02 Feb Furnishing a five star luxury boutique hotel in the Caribbean.
In a certain sense, having the task of furnishing a luxury boutique hotel in the Caribbean was somewhat effortless. Marie-Claude and I were super fortunate at that time while living in “Antique Heaven” – in the heart of Provence – in the south of France. We simply had to jump in a car and head out in any direction and we’d find an antique shop or weekend brocante easily with-in the first 15 minutes – fan out from there, and the frequency of shopping opportunities increased within the radius. We could get to Avignon, Nimes, Arles, Maussane, St Remy, Cavaillon just to name a few resource-rich spots easily within a 45 minutes’ drive from home – easily extendable to Marseille, Gordes, Roussillon, Uzes, Ste Marie de la Mer and the famous Ille sur la Sorgue
Eventually, we shipped three – 40’ containers to the DR with newly purchased, and personal items for the hotel. Getting them cleared through customs was somewhat special, (more about that in a future post).
Shopping for the six guest rooms was quite straightforward, we already knew the room dimensions and because they are all junior suites we knew we needed furniture for small sitting areas; desk and chair; TV stands (we both despise hanging TVs – on walls sticking out like the black holes they are); small accessories for the bathrooms and toilets, etc. The common rooms on the ground floor are mostly furnished with Marie-Claude’s furniture from her home in the south of France. The bar, the billiard table and the library were all constructed with tropical wood and built locally, as per our design. Several side tables were copied from pictures in furniture catalogs and also custom made here. A big plus about countries in the Caribbean and the Dominican Republic is that there are artisans and craftsmen that can reproduce almost anything. For example, we fell in love with a large piece of cabinetry from an old pharmacy found in France and then designed the entire hotel’s kitchen around that one piece, in the end that ‘one’ piece determined the feel and color of the entire space – a kind of weathered bronze.
We had all the outside furniture, including the wicker furniture on the verandas (copied from our own, original Lloyd Loom) custom built. Lloyd Loom was very prominent in the 1930s in hotels, tea rooms/restaurants, aboard luxury liners and even aboard a Zeppelin at one point. The hanging copper lanterns were of our design. We were fortunate that the artist made samples in three different sizes so we were able to choose the one that best suited our space.
Objects & curiosities;
The objects and curiosities that give a space their personality are the most fun to shop for. Diving through, and investigating flea markets, smaller antique shops, and garage sales will almost always yield a small object: a little painting or print that makes a perfect decoration on a low table or adorn the wall in a guest toilet or bathroom. Each of our guestroom entries have small crystal chandeliers as well as in several of the bathrooms. We think the showiness of chandeliers can add a splash of elegance to a small space and create great overhead light to bathrooms – in the current age of modern spot lighting it’s not only good alternative but also bathes the room in a soft, flattering glow . A good search through the book sellers along the quais of the Seine in Paris are great places to find old prints that can be had for a few sou and then be dropped into a simple frame to add just the right accent to a side table, shelf, or adore a wall.
Most of the paintings and objects in the hotel are a mix of family pieces, and pieces found while we were travelling and living abroad, others were purchased simply because we loved them, or just because we needed more things to complete the decoration of this giant house. (photo here of an object to beautiful to pass up)
Decorating for a Victorian/Colonial style home is relatively easy as in that the time of colonialism, travelers were all over the planet discovering new exotic places, many spots in Asia, Africa and India were destinations that today would be called “trendy”. Our finished (is anything ever really finished?) look reflects the timeless Victorian look when everything fit with everything – the furnishings were a reflection of the travellers collective taste – just like The Peninsula House.