No child’s play

What goes into designing adults-only hotels.

The Willows Hotel & Spa is an adult-only boutique hotel, and is the exclusive third phase in a series of multiple phased developments spanning over eight years. IGroup Design, with Swinerton Builders, Cuningham Group Architecture, and Sotelo Landscape Architects collaborated for this third phase of Viejas Casino & Resort property.

As design architect for the project, IGroup Design was responsible for architecture, interior design and procurement for the 159-room hotel, full-service day spa, pool bar, coffee shop, two restaurants, and casino expansion.

The property’s original design conveyed a rustic feel with carved themed boulders and wood logs. Like a stone tumbling through a stream, with each phase, the design has further evolved the architecture in a honed approach—now revealing a sophisticated connection to the natural elements in a clean, elegantly detailed expression. The spa portion of the project informed the refinement of raw features, blending rough, textured stone to an elegant smooth lightness.

The design team was inspired by the beauty of the surrounding valley, integrating nature with the abstract interpretation of the landscape—capturing both the larger valley topography and detailed leaf cellular pattern in various interior elements throughout the project. The geometric patterns are a thread to the past, while maintaining a sense of organic movement. The juxtaposition of organic textures versus geometric meandering themes is consistent throughout.


Many of the elements throughout were custom designed—art, furniture, chain art, grille, glass film patterns, light fixtures, and carpet patterns. A total of 159 all-suite guestrooms encourage relaxation with a lounge-style living room, oversized shower experience and finishes in rich woods, soft neutral tones, and bursts of gold. The lobby extends the interior experience with views and a direct connection to the pool bar and other outdoor amenities. Resort amenities include a business center, coffee shop, fitness center, salt water pool, spa garden, salt sauna, steam room, salon, and outdoor spa treatment cabanas.

The two restaurants are eclectic environments with their own unique language.

No child's play

Locale Kitchen + Lounge features a lounge, open kitchen, bar, dining area, enclosed patio and wine cellar. As the signature restaurant within a larger hotel and resort, typically a design is very closed off, but here there is a transparency, a glimpse of the space before it is revealed. Exposed structural elements are boldly embraced and make every seat feel special and important. The diversity of spaces is reflected in a range of finish concepts with strong highlights and emphasis on gold metals, eclectic patterns, and surfaces.

Ginger Noodle Bar embodies a calm atmosphere, rich with abstracted Asian elements and textures. Wood ceiling fixtures, lighting, and semi-transparent elements create a theme of connectivity as experienced through a wide variety of seating groups within the same space. The stainless steel-clad kitchen, accented by green glass tile, is open to the dining room. The exterior patio exudes ambience with fire-side seating and dramatic mountain views.

No child's play

Even though this new Willows hotel & Spa is an adult only, the previous two hotel towers are family-friendly. Throughout the property interior, a perimeter pedestrian concourse links the hotels to each other and guides guests along the new restaurant venues for all patrons to enjoy.


IGroup Design, established in 1998 is comprised of a group of talented designers with a goal of elevating human experience. Instead of having separate teams of interior designers and architects, IGroup Design rather combines the power of two in a single entity. The firm offers full service architecture, interior design, procurement and FF&E coordination, serving, Indian Gaming, senior living, hospitality, multi-family, and commercial environments. Every project they take is a delicate balance of real-world functionality and their intelligent brand of artistry. For more information, contact Denise Stein, director of business development at