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Page 53 of 83

BY STEVEN HEMPEL. PORTRAIT ANA HOP. PHOTOGRAPHY PRASHANT ASHOKA. (Continued on page 54) A s the pandemic continues, people are searching for hideaways to book — small hotels and homes with a strong design aesthetic and minimal contact with others. Among them is Casa Etérea, 20 miles outside San Miguel de Allende. It lies among the peaks of the Los Picachos mountain range, at more than 8,000 feet in altitude, surrounded by steep canyons, dry scrub, deciduous forests, and oak woodlands. It is the love child of Singaporean-born writer and photographer Prashant Ashoka, who envisioned building a secluded writer's retreat that would serve as inspiration and allow visitors to connect with nature in a place of quiet and stillness. The fact that the 800-square- foot, fully sustainable glass-clad modernist structure sits quietly on the slopes is a marvel of design and perseverance. Set among rugged terrain, it's accessible only via a four-wheel drive vehicle. To build Casa Etérea — which translates to "ethereal" — Ashoka and his team had to overcome the terrain that makes the destination so special. With neither electricity nor roads to access the site, everything had to be built specifically for the project. Yet it is this setting — amongst native white-tail deer, mountain lions, hawks, and rattlesnakes — that makes it so appealing. Almost like a sliver of glass, Casa REFLECTIONS 52

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