MYS Hotel, Thailand

20th February 2024

Nestled in the mountains of Khao Yai, the MYS Hotel is a luxury, boutique destination that fuses Scandinavian and Thai design. SEAM Design developed a lighting scheme that seamlessly blurs the interiors and exteriors of the space.

Fusing contemporary Scandinavian and Thai-inspired design, the MYS Hotel is the newest boutique destination in Khao Yai, Thailand.

Blurring interior and exterior spaces, the luxury resort provides a calming retreat amidst verdant greenery, giving guests a beautiful spot in which to relax and unwind.

Lighting for the stunning new hotel was designed by SEAM Design, and one of the main parameters of the scheme was to delicately merge the modern and natural elements together into one cohesive ambience.

Aticha Padungruengkit, Associate at SEAM Design, explains: “The project serves as the ideal retreat for those seeking proximity to nature while preserving their privacy and enjoying high-end services. Achieving this balance involves a thoughtful lighting design that facilitates wayfinding without being overly conspicuous, ensuring a harmonious blend of natural surroundings and modern amenities.

“The overall concept for the lighting was to establish a sense of comfort that harmonises with nature, while infusing a subtle element of surprise. The lighting scheme is crafted to complement the distinctive architectural design – we hope that guests will always remember the unique character of the MYS Hotel and want to come back.”

To realise this harmonious concept, the lighting design team conducted “extensive studies and research” to ensure that the lighting struck the required, delicate balance that would be “sufficient to create an inviting mood and atmosphere for guests without disturbing the wildlife and natural surroundings,” Padungruengkit adds.

Lighting control is used to ensure the appropriate amount of light is provided at the right times. During late-night hours, only wayfinding lights are activated, with lobby lighting dimmed while not in use, allowing for only a special light setting to remain on.

One of the defining features of the hotel is its remarkable “levitating” outdoor pool; reaching out over the hotel lobby, the pool is connected to a lounge café that opens to expansive, highly curated gardens across the hotel grounds.

Padungruengkit explains how the lighting helped to further showcase this standout feature: “The distinctive feature of the project is the levitating pool, easily visible from the main road in its elevated structure. We wanted to emphasise this ideal by incorporating vibrant colours into the pool, making it particularly prominent during nighttime from a distance. As guests pass through the gate to the drop-off area, they are welcomed by the watery floor that mimics the visual effect of the pool above, creating an immersive underwater experience.”

The use of dynamic colours and movable lighting helps to further distinguish the reception area and set it apart from the rest of the hotel, but Padungruengkit explains how the lighting design shifts throughout the space to create pockets of distinction and enhance the overall guest experience. She says: “As guests move to the wine bar and restaurant, the ambient lighting and textures gradually lower to create a formal and refined ambience suitable for fine dining.

“In the guest rooms, lighting is customisable, allowing guests to tailor the brightness to their preferences. A brighter setting is available for work or other business activities, an evening scene promotes relaxation, and a night scene is designed to facilitate a peaceful night’s sleep.”

Padungruengkit adds that the illumination levels across the various areas of the hotel were designed to blend from space to space with minimal variation, while low-level lights, while providing different effects and functions, are similarly placed in terms of height and rhythm. These strategies, she explains, were used to seamlessly connect one area to another.

That being said, the nature of the resort, and its merging of interior and exterior spaces, did provide a degree of difficulty for the lighting designers, as Marci Song, Director at SEAM Design, explains: “Blending across a fully glazed threshold between interior and exterior is definitely one of the biggest design challenges, particularly on a project in a mountain-side setting where there are hardly any buildings in sight.

“When it comes to fully glazed partitions, the challenges are twofold: firstly, ensuring that the light spill from interior to exterior does not negatively impact the magical expression of the surrounding landscape and landscape lighting; and secondly that fully glazed openings allow views outward towards the beautiful vistas of the mountains, but they also allow for views within the rooms and villas. Careful positioning of lighting, optical accessories, and controlled scene settings all help to tune the light on both sides of the glass to increase privacy for the guest when and where needed.”

Given the hotel’s beautiful surrounds, Padungruengkit adds that the lighting was designed with the idea of “facilitating a close connection with nature”, something that was posed to SEAM Design by the project architects, Urban Praxis. “We seized this opportunity to enhance the lighting scheme by developing creative concepts, delineating areas to be subtly and elegantly highlighted, while other areas were intentionally subdued to preserve the natural environment and privacy,” she says.

This is but one example of how the design team worked in harmony across the board to achieve the desired, high-end finish, as Padungruengkit continues: “We worked closely together with the design and consultant teams from the project’s primary concept to ensure a unified vision among all team members.

“During the detailed development stage, effective communication and coordination with the team became even more crucial, as the intricacies of lighting had to integrate with both architectural and interior details perfectly.”

Being in close contact with the wider design team from an early stage also served to avoid any would-be structural issues later down the line, once the project got underway, as Song elaborates: “Structural constraints for lighting would need to be mitigated in the early stages of the design. We were lucky to be brought on board during stages two and three, where we had a chance to coordinate key details with structural engineers.

“Sometimes, when we are brought in too late, the structures are fully coordinated, and we are only left with attaching rather than integrating the light. Other design opportunities could have been missed if we were not brought in for the early adoption of lighting.

“The design is quite modernist, meaning that the buildings and structures are clean, and in a way monolithic, with very few embellishments. So, rather than attaching fittings for an expressed lighting approach, which is common in luxury and hospitality projects, we had to come up with clever and creative detailing. The luxury refinement is in the shaping of light with finessed details, rather than deploying luminaires with refined finishes.”

With the majority of the common spaces of the hotel open to the elements, the SEAM Design team had to work to find luminaires that would be durable and robust enough to withstand external use, yet available in the quality finishes and small sizes needed for a luxury environment. A tough balancing act to achieve, but Song explains that the team was able to find the necessary products needed to create the required ambience from local suppliers, where possible. “We do our best to find locally sourced products,” she says. “We worked closely with local suppliers and manufacturers to find high-quality luminaires that rival the European market. Where we can, we try to cut down on carbon footprint related to transportation, replacement materials and lighting equipment is supplied by the local and regional market with shorter lead-times for better support and customer service to the operator.”

Completed in 2023, the MYS Hotel provides guests with a magical mountain retreat, with the fusion of Scandinavian and Thai design providing a contemporary, yet calm destination where they can immerse themselves in the beautiful Khao Yai surroundings.

The lighting from SEAM Design only adds to the experiential nature of the resort, with Padungruengkit satisfied with how it fits within the overall visitor experience. She says: “Lighting can prioritise different areas of the resort, ranging from the entrance spaces where anyone can appreciate the captivating design of the lobby or indulge in a fine dining experience, to more private areas within the hotel building reserved for guests. The subdued illumination within the hotel rooms and pool villa, coupled with strategically positioned light sources, contributes to a sense of privacy.”

Looking back on the project, Song is also satisfied that the collaboration on show has bore fruit, leading to a “magical” destination for guests. She concludes: “The project team, including the design team and the client team, were highly collaborative from beginning to end. While there are numerous resorts and vacation spots in the area, it felt like we were all working together for a common goal of creating a truly special place for Khao Yai. We think that we have achieved that.”

Image: DOF Sky Ground