Destination Design: Welcome to the Jungle at NICO, Sayulita, Mexico

Situated along the jungle-lined coast just an hour north of Puerto Vallarta in the bohemian surf town of Sayulita, Mexico, Seattle-based architecture and development firm, HYBRID in collaboration with Mexico City-based architecture firm Palma, have opened a 3,000-square-foot architectural rental operating on numerous levels of luxurious comforts.

Front of NICO with glimpses of two floating staircases and the ocean in the background.

From street level, NICO Sayulita’s front facing impression presents itself as a two-level structure. Only after guests cross a bridge over the main pool does the entirety of the structure reveal itself with a tiered sunken site imprint designed to disappear into the canopy of tropical foliage.

Back of NICO surrounded by lush tropical trees and plants, with large paned windows visible through the foliage.

Aimed at travelers seeking a refuge from loud luxury for intimate privacy, NICO’s open architecture is carefully planned for surprising seclusion.

A series of elevated suites and open-air common spaces are connected by floating staircases in Escher-esque style. Indoor and outdoor spaces intermingle into a concrete grid structure, maximizing the welcome cooling effect of the ocean breeze across both private and shared spaces.

Floor level with floating staircase in the center casting a shadow across open air concrete interior, with turquoise tile lined lap pool in the background.

The efficient grid-like design allows for a “gradient of privacy and openness.” Sections of the building can be connected or closed off in accordance of desired level of privacy, making the rental ideal for families or a large group of friends staying together.

Two woven armchairs with small wooden side table in the foreground and off-white day bed near large floor to ceiling windows in the background. Jungle-like exterior visible.

Two armless modern dining chairs with small circular base dining table in the foreground and off-white day bed near large floor to ceiling windows to the left. Jungle-like exterior visible.

Long narrow wooden dining-console table with two matching dining chairs situated in an indoor-outdoor area with long concrete wall to the right and interior living space visible behind it.

NICO was conceived to offer a micro-boutique tropical getaway experience while retaining several hotel-style options to keep any stay north of just a typical home rental (suites can be rented in combination with the option to rent out the entire house). These include practical needs, including airport transportation, daily cleaning, and laundry services, but NICO’s owners also remember being on vacation means feeling pampered, so there’s also the option to hire the services of a bartender, chef, yoga instructor, massage therapists, surfing instructor, or a guide for local excursions.

Outside looking into NICO Sayulita's Jungle suite, with paned glass window doors open revealing a circular concrete tub and bed in the background.

NICO Sayulita’s Jungle suite resides on the floor level, with lush tropical foliage and its own built-in concrete tub for a spa-like experience situated indoors.

Interior shot of NICO Sayulita's Jungle suite, with paned glass window doors open revealing a circular concrete tub and bed in the background, side of king sized bed in foreground.

“The suites are generally calming tranquil spaces with views to the jungle environment,” says Robert Humble, Founding Partner and Design Principal at HYBRID. “A neutral color palette of concrete, steel, and wood imbues a sense of craft and refuge. The common spaces are more brightly colored and playful to excite the senses and create a memorable experience.”

An open air kitchen with eight dining chairs and dining table in white over wood slat flooring inside a concrete clad interior. Two padded patio chairs and low coffee table in the foreground with ceiling fan in background.

An open air kitchen invites communal meal preparation and dining.

Low wooden platform kingsize bed in center of small white bedroom with circular mirror on the left wall, framed artwork over the bed covered in white bedding.

Loma Alta’s 5 bedrooms are furnished with either a king size bed or two individual beds. Two daybeds are also available for guests staying individually.

Large floor to near ceiling windows looking out into tropical garden setting from foot the bed perspective. Two low slung armchairs and small side table over natural fiber rug inbetween bed and windows, with medium size palm plan to the left.

Every room is furnished in a serene organic-modern style, with pieces sourced from emerging Mexican designers.

Wood platform kingsize bed in center of white bedroom with two panel abstract artwork over the bed covered in white bedding, surrounded by potted tropical plants and large floor to ceiling windows to the left revealing a tropical setting.

Exterior shot of concrete beam framed terrace with four blue outdoor chairs and table, with turquoise rooftop plunge pool in background to the right. Palm trees surrounding front and back.

Narrow concrete bridge over a small saltwater lap pool, with half of a circular mirror and sink peeking through doorway.

Guests cross a small bridge over a small saltwater lap pool detailed with artisanal turquoise-colored tile and surrounded by greenery.

What: NICO
Where: Calle Loma Alta 7, 6373 Sayulita, Mexico
How much: Starting from $840/night for 5 bedrooms; 5-12 guests with 5-12 beds, 6 bathrooms
Highlights: A rooftop plunge pool offering spectacular views of the bay, and the Jungle suite’s built-in concrete circular tub.
Design draw: The NICO’s multi-tiered tropical modernist concrete structure interconnected by floating staircases is an inviting interplay between public and private spaces, the natural landscape in relation to its architectural imprint. Furnishings within are sourced from emerging Mexican designers.
Book it: NICO

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Gregory Han is the Managing Editor of Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at

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