Vieques — Casa Solaris, the newest addition to the eco-friendly Hix Island House hotel on this island municipality, quietly opened two months ago and has been drawing a consistent wave of guests looking to stay in the first all-solar, off-the-grid guesthouse in the region, property manager Bob Gevinski told News is my Business.
The three-story property, which is modern and minimalist to the point of looking unfinished, features the latest in environmentally friendly features, such as LED lighting, energy and water efficient appliances, fans and plumbing, two 50-gallon hot water panels and 24 solar photovoltaic rooftop panels, among other energy-efficient elements. In lieu of air conditioners, Casa Solaris was positioned to take advantage of the continuous breeze that blows from the Atlantic.
Casa Solaris comprises six lofts ranging from 1,010 to 1,500 square feet. While four of the units feature an open floor plan studio design, the two remaining units feature a pair of separate bedrooms, which Gevinski said were designed with families in mind.
“The economy changed our business. We began noticing several years ago that people who came to Vieques were opting to rent a house rather than hotel rooms because it was cheaper and they were able to get more space for their money,” he said. “We adapted our concept to stay in business.”
So, 18 months ago, Hix House broke ground on the new building, generating about 12 local construction jobs and three permanent positions after the property’s Dec. 28 “soft-opening.”
All of the units are equipped with a full kitchen that is stocked with everything necessary to make breakfast — freshly baked bread, eggs, juice, milk and coffee — because “we found that people don’t want to have to go out to eat their three meals of the day,” Gevinski said.
Among Casa Solaris’ other unique design elements featured in each loft are an outdoor shower and sprawling open terrace. Poured concrete is the element of choice used to create countertops, bedside night stands and the bathroom sink, among other fixtures.
An official grand opening of the Casa Solaris property is scheduled for Earth Day in April, when Hix House executives are planning to invite government and tourism industry representatives, Gevinski said.
Hix Island House is nestled atop a lush 13-acre hill along with four other buildings that round out one of Vieques most sought-after hotel properties.