In the dense jungle of Tulum, Mexico, a man stands apart from the crowd—Eduardo Roth, an architect and environmental designer whose brilliance has earned him both admiration and curiosity. As I stepped into his sanctuary, Eduardo’s presence commanded attention. Dressed in flowing all-white attire, adorned with large necklaces, he emanated an aura of tranquility and brilliance that immediately drew me in.
Roth’s home, nestled deep in the jungle, is a testament to his unique architectural approach. Embracing natural forms and inspired by the Mayan culture, Roth’s creations pay homage to mother nature herself. Instead of disrupting the environment, his designs incorporate existing vegetation, using trees as bridges to seamlessly connect the interior and exterior spaces, resulting in organic and awe-inspiring structures.
The AZULIK UH MAY: Where Art and Nature Converge
At the heart of the jungle lies Roth’s masterpiece—the AZULIK UH MAY, a cultural center for the arts. Here, Roth’s vision truly comes to life, challenging conventional architectural norms and celebrating a harmonious relationship with the surrounding nature. The center serves as a testament to his commitment to sustainability and his belief in the importance of preserving natural beauty.
Drawing inspiration from ancient communities, Roth’s self-taught architectural approach revolves around natural geometry and Mayan influences. He meticulously studied the ancient dwellings, respecting their deep connection to nature. In doing so, he has created structures that exist in harmony with their environment, seamlessly blending into the lush jungle backdrop.
An Ambitious Venture: AZULIK AlUla Resort
As the desert sun sets over AlUla, Saudi Arabia, Roth’s architectural prowess takes on a new frontier—the AZULIK AlUla Resort. Set to open its doors in 2027, this audacious, futuristic resort stands as a beacon of eco-luxury, nestled within the breathtaking Nabataean Horizon District. Surrounded by sandstone canyons and near captivating sites such as the Equestrian Village and a world-class outdoor sculpture park, the resort promises an otherworldly experience.
A testament to Roth’s commitment to environmental preservation, the resort will boast 76 luxury villas of six distinct varieties. From welcoming lounges to an all-day dining experience, every aspect of the resort will embrace the essence of the desert surroundings. Inspired by the dramatic sandstone cliffs, the resort’s exteriors will mirror the natural formations, utilizing all-natural materials and woven fibers.
Embracing the Essence of AlUla
As guests traverse the resort, they will witness Roth’s dedication to preserving AlUla’s rich history and natural beauty. Ancient rock art inscriptions will be incorporated into the resort’s design, connecting visitors to the area’s storied past. A sophisticated system utilizing existing waterways will provide irrigation and flood protection, further solidifying the resort’s commitment to sustainability.
Embracing a car-free environment, the resort will offer an all-electric mobility system, with horse and camel routes and hiking trails for a truly immersive experience. Through every detail, Roth endeavors to create a space that not only captivates but also encourages a deep connection with the surroundings.
A Conversation with Eduardo Roth
During an exclusive interview, I had the privilege of sitting down with Eduardo Roth to discuss the inspiration behind his ambitious projects and his vision for the future.
“What first attracted you to the area of AlUla?”
Roth smiled, recalling his first encounter with AlUla’s enchanting allure. “We were kindly invited by H.H. Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammad bin Farhan Al Saud, Governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla and First Minister of Culture, to design a hotel and a museum. AlUla is truly a magical place that has been enchanting us all at Roth Architecture since our first visits and explorations of the area. Tribes from different cultures have passed through this place and left their testimony engraved on the rocks. This land is a living museum.”
“How does your unique artistic vision fit in with the ancient destination?”
As Roth leaned back, a serene expression washed over his face. “We are students of Nature; we build guided by the plants and the birds singing in the jungle. The desert is a mystery full of surprises; one day, surprisingly, it rained for a moment, and an hour later, the desert was covered with flowers. Nature, with all its power, sleeps under the sands. Life clings with all its strength and becomes stronger under the difficult conditions of the desert; the variegated trees are an example of the strength that is born from obstacles. The desert somehow resembles the jungle.”
“AlUla is unique because it is born in a unique, intense space. Standing on the sand between those mysterious mountains while listening to the wind whistling through the canyons is very thrilling. All of us who have been to AlUla have experienced that unspeakable feeling of vitality, of life, of power that radiates from those sands. AZULIK Hotel and SFER IK Museum are like nomad camps from hundreds or thousands of years ago. A place to pause, to rest from life’s journey, to share, to remember what we came to this planet to accomplish by looking at those monumental landscapes. One does not return the same from AlUla. The desert gives us something very deep; it changes us.”
“What do you love most about the spot where the resort will be built?”
With a glimmer in his eyes, Roth replied, “The place itself is spectacular. The hotel will extend over more than 271 acres of desert, surrounded by three mountain ranges of incredible shapes, carved by the wind.”
Expanding Horizons: The Future of AZULIK
As we concluded our conversation, Roth hinted at exciting plans for the future of AZULIK. “We have three upcoming projects that we will be announcing over the next 12 months. In December, we will reveal an extraordinary project with 30 acres of jungle converted into an outdoor SFER IK museum, surrounded by one-of-a-kind villas, habitable sculptural residences, and a brand-new AZULIK hotel in Tulum. Along with many surprises created with Ancestral Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence combined.”
A Journey to the Past and the Future
Once an essential crossroad of the incense trade, AlUla now beckons travelers from around the globe. With more flights connecting to this mesmerizing destination, including routes from Dubai, Cairo, and Paris, AlUla has quickly become a hotspot for those seeking extraordinary experiences.
A Flourishing Oasis of Luxury
While AZULIK AlUla Resort is poised to make a grand entrance in 2027, AlUla’s hospitality scene has already blossomed. From the exquisite Habitas AlUla and the opulent Banyan Tree AlUla to the exclusive Cloud7 Residence and the unique Ashar Tented Resort, each property celebrates the splendor of the desert while offering unparalleled luxury.
Looking Beyond the Horizon
With Eduardo Roth at the helm of architectural innovation, the future of AZULIK promises even more breathtaking projects that celebrate the beauty of the world around us. Blending ancestral wisdom with cutting-edge technology, Roth’s creations will continue to inspire generations to come.
Based on the interview conducted by Jim Dobson for Forbes.