SO2 - Inspired Living webinar

SO2 - Inspired Living webinar

Sunday, August 30, 2020

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Last Tuesday, 12 movers and shakers from the multi-billion-dollar interior design and luxury resort industry joined Jamaica Observer Senior Associate Editor - Lifestyle & Social Content and webinar host Novia McDonald-Whyte for Inspired Living: The New Aesthetic For Extraordinary Homes and Retreats. Powered by Sagicor, The Best Dressed Chicken, and H&L Rapid True Value, the webinar spotlighted some of the world's most celebrated luxury resorts and renowned private properties, “the perfect antidote”, according to McDonald-Whyte, “for all that ails”.

SO2 checked in.

“Geejam Hotel was co-founded with Steve Beaver, my business partner, and is based in Port Antonio. Before it was a hotel per se, it was a recording studio. Steve and myself have been in the record business for some 20-odd years. We fell in love with Port Antonio; we had and have a recording studio and we used to host a lot of celebs and enjoyed great recording sessions down there. In 2007, we decided on the suggestion of my mentor and biggest influencer Chris Blackwell — with whom I've worked for many years — to make it open to select tourists. So, Steve and myself wanted to come up with something unique. Now, Port Antonio itself, in the context of Jamaica, is very unique...we wanted to sort of revitalise that vibe but also create an experience that wasn't typical in the hotel experience. So we set about creating rooms that had incredible technology, and some really laid-back vibe married with the environs... We have the rainforest, we've got rivers, we've got incredible blue seas...we've managed to marry some really beautiful contemporary lifestyle with the natural environs of Port Antonio, which to this day is still very, very unique.

“About a year ago we started expanding, so later on this year we're going to be opening 12 more suites: 'The Rumba Studios”. We expanded our Bush Bar, we have an incredible infinity pool there now, which everybody watching this webinar will be the first to see.”

— Jon Baker

Our platform Doctor Bird services started off as a hobby many years ago when I worked at the French Embassy and would curate weekend packages for my colleagues... that model then snowballed into us starting a platform in hospitality whereby we curated vacation experiences for locals and overseas guests, tapping into the villa rental space and boutique hotel space... and we've been doing this for quite some time now. Our model consists of turn-key type experiences for our clients giving them the efficiency and the seamless experience, but in the privacy of a boutique hotel space and villa space.

...For the last couple of years we have partnered with Geejam ...and we've done a number of things ranging from logistics to accomodations for the Geejam Collection. And in the last year-and-a-half we have solidified our partnership to curate signature experiences and events for the Geejam Group.

— Adrien Lemaire & Danielle Crosskill Lemaire

“I'm not talking in the capacity of a real estate broker [today], I'm talking in the capacity of a person that has a beautiful home in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica. There's a place called Greenwich, which is between Hardware Gap and Camp; it's 45-minutes from Papine, is 4,000ft above sea level and it is in 'coffee country'. Greenwich is a community that many Kingstonians bought into many years ago. My parents bought a house up there 40 years ago and since then my husband and I have taken it over. In the community there are about 12 homes, all of which are very different, owned by different persons. What is fantastic about Greenwich is that it is 15-20 degrees colder than Kingston...

... The views are incredible, it's a place where most of the homes have fireplaces because, believe it or not you do need a fireplace up there... Because of the climate, as well the gardens which are magnificent. Flowers are able to grow there that would not normally grow in Kingston or any other part of Jamaica. It's a place to relax; you drive in and you just feel like there's a weight lifted off your shoulders. It's great for walking and hiking. Most homes there are weekend homes; nobody lives there full-time”.

— Deborah Cumming

“The Tryall Club is a private-members' club that has been in existence for 63 years. I joined the club in January of this year... We have 90 villas that are available for individuals; we're on 2,2oo acres, we have a championship golf course, we have nine world-class tennis courts, walking trails, hiking trails, and lots of beachfront. The wonderful thing about the club is that with 2,2oo acres you have instant social and physical distancing, which is on a lot of people's mind these days. The club is a mix of different villas that bring all the aesthetics that anybody would wish for when they come on vacation or when the owners are here and spending time in their villas. It is a wonderful mix of what is traditional Caribbean architecture and modern, and it is absolutely relaxing. To drive through the gate every morning and to arrive at the club is just absolutely relaxing, even though you have the stresses of life. It's a place for people to unwind and enjoy all that Jamaica has to offer.

— Frank Perolli

“Half Moon, similar to Tryall and Round Hill, is a multi-generational property. I'm the chairman, and have been for the past six years and I'm a lucky fellow, for back in 1954 the Half Moon opened on 35 acres and my grandfather was one of the original investors at that time. In the intervening decades we've grown to the point where we're now 400 acres and span nearly two miles of beachfront, all centred around the history and the culture, the authenticity and sincerity of Jamaican hospitality...

... ..The property has grown eastwardly from its outset in 1954 and the last five years we've been reinvesting in the people first; we've been rebuilding the infrastructure, and then providing our staff the best facilities to operate from and deliver their sincere hospitality product...

... We created a new central entrance to the property on the Old Colony Cottage Hotel. This new property is called 'The Eclipse'. With a resort like this it's best to break it up, and we have, into three neighbourhoods to give three different experiences. 'The Eclipse' will open on October 1st and is our signature product, with 57 new rooms and three different areas.”

— Guy Steuart III

The concept of Round Hill Hotel & Villas started aeons ago. It all sort of began with the families: the Pringles and the DeLissers. And, at Round Hill it was John Pringle... who decided to buy this beautiful 110-acre penninsula as sort of a haven for his friends that could afford to winter-vacation in the Caribbean... Get away from it all. That's how it all began... the rest is history...

... today we offer you a combination of villas and hotel, private beach, spa, gym, restaurants, tennis, all the trimmings to do a lot or nothing at all. And one of the philosophies of John Pringle was to really create luxury within an environment that is ultimately Jamaican. To live an outdoor life with indoor furnishing and outdoor verandahs, produced locally by local craftsman and proudly celebrate the best of Jamaica. I have the great pleasure to take you to one of our villas, there are 27 of them; they are slightly different, all individual, but they all celebrate that same philosophy of 'less is more' and providing you with an environment that you may not find where you're from.”

— Josef Forstmayr

“I am an interior designer and I represent Caricom on an international design platform...

...most of us on this panel are owners of these fabulous properties; what we do is write the stories for these properties. That's what we're really passionate about: Creating and telling stories about the power of design. Especially now more than ever we understand the gravity of using design to inspire people and lift people up. And recently I was lucky enough, honoured enough, to be invited to design the S Hotel...

... And that experience was incredible in how we were able to use some great local talent in telling the story of Jamaica design. Such that every visitor to the S Hotel feels as though they have taken a part of Jamaica with them.”

— Alison Antrobus

“... Jamaica does inspire people, it's very much an island of personalities who've started a love affair with Jamaica. Our clients do remain the main influencing factor within all of our projects. They've become invested in Jamaica as it's struck a chord, it fills the need, it stills their souls and this immediately gives us a connection and an understanding. A reinterpretation of the elements that have caught their attention together with the appreciation of their needs, add character, soul and individuality to each property we complete...

...Jamaica has benefited for decades from the development of luxury winter and holiday homes. Tryall and Round Hill are part of them; Content, Rose Hall, Jamaica Inn, Frenchman's Cove, San San Port Antonio, offered in the '50s and '60s a simple island elegance. A heyday where luxury was exploring seas by canoe, hills with binoculars, dancing downtown to live bands like Yellow Bird and Banana Boat, and purchases at local craft markets. With this island infatuation design and designer were influenced by locally produced island elements... Carved and turned furniture, forged brass, straw rugs, art and hand-printed fabrics became slip covers, curtains, bikini cover-ups, and evening caftans. It was a creative mix of design...

...Local knowledge guides architects to capture the island breezes, avoiding direct sun, ensuring privacy. Property lots were larger, villa designs smaller, louvred windows with wide verandahs and fanciful peaked shingled roofs, Caribbean style...

... It is very important to us to recognise and reinterpret and develop this history. Understanding the foundation is important to the continuation of this for our clients who recognise the value of it and still seek this in Jamaica. We can only be successful through the talents of others, through the artisans, the craftsmen, the professionals who make all of these things happen.”

— Sue Williams

“... Today I'm talking about luxury, and that's where I really started. My business, which is Altman Real Estate, is over 40 years old, and we were lucky to have been in at the beginning when everything really started, and were able to give some guidance to the development of the villa business... We were instrumental in the development of Royal Westmoreland where we had Robert Trent Jones Jnr... and that now is 25 years old, or more than 25 years and that would have somewhere close to 300 villas within the confines of Royal Westmoreland. We then went across [the island] and developed Sugar Hill... 100 villas themed around tennis. Then we were involved in beachfront developments along the west coast, which is the popular coast of Barbados, where we had condominium developments starting with Little Bay, and going to places leading up to what is now known as One Sandy Lane...

... COVID has made me look at design in a different way. On the residential end, we are designing new homes [because of work-from-home orders], we have larger office spaces. New designs will have much more luxurious spaces defined as offices...

... What we're doing with commercial is, we're working with the team to create spaces that are shared spaces for office use... We're creating spaces that will morph from office-type use in the day to more relaxed, music and drinks on an afternoon... That is going to be the new wave of office life here in Barbados...

... and because our Prime Minister Mia Mottley has gone global with her invitation to bring people here on a 12-month visa pass [so they automatically get their visa stamped for 12 months], we're finding that we're getting a wonderful reception to that invitation. People are responding favourably, are coming here and they're going to be looking for that type of space; in fact, they are looking. So we are already providing some of that space but we're increasing that type of commercial space for these people that are going to live out the COVID-19 period by coming here...

...At this particular point in time we all recognise that the world is in a sort of change and we are loving the new directions, and of course we're being guided by an amazing and wonderful lady, our lovely Prime Minister Mia Mottley...

... There is a connection between the Caribbean, and as we talk about Barbados and the islands around us, and as we go up to Jamaica we recognise that the Caribbean is seen as a destination first and then the islands are the second area that people tend to look at — although Jamaica and Barbados have some distinct signatures to them and some wonderful connections with global celebrities...

The ultimate villa that we have a connection with is a villa that has 17 bedrooms, 33 staff. I need say no more, save it's on the beach at Sandy Lane. And, Sandy Lane is considered to be the central location on the west coast that everything else takes its guidance from in terms of style, and it really led the way.

— Sir Paul Altman

“It's been an exciting time in Nigeria. We have slowly, I would say, emerged as this very, very dynamic, creative entity in the market. We've got some amazing product designers emerging and great interior designers that are doing really amazing things. It is an exciting time to be in this industry in Nigeria; we have come from a place of being really dependent on what the Western market was dictating or giving us, to a market that's now more interested in our own creativity, and our own products. We're picking a lot from our traditional influences and turning them into modern pieces for our homes. So, I find this to be a very exciting time in the manufacturing industry. Just being able to create luxurious pieces (I'm also very particular about affordability), this is one of the things that has really driven me: Being able to give luxury on a budget. I believe any space can look beautiful regardless of what you can afford.”

— Karen Koshoni

“It all started out in Cave Valley, St Ann, Jamaica. And then America's where I studied photography. From there I moved to Milan, Italy, where I have lived for about 28 years. I started out in photography, then reignited my passion for garden and still-life work and finally the creation of my glass headz to house my floral compositions. Thankfully, many are starting to tap into the flowerheadz. Collectors are from all over the world, from Saudi Arabia, from Africa, from California, from New York. I have top interior designers like Bibi Monnahan championing me with all her clients. It's non-stop.

You will see today a short clip of some of my work currently on display at Colombe d'Or, Saint Paul-de-Vence, France.

— Hugh “Flowerheadz” Findletar

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