Carmel Retreat, Carmel USA


  • Project

    Luxury resort

  • Services

    Design and masterplanning

  • Location

    California, USA

  • Client

    Peninsula Group

  • JV partner


  • Date


Cameron Chisholm Nicol and JV partners PMdR were one of two shortlisted to design a retreat and spa resort on a 186 hectare site of natural beauty in the Carmel Valley, California. The brief from Hong Kong and Shanghai Hotels Limited (The Peninsula Group) called for a ‘paradigm shift’ in sustainable luxury resort design. In response, our approach was to focus on the complete guest experience, with an emphasis on privacy and amenity, whilst incorporating extensive sustainable design features.

The estate is accessed via an ascending road that climbs between a series of lakes and terraced organic produce gardens. Arrival is signified by curving, green roof forms that merge with the contours of the landscape, and enclose the welcome and reception areas. This complex accommodates a vintage car museum, library, pool, restaurant, cocktail bar and administrative facilities.

Guests are accommodated in 40 luxury 1-, 2- and 3- bedroom spa villas, sited to optimise privacy and views whilst enjoying an intimate relationship with the surrounding oak forest. The villas are folded into the landscape and each incorporates a roof garden with a yoga pavilion and reflection pool. Living spaces open to the adjoining landscape, with an operable roof affording views of the sky.

Throughout the estate, various enticements are designed to enhance the guest experience. These include art cabins, woodland walks, lakes and trails. An existing stone quarry will be restored and transformed into a series of thermal baths and day spa facilities.

Electric carts are provided to navigate the resort, reducing congestion and traffic. Back of house facilities, while extensive and developed to a very high standard, are discrete and concealed from view.

The project seeks to be a benchmark in sustainable design. It will be energy and water net-self-sufficient, harvesting water and energy on site and exporting back to the grid when possible.

Energy is harvested from solar PV panels, both centrally located and integrated into the villa design. A central co- and tri-generation energy source will be supported by gas micro-turbines for grouped villa use. Bore water will be extracted from 5 existing bores, whilst the topography will be used to harvest and store rainwater in landscaped reservoirs located at varying elevations. Grey and black water harvesting will occur throughout the site.

Both intensive and extensive green roof design will eliminate heat islands, enhance the thermal performance of building structures, support the preservation of local flora and fauna and assist in rain water collection by slowing storm-water run-off.

Our design is an environmentally-sensitive response to the climate, physical features and heritage of the Carmel area, whilst providing a superior level of comfort and service for guests, detailed to the highest level.