By Jill Brooke
Before arriving at this Arizona boutique hotel, I was told it was a gem in the desert, a fertile place to see flora exploding both in the interior design and outside courtyard gardens.
I was a bit skeptical.
Until I walked through Hacienda del Sol’s entrance and was immediately enchanted.
Not only are the resort ranch’s doorways painted in bright primary colors by talented artisans with a love of flowers, but inside the spacious rooms are numerous floral flourishes that subtly create a charming and warm effect.
Modernism has created a sea of all-white bathrooms that are predictable. But here the tiled sink was a vibrant cobalt blue with sunflower accents and the tiles circling the shower also had floral designs. The dresser has a painted flower while the steel mirror had an etched flower in a corner.
The talented interior designer Rene Tinsley understands symmetry and cohesiveness, Along with Robyn Kessler, one of the owners, Tinsley and Kessler combed through different shows – including the Las Vegas furniture show – and discovered dressers, tables and chairs that oozed Southwestern sensibilities but still had an elevated sophistication.
When they couldn’t find the perfect piece, – whether it was a bed or a chair – they had it custom made.
The measuring stick was the “feeling,” as Kessler’s husband Jeff Timan explains. The desire was the perfect pitch of romantic, comfortable and unique.
Outside the rooms, one inhales fragrant flowers from the vast gardens, tended expertly by Melanie Zettel. Visual delights include vinca, stock, cosmos, gomphrena, purslane, salvia, African daisy, linaria, bells of Ireland and more, The irrigation system here is quite advanced and allows a variety of flora to flourish for different seasons. Zetel has a greenhouse on the property that serves as a test kitchen to see what flowers bloom each season and also provide herbs for the fine dining at the resort.
I was inspired by how this team used colorful pots to add to the design experience – and didn’t mind if they didn’t match. It is the overall feeling that is created by this mishmash of pots, tiles and flowers which is both whimsical and relaxing. Even the firepits have floral tiles.
In fact, my husband and I played a game of creating a scavenger hunt of how many flowers we could find both in the interiors and the outside areas during our stay. (It was a lot).
“There is a lot of stark desert, cactus and sand here which was the challenge,” says Timan. “But the scenery is brought to life through color” as well as tiles imported from nearby Mexico.
In fact, Timan, who once studied cabinet-making with Dakota Jackson before embarking on a real estate career, bought the resort in 1995 with a group of investors. His vision was to merge art, architecture and gardens to create a memorable getaway experience. For the couple, it was their second act, an opportunity to do something different but utilize a lifetime of skills and passions.
Now Hacienda del Sol is also an open-air art gallery with over 40 sculptures throughout the property – including some by Timan.
It truly is a place that Frida Kahlo would have loved – since Hacienda del Sol uses many of her favorite blue colors in their design. During offseason, it also serves as a residence for emerging artists who often leave remnants of their work at the resort.
As a result of this thoughtful infusion of art, design as well as gardening techniques, Hacienda del Sol is always evolving.
“It’s a masterpiece that is never finished,” says Timan. “That’s how we think about it. There’s always something more to do.”
Jill Brooke is a former CNN correspondent, Post columnist and editor-in-chief of Avenue and Travel Savvy magazine. She is an author and the editorial director of FPD.