Posted: Friday, April 26, 2019. 1:01 pm CST.
By Marriott Hotel: In April 2018, ECI Development announced that it would be working together with Marriott Hotels & Resorts to bring the world-class brand to Belize. Co-founded by Joel Nagel and Michael K. Cobb, ECI Development is a property-development firm that delivers “inspired residences for adventurous souls.”
Ambergris Caye in Belize is a relatively unexplored yet easily accessible oasis with an exceptional coastline and an excellent year-round climate. It is an ideal destination for those in search of beautiful water and warm weather as well as phenomenal diving, snorkeling, and fishing. ECI is designing the hotel to be a gem in the heart of the largest island in Belize. The resort’s construction is scheduled to commence soon, and ECI plans to open the hotel in 2021.
RAD Architecture to Help Joel Nagel, Mike Cobb, and ECI Make the Marriott Happen
Seeking to embrace Belize’s rich British colonial history and the architecture of that era, Joel Nagel, Mike Cobb, and the rest of the ECI team partnered with Rafael Amuchástegui and his firm, RAD Architecture, to make the Marriott a magnificent monument on the island. RAD Architecture is an international boutique design firm specializing in hospitality, commercial, and residential projects with offices in Miami and in Córdoba, Argentina. RAD’s strategically-located offices have allowed it to maintain close ties with clients around the world and to keep up-to-date with the latest trends in ecological and environmental designs using high-tech materials to the benefit of clients such as ECI and Marriott in challenging areas like Belize.
About RAD President Rafael Amuchástegui
Amuchástegui initially studied architecture at the National University of Córdoba in Argentina. He then received the opportunity to pursue an MBA in architecture in the United States after which he was invited to join a team that entered and won a competition to design a children’s museum in Midland, Texas. After completing that project, he moved to Dallas and joined Wilson and Associates, which launched his career in high-level architecture. During that time, he most notably worked on projects such as Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas and the Burj Al Arab in Dubai as well as on the Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town. He then gained more experience working for Nichols Brosch Sandoval as both an architect and developer with projects in the Carolinas, the Caymans, and Turks and Caicos. Eventually, Amuchástegui opened his own company in both Miami and Córdoba.
The Hotel Architectural Concept
Utilizing all that experience, Amuchástegui is creating a hotel that will portray a sort of magical place that may have been found during an earlier era had there been tourism on the island at that time. It will embody a timeless elegance that incorporates the British colonial architectural spirit but that does not alienate the visitor from the outdoor natural experience by placing them in some artificial, air-conditioned bubble. Guests will thus find many shaded areas, open-air courtyards, and ceiling fans yet an extremely comfortable and luxurious environment.
How ECI and RAD Intend to Meet the Challenge of Building the Hotel
One of the challenges in planning the construction of the resort is the aggressive salty and humid air conditions. The proper materials had to be selected that would only require regular maintenance over time, would not drastically deteriorate, and that would be able to withstand hurricanes.
Another challenge involves the insufficient manpower for building a mega project of this scope on the tropical island in such a short amount of time. The developers therefore needed to decide to work with light gauge steel construction and in turn to protect that steel from the weather. This process will allow the builders to have a lighter structure that will be much faster to build by using dry materials such as screws and bonding agents rather than materials that would require a longer process and that would have to be cured or dried.
In order to prevent the property from becoming too much of an urban hotel rather than a beach resort, the developers have tried to ensure that nearly all 200 rooms would have a view of the water and that none would face the street. They also wanted to make sure that the design would cater to the quaint and relaxed atmosphere of San Pedro, where there are nearly no cars except for a few taxis (and almost all transportation is through golf carts).
The Hotel Will Help Conserve and Protect the Beautiful Belize Reefs
ECI recognizes the importance of the conservation and protection of the local reef system and has been actively involved in the environmentally sensitive, sustainable development of the region for over two decades. It views this project as an opportunity to create an icon on the island and a meaningful way of serving the tourists that have started coming to Belize.
“We recognize the critical importance of conservation and protection of this reef system and are pleased to be working with a global company known for its environmental commitment,” ECI Development Co-founder Joel Nagel said in a statement.
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