#7 Of One Dozen Love Letters About Xandari

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Dear Xandari Pearl circa 2026,

I hope the day this photo was taken (yesterday as I type this) will be remembered. Amie wept. Saji shared some wisdom–and we all embraced in the hopeful spirit of looking forward to this lovely property’s prosperity. I shared recollections of my first visit to this property  years before moving to India, and wanted each of the team members to know why this property is the most important work so far in my lifetime. It had to do with this location’s personal meaning to George M George, and how that meaning influenced the design process. Xandari Costa Rica was a big part of that process as well, and the Xandari community should be aware of that special link. Continue reading

#3 Of One Dozen Love Letters About Xandari

X3By the time that MLHS had completed the acquisition of Xandari in Costa Rica we were already well under way with the development of what is now Xandari Pearl, on the beach about 40km south of Xandari Harbour. Reflecting today on what I love about Xandari, I again am reminded of some rather heroic decisions made by George M George, and the board of directors who he reported to.

In 2010, when we were in the early months of this relationship between MLHS and La Paz Group, there was already a completed architectural plan for the beach property that MLHS owned at Marari. There were already permits applied for the construction of those plans. So it was with some trepidation that I took a firm position in my recommendation to the board George reported to: those plans would result in a resort that would not fit the strategic road map I was laying out. To start with, it was 80+ rooms; and there were other issues but scale was the one I focused on.

Just now I was looking at the powerpoint presentation I brought into the board room with me to make my case about abandoning the original plans for the resort at Marari. The first image in that presentation was the one above, which was a photo snapped just some days prior to the meeting. I talked about the natural beauty of the beach property, and how our target market would appreciate meandering on paths through as much of that as we could preserve; ideally we would not cut a single tree. We would let the local fishermen continue to keep their boats on property. And other points about that land. Continue reading

The Back Stories

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Beach time with little Adoniya and her mother Sini, member of the Xandari family.

Ask me the most meaningful part of my job around here in recent time and I’d hold up the Xandari films without a doubt. To call them films or videos is an acknowledgement of their formats and the creative process that goes into them. But to embrace all of them together with the words labour of love is simply the truth. (Watch them here).That we loved making them, loved dissecting the resorts to take a closer look at their DNA, their dreams. Above all, loved the Xandari family a little bit more. I’ll tell you why.

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Andhakaranazhi Beach – Alappuzha

Photo credits : Ranjith

Photo credits: Ranjith

Andhakaranazhi is a beautiful beach located 5km from Mararikulam beach (one of the most famous beaches in Kerala) in the Alappuzha district, approximately 30km from Kochi International Airport. There is a lighthouse near the beach, and the place is a confluence of the backwaters and the Arabian Sea. It is particularly beautiful at sunset and sunrise. Continue reading

Kaiser the Puppy and the Rising Middle Class in India

Three days ago, we pulled up in front of an art deco gate and half-abandoned mansion on the property of a soon-to-be new RAXA Collective resort. By ‘we’ I mean the design team comprising of an architecture student (me, Chi-Chi), a landscape architecture student (Rania), a hotelie-turned-interior architecture student (Jonathon), and an engineering student (Siobhan). We were told to get a feel of the property.

Trusty Guard at Marari Beach

We, the interns, walked around the property with Amie and the trusty guard. The bamboo stick to protect against rumored snakes on the beach.

We found: ‘objects’ (modest fishermen’s homes); an endless, unobstructed beach with marbled sand and black waves; and our new favorite hangout spot, a nearby internet café.

Exploring the ObjectsRania Inspects a Decorative Statement Wall

Guard and us exploring the roofline

Exploring the roofline of an abandoned wealthy fisherman’s house with the guard.

Kaiser found: two Indian security guards; their next-door-neighbor friend; our cook Manu; and us.

Kaiser is a tiny mixed puppy who arrived on site only an hour before we did. As a dog-lover and all-around “everything happens for a reason” believer, I KNEW KAISER WAS A SIGN. A sign for what, I don’t really know, but he was a very cute and very small sign, so I immediately focused all my down-time obsessing and fussing over Kaiser.

Kaiser the Puppy

This is Kaiser.

I think Kaiser gave me more insight to Indian attitudes. It’s very difficult to converse with someone about abstract ideas without a common language, but if you throw a dog in the mix, it becomes a lot easier.

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