Concepting, designing and building a hotel from the ground up is no easy feat even for the most seasoned hoteliers, so for two sisters from the small resort town of Sedona, the thought that their first endeavor would cause a global industry stir was nothing short of a dream come true.
Ambiente, A Landscape Hotel, will be North America’s first “landscape hotel” when the property opens this December. It was created by Jennifer May and Colleen Tebrake over their parents’ kitchen table with the encouragement and guidance of their father, Mike Stevenson, a successful entrepreneur and 37-year Northern Arizona business owner. Growing up, the two sisters had watched their father build a successful business and were inspired by his industrious and outstanding example. What began as a conversation with their father over a unique hotel concept turned into a passion project. With their father’s help and encouragement, the two sisters formally put Ambiente into motion in 2017 and founded Two Sister Bosses, a luxury hotel development and management company headquartered in Sedona.
In recent months, Ambiente made worldwide news after being named amongst “The 40 Most Anticipated Luxury Hotel Openings for 2020” by Forbes, “2020’s Most Anticipated Hotel Openings” by Fortune and “The Best-Designed New Hotels of 2020” by Architectural Digest, among others. Plus, features have ranged from Lonely Planet and Travel + Leisure to Conde Nast Traveler and Departures.
The highly anticipated hotel features 40 cube-shaped, luxury guest Atriums elevated above the ground by steel piers and encased in bronze glass to give the appearance that the structures are floating. Ambiente is in line with the philosophy and design principles similar to the handful of landscape hotels that exist around the world, which are built with a deep respect for the environment, focusing on sustainable methods and organic, modern architecture that complement the surrounding topography.
“My sister and I always knew we wanted to get into the hotel business, so when we bought the property, it was already zoned for a lodge-style hotel that we could have had up-and-running by now,” said Jennifer May. “My father and I walked whole length of the property and were so mesmerized with the beauty of not only the stunning, 360-degree red-rock views, but the on-site topography with landforms, rock outcroppings and ancient washes. We both agreed it would be a shame to grade this rare piece of Sedona’s character. So, we began researching methods, ideas and examples of hotels that have blended into their surroundings in a sustainable way. We became enamored by the few landscape hotels that exist in Spain, Norway and Uruguay and that’s where our inspiration was born.”
Two Sister Bosses commenced construction on Ambiente in October 2019 and the erection of the individual Atriums, a proprietary building system developed by the hotel’s architect, ASUL Architects, will begin next month. The system is comprised of pre-fab steel frames that sit on four holes in the ground, which virtually eliminates the need to grade the natural vegetation and topography on-site. May and Tebrake are closely overseeing that each Atrium be hand-placed and oriented in the field to ensure optimal positioning that fits within the trees and flora while also maximizing views and privacy.
From there, the Atriums’ floor-to-ceiling glass walls, which make up nearly 70 percent of the structure, will be placed. A unique type of dark-bronze glass was chosen because it allows clear visibility from the inside looking out to the landscape and red rock vistas, yet its highly reflective properties allow privacy from the outside by creating mirrored silhouettes of the surroundings that cause an almost camouflaged effect.
Two Sister Bosses hired landscape architect, Krizan Associates, Inc., who is focused on preserving the existing, heavily vegetated forest with minimal impact to the land. The plan is to save every native tree possible on the property during the building process. Krizan’s team has found a way to reactivate the site’s ancient waterways in order to create a natural eco-system with continuously running water throughout the property to complement the authentic look of the terrain.
“Our vision is for Ambiente to attract travelers from around the globe who will experience the wonders of Sedona in a whole new way,” said May. “On the inside, the hotel will embody sleek contemporary design, elegant minimalism and the utmost in luxurious accommodations. On the outside, nature and nurture will go hand-in-hand with electronic bikes for guests, Dark Sky compliant lighting for optimal rooftop stargazing, untouched rugged land with pedestrian paths since no cars are permitted on-site and immediate access to the more than 100 miles of Sedona’s famous hiking and biking trails.”
Ambiente is in line with Sedona’s new commitment to provide sustainable destinations for tourists that are harmonious with the environment around them. The hotel aims to be the city’s leading example of sustainable tourism and innovative hotel design that promotes long-term vibrancy within the community. For more information about Ambiente, visit AmbienteSedona.com.