The team that created the internationally heralded ‘Matilda lifestyle’ guest experience is taking its vision national in Mexico. In 2013 they founded Cornerstone, a hotel management and development company that is building a Hotel Matilda-themed collection of lifestyle-focused boutique hotels in strategic destinations – with the first new property, Hotel Cacao, set to open in September 2014 in Playa del Carmen, and the second in Mexico City in 2015.
“At art-and-culture-themed Hotel Matilda, we elevated hospitality to the level of an innovative work of art where guests are immersed in edgy luxury and cultural experiences,” explained Cornerstone Managing Partner Bruce James. “While each hotel will have a distinctive individual personality, it is the shared Hotel Matilda lifestyle that defines the Cornerstone collection.”
At Hotel Cacao, guests will be immersed in a kicked-back, relaxed “Hippie Chic” lifestyle of sophisticated accommodations and cutting-edge dining and mixology experiences. Located on Playa del Carmen’s famous 5th Avenue, Cacao is in the heart of the destination’s chic scene of restaurants, clubs and boutiques.
The hotel will offer 60 spacious, modern rooms with every contemporary amenity. A clean, contemporary design will feature interior design with bold color accents by the Cornerstone team, and dramatic architectural elements, including a central court with a hyacinth lily pond, by architect Rodrigo de la Peña.
Mexico’s most famous chef, Enrique Olvera, who operates Moxi restaurant at Hotel Matilda, is developing his first “coctelería” (mixology) experience at the roof-top bar which has spectacular views of the Caribbean and Cozumel Island.
Hotel Cacao’s restaurant, Nibs, will be a serene, mouthwatering escape from the bustling dining scene on 5th Avenue with a protégé of Enrique Olvera at the helm. Chef Alejandro Cuatepotzo, who was chef de cuisine at Moxi, is creating an exciting and innovative menu that taps the fresh, indigenous ingredients of the region and reinvents favorite Mexican seafood and meat dishes, such as ceviches with coconut and lime, scallops with lime pearls, lobster with green mango , shrimp burritos, tuna and beef tartare, salt-baked red snapper and conch fritters. The area’s tropical ambience will be reimagined indoors with guests dining amid an original jungle mural by international street artist Eduardo Kobra, a flowing water wall, and banana and passion fruit plants. In stark contrast to the colorful tropical atmosphere, Namuh-designed walnut tables and chairs with Italian carrera marbletops will be accented by simple white linens and china. The restaurant’s name reinforces the chocolate theme of Hotel Cacao: Nibs are unsweetened chocolate chips, created when cacao beans are crushed in the chocolate-making process.
Quirky, fun art donated by Tommy Hilfiger will bring pleasant surprises for guests. Bathroom amenities will be by Italian fashion designer Missoni. An after-hours-style bar downstairs will have a sexy bordello look. The shops and restaurants on the street level of the building include Maíz de Mar, a marisquería (seafood restaurant) by Chef Olvera.
Rates will range from $196 to $500, including Continental breakfast. Taxes are additional.
Since opening in fall 2010, Hotel Matilda has forged an international image for its sophisticated ‘Matilda lifestyle’ guest experience. Under the day-to-day direction of Mr. James, Cornerstone is now creating a distinctive hospitality brand based on the concept behind Hotel Matilda, the company’s flagship property.
Experiences that have molded the Matilda Lifestyle will be part of the guest experience at Cacao, such as:
– Rooms and suites with designer appointments and amenities.
– Dramatic works of art installed at key locations that define the interior spaces.
– World-class, innovative cuisine making the hotel a culinary destination.
– One-of-a-kind artistic and culinary events, from exhibits by major artists and art festivals to extravagant gourmet evenings with guest chefs.
– A popular lounge known for its creative mixology.
San Miguel de Allende-based Cornerstone plans to expand through a combination of acquisitions, management contracts such as Hotel Cacao, partnerships and new developments. The company was founded by Mr. James, who shaped the Matilda lifestyle as the hotel’s director, and Harold “Spook” Stream III, the developer and owner of Hotel Matilda.
Mr. James has brought extensive hospitality experience to Cornerstone – from guiding some of the most iconic and trend-setting luxury hotels and hospitality companies in Mexico, to developing far-ranging ties in the country’s culinary world and spearheading trend-setting dining at the properties he managed. At Hotel Matilda, he pulled off a culinary coup by bringing in Mexico’s most celebrated chef, Enrique Olvera, to operate the hotel restaurant, turning Moxi into the foodie destination of San Miguel de Allende. Mr. James is again partnering with Chef Olvera at Hotel Cacao.
Mr. James brings a distinguished resume to Cornerstone, including: general manager of the famed Hacienda de San Antonio, located near Colima; senior executive positions with Habita Hotels, from regional manager to general manager of the flagship Habita Hotel in Mexico City’s chic Polanco district; general manager of the Quinta Real Acapulco, and general manager of Casa del Mar, Los Cabos.
Hotel Matilda opened in September 2010 in the center of San Miguel de Allende, the crown jewel of Colonial Mexico that is an UNESCO World Heritage Site celebrated for its intact 500-year-old Spanish architecture of graceful arches, beautiful bell towers, ornate churches, cobbled lanes and walls aflame with bougainvillea. The hotel immediately established its iconoclastic, innovative and independent spirit by bringing the first and only contemporary ambiance and scene to colonial San Miguel de Allende. The vibrant art-gallery-like interior is filled with an eclectic collection of dramatic contemporary works by noted artists, many specifically commissioned for the hotel.
Moxi became a dynamic foodie destination by serving a unique menu by Chef Olvera, whose Mexico City restaurant Pujol is #20 on the San Pellegrino list of the world’s 50 best restaurants. Sleek Múi is a popular lounge known for its creative mixology. The award-winning, holistic Spa Matilda was named to Condé Nast Traveler’s 2011 Hot List of the world’s top new spa. In 2013, Condé Nast Traveler, in its Reader’s Choice Awards, named Hotel Matilda the #6 hotel in Mexico.