The Spa at Playacar Palace - CODAworx

The Spa at Playacar Palace

Submitted by Jennifer Kleen

Client: Palace Resorts

Location: Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Completion date: 2013

Project Team


Miguel Barbosa

Bacsa Architects

Interior Designer

Jennifer Kleen, Jeremy Jones, and Jenn Ray

FODA Design

Art Consultant

KARINA QUINONES, Purchasing Agent

Palace Resorts


Diana Mestre


Javier Studios


Palace Resorts approached FODA Design to craft their new spa building, constructed within one of the existing hotels courtyards. The concept was based on the jungles surrounding the town, and more specifically, the Banyan tree growing through the roof of the hotel lobby. To anchor the spaces, FODA, in conjunction with Javier Studio created several large scale glass blown elements to fit within these new curvilinear organic interiors. In the treatment rooms, we also developed high-res photography of local geodes and minerals, printed onto glass and inset in the ceiling with color changing LED.


When we receive a new project our goal is always the same. To create a space that serves the functional requirements of the client, while paying homage to that part of the world by pulling in cultural references to the design to create an Avant Guard, luxurious space that provides guests with an authentic experience. While the design and materials of this space accomplish that in very subtle ways, it’s the art installations that really pull this space together. Our intent was not for the art to be installed in this space, but rather for the art to define this space. These installations are the features, creating mental photographs the guest will take home with them. More importantly, they aid in providing the guests with an experience as they progress through the different zones of this spa. Spas pack a lot of areas and functions into a single space, and can thus become mazes to their guests where they can “lose themselves”. These art elements even help with way finding, providing geographic landmarks for them to use to return to the reception area and the regular world after their treatment.


As we began conceptualizing the space, we pulled images and we of course began sketching. These sketches and images formed the basis of the working relationship with Miguel and the team at Bacsa to develop the space. We were also coordinating simultaneously with Diana Mestre to finalize the treatments and functional experiences that we would want to integrate into the art installations as well if possible; namely, color therapy. These were presented to the clients, along with building plans that were continuously evolving into what would become the final layouts. With the clients approval we began working with the Palace Resorts Design Management and procurement teams including Jabib Chapur, Claudia Ferreiro and Karina Quinones. They brought in Javier, a local artist with which they had a pre-existing relationship. We provided drawings and sketches, describing our design intent. Claudia and Karina coordinated with Javier and provided his questions to us in English. We answered the questions but gave the artist license to create their own interpretation of our vision.