Borrow a few bright ideas from The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
It’s not unusual for guests of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman to want to bottle up their beach vacation and take it home. For 16 years, this iconic property perched atop a pristine stretch of white sand bordering the Caribbean Sea has served as a respite for those seeking relaxation in a refined setting. After a recent transformation helmed by Courtney Brannan, principal and lead designer at Champalimaud Design, it’s even harder to leave this idyllic escape that reflects the island’s rich history, thriving cultural scene, and breathtaking natural beauty.
“The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman achieves a residential scale of design and comfort with all of the thoughtful amenities today’s luxury traveler has come to expect,” said Brannan. “This—combined with the intentional narrative of honoring local traditions, art, artisans, and employing local manufacturers and fabricators—creates an unparalleled experience that is truly unique to the island and the property itself.”
Here, Brannan shares her best tips for adding a tropical touch to your space—palm trees and ocean views not required.
Make a Colorful Statement
A fresh coat of paint shade can make any space feel brand new—especially when it’s as daring as the palm-frond-inspired green found in the Silver Palm Lounge. This verdant hue was “a big and thoughtful change” inspired by the island’s native silver thatch palm trees, said Brannan. “The color lends itself to the natural light and mirrors the specimens found throughout Grand Cayman,” she added. If a vivid emerald feels a bit too bright, start on the opposite end of the spectrum with something dark and dramatic—like the moody midnight blue that lines the halls or the forest green found in the reception area. To balance out a bold pop of color, streamline the rest of the room by opting for simple patterns, textures, silhouettes, and finishes when selecting furniture, lighting, and other architectural elements, Brannan advised.
Bring the Outside In
“In the public areas, we were deeply inspired by the flora found on island,” said Brannan. “Our goal was to harmonize the exterior with the interiors through local greenery and plantings added throughout the resort, as well as the pattern cascading down the corridor in the carpet design.” Even if your home is far from a tropical paradise, you can still frame your views of the great outdoors with dark door and window casings, which the design team used to create an “architectural rhythm” across the entire property.
“We were greatly influenced by the silver thatch palm and the integral role it has played in the culture and history of the island,” said Brannan. The dried leaves of this endemic tree were used to make rope—a local craft that bolstered the Caymanian economy during the 19th century. To honor this unique heritage, the design team integrated “natural textures and fabrics evoking traditional basketweave patterns” throughout the resort. The thatched motif also pops up in unexpected places, such as the ceiling in the lobby lounge and the reception area. Another way to add a tactile touch is with a woven lighting fixture that produces a warm glow (examples of which are seen in the Silver Palm Bar).
Spotlight Special Details
Instead of stripping The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman down to the studs, the design team honored the neoclassical architecture and amplified the soaring ceilings. They also highlighted the hotel’s bones by giving the millwork a makeover. “The existing paneling and mouldings in the public spaces are beautiful and truly one of a kind,” said Brannan. “We preserved those and brought them to life through the colors in which they were painted.”
Add an Element of Surprise
During the day, an armoire and cigar-rolling desk locally made by artisans from Martlet Design appear to be average pieces of furniture. By night, however, these treasure chests stocked with beautiful humidor boxes, local spirits, Caymanite tableware and art become centerpieces of The Rum Ritual—an event that takes place every evening in the Silver Palm Bar. Pastry chefs and rum aficionados from The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman delight guests’ senses with a unique collection of rums, fragrant tobacco leaves, and sweet Caribbean cacao. To create an equally enchanting experience at home, transform a cabinet or console into a cocktail or candy bar next time you entertain.
Create a Gallery
When reimagining the interiors of the resort, Brannan said “using local artists and artisans in the public spaces and guest rooms was a priority.” One of her favorite additions to the property is the arched niches found in the entryway to each guest room. These alcoves were specifically designed to house custom pieces from 3 Girls and a Kiln, an art collective on the island. If you don’t have a long corridor to dedicate to your collection like The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman (home to the country’s largest art gallery), consider assembling a gallery wall with a few of your favorite finds. “My New York City apartment is layered with special memories, art, and sculptures from local artists that I’ve proudly collected while traveling,” said Brannan. “Our homes should tell the story of where we’ve been and where we hope to go.”