It's called agriturismo in Italy, agritainment in North America and agritourism in other places. In Cayman Brac, it's simply called Le Soleil d'Or.
At its core, Le Soilel is a farm that offers luxury accommodations to guests. It first opened in 2014, but was closed by its previous owner in 2017 except for one beachfront cottage. After Dart bought the property last year, the accommodations were closed, as staff prepared for a relaunch that will happen this month.
However, a lot of attention was given to making sure the farm would not only survive, but thrive, throughout the transition.
"Le Soleil d'Or's organic farm is the heart and soul of the property," says its general manager, Anoop Jayaprakash. "There are more than 100 different species of plants spread out over 20 acres here on the Bluff here in Cayman Brac."
More than 30 different fruit trees grow on the farm, including oranges, lemons, grapefruits, avocados, bananas, papayas, akees and several varieties of mangoes.
There's an herb garden with basil, mint, cilantro, dill, thyme, oregano, chives and parsley, among other types. There are also various vegetables and greens growing at Le Soleil d'Or's farm, including celery, arugula, kale, tomatoes, cucumbers, hot peppers, pumpkins, corn, beets, eggplants, various melons, okra, scallions, spinach, beans, pineapples, cassava and sweet potatoes, just to name some. The farm even grows strawberries.
"We also grow seven different kinds of palm trees, some of which produce edible fruits like coconut palms and date palms," says Jayaprakash. "And there's many ornamental plants growing on the property as well."
Guests who stay at Le Soleil d'Or are the first recipients of the farm's bounty as its produce is used in the kitchen to prepare breakfast foods and juices, and to provide fresh fruits for the rooms. The freshest selections of the day comprise an à la carte menu for meals that can be enjoyed on the property and picnics for exploring the landscape of Cayman Brac.
"The garden-inspired menu uses seasonal ingredients that celebrate the property," says Jayaprakash. "Here at Le Soleil d'Or, the farm and the table are same."
Although the restaurant will be open only to visiting guests when the property first reopens, Cayman Brac residents can buy the fresh produce from the farm at Le Soleil d’Or every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from noon until 3 p.m.
In addition to The Coast House, which offers a sandy beach as its front porch, Le Soleil d'Or offers four other accommodations in the Manor House, which is nestled in the centre of Le Soleil d'Or's grounds. These are named after tropical fruit trees that grow on the property — Star Apple, Cherry Lime, June Plum and Pink Guava. Two of those are rooms that can accommodate two adults and two are suites that can sleep three adults or two adults and two children. The Manor House’s four en suite guest rooms share a great room, kitchen and pool.
"Le Soleil d'Or is located beside Cayman Brac's untamed coastal landscape," Jayaprakash says. "Guests can stay right here and enjoy the sweeping views and gentle breezes, or take a stroll through the beautiful grounds."
For the more adventurous guests, the Le Soleil d'Or concierge can arrange activities like snorkelling, scuba diving, hiking, cycling and rock climbing, Jayaprakash says.
"We also can arrange knowledgeable guides who can share the cave lore and other secrets of the Bluff, as well as visiting heritage sites or seeing rare birds in their natural habitat."
On 18 January, some of the Cayman Cookout attendees took a road trip — or more appropriately, an air trip — over to Cayman Brac where visiting chefs Bernard Guillas and Philippe Haddad were waiting at Le Soleil d'Or. There, they prepared a gourmet lunch meal that highlighted the farm's organic produce and introduced guests to Le Soleil d'Or's resident iguana.
“As we prepare to reintroduce Le Soleil d’Or, we wanted to celebrate what makes the location unlike any other,” says Dart Senior Vice President Hospitality Enrique Tasende. “What better occasion than Cayman Cookout to showcase a bit of what makes Cayman Brac so different and special. We are excited to welcome not only international guests, but also residents of Grand Cayman who will appreciate a hideaway farm inn retreat.”
This article appears in print in the February 2020 edition of Camana Bay Times