In 2020, we purchased a property in Tulum, Mexico in need of some TLC and transformed it into a boutique rental destination known as The Swim Club. If you know the story and just came for the eye candy, keep scrolling. If you’re new here, we’ll bring you up to speed:
Launching a destination brand was one of those ideas that always lingered in the backs of our minds as a “someday.”
After launching our creative agency, we harnessed our newfound freedom by travelling often – realizing that no AirBnB ever quite nailed the aesthetic we wanted, or didn’t have the right kitchen tools, or office space, or just felt disconnected from the experiences outside of it. We mused about investing in a vacation property, and as the universe does, the opportunity came our way much sooner than we anticipated. In summer 2020, our Mexico realtor sent us a listing that gave us pause.
At first glance, it was… not chic.
It had been sitting on the market for 18 months, with a dated, dark interior + questionable choice of paint and decor. (It was orange. Like, everything. Orange.) It would need a ton of work to transform it to the place we envisioned, but there was something about it that felt right.
After seeing so many listings of heartless, newly built condos (“modern” sure, but empty), this 12-year old villa boasted outdoor space and a thoughtful layout that was unlike anything we’d perused before. The two bedroom and 2.5 bath villa is located in a quiet corner of Tulum Pueblo (Spanish for town) that backs onto the Mayan jungle. It was built WAY before the Tulum tourism boom, with the most incredible grounds and pool – and it’s only ten minutes from Tulum’s stunning beach strip. Although the state of the place was a shitshow, it was built well, and we immediately saw the magic we could make of it.
In the middle of the pandemic, with our agency operations running full-speed ahead, it wasn’t even CLOSE to the right time.
But, obviously, we did it.
We purchased the property officially in July, and moved in on October 9th.
Frank had flown down once to check it out before purchasing, but I hadn’t even stepped foot into the space until we arrived in the fall. Move-in ready it was not.
We gutted it, remodelled the kitchen and bathrooms, painted over the orange (!!!!) walls, and made it our own, to share.
Throughout the entire renovation process, we were living + working + playing in the space. We learned *so* much about ourselves, our business, and our vision for the future while spending time within those walls.
In making our design decisions, we were most powerfully inspired by the future users of the space. We wanted to make sure it was created in a way that would accommodate the lifestyle that our ideal guests value, which is one that gives them freedom to create, areas to lounge, and plenty of opportunity to entertain and enjoy company. Because of this, we have extensive indoor-outdoor dining space, the nicest couch we’ve ever sat on, and desk space for multiple guests to be working and taking calls at the same time.
We leaned into the minimalist + modern decor style that we’re drawn to, while mixing it with materials influenced by local style and architecture. Concrete is a widely used building material in the area, and almost all of the wood furniture in the house is sourced and made locally. It was important to us for it to feel warm, but not cluttered – a space where you’ll instantly walk in and feel comfortable, but can also make your own.
The Swim Club is the precursor to an overarching brand that we envision for Oh Sierra – a series of destinations around the world that harbour the same values of working, playing, living, and enjoying our spaces and the cultures that surround them. We chose the word “club” to signify a sense of belonging amongst travellers – the idea that you can visit the Swim Club from anywhere in the world, and still share experiences and memories with everyone else who has stepped foot in it.
Alright, alright – we know what you came here for.
While *every* corner of the space has been modified, elevated, and curated, there are a few standout moments that really showcase the transformation. Scroll through to see The Swim Club come to life.
Living + Working
Connected to the living room and patio with an open-concept layout, the Swim Club’s first floor offers an indoor-outdoor experience that integrates lounging, working, and dining.
Kitchen + Dining
Creating a space suitable for cooking, entertaining, hanging out, and working was SUPER important to us when designing the Swim Club. Whenever we were on the road, and staying in a new place, we always craved and cherished the moments of a home-cooked meal made with locally sourced ingredients, the comfort of a freshly brewed pot of coffee, and a quick, easy breakfast to prepare for a day of possibility. With the culinary-savvy traveller in mind, we’ve equipped the kitchen with all the essentials, and some extras (helloooo wine fridge!). Our guests are welcome to use our full range of pots, pans, appliances and serving wares.
The Sombra Room
Our two beautiful bedrooms each have an en suite and direct balcony access, named according to the natural elements that integrated into the space. Sombra – meaning shadow – comes alongside tropical light leaks like you’ve never seen.
The Palmera Room
The Palmera room includes a bathroom and designated desk space, alongside balcony access + generous closet space. Named after the plentiful palm trees visible from its panoramic view.
Boasting a front patio and upper balcony, accessed by both bedrooms, the ample private outdoor space was a major draw in purchasing the property. We envisioned the multitude of ways these spaces could be used — dining, lounging, workouts — and kept them minimal to ensure there would be plenty of room for activities.
Adding a trip to Tulum to your vision board, this year? We thought so.
View the rest of the space on Airbnb (or book your stay with us!) here.
Follow along on Instagram for beach-y vibes, property updates, and behind the scenes Mexico living.