Enviably set in Grand Cayman’s ultra-exclusive Vista Del Mar residential enclave, La Rosa Náutica oceanfront estate commands its North Sound peninsula with all the stature of a ship’s captain on the bridge of a magnificent vessel. Catapulting the laws of luxury into a whole new league, it does what few homes can, managing, simultaneously, to be a family home, architectural wonder and the ultimate entertainer’s mansion. With its resort-style grandeur and sympatico siting intimately anchoring it in time and place, this stand-out property’s audacious ‘you-can-have-it-all’ good luxe are guaranteed to leave you weak at the knees.
Words by Juliet Austin. Photography by Heather Holt Photography and Aerial Innovations.
Design Cayman (DCL) architects Alan Brown, Brian Macdonald and Cindy O’Hara worked intimately with the owners over the course of nearly seven years to ensure the palatial Mediterranean abode embodied traditional and innovative elements, whilst aligning with the development’s design covenants. Abernethy and Associates provided meticulous land surveys, and realistic digital 3D models were created by DCL with elaborate walk-throughs which in-turn Build Cayman Ltd used for project management and construction.
Entering via the sweeping driveway, the epic scale of the 18,500-square-foot home is unveiled. Evocative of the Spanish Colonial era, the earthy colour palette of the façade and dappled terracotta tile roofline are immediately arresting. Giving an articulated feel that changes with the play of shadows throughout the day, varied elevations and contrasting shape silhouettes cleverly break up the massing of the building. Pillared balconies, expansive terraces, fairy-tale turrets, and artisan wrought ironwork add intrigue and connect seamlessly with an interplay of classical archways and linear aspects. Lit up at night, the vision is nothing short of magical.
Amplifying the experiential act of entering, cars are kept at bay as one is transported along the processional path to the front door. Deliberately set up as a gradual transition, anticipation builds, two or three steps at a time, until one reaches the grand doorway handcrafted by master stonemasons. The expectation is that you are about to enter a Mediterranean home, but the shift of axis signifies a new perspective as the home draws you into a clean modern design, defined by ethereal, large-scale ‘white cloud’ porcelain tiles and textured calacatta marble-clad columns and feature walls. “Natural stone was used extensively in both wall and floor finishes,” recalls Alan Brown of Design Cayman. “Along with its durability, it was selected to closely match Cayman stone.”
Symmetry-driven, main living spaces are light and airy with furnishings displaying a cool, textured palette of blue and azure, with organic accents intended to emulate Cayman’s natural wonders. Beyond, a dramatic, double-height window frames the pool and decks and offers seemingly endless views of sea and sky. Meanwhile, in the central atrium, beneath a skylight three levels up, an ingenious Aqualens Sphere fountain sculpture, designed by Allison Armour, overflows with water, engaging the senses while introducing a water motif that emanates throughout the home.
Rooted in function, the villa’s design centres on providing a venue where family and friends can gather, overseas guests can stay and events – both intimate and lavish – can be staged. As Interior Designers, Jennifer Clark and Jason Lynn of Decorators Unlimited explain, “Our client requested a contemporary aesthetic. We approached the interior with a subtle sophistication with the use of clean lines and deliberate use of texture. Organic accents with a cool palette of blue and azure were chosen to emulate the gorgeous Cayman landscape.” Perfectly proportioned, a formal great room lounge is separated from a more casual family room by a double linear ethanol fireplace inlaid with ‘Cayman blue’ marble and spectacular slabs of blue agate to create a bejewelled mosaic effect.
One easily overlooked highlight of the design is what Macdonald calls “the quiet ease” of the way rooms flow and are sequenced to respond to the owners’ needs. Branching off from the entrance foyer a contemporary temperature-controlled, glass-walled wine room, replete with stackable shelves stocked full of fine wine and spirits, stands ready to let the good times roll. This is countered on the far side of the hall by a traditional dark-wood panelled home office featuring hand-pressed wallpaper and book-lined shelves, perfect for quiet contemplation. Complete with a private terrace overlooking the carefully curated bamboo garden grotto designed, along with the surrounding tropical gardens, by DCL and Vigoro Nursery, a nearby oasis creates its own microclimate and the relaxing flow of the waterfall and pond nourish the senses
On the same level, the home’s distinctive, super-chic state-of-the-art kitchen writes the playbook for refinement. Modern in design, Miele appliances combine expertly with two-toned cabinets in grey walnut with pale grey accents. Ageless Cristallo quartzite counters, backsplash, and a waterfall bar-height island are inlaid with ethereal quartz deposits and specks of crystal, preparing the way for the dramatic, light-filled interior architecture of the ‘va-va-voom’ dining room. Encased in walls of sliding glass that open to the elements for a taste of Caribbean-inspired alfresco dining, what could be more enchanting than the custom-made Think Glass table creating the impression of a liquid tabletop? Add to this sculpted wave pedestals and Italian blown glass pendants hung from the tiered ceiling, and the effect is mesmerising.
The ultimate pièce de résistance, however, must surely be in the home’s transitions. Unfurling like a sculpted bleach-white shell, the cylindrical triple-height stair tower houses a sweeping spiral staircase. Pure white Thassos marble with a gloss finish Venetian plaster underside reflects dappled light, while a German-made frosted glass balustrade and contemporary chrome handrail are effortlessly elegant. Spilling sixteen-feet down from the centre of the coffered ceiling, a custom chandelier of thousands of cascading, hand-tied shimmering rock crystals is the crowning glory.
Comprising a total of six bedrooms, seven full bathrooms and two half-bathrooms, including a separately housed Balinese-inspired guest suite and a complete live-in apartment over the triple garage, the master suite is located across a bridge connecting the two wings of the house. White Thassos marble paves the way to sublime rooms that serve up style in sophisticated neutrals in deference to the unrivalled views out across the North Sound. Lavish his-and-hers dressing rooms, an ensuite bathroom with an ‘intelligent’ Japanese toilet, steam room, glass-encased rain-shower and freestanding bathtub, deliver uncompromising luxury at every turn. Mirrored across the bridge, is the children’s wing, with its own centralised sitting area off which lie rooms possessing boundless character and views that never fail to take your breath away.
But it is perhaps down at the basement level that the real fun begins. Housing a professional gym, private massage room and spa, with a pearlescent tile outdoor jacuzzi concealed by lush foliage, La Rosa Náutica has all the accoutrements of the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Hang out in the games parlour, complete with pool and poker tables, bar, arcade games and pinball and popcorn machines, or screen your favourite movie in the cinema. This is one upscale address that really does have it all.
Outside, the home’s wealth of shady patios, tiered terraces and sheltered lanais lead hypnotically onward to the estate’s hero feature: the vast, multi-faceted swimming pool designed by DCL, as well as the estate’s other enchanting water features, with the expert assistance of Mac Plumbing. Extending the exterior axis of the property, cascading bodies of water, each with horizon edges, drop down from hot tub to the main pool to lower pool and catch pool. Integrated planters and a sumptuous lounging lawn soften the overall look, providing shade and elevating the tropical appeal. An ingeniously designed lap pool extends 75 feet from the pool cabana, under the bridge to the horizon edge providing the ultimate exercise space, while the lower pool is designed for family fun and frolics. Adjacent to the swim-up bar cabana with its fully equipped outdoor kitchen, a shallow sundeck allows sun worshippers to relax, and hidden speakers and subs across the entire pool deck area ensure that the outdoors are always party-ready.
Put simply: there can be no more spectacular spot-on Earth for enjoying a sundowner and drinking in the watery panorama and sun’s descent beneath the horizon. Where the boardwalk meanders down to meet the ocean, a natural 50-foot ironshore buffer, interspersed with indigenous flora and populated by darting banana quits and pretty ground doves, stands ready to protect the home from storm surges and high seas as it has for centuries. This is what Paradise looks like. In keeping with its luminary design scheme, La Rosa Náutica’s substantial scale and scope unabashedly put the ‘Grand’ in Grand Cayman. They do say that not all those who wander are lost and it seems that the owners have followed their internal compass and found their true North: an opulent island escape, enchanting socialite’s playground and lavish family home that provides for every whim and desire of those lucky enough to cross its threshold.
Swimming pool design: Design Cayman (DCL)
Water features: Mac Plumbing