One of our core values at Itz'ana is our Pioneering Spirit. But what does this mean in tangible terms? Certainly it refers to the spirit that brought us to such an untouched, intrepid destination in the first place and what drove us to create experiential luxury in the jungle at Ka'ana Resort. It has always been our goal to bring this kind of experience to the next level at Itz'ana.
As we get ever closer to opening our doors to the public for the first time, we took some time to talk with a range of our project team members to get their perspective on what it takes to deliver an unparalleled resort like Itz'ana.
We asked Itz'ana Co-Founder, Colin Hannan, how he and his partners approached the project from the beginning stages. "Itz'ana has always been about providing a unique sense of place; paying homage to the amazing destination around us. So when it came time to bring this vision to reality we were careful to design based on our local environment, going to great lengths to source materials within Belize wherever possible. When we couldn't find items here, we looked to Guatemala and Mexico, and only then further afield as needed."
We've consistently gone the extra mile in order to source locally. "Take for example the use of Bejuco vine for privacy screens," said Project Manager, Shawn Marshall. "It was chosen because it's local, it's sustainable, it looks good and it has longevity. Yet it means we have to have our team go into the forest at a specific time of the month under a full moon to harvest it. We store it, than treat it 3 times to ensure it is fully protected and resilient, and then we install. And this is mostly for aesthetics; it's not a structural material. It is a lot of work, but it does look great!"
As you can see, every minor detail has been thoroughly planned to match our vision of sustainability and luxury. The materials we used to build were locally and regionally sourced, including sustainable hardwoods from forests in Southern Belize, handmade Mexican tiles, and handwoven chandeliers designed by Guatemalan artisans. When selecting our subcontractors, we sought out only the best: from ironworkers, muralists, and carpenters through to solar engineers, pool builders and more. Every detail has been customized, down to the picture frames.
"We are working with 174 different suppliers, each requiring extensive management and coordination," says Senior Design Manager Elizabeth Cochran. "From custom-made chandeliers and tables for the Great Hall and vintage lamps from Mexico City to hand-made tiles made in Merida, Mexico and custom light fixtures made by iron-workers from Antigua Guatemala, the level of detail is incredible. And that doesn't even include our New York muralist or our LA and Toronto-based artists! It's a real international blend."
We even have our own carpentry team on-site building tables, chairs, shutters as well as decking, flooring and custom-made ceilings. Outside of the public spaces, we have 11 different residences incorporating 34 different room layouts that will all be custom designed. Needless to say, it keeps us very busy.
The end result will most definitely set Itz'ana apart. So far we have logged over 74,000 man-hours on the project, working towards a final build of over 256,000 square feet of customized spaces. The true heart of Itz'ana is The Great House, a nod to the great Caribbean estates. To get a better feel for it we spoke with Interior Designer, Samuel Amoia. "The most intriguing and time-consuming part of the design has been the Great House: each room is totally unique and different creating that sense of a story as you walk through, something that is so important to Itz'ana. But that means we need a different team to build a wooden floor than a tile floor than a concrete floor. And to ensure a seamless transition between them, we needed to design every inch very purposefully. It takes so many different crews to work together to cohesively deliver this and the sheer number of variables is astounding. It's what makes it all the more satisfying to see it come to life."
This eclectic sense of style is critical to the project, and is consistently incorporated throughout every aspect of it. "We invested a lot of time into thinking up and designing a large variety of structures to create a complete environment." said Architect, Roberto de Oliveira Castro, "The project was designed to feel organic and natural and, at the same time, create a complete sense of place. With a wide array of homes and guest rooms with similar aesthetics but of varying design Itz'ana will distinguish itself from anything else out there."
How do all these construction and design details translate into the guest experience? We spoke with Chef Dean Uren about the process of bringing our sea-to-table restaurant, Limilia, to life.
"Limilia is the center-piece of the Great House, and the creation of it has incorporated so many variables. It has been so important that there is a strict cohesion between architecture, interior design, lighting, branding, uniform design, service standards and operational procurement in order to deliver on a memorable experience. All these factors combine to form the foundation of the experience, upon which our food, wine and beverage menus really build. So when guests come in to dine, it's not just any regular restaurant, it will be a fully immersive experience where they can see, taste and touch the passion that went in to just this specific space. To truly deliver on an amazing experience like this takes huge orchestration from over a dozen different teams."
When we set out to create this project, we knew we were attempting something that had not been done before. Itz'ana is purpose-built to be one-of-a-kind. "I've worked in this industry for over 30 years and I've never seen something like this," says John Fareed, the Managing Director of Horwath HTL. "What we're going to end up with here is something that simply cannot be mirrored, anywhere in the world! It would have been much easier to build if it was a much simpler design, but I really admire the depth of attention that's been brought to every last detail here, and it ensures Itz'ana will stand apart."
When we thought of building a new kind of luxury resort, we envisioned something truly unique, sustainable, and luxurious. We're incredibly proud of what is now truly coming to life, and we look forward to having you experience it for yourself.