A Tale of Two Architects, Villa Orquidea 2009

I sat down with the owner, and interior designer Julia Brenton and we talked about their spectacular property. You heard about the Tale of Two Cities, this is a masterpiece and tale of two architects. Julia and her husband Woody were not strangers to Tankah Bay. Julia's brother, Chuck and his wife, Ann have been coming to the area for many, many years. They owned and built the house right next door. So when Ann let them know this exquisite piece of property was available, they took advantage of the opportunity and bought it. The property had a very comfortable, fully air-conditioned casita, an 800 sq ft complete house suitable for one couple set back from the water's edge which provided a perfect place to stay while they planned and built their dream vacation home.

It started out that Julia and Woody flew Jonathan Ramsey of Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck Architecture, a well-known firm from Des Moines, Iowa down to Tankah. He brought with him his tools to measure the topography and helped them figure out the perfect house to build and exactly where on the property. Ramsey was a minimalist and had ideas that Julie loved but the Mexican/Spanish perspective was not yet developed. For example he chose the clean lines of a modern look and Julie loved the beauty of the Mexican Haciendas, Spanish Colonial and Southern Plantations.

In comes Ricardo Flores Corona. He took the basic layout that Ramsey proposed and gave it the local flavor they were looking for. Including some of the small details that work so perfectly in the Caribbean climate, such as air flow design and play of light and color in the bedrooms and bathrooms. Julia also wanted to be sure that the entrance was handicapped accessible but still maintained a lovely, welcoming, tropical feel.

Julia and Ricardo worked great together. In the kitchen Julie designed the space and gave it the ease and comfort of an Americanized kitchen but Ricardo added the handmade cabinets and picked the local talavera tile. For big gatherings of family or friends, it’s a cook’s kitchen, completely outfitted, that works well whether guests cook or the on-property staff cooks. The mahogany dining table seats ten with carved coral-themed chairs.

The entrance balconies off the bedrooms were an idea that came from a trip to Veracruz along with the fact that Julie wanted continuity with the front of the villa and the back. She refers to these balconies as the Romeo and Juliet balconies and feels they capture the romantic inspiration she was looking for, after all, this is such a romantic place.

The stairways and inside balconies are accented with graceful wrought iron works. The stairway also has a skylight that provides a nice illusion during the day and at night the lighted niches with artwork provide relaxing ambient lighting. The roof is a virtual play area for all ages, with a bar feel and comfortable seating you can get away for some private roof top sunbathing or relax with a cocktail as you watch the sun slip into the jungle to the west. It is a great area for sunset refreshment and bird watching. Woody and Julia have seen a flock of toucans roost right in their property’s trees.

Julia's interior design talents are subtle but exquisite and she incorporates some of her favorite pieces whether it is a piece of art work that came from her husband's, parent's vacation home in Jamaica or a Chinese opium couch they brought back from Thailand. Along with some locally made pieces. It all compliments and works in an eclectic yet stunning way.

Villa Orquidea is a perfect spot for a family vacation. You can rent it with or without the roomy casita. The casita has a modern kitchen, dining area, living space, bathroom and sleeping area. Perfect for another couple of your in-laws. The pool is located between the main house and the beach. Julia's brother's house could be rented along with this villa making it the perfect place for a wedding or large family reunion. But you would have to book early to assure you both properties were available.

I asked Julia to tell me what brought her to the area and why did she fell in love with it.

Julia says first of all it has everything she likes to do – from eating great food with fresh fruits, vegetables and fish to snorkeling, swimming, walking and kayaking. Woody and Julia sometimes sail down to the Tulum ruins. Additionally, they enjoy entertaining family and friends with the virtually unlimited variety of fun to be had in the Riviera Maya from visiting or diving various cenotes, visiting the local Mayan ruins, golf, and, of course, shopping. She said it is wonderful for families and though she doesn't think visitors need Internet, phone, and TV, Julia chose to add it for those would prefer having those services available.

Their first trip to the area was when they decided to take their children, who at the time were 5,7 and 8 to see the ocean for the first time. They chose Mexico rather than a beach in the US and Cozumel was their choice. They loved it and still hold on to their vivid memories.

For about 5 years following they would stay in Akumal at Hotel Akumal Caribe. Her brother, Chuck and his wife Ann were campers at Xpu Ha.

When their kids were in High School they rented Villa Margarita in Jade Beach and that was when they seriously started entertaining the idea of what it would be like to own a villa of their own. Chuck and Ann's house was being built and they stayed in Cancun and then at Casa del Perro Feliz once the construction was complete, these visits were without the kids. The idea of owning a second vacation home was becoming more of a reality. When Ann called, it seemed to be their destiny and they bought it site unseen, knowing the land was so nice. The rest is history...

You can learn more about this property by clicking here.

Handicap Walkway

Living Area


Julia Brenton

Casa del Perro Feliz