Las Brisas - Acapulco
Issue 23 March / April 2009
Having recently celebrated its fiftieth anniversary, the legendary Las Brisas resort, originally designed by architect Jorge Madrigal, has undergone a US$20m renovation to bring it up to date with modern day Acapulco.
It’s been fifty years since a few ‘casitas’ (little houses) were built on a breezy Acapulco hillside but no history of the original Mexican resort or of the hospitality industry itself would be complete without mention of Las Brisas – the self-monikered “pink-and-white paradise” – which completed a US$20 million renovation in time for its December 2008 birthday party.
Until it surfaced in a splash of pink hibiscus on the world hospitality scene, most hotels worldwide pretty much followed the same format, but Las Brisas broke both the mould and new ground when architect Jorge Madrigal designed and built the original bungalows and created the Las Brisas concept in an exclusive residential district overlooking the wide expanse of Acapulco bay. With casitas instead of rooms, and little jeeps instead of elevators, the Las Brisas hotel, now as then, offers a unique guest experience.
In its mid-20th century heyday Las Brisas was owned and operated (briefly under the Hilton flag) by Carlos Trouyet, and it was Trouyet’s wife Milly Haus de Troyet who is credited for bringing pink to Las Brisas. Legend has it that pink was her favourite colour so she urged her husband to douse the whole hotel in that colour, with just a few splashes of white. It was a daring and unconventional choice, but it chimed with the local flora and certainly contributed to establishing Las Brisas’ landmark status. Visible from nearly everywhere in Acapulco, the white cross of Las Brisas was a later addition. Forty-five metres high, it stands atop the hill at 400 metres above sea level and was commissioned by Carlos Trouyet in memory of his two eldest sons, killed in a private plane accident in 1967.
On his way to Las Brisas’s birthday party and naturally wearing a pink shirt, contemporary Mexican hotel group Habita’s Rafael Micha wonders at Trouyet’s foresight and acknowledges his place in the annals of hostelry. “He was a visionary. A genius!” he exclaims. “Who else in the 1950s would have recognised how enduring it would be to build all those little casitas, with their little swimming pools, and employ a landscape architect and a small army of pool cleaners! Also, where else in the 1950s had a private beach club, with a sea water swimming pool?”
There were other hotels being developed at the same time in Acapulco but at Las Brisas, says Micha, everybody had a view and everyone had privacy. “The 1950s and 60s were an age of decorum and this is reflected in the attention to detail, both in design and in service, pioneered by Las Brisas.”
The recent renovation has sought to retain the unique features of Las Brisas – including the 63 pink-and-white jeeps, all individually named, that transport guests from casita to bar, to beach club to lobby (ours was called ‘the love jeep’) – yet infuse the mid-20th century nostalgia with a touch of the 21st century’s more understated luxury. So although the 263 guestrooms, 211 of which have private pools, are now more white than pink with new pillows and comforters, pillow top beds, flatscreen televisions and much larger bathrooms, the signature colour remains Las Brisas’ trademark.
Edith Flores, Sales Manager at Las Brisas, points out that in addition to the new floors and custom-made furnishings, guestrooms now have a cleaner and crisper decor, with more white than florals. Some rooms have also been enlarged, especially the prized suites. The revamped Presidential Suite, called ‘La Roquetta’ after the island visible from the heights of the hotel, has a new boutique luxuriousness while the master suite ‘In and Out’ – named for the pool that actually enters the room – is in high demand.
The property’s common areas such as La Concha Beach Club, restaurants, meeting spaces and lobby have also undergone major renovations including the addition of comfortable rocker chairs for guests to enjoy the views of the Acapulco Bay. And upgrades to la Bella Vista restaurant and its bar have re-established it as a beautiful spot to enjoy dinner at night.
Like Acapulco, itself on the cusp of a revival, Las Brisas will continue to evolve to meet the needs of each generation of traveller. A new spa is planned – its exclusive own brand – and will take the space of the two tennis courts currently at the top of the complex, near the chapel and offering possibly the finest views in Acapulco. Spa cubicles and wet area will be included as well as a beauty parlour and fitness centre.
Carretera Escénica 5255, Fraccionamiento Las Brisas, Acapulco, Mexico 39867
Tel: +52 744 469 69 00
Rooms 251 casitas
Dining El Bellavista
Drinking La Concha, Sunset Bar
Leisure Small spa, gym, and sauna
Facilities Private beach club, swimming pools, shops and deli