How HBA used local inspiration for first LatAm Canopy by Hilton

The recently opened Canopy by Hilton Cancun La Isla marked Hirsch Bedner Associates’ third new-build project completed in Mexico and the Canopy by Hilton lifestyle brand’s first hotel in the Caribbean and Latin America. 

Situated in Cancun’s Hotel Zone overlooking Nichupté Bay, the 174-room property has art-infused elements integrated into every space of the hotel. HBA designers took inspiration from the city’s local heritage, weaving Cancun’s street art and mural scene into the fiber of the hotel’s design, over which they added the concept of “diving into the cenote,” or collapsed caves, a signature experience in the region.

Local Inspiration

“Cenotes embody notions of mystery, wonder and discovery. Within the tangled layers of jungle, we’re surprised to find deep stone surfaces draped in vegetation and voluminous depths, and beneath a mirror of pristine waters, where a universe of enchantments exists,” said HBA senior associate Brooke Copani. “In a similar fashion, Canopy by Hilton Cancun La Isla [has] lush terraces, textured volumes and thoughtful details layered with delightful discoveries, creating moments of connection.” 

The lobby is dominated by a large chandelier, a colorful cluster of woven fiber sculptures that cast shadows on the surrounding surfaces and dance like leaves in the jungle. Beyond the suspended art feature, the lattice-work ceiling extends past the Canopy Central bar and down into the café, suggesting the handmade ladders and layered natural root systems that descend into the cenote. 

Materials like chiseled stone at the bar and reclaimed wood at the registration desk contrast with rug patterns in bright teals and greens. The overlooking mezzanine is comprised of co-working space, meeting rooms and a spa-like transfer lounge.

Above the Canopy Central bar sits a mural by local artists that tells an artistic story of a fox in search of something special in the desert. Paint colors and line work are layered over the angular concrete blocks, reflective of a common screening feature in Mexican architectural vernacular expressed with a modern edge. The bar itself is raw and monolithic with split-face granite, a polished top and black oak raised panels. Bar stools are crafted from locally sourced wood finished with black sides and exposed natural wood finish on top.  

At the heart of the lobby is Azulinda Café and Bar. A food cart element connects to the café countertop as a playful statement and inspiration for guests in the exploration of local flavors. Wall treatments inspired by regional architectural elements are painted pastel and white as a nod to the history and locale, providing freshness while earthy materials like clear oak and natural walnut warm the palette. At the rear of the café is a mural that pays tribute to the nature and flora of the destination. Like water winding from the cenote to the sea, a secondary entrance connects guests directly to the terrace of La Isla mall. 

The stepped layers of the infinity-edge pool evoke the Yucatán Peninsula’s terraced hillsides and beach cliffs, while the pool bottom has a mosaic made of black and white glass tiles.

HBA designers used colors, textures and architectural gestures to lay the foundation for Wander Rooftop Bar. Saturated blue hues evoke the cenote while playful pops of color are concentrated in key focal areas. Seating ranges from benches surrounding fire pits and private day beds to a front row seat at the portable stage and sculptural chairs beneath an illuminated neon Cancun sign. 


Elevator lobbies look out onto the strip below. White marble borders the corridor’s inset carpet guiding the way to the guestrooms. Guestroom walls are decorated with murals while the headboards display scenes of the jungle. The open closets divide the vanity area from the rest of the room without total separation so that light can pass through the full space. Softer elements such as the embroidered sheer on the windows, textile-inspired carpeting and woven pillows on the oversized day bed further hint at the locale through natural textures and patterns native to the region.

In the king rooms, a nightstand/minibar combination unit conceals the refrigerator drawer behind a laser-cut panel and also houses the coffee and honor bar. Opposite the day bed, a hanging swing at the window is the sculptural feature of the room.