By: Alan Markoff

A transformational renovation

Hotels should reflect their location.

That is why the designers, working closely with ownership and the management team, decided that the US$50 million renovation of The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman needed to reflect the brand and the Cayman Islands in a truly authentic way. They chose a theme that is both modern and classic, blending coastal elegance with mid-century British Caribbean style and plenty of elements that reflect Cayman's unique history and culture.

"Throughout the resort are echoes of Cayman’s 19th century heritage," says the hotel's general manager, Marc Langevin. "Sometimes even in unexpected places, you'll find a reminder of the resilient Caymanian spirit that is alive and well to this day." 

tropical hotel bar
The Silver Palm Bar reflects Cayman's land-based flora in a warm and welcoming way.

ENVIRONMENTAL THEMES

One example of how the design elements throughout the hotel reflect the Cayman Islands is the way they pay homage to the national tree, the silver thatch palm, and the country's history of rope making. Everything from the patterns on the carpeting, to the textures on the wall and the shape and materials of lighting fixtures is in some way reflective of thatch palms and their uses.
The patterns in the carpeting differ throughout the common areas of the resort, but all reflect the various flora of the Cayman Islands.

The design elements also echo Cayman's environment through the use of colours. Various shades of blue and emerald green — a reflection of the polychromatic Caribbean Sea that surrounds the islands — are found in different places throughout the resort. Land-based colours like the deep greens of Cayman's woodland forests and shades of ecru, reflective of the dried thatch found on Cayman's beach huts, are prominent throughout the hotel.

"While water is celebrated in the resort, the space never forgets the importance of the Cayman Islands’ native plants, trees and natural land-based resources," says Langevin, noting that living plants are also featured in gathering and transition points.

Contemporary takes on prized Caribbean dark mahogany and other hardwood furnishings are used throughout the public space and even the semi-precious stone, Caymanite — found only in the Cayman Islands — makes cameo appearances at the hotel. 

hotel lobby area with receptionists
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman reception reflects the land and sea around Grand Cayman, immediately imparting a sense of place for guests.

GUESTS' JOURNEY

When return guests arrive at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman property, the first thing they'll notice are the many changes to the lobby.

Elegant hardwood desks and credenzas punctuated with woven thatch patterns, and a lighting fixture that radiates like branching coral, immediately signify a sense of place, welcoming guests to the Cayman Islands.

Moving inward toward the Silver Palm Lounge, the transition from the arrival space into the welcoming lounge is pronounced as guests are drawn towards soaring arched windows outlined in a charcoal colour that mimics the shades of ironshore, the eons-old, jaggedly worn limestone formations along part of Cayman's shoreline.

The ceiling is warmed and accentuated with woven thatch patterns, while stately palms bring the outside in and frame graceful banquettes in the silvery green of Cayman’s national tree, which lends the Silver Palm Lounge its name.

Moving toward the Silver Palm Bar, guests are drawn to its colourful spirit articulated through the calming shades of greens found on the underside of the palm fronds. A custom-built hardwood cabinet contains an impressive collection of Cuban cigars and rare Caribbean sipping rums as well as Caymanite bar tools hand-carved by local artisans.

hotel room with water views
The rooms now have a modern and home-like look.

ART

As guests traverse the resort on a coastal forest floor of carpet depicting native Cayman botanicals, the design elements of the transitions between areas foretell the kind of experiences ahead.

When approaching the sky bridge that crosses over to Seven Mile Beach, guests are basked in visual arts, an important aspect of Caymanian culture. The Gallery, as it is simply known, features a rich, curated collection of local art — including paintings, photography and sculptures. These pieces, which range in style from realistic and scenic, to graphic, interpretative and abstract, all share a connection to the Cayman Islands.

GUEST ROOMS

As guests make their way to their room, a dramatic scene unfolds, with dark blue walls contrasting with woven light fixtures and carpeting edged with depictions of palm fronds, as if they were shadows cast on the sand.

Upon entering their room, guests are greeted with the epitome of modern coastal elegance, with a custom-designed wallcovering depicting the leaves of the silver thatch palm. A stately poster bed of ebonised wood anchors the room and is bookended by handcrafted sconces wrapped with rope.

Sculptural door screens in the silver palm pattern set the frame for the Caribbean landscape outside. No matter which way they look, guests feel a relaxing sense of place and they realise at once: They have arrived in the Cayman Islands.

This article appeared in print in the January 2022 edition of the Camana Bay Times. 

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