POV: Carlos Huber
The architect-turned-fragrance-developer, traveler, and now BoutiqueHomes host, shares his thoughts on the scent of place.
Carlos Huber travels with all of his senses. Born in Mexico City, he has spent his life exploring the world, first studying architecture in CDMX and Paris, then working in historical preservation in New York. More recently, he has turned a love of scent into a perfume brand, ARQUISTE®, where he is something of an olfactory storyteller. Last year, he became a BoutiqueHomes host when his contemporary home in Mérida, Mexico, joined our collection.
What do you look for when you travel?
I definitely like the outdoors, and I love to travel to places that have some element of water—a beach, a coast. I love places that have history and character—old cities, little colonial or medieval towns. Mexico is just full of that.
Where are your favorite travel destinations?
I love the Mediterranean, in the summer especially. It's like the cradle of the world—so many cultures, beautiful food, and beautiful architecture wherever you go. I love Mexico. It has such an interesting mix of landscapes, and the food culture is top in the world. I love the discovery, but I also love going back. It's about depth rather than bucket list. I'm not a bucket-list person. I don't need to do everything, and I don't need to see every place.
“I'm less interested in style and design, and more interested in character. If it is also visually and architecturally striking, then fantastic!”
Where do you stay when you travel?
A mix of houses, hotels and friends’ homes. I love an old-school hotel or a boutique hotel. I also love a resort when it's done really well.
Is historical character essential to you, or are you open to homes of all styles?
I’m open. I really respect service above everything—if you have a great concierge, a person who welcomes you the right way, a good waiter, a good maître d’, all of that—it's about kindness. After that, history and character. I'm less interested in style and design, and more interested in character. If it is also visually and architecturally striking, then fantastic!
Tell us about La Tropical Villa, your home in Mérida.
In 2021, we were looking for stays in Mérida, and I found La Tropical, our house. We were exploring Yucatán’s haciendas, and I thought it would be a super special contrasting experience. The haciendas were all historical, and then this little modernist oasis, behind the colonial facade, seemed fresh and appealing. When we opened the doors to the house, we were just blown away.
What blew you away?
When you walk in, you enter one large room with super high ceilings. That’s the kitchen, where there's this big island with just a little strip of light. It's so immaculately designed that nothing is poking out, nothing is extra, nothing is superfluous.
Through a doorway, you see another large room that has an even taller ceiling, and that's the living/dining room space. And then there are really big cast-iron and glass casement windows that open, and beyond that you see this lush garden with a strip of blue, which is the pool. You go from big to bigger, to the full green-and-blue explosion of the garden and the pool. It's the unfolding and the revealing, that's what's really striking about it.
Last year, when its owner decided to sell the house, he wanted to offer it first to guests that had a special connection to the place and really loved it. My husband and I knew it was a great opportunity, and when we decided to go for it, everything fell into place.
Your work as a fragrance developer involves telling stories with scent. If you were to bottle your home in Mérida, what would the story be?
The smell of La Tropical is the pool and the garden, wet earth and that tropical lush, palm frond smell. The smell of the sprinklers that go off every so often when the weather is drier. You smell the green. It actually lifts up the green.
What about Mérida?
Mérida has a lot of different scents going on. It's a very stone, mineral city. There's not a lot of trees, but every house has a little garden in the back, or a patio or a pool or a space, so you always have trees that are poking out from behind walls, and you always know that there's a lushness inside. There's incredible fruit, a lot of guava trees and figs, and beautiful flowers, frangipani, and magnolia trees. And then there's also the Mexican food and markets, and all the smells associated with those.
What's your favorite pastime when you’re at the house?
Waking up and taking a plunge in the pool. Immediately. Then, I set up my music. I always have specific stations that I like to listen to in Mérida. They give a sense of place. But really, my favorite thing to do in the house is lay around and relax. And just stay there all day.
Photography: Carlos Huber portrait: Fernando Sippel. La Tropical Villa: Tamara Uribe.