By: Jessie Chrobocinski Photos By: Rachel Benavides
Imagine, for a moment, finding yourself surrounded by peaceful natural wetlands on one side and Mustang Island’s most extensive dunes on the other. Looking out from the sophisticated rooftop terrace of Padre Island’s destination eco-resort, Lively Beach, you feel the warm breeze swirling around you as native birds fly overhead, encompassing you in the kind of resort experience that brings you closer to nature in style.
Lively Beach lives up to its name, as its location next to the expansive beach along the Gulf is a natural for plenty of activities, from surfing and fishing to a tranquil day spent in the sunshine. What originated as a failed subdivision of family homes spread out among a sensitive ecology of dunes and wetlands has become an eco-resort that dedicates more than 60 percent of its surroundings as a preservation area. Visitors can enjoy the restoration of fully repaired wetlands and a six-acre bird estuary, including educational arbors scattered throughout the property and a series of abstract sculptures emulating the beauty of how nature works.
Jeffrey Berkus, architect and planner of Berkus Architects, says, “We have introduced a fortified concrete building system, led by Stephen Berkus of Resilient Building Systems and Berkus Construction, that is responsible to the environment and forces that are present on this barrier island.”
Built with sustainability in mind, the development of Lively Beach focuses on eco-friendly construction methods such as using a proprietary resilient system that reduces construction impacts, is energy efficient, and uses recycled materials, making Lively Beach a pre-certified Elite Platinum level resort with health-oriented units that provide immaculate air quality. Embracing a contemporary concrete and wood design, Lively Beach’s two- and three-story buildings cluster around a central courtyard reminiscent of popular destination resorts.
“We have designed it to be comfortable for millennials and traditionally-minded travelers,” says Berkus. Even before COVID-19, “we wanted to design a nice mix of resort-condominium style studios and one-and two-bedroom units, complete with individual kitchens, air purifiers, dehumidifiers, and Energy Recovery Units.”
“So the air quality in the units are above and beyond what you will find in a typical resort,” he continues. “Now, in the time of COVID, visitors can feel more comfortable than ever.”
During their stays in these well-appointed units, guests have described themselves as “welcomed and inspired.” From the entry gate, a lush, palmed landscape greets visitors along the palm-lined, beautifully lit drive to the heart of the property, where a 3,000-foot resort-style pool and a beach club can be found tucked in behind the dunes. The interior brings a fresh, contemporary island feel with a limited palette of natural colors and materials, and artwork appointed by Rebecca Berkus of River Terrace Design. Tempur-Pedic sofa sleepers and individual kitchens laid out with stainless steel, Haier appliances set with all the right pots and pans, dishes, glassware, and even wine openers, make a stay at Lively Beach feel like home.
“It has been a labor of love for the last couple of years building it, and we’ve tried at every level to make it special,” Jeff says enthusiastically. “Everything is intentional, from the site plan to your walk-in experience to leading your eye through the courtyard to the axial relationships of the palms and distant walkways. Landscape features draw you in an intentional walking pattern throughout the site, and you are encouraged to move around the site by that.”
Without a common hallway, each unit provides private entry to the courtyard, offering touchless check-in. Each of the resort amenities, including the beach club, rooftop terrace, and pool, offers people an expansive area to spread out. The rooftop terraces display magnificent sunrise and sunset views. With three separate furnished sitting areas, the rooftop is the perfect setup for social distancing.
Lively Beach is an exceptional vacation experience, embedded with natural Coastal Bend elements, sophisticated and resourceful accommodations, and convenient access to the Gulf Coast’s soft sand and warm waters. As we continue to course through uncharted waters during this time of a global pandemic, the outdoors and safe, comfortable amenities provided by Lively Beach offer a reset of uncertainty with intention and grace.