Petit Hotel Hafa

If there’s an extra effort needed to turn a house into a home, then the same must be said about turning a hotel into a haven. It’s the personal flourishes that make the difference. Hotel proprietors Christophe Mignot and Marina Garcia developed their own hybrid bohemian style when furnishing the Petit Hotel Hafa — a six-bedroom boutique hotel in the town of Sayulita, Mexico. Seasoned travellers themselves, the couple set out to cultivate a space that incorporated design features from their own favorite destinations. And the result is charming.

Originally from the south of France and the island of Mallorca, Spain, respectively, Christophe and Marina relocated to Mexico a decade ago, after extensively travelling by land and sea for nearly seven years with their children. When they took over the once derelict building in Sayulita, the upper floor was in complete disrepair and the back street was deserted and uninviting. The much-needed overhaul was a labor of love, which manifested itself when the newly renovated establishment began to draw foot traffic. Now surrounded by cafés, restaurants and shops — including the neighboring Corazón de Hafa, Marina’s art and jewellery shop — the Petit Hotel Hafa has become a cornerstone in Sayulita’s center.

The couple re-imagined a space that would intermingle Mexican, Moroccan and Mediterranean influences — a balance of clean white walls with bold colors, an abundance of natural light and airy communal spaces. Guests often comment on how radiant and light-hearted they find the common areas, and so does Christophe. His favourite part of the hotel is the terrace, which serves as an oasis where you can still hear Sayulita’s bustle on the street below while lounging in the shade. In the evening, it’s the place where guests congregate and mingle. “People enjoy the terrace because it’s cozy and there’s free tequila,” he jokes in a thick French accent. “They have a little drink and it becomes easier to get through talking to strangers.”

Photo: Marco Badalian
Photo: Marco Badalian

Guests from all over the world continue to flock to Christophe and Marina’s tiny retreat to take in the low-profile Mexican surf scene in this nomad’s paradise. The pair fostered their vision with an ardent appreciation for both local and global influences. The walls are adorned with handmade pieces crafted by local artists, and the beds are draped with traditional Mexican blankets made by Marina while visiting the country’s southern region. Cacti, succulents and various tropical plants are dispersed throughout the building, accompanied by beautiful pieces of Pacific driftwood to bring a coastal earthiness to the indoor spaces. The Moroccan accents are felt in the lanterns and keyhole windows carved out of the wooden doorways and white stucco walls. Christophe mentions that he and Marina spent a lot of time in the North African country while briefly living in Portugal, and how they both fell in love with the rich tones and textiles that are characteristic of traditional Moroccan interiors.

Photo: Marco Badalian
Photo: Marco Badalian

“We worked hard so that people come into the hotel and feel like they’re in a place unlike anywhere else.”

Light filters through the glass star-shaped lanterns at different angles throughout the day. It cascades onto the walls and floors in intricate patterns giving the hotel a distinctive old-world charm. Even the sinks are fashioned out of copper basins. Christophe notes that these touches were intentionally added “to keep your mind away from modern things.” The hotel’s pan-cultural accents enmeshed with traditional Sayulitan elements give each room its own whimsical charm. “We worked hard so that people come into the hotel and feel like they’re in a place unlike anywhere else,” he adds.

Photo: Stephen Wilde
Photo: Stephen Wilde

There is a slightly asymmetrical heart shape that’s patterned across the hallway door in bright colors, reappearing as a singular motif on walls and pillows. Created by Marina, this has become a signature design feature of the Petit Hotel Hafa. When it comes to the overall color scheme, Christophe notes that in Mexico, unlike most North American and European cities, bright colors are found in the interiors and exteriors of many buildings. “Color is very important here,” he mentions. “It helps people express themselves and it makes life more interesting.” If this is true, life would certainly be more interesting at the Petit Hotel Hafa, with its exuberant scarlet exterior accompanied by azure flourishes.

Just like the ever-changing nature of travel, the hotel itself constantly evolves. From fresh coats of vibrant paint being applied during the low season, to artwork on the walls being switched out to showcase new pieces from Marina’s shop, it’s a practice that continually allows the couple to tell stories through the hotel’s décor. Travel certainly has informed this family’s approach to curating interiors, but when asked if they have plans to set sail ever again, Christophe says with a laugh, “We have seen it all, and we have it all right here.”

Written by Jenna Kirouac

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