Creating What’s Next
Inside a corner office of IRTRA’s headquarters in Guatemala City, the walls are covered in storyboards, artist renderings, and a flat-screen television projecting glimpses of coming attractions. Here, artists and engineers stay busy designing future attractions.
“Mr. Ricardo is a very special person. He can see into the years ahead and imagine things other people can’t,” says Architect Omar Barrios of IRTRA President Ricardo Castillo Sinibaldi.
Barrios and his team of nine will grab pencils and start sketching when Sinibaldi starts dreaming aloud.
“We have to work very fast because Mr. Ricardo likes to see things right now,” Barrios says, comparing Sinibaldi’s active imagination to that of a youngster.
Aldea de la Selva is their latest creation. The hotel features elevated hotel rooms resembling treehouses. While they look like living trees, IRTRA developed a special application technique using fiberglass and cement that are resistant to the effects of Guatemala’s blistering sun and frequent rain. Landscapers then allowed real foliage to grow onto the man-made limbs to complete the illusion.
“To be able to blend with technology honed here in Guatemala with nature is something I am very proud of,” Treehouse Designer Erick Baldizon says. Using homegrown labor is of importance to Sinibaldi. IRTRA uses very few outside vendors for design, fabrication, and construction.
“We have many people working for us that have learned new trades and gained new experiences,” Barrios says. That includes the artists, carpenters, welders, fabricators, and tradespeople who work inside the central shops located in Retalhuleu. When the African-themed Hotel Palajunoj was under construction, IRTRA didn’t purchase furniture; rather, their talented tradespeople made nightstands and the headrests for beds. When Zamperla’s new “Relampago” roller coaster opened in December at Mundo Petapa in Guatemala City, all of the iron railings and queue gates were manufactured 125 miles away by welders in Retalhuleu.