Beachside hotel modelled after ‘1970s Caribbean mansion’

Grand Cayman’s first boutique hotel, the beachfront Palm Heights is filled with collectible design pieces like Mario Bellini sofas, Ingo Maurer lights and an Ettore Sottsass rug.

Gabriella Khalil is not only the creative director but founder of Palm Heights, located on the well-known, white sand Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman, the largest of the three Cayman Islands in the Caribbean.


Working with designers Sarita Posada and Courtney Applebaum, the London-based interior designer developed the design aesthetic to be like a 1970s-era mansion. The trio sourced suitable designs to decorate the property from Parisian flea markets, Los Angeles and Mexico.

“The design concept was inspired by the idea of a 70s era Caribbean mansion featuring collectible unique design pieces from Marcel Breuer, Mario Bellini, artworks by Pierre Paulin, and Vladimir Kagan to name a few,” said the team.

A number of these can be found in the guest lounge, which is intended as the heart of the 50-bedroom hotel, including a chequered Sottsass rug hung on the wall like a piece of art and a series of Maurer’s Uchiwa wall lamps behind the curved reception desk.

Pieces by a range of European designers and architects like Hungarian-born Marcel Breuer, French furniture designer Pierre Chapo, Italian designers Massimo and Lella Vignelli, and Italian architect and designer Mario Bellini also decorate this space.

Khalil travelled through North Africa to research textiles for the project and has included a range of patterns and materials throughout.

Woven fabrics with black outlines cover the walls in a sitting area, providing a contract to blush lime-green sofas running underneath. They face wooden tables and white-painted wicker chairs with green trims.

The 50 bedroom suites are similarly decorated with unique artwork and pieces from designers including French furniture designer Pierre Paulin, American furniture designer Vladimir Kagan, Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Italian architect Gae Aulenti and Dutch jewellery and industrial designer Gijs Bakker.

Sandy yellows and bold blue tones, reminiscent of the beach, run throughout each room. Details include pale stone flooring sourced from Italy and pale brown sofa upholstery and curtains.

The suites open onto the balconies at the rear of the property, which is designed to stagger down towards Palm Heights’ slice of the beach. Some of the suites have outdoor spaces with dining tables and sun loungers, where guests can laze and enjoy the sea views.

Eateries in the hotel include The Coconut Club, a casual beach bar, and the main restaurant Tillies, which has an outdoor area overlooking the sea and an indoor dining room.

There are two swimming pools divided by green hedges to provide privacy for the guests – one of the pools is flanked by palm trees and extends towards the sea. Guests can also relax on the hotel’s sun loungers on the beach, which have yellow- and white-striped umbrellas, or play ping-pong at branded tables.

Palm Heights is billed as the first boutique hotel in Grand Cayman.

Images by Brooke Shanesy via Dezeen

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