Kath Williams + Associates Projects

Kawilal Hotel

LEED Gold - 2013
LEED NC v2009
Owner:Urbina Family
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Developer:Inmobiliaria Eficiente, S.A.
Architect:Juan Carlos Valenzuela
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Commissioning Agent:Spectral Services
LEED AP:1/2 Ambiente
Senior LEED AP: Kath Williams

This 19-room hotel, connected with St. Teresita Spa, is the first new construction project to be LEED certified in the country of Guatemala. 

Project Narrative Provided by 1/2 Ambiente

Kawilal Hotel has been conceived and developed as a new addition to the highly respected and internationally acclaimed, Kawilal Spa Guatemala. Known for the small, peaceful respite for residents of nearby Guatemala City and international visitors who come to climb the Pacaya Volcano, this natural hot springs spa has been owned and operated by the same family since the 1960s.

Originally named Banos Termales Santa Teresita, the site is located on a major thoroughfare in the small town of Amatitlan in central Guatemala. The family property borders Amatitlan Lake, one of the water features near the town. The adjacent road also goes south to the Pacific coast. The location is prime and well connected with the rest of the country. It is a 30-minute drive to Guatemala City and 30 minutes to Antigua Guatemala (a Unesco Heritage site).

The word Kawilal (pronounced Kac-
wi-lal) is written in a native tongue from Guatemala (Q’eqchi’), and represents the meaning of health and wellness.

The concept for this project was to add sleeping quarters and a restaurant to the successful spa and hot
pools which are open to the public. Eighteen rooms (built in the form of duplexes) were designed to fit into the environment on the hillside above the terraced spa.

The word SPA has been associated with Latin phrase “Sanitas Per Aquam”, meaning “health through
water”. Kawilal Spa assures health benefits derived from its thermal water springs emerging from Pacaya volcano's underground watercourses. All organic skin care products and natural materials are used in the spa. The Urbina family is dedicated to the hotel and restaurant being of the same quality and experience. Enhancing health, preserving the environment, as well as supporting the local community are the primary goals of operations and maintenance.

All new employees of the hotel will be given bicycles to use in their commute to and from home. Public transportation is also already available at the new driveway entrance to the hotel. As with the spa, uniforms for employees are made locally, from locally grown organic materials. An organic garden is being developed onsite which will provide herbs and vegetables for the new onsite restaurant. Local residents are already welcome at the spa facilities (this is not a private club) and opportunities for art/handicraft exhibits and sales will be enhanced once hotel is opened. It is important to note that the scale of this spa and hotel is in keeping with the local community, of which the family members and design/construction team have been active contributors for generations.

The hotel will function as an independent project but will share some of the activities with the existing spa and thermal baths. The architectural design had to be distinctive and original, the green roofs have generated a lot of expectations with the project demonstrating best practices from start to finish. When the hotel is operating, it is expected to be a role model of sustainable operatings in Guatemala, and an example of quality with low operating and maintenance costs. The indoor spaces will serve as an art gallery space, providing a platform for younger artist to show and sell their art. The community has been involved in the overall scope of the hotel and everyone is looking to LEED certification to document the project as an outstanding example of sustainable design, construction and operations.