A beloved surfer hangout has been transformed into the stunning Gilded Iguana Hotel, a breezy and contemporary getaway that, despite its updated amenities, still exudes its original laid-back atmosphere. Located in the Costa Rican beach town of Nosara, the existing hotel was expanded and redesigned under the direction of Studio Saxe, a San Jose-based architecture firm renowned for its beautiful boutique hotel designs. Together with the owners, the architects sensitively restored and revitalized the originally run-down wooden house while imbuing it with bioclimatic design principles as well as other energy-saving systems including a solar photovoltaic panels and water recycling.

renovated and restored house

hotel rooms exterior

Spanning an area of approximately 57,500 square feet, the Gilded Iguana Hotel includes a reception, spa, restaurant and bedroom suites all clustered around the communal pool located at the heart of the development. The renovated timber house is visually tied to the new structures through a shared natural materials palette that includes simple wood frames and balconies with hand-made palm thatch “palapas.” The nature-inspired palette continues indoors where sustainably sourced teak, palm thatch, jute fabric and concrete tiles are used alongside modern and locally crafted tropical furniture.

covered patio

view of pool and pool lounge chairs from a second floor balcony

“The Gilded Iguana Hotel is designed as a harmonious ‘dialogue’ between the tropical identity of the past and a new toned-down, unpretentious and timeless tropical modernity that sits softly in the landscape and reflects the relaxed town atmosphere which most wish to preserve,” explained Benjamin Garcia Saxe, principal architect and founder of Studio Saxe.

hotel room with wooden dining table, large white bed, pitched ceilings and doors open to a balcony

reception area with several benches, chairs and plants

Related: Scandinavian-inspired hotel emerges from the lush Costa Rican landscape

As with many of Studio Saxe’s projects, the Gilded Iguana Hotel was largely informed by passive solar principles to naturally achieve a comfortable climate year-round. Locally sourced materials and labor were used to help create jobs for the community and reduce the project’s environmental impact. Water is recycled through water treatment systems, and solar energy is harnessed through solar hot water collectors and photovoltaic panels.

+ Studio Saxe

Images by Andres Garcia Lachner