For 18 years, Robert Jones has been the head architect of the most successful luxury resort community ever built in Mexico. Encompassing the renowned Espiritu, Villas Del Mar and Oasis Palmilla communities, Del Mar Los Cabos has set a precedent for luxury resort real estate with a spectacular collection of beachfront villas and sprawling hillside estates overlooking the Sea of Cortez.
What began as an enclave of just five homes on the beach has become a thriving community of homeowners from all over the world enjoying the very best of Los Cabos — including a private beach club, an expansive health and fitness club, acclaimed resort dining, Cabo’s best swimming beach, kid’s club, private catamaran and sports park.
So how do you go about designing the precedent-setting luxury development in Los Cabos and remain the unrivaled leader in residential resort real estate for 20 years? As Del Mar embarks on its most ambitious project yet, The Ledges at Espiritu, The Agency’s Christopher Miller sat down with Robert to discuss.
The Del Mar communities are really a marvel of engineering, design and construction. What was the original vision?
Del Mar Development co-founders Ron Hatfield and Kenneth Schnitzer originally purchased a sliver of beachfront land next to what is now the One&Only Palmilla Hotel with plans to build five private villas, all of which sold before completion. They then continued to develop along the beach and eventually up these unspoiled desert hillsides. They really changed the face of development in Los Cabos, bringing in U.S. experts in engineering, architecture and landscaping. Throughout construction, the goal was to carefully preserve the native contours of the hills, never leveling the hilltops and instead working around the native bedrock. The stone retaining walls you see today are Del Mar’s signature hallmark with every square inch touched by the human hand.
What inspired the architecture and design of the residences?
Every home was built with two key elements in mind — views and privacy. On one side we have unending Sea of Cortez views and on the other, the views are more dynamic capturing the ocean, Palmilla golf course, city lights of San Jose del Cabo and the mountains beyond. Next, we incorporate and celebrate the basic components of good design — water, earth and fire. Nearly every room frames the crystal clear ocean views, while each residence features infinity-edged pools, cascading water features, expertly manicured gardens, indoor and outdoor fireplaces and dramatic fire pits overlooking the sea. Every home in the community is designed to make interior and exterior living seamless, with living spaces wide open to the sea air through oversized pocket doors.
The Del Mar communities feature a range of home styles. Tell us about the evolution of architecture.
The first beachfront houses and hillside estates in Villas Del Mar showcased a classic Mexican style — white exterior, red tile roof, Mediterranean-style columns — and were designed to mirror the aesthetic of the Palmilla hotel. As we continued to build along the hillside, we incorporated Mexican Colonial, Tuscan and Amalfi Coast architectural influences and adapted the color scheme to harmonize with how the natural lighting and landscape changed with the elevation. We gained the most acclaim for our Casita residences that were smaller than our original villas and carved into this magnificent ocean-view hillside with fantastic views and expansive outdoor living areas. We built and sold 40, making them the most popular homestyle ever sold in Los Cabos. Casita Mountain’s construction and engineering techniques are unbelievable and will never be duplicated in Baja.
With the newest enclave, Espiritu, you’ve explored new architectural frontiers and stepped into a more modern style of resort home design. What inspired this new approach?
A lot of the inspiration comes from our homeowners who we see establish a rhythm throughout a house; how they spend their days, their nights. They’re spending more time here, not just weeks, but months every year and our designs reflect that. In Espiritu, we’ve expanded outdoor living areas, made more multigenerational designs to accommodate all ages from toddlers to grandparents. We see a trend towards customization, having built and sold several custom residences, some as large as 10,000-square feet, providing more of a canvas for homeowners to put their stamp on the design. With our new Espiritu Estate homes, we’ve introduced a more transitional style of architecture that combines traditional Mexican elements with a more contemporary design aesthetic. The trend amongst buyers has led us in a more modern direction though the design of every home can be customized to fit personal tastes and lifestyle.
The newest residential offering, The Ledges at Espiritu, is something entirely different for Del Mar and Los Cabos. What was the vision behind this project?
Homeowners and prospective buyers have been asking for a product like this, and we were searching for the perfect location in Espiritu. The Ledges is perched along this beautiful desert mountain with sweeping, unobstructed views of Palmilla Bay and San Jose del Cabo. Each residence building is comprised of four Residences and one Penthouse that encompasses the entire upper level. The three-bedroom Residences feature 4,258-square-feet of indoor and outdoor living with each being a corner residence. The Penthouses feature five-bedroom suites and 9,591-square-feet of indoor and outdoor living including a spectacular rooftop terrace we designed to be the ultimate outdoor living and entertaining space with an infinity-edged pool, lounge, fireplace, dining area and kitchen. Though again, the design can be customized, we’ve gone in a more contemporary direction at The Ledges, incorporating more modern touches and materials such as rich textured stones, linear fireplaces, finish chrome, porcelain flooring, quartz countertops and pendant lighting.
What do you think has kept Del Mar at the forefront of luxury resort real estate in Los Cabos?
As a design team living in Cabo, we understand the lifestyle. We’re present; we’re living it. The people we work with and have been working with for 20 years are very passionate about the design process, and they leave behind a product that has emotional honesty. Our owners know that we, both Ron Hatfield and myself, are here, continuing the legacy and constantly enhancing the lifestyle we’ve worked so hard to create.
Favorite Cabo Activity?
Surfing. We have incredible waves all year, spring and summer on the East Cape and winter on the Pacific side. You can drive 20 minutes from the Del Mar gates and have an incredible break to yourself all day long. There’s no place like it in North America.
For more information on homeownership or vacation villa rentals at Del Mar Los Cabos, contact Christopher Miller at CMiller@TheAgencyRE.com.