One&Only Private Homes at Mandarina is a collection of 55 villas—among the first One&Only villas to own in the world. Situated less than one hour north of Puerto Vallarta, the villas are nestled among the trees on an ocean-view hillside, neighboring the new One&Only Mandarina. One&Only Private Homes offers owners the chance to enjoy the services and amenities of the resort—the spa, beach club, cuisine and kids’ club—as well as those of the Mandarina community, including the Mandarina Polo & Equestrian Club.
The villas, which feature four, five and eight-bedroom designs, feature innovative architecture by the Tucson, Arizona-based Rick Joy Architects, a firm renowned for its climate responsive, environmentally sensitive work. Each villa is designed specifically for its location, to blend eloquently with the landscape, celebrate nature and capture dynamic ocean, mountain and jungle views. We sat down with Rick Joy to discuss his vision for One&Only Private Homes and his humble approach to design, which allows nature to take center stage.
What was the architectural vision behind One&Only Private Homes?
This part of Mexico’s jungle is truly unique. The first thought was that we should focus on something that captures the special privilege of being here. Rather than just having this perched view of the ocean, where you see only blue and green, the villas offer a more dynamic experience that includes both jungle and ocean views. Some bedrooms are beneath the tree canopies; others are facing the ocean. Beyond that, we used shade, shadow and the body movement of the jungle to enhance the living experience. We really wanted to blend the homes with the landscape, making them as unobtrusive as possible so they wouldn’t be overly visible from the beach or a boat.
How would you differentiate between the One&Only Mandarina resort and the residential component from an architectural standpoint?
They vary greatly in scale. A resort caters to guests coming for a matter of days, and residences cater to owners who may come for months at a time. The residences are like mini resorts with pools, catering kitchens and spacious bedroom suites. They need to be much more generous with space, offering places to park cars and house staff. The residences are more elaborate in feel and even though they are beside the hotel, they feel very remote and private. You can still order room service but in the seclusion of your home.
What was the lifestyle you envisioned when conceptualizing One&Only Private Homes at Mandarina?
We tried to capture the relaxed lifestyle and culture of Mexico, while creating places where the whole family could gather under one roof, as opposed to reserving several hotel rooms. The Villas offer a nice separation between private and semi-private spaces. You can do as much or as little as you choose; you can be around people or spend time alone. We also created estate villas, which offer the space and comfort of two villas, for residents seeking to accommodate more guests and extended family.
How do the residences incorporate the natural surroundings into the design?
Every villa has incredible views and not just of the ocean, but up close and personal views of the jungle. The landscape is part of the experience in every room. When you’re in the master bath, there are leaves pressing against the glass. You’re immersed in the jungle, an experience that is incredibly different than most other places in the world. You’ll get more atmospheric qualities being in the jungle than you would in the desert, or on a mountainside. You get the sights, the sounds; the shadow in one direction and bright, blue ocean in the other. The light coming through the trees is rich, and the sunlight hits random places, changing throughout the day. You can wake up in the morning and think about how you want to spend your day. Do I want to sit in the shade and take in the jungle, or do I want to watch the sun slip beneath the ocean?
What are some of the standout architectural and design features of the villas?
I think more in terms of atmosphere and experience, so to me, that’s really what stands out. The villas are the instruments that frame those experiences, providing a place to take it all in. They are more lifestyle and experience propositions than they are buildings. The roof overhangs a certain distance to get the right atmosphere and weather protection. The windows are placed to capture a range of experiences. We didn’t want to overwhelm with architectural features. You don’t need to be in the way of the jungle and the ocean.
These properties are envisioned to be legacy homes. How did you go about designing with a multi-generational audience in mind?
In my public lectures, I talk about building everything with an heirloom quality that can be passed down from generation to generation. I think it’s important to do that with all architecture. At One&Only Private Homes, the arrangement of bedrooms was key. One generation may be the mother and father, and the kids come to visit once in a while. Then there are families who want to accommodate grandparents, nannies or medical staff. We designed with flexibility and a range of lifestyles in mind.
Read more about Rick Joy’s architectural vision here.