Get the look: Palm Heights, Grand Cayman
If you love a hotel so much you want to live in it, do the next best thing and bring it home. In this new series, we reveal how to zhuzh up interiors chez vous with design elements from some of the world’s most luxurious stays. This time, we’re off to Grand Cayman’s first, and only, all-suite boutique hotel
“Everything you see at Palm Heights is Gabriella,” says British property stylist Charlotte Crocker, who spends her time peacocking tropical plants into maximalist displays and dressing the hotels’ myriad events – including a rooftop Film Club and High Tea at Tillie’s, the beachside restaurant we’re sitting in now. “There’s nothing here that isn’t a representation of her taste.” And what divine taste it is – the kind that has you twitching for your camera the moment you pull into the drive.
See, when Gabriella Khalil, creative director of Palm Heights, set about curating the, dare we say, ‘vibes’ for Palm Heights, her mood board starred the face of Grace Jones, the work of Slim Aarons and a roster of 1970s iconography – the decade when high glamour was first ferried into the West Indies via an ostentatious jet-set crowd. One pandemic later and the hotel is an exhibition of endless vintage call-backs, a place where a fried fish fillet burger on the menu ends up weaving a retro McDonald’s reference into the post-modernist patchwork. A place that attracts creative talent from all over the world, desperate to be part of its texture. Just like Charlotte.
Ready to recreate? Here we go.
All wrapped up
Shop the Palm Heights collection
It’s no surprise that Palm Heights’ latest collaboration stars Marrakech-based beachwear brand Marrakshi Life, since the city’s souks represent but one hotspot from where Khalil personally sourced trinkets and treasures for the hotel’s interiors. Attracted by the brand’s “easy glamour”, Khalil teamed up with Marrakshi Life to create a range of keepsake, beach-ready garbs for a gender-free wardrobe. These include a generous kaftan and matching oversized sunhat and, our favourite, camel and ecru-striped bathrobes – perfect whether you’re hopping out of the bath or out of the sea.
Snag a statement chair
There’s the sun-soaked stretch of Seven Mile beach. There’s the electrifyingly artistic atmosphere and knock-out menus. But the other thing you’re going to remember about Palm Heights is the chairs. That’s right – Khalil’s chair collection would cause a stir at even the world’s most elite furniture auctions. With statement pieces from such famous designers as Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Axel Enthoven and Pierre Paulin, it’s a who’s who of modernist design. Fancy recreating some 1970s-style lounging in your home? Try this serpentine Frank Gehry number on for size.
See the light
Light up your life
Believe it – the only thing more designer-drenched than the seating is the lighting. One of the hotel’s most recent artist residencies was filled by New York lamp-making luminary Eny Lee Parker, who spent her time on a collection of freestanding lampshades wielded from plaster cloth for Palm Heights’ interiors. In the Coconut Club, mushroom-domed lamps coordinate with the egg-yolk yellow parasols just beyond the bar, while the garden restaurant, Paradise Pizza, boasts dinky red table lights just like this mushroomy Pao model.
Pimp your coffee table
If ‘a good book’ is high on your Caribbean packing list, don’t bring one – the hotel has reading material to last a lifetime, never mind a holiday. From the coffee-table tomes that adorn your suite (copies will be switched in and out, depending on your tastes) to the blissfully air-conditioned bibliophile’s lounge, literature is part of the lifeblood of Palm Heights. It even has its own magazine shop, where you can borrow (or buy) vintage copies of Interview, Playboy and more. For now, head over to Phaidon to pick up some of the same titles that have inspired Gabriella.
Seat of luxury
Snuggle in style
Any furniture nerds out there will know the name Mario Bellini, aka godfather of the modern-day beanbag. The Italian starchitect and designer practically wrote the style guide for the 1970s elite – his low-slung, modular sofas becoming the must-have accessory of any house worth its design-savvy salt. You can find Bellini’s iconic Camaleonda (he only produced them for a few years) and Le Bambole sofas at Palm Heights. Out here in the real world, one might set you back some $20,000. This version we’ve found is pure retro, sunken sofa vibes at a fraction of the price.
Bust a move
Shop all things vintage
When we say Palm Heights is a post-modernist pick and mix, we mean it, with references sprawling from the retro to the downright Neoclassical. Around the property, marble busts (you might even catch one wearing a floppy sunhat) are a tongue-in-cheek wave towards a more decadent European aesthetic and hint at another of the hotel’s visual footnotes, American artist David Ligare, whose dreamlike paintings depict elements from classical history. To recreate the decadent brunch set-up at Tillie’s, a bust is a must. And look out for the pair of life-size Grecian statues hidden by the pools.