By Ayesha Khan, Architectural Digest
For its first foray outside the U.S., the boutique hotel brand Kimpton chose the ultra-chic Seven Mile Beach in the Caribbean’s Cayman Islands. For the Seafire Resort + Spa, Grand Cayman’s first new property in over a decade, Kimpton’s in-house design team partnered with California-based Powerstrip Studio and SB Architects to create a vibe they describe as rustic yet polished. British colonial design elements combine with weathered woods and stone to channel the Caribbean aesthetic vernacular in the hotel’s airy public spaces and 266 rooms—all of which are perched 24 feet above sea level. “For Seafire, the design story marries modern, sophisticated residential design with Grand Cayman arts and culture references. You’ll see contemporary, custom-made furnishings alongside local artworks and traditional touches, like the thatch rope details throughout,” says Ave Bradley, Kimpton’s creative director and global senior vice president of design. But what truly sets this hotel apart is its status as the island’s first LEED Silver–certified resort kitted out with recycled and sustainable materials. From $499/night; kimptonhotels.com.
In the lobby living room, polished stone floors and streamlined furniture offer a minimalist foil to the bucolic aesthetic found across the resort. An azure lacquer screen echoes the blue of the sea and sky as they appear through the floor-to-ceiling windows.
At the Bar of Ave, the resort’s signature restaurant designed by Mark Zeff, a locally sourced driftwood sculpture, seagrass carpet, and wood furnishings sit alongside refined settees and wooden wingback chairs, embodying the “rustic-yet-polished” design ethos.
The focal point in the library is a traditional Caymanian catboat designed by Ted Berner and suspended from the lofty ceiling. Authentic family photos from local residents add to the indelible sense of place.
The vibrant color palette of the resort’s guest rooms is inspired by the Cayman Islands’s beloved cymbidium orchids and red royal poincianas. Custom-designed headboards feature floral patterns, and furnishings are sourced from local craftsmen.
In the living area of the 4,700-square-foot presidential suite, furniture from Spain and Italy is set against a kitchen with marble-faced cabinetry. A series of handcrafted tables blurs the lines between furniture and sculpture.
Inspired by the flora of the island, the presidential suite’s wraparound balcony features a sweeping terrace with Paola Lenti and Exteta furnishings, including a vibrant pink rattan weave.
Though the famed Seven Mile Beach is right next door, you’ll still want to make time to lounge poolside on a sunny afternoon.