You can learn a lot about design by studying resort architecture.

You can learn a lot about design by studying resort architecture.


Luxury Asian resorts masterfully blend architecture and landscaping in to a harmonious whole.

Luxury Asian resorts masterfully blend architecture and landscaping in to a harmonious whole.


With enough time and effort, you can create a low cost yet luxurious home and garden with local plants, wood and stone.

With enough time and effort, you can create a low cost yet luxurious home and garden with local plants, wood and stone.


Most readers are familiar with the major architectural styles – Modern, Art Deco, Country, Arts and Crafts, Mission, Ranch, Victorian, Colonial, Greek Revival, Gothic and Prairie Style come to mind. One major and very appealing style that’s sometimes overlooked is Pacific Style.

Some of the finest examples of Pacific Style are not on the Internet or in widely published books. The best examples I’ve seen are in exclusive guide books of high end Asian resorts. These places are only marketed to the rich, and so most people are unaware of their existence. The buildings in these top resorts are absolutely stunning. No doubt they were designed by some of the most talented architects around. And no doubt the resort owners can afford to hire the best architects and designers, because rental units go for $500-$1,000 a night or more not including massages, 5-star meals, drinks, and so on.

The main point here is how we can learn from exemplary architecture – buildings that have been designed by the most talented designers with nearly unlimited budgets – and use them as inspirational springboards to create beautiful but modest, affordable dwellings. It’s not as difficult as one might think. Study the photos closely for details. Identify materials and note the patterns, colors, trim, textures, fabrics, furniture, art and other objects. In most cases the main appeal comes from an open layout and close connection with nature. Nature, it turns out, is the main theme. That and striking, bold shapes like tall pyramid roofs. Predominate materials are stone, wood, bamboo, thatch and plants. Lots of plants! For instance, most bathrooms are hardly inspiring. You do your business and get out of there, right? But in these resorts you can find walled, partially open to the sky, outdoor bathrooms filled with plants. Imagine living on a tropical island 1,000 years ago and bathing in a natural pool in the forest. It would be paradise. That’s the basic look they’re trying to capture.

Another example is the dining area, possibly a private patio surrounded by lush plants and exotic flowers, with a careful balance of privacy, integration with the surrounding vegetation and views of the sea and/or mountains. (You wouldn’t want the guests disturbed by groundskeepers, maids or other mere mortals.) Again, the main theme is nature, and one of the most striking features is a water element like a fountain or a plant covered stone wall with water trickling down the side into a pool.

You may be wondering how you can possibly afford this level of luxury. The solution is acquiring local, natural materials that make sense in your area and building it yourself. While you could spend a fortune building one of these resorts, you can scale it down and build something extremely beautiful at extremely low cost. Many natural materials are free for the taking or very inexpensive – rocks, rustic poles, twisted branches, drift wood, logs chiseled out to hold plants, rustic slabs for benches and tables, sea shells, bamboo, saplings, thatch, etc. Plants can be gathered wild in certain places (get permission if necessary), purchased as small starts or started from cuttings and seeds. The main requirement is time to collect the materials and build everything. If you’re reading this blog, you likely have more time than money. You don’t have to pay landscape architects and landscapers. Do it yourself on the cheap. Take things one step at a time, do a little here and there, have fun with the process and gradually turn your home into a paradise. Hint: even a little goes a long way.

Image source 1: Thailand Housing.com
Image source 2, 3: Traveler Inspire.com

Related: Preferred Building Materials for the Rich?


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