporary and romantic redesign of Esperanza, An Auberge Resort in Cabo San Lucas, received the prestigious Gold Key Award for Best Resort at the 2016 Gold Key Awards for Excellence in Hospitality Design, sponsored by Boutique Design.  The awards program is in its 36th year of celebrating the most innovative projects and designers across the globe.

HKS Hospitality Interior Design Director and Principal, Mary Alice Palmer, lead the Auberge Esperanza redesign. The intimate 57-room, oceanfront resort was heavily damaged by Hurricane Odile in September 2014 and reopened in June 2015. The extensive redesign included thoughtfully curated guestrooms, a restaurant, pool, spa and public spaces that exude barefoot elegance in a relaxed Mexican seaside setting.

Palmer was on hand to receive the honor at the Gold Key Awards Gala on Nov. 14 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York.  Boutique Design’s Gold Key Awards competition recognizes the best hospitality design work from around the world.  The influential awards program received more than 500 entries across 21 different categories this year.

“Set on a backdrop of vivid sunsets and turquoise blue waters, Esperanza is truly a magical place,” said Palmer. “Our intention with the redesign was to take a contemporary approach and create sophisticated, intimate spaces that complement the innate beauty of the surrounding landscape and captivating oceanfront setting.  It’s an honor to be recognized by the Gold Key Award judges for our work.”

In the aftermath of Hurricane Odile, Palmer and the HKS design team were tasked with restoring and renovating Los Cabos’ beloved Esperanza resort in just six months. Instead of a mere restoration, HKS transformed it with new palapas, architectural details, plazas and sculptural landmarks. Buildings, structure and pools were refinished in the natural colors of the landscape and sea. All millwork, furniture, lighting, accessories and textiles were custom designed and crafted in Mexico, lending Esperanza (which means “hope” in Spanish) a fresh sense of artistry and romance.

Guests are greeted with gracious Auberge hospitality, offered in an incomparable cliffside setting. The warm palette blends the buildings seamlessly with the beach and rocky cliffs. Ebony-stained beams support the palapas in tones of weathered wood, extending a connection to nature and allowing guests to immediately become one with the place.

Palmer and her team reimagined 51 of the guestrooms and suites, designed to evoke an exclusive yet barefoot-chic seaside sanctuary. Warm shades of natural gray, faded blue and white offer a calming and inviting space for guests to retreat while weathered driftwood-colored woodwork, rustic woven linens, natural leather and metallic tile finishes in bronze and silver add layers of texture and draw in the beauty of the outdoors.

Guest beds are embellished with a dramatic artful backdrop with inviting lighting and a soft netting drape, creating a serene setting relaxation and romance. New interpretations of traditional Mexican craftsmanship are found throughout the guestrooms in the handmade furniture, hand-blown glass and ceramic lighting, hand-embroidered pillows and bathroom accessories created by local artisans from Guadalajara and Oaxaca.

HKS Hospitality Group specializes in the design of sophisticated urban hotels, unique destination resorts and luxurious spas, entertainment, gaming and convention hotels, boutique properties, hospitality interiors, and world-class golf clubhouses. With construction underway on five continents, HKS’ hospitality practice is ranked as one of the top in the nation and the world, according to BD World Architecture, Hotel Business and Hotel Design. Operating from 24 offices worldwide, the firm has designed projects in 50 countries, garnering numerous awards and coverage in national and international publications. For more information, contact Julie Obiala at

Posted in Hospitality