studio lost blends numo ierapetra resort into secluded beach in crete

Oct 31, 2021

a secluded beach in crete dotted with tamarisk trees sets the starting point for numo ierapetra’s fresh and earthy palette. the laidback seaside resort has been designed by london-based studio lost with a barefoot luxury approach that takes its cues from the greek island’s rich nature. the resort’s 132 rooms and suites connect the inside with the outside seamlessly, while private swimming pools, placed in cozy terraces, form pockets of serenity surrounded by mature gardens. the main swimming pool, nestled within a 3,000 sqm bar and restaurant area, is the beating heart of the entire property. the resort is part of numo hotels & resorts, a new hospitality company that oversees the commercial representation of the troulis royal collection brand, which includes the royal blue and the royal senses, curio collection by hilton (see more on designboom here).

designboom (DB): what is the main idea behind numo ierapetra’s design?

constantina tsoutsikou (CT): the design vision for numo was to renovate a tired resort and create an escapist destination, where people can come together to relax and create memories. the resort had been built one building at a time over a period of thirty years, lacked personality and basic amenities for todays’ traveller. we created an intimate dialogue between the surrounding landscape and the accommodation. what you get is a simple and stylish sort of coziness and beach vibes where indoors blend with the outdoors.

DB: how does the local context inform the hotel’s design?

CT: the ierapetra locale is a relatively undiscovered destination for holiday makers and feels distinctively different from other regions in crete. we are in the southern most spot in europe and there is a wilderness about nature and the elements that is breathtaking. I have been waiting for a project like this for a long time!

we didn’t have to look too far to inject a sense of place to the resort. the tamarisk trees that line the beach with their textured grey bark and grey green leafs were just the starting point of a fresh and earthy palette. we recoloured the existing architecture, added new elements like pergolas, screens, new terraces and private pools, created new portals and focal points in the landscape as well as re-worked all the interiors and exteriors – from stylish arrival lobby – all the way to the sun loungers on the beach. it was not just a facelift, we injected the resort with a soul! in those terms, the width and breadth of scope has been amazing.

DB: what is the relationship between nature and the built environment in the project?

CT: the advantage of renovating an old resort is that we had mature gardens at our disposal, that needed reshaping and reforming. I believe in taking what is there and making it better rather than scraping things and starting from scratch.  we found an abundance of mediterranean foliage like olive trees, bougainvilleas, palm trees and smaller shrubs and herbs to which we added more local species for volume and texture. some of the original plants were planted randomly so we added elements to create rhythm where we could. it wasn’t always successful- one of the palm trees was moved and didn’t make it in the end- but other than that one casualty, all other trees remained where they were and we worked around them. we enhanced the beautiful relationship between indoors and outdoors through creating terraces for ground floor guestrooms, pool decks, mini courtyards. since many of these were shaped around existing trees or rock formations, the terraces have varying organic sizes and forms and add to the bohemian vibe of the hotel.

CT: the renovation of numo beach resort was a great opportunity for studio lost to demonstrate how our ideas about sustainability and in particular upcycling become practice. we started with an assessment of what was existing and could be carried forward with the new brief. in a project like a hotel with over 130 rooms, a small gesture in the bedrooms goes a long way. then we made adaptations and tests. wardrobe carcasses were taken to workshops to be repaired, new doors in stained brushed timber were added, and so were new feet that allowed us to add height to the units. bedside tables were modified by adding a new base and lacquering. we re-finished the old pieces to a standard where they fully integrated and mixed with the new furniture.

DB: how did the collaboration with the client team evolve?

CT: we worked closely with the client and their team to understand the operational requirements, marketing needs and meet the expectations of their clientele. dealing with hoteliers is rewarding, as we get an insight into the business and view the development from their perspective. we had discussions about how the narrative translates, how we capture the essence of the brand and many other aspects of hospitality and profitability of the operation. in the end, we contribute with design and shape peoples experiences, while learning from each other. after each project I feel that the client understands design a bit better and we are equally richer in knowledge of the hotel industry!

DB: studio lost is also responsible for the interior design of the royal senses resort, a sister property of numo on the same island. does the overall design concept for numo translate in any elements of the royal senses as well?

CT: resort hotels play a key role in the future of hospitality, and we were fortunate to design two beautiful projects almost simultaneously. each project has it is own strong narrative and identity. at the the royal senses we focused on expressing the cretan soul. we translated our ideas  through a focus on culture and  craftsmanship with an earthy material palette of terracotta, rusty accents and neutral tones. where the royal senses feels sophisticated and luxurious, numo is more barefoot and escapist. at numo we took a  ‘less is more’ approach and created a distinct personality that reflects the adventurous soul of the brand and gave an escapist vibe. what the two projects do share is the same commitment to detail and comfort. in practical terms, we were able to do more research and development on the royal senses resort, and applied these findings to the numo project which was very fast paced and  a shorter timeline to complete and open in time for the summer season.

(CT continues): that means a large part of the supplier base we used was the same, and once we explored possibilities on one project like pergola making  for example, we took that to the next level at numo with the freestanding timber structure that envelopes the pool bar. there was a certain loyalty that was evident by the long standing relationships between the teams involved on both projects that made our involvement feel very special. for us it was certainly the first time to work on two large resort projects on the same island at the same time! now we look forward to sharing that knowledge and experience on our current works in development. stay tuned!

outdoor cinema

project info:

name: numo ierapetra

designer: studio lost

location: ierapetra, crete, greece

photography: nick kontostavlakis/globe & trotter