MACO Caribbean Living Caribbean living and lifestyle blog. Sat, 18 Aug 2018 15:30:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 148470640 Weekend Escapes Sat, 18 Aug 2018 14:01:51 +0000 We all need a break every now and then. Living in the Caribbean, there are so many wonderful ways to explore the islands, and often, this can be done while enjoying the comfort of a fabulous resort. If you’re in the market for superb service, myriad activities and excellent accommodations, then take a look at […]

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We all need a break every now and then. Living in the Caribbean, there are so many wonderful ways to explore the islands, and often, this can be done while enjoying the comfort of a fabulous resort. If you’re in the market for superb service, myriad activities and excellent accommodations, then take a look at our picks for your next weekend escape. We bet you’ll be booking your next adventure soon!

Where: Four Seasons Hotel, Nevis,

Why Stay There: A stay at Four Seasons on Nevis offers guests the option of fully immersing themselves into both cultural and culinary education as well as the islands many activities. The resort features many activities, including onsite competitions, games, classes and sports. Whether you like getting busy out and about or enjoying the many premium services, this is a great choice for anyone wanting to experience a luxury resort.

What To Do: Take a cooking class, play a round or 19 of golf, spot a monkey, go kayaking or snorkelling. Or you could also stay on the resort and enjoy the tennis court and pools.

Where: Coyaba, Grenada,

Why Stay There: If you want to feel like you’re at home in a resort, then Coyaba on Grenada is ideal for any type of visitor who may want a truly unfussed experience. The main reason is due to the fact that a family owns the resort; making your own experiences a homier one. Much like the islands laid back style, the resort features swim-up bars and plenty of sun loungers to simply soak up the atmosphere. Staffed with warm, friendly Grenadians, guests are able to get a true sense of island culture and what it means to be a true islander.

What To Do: During the year there are several events, including organised bird watching tours and seaside Tai Chi lessons.

 Where: The Verandah Resort and Spa, Antigua,

Why Stay There: With an all-inclusive package and the choice between a suite stay or villa rental, the Verandah Resort and Spa is perfect if you want a hassle-free getaway that is filled with exciting things to do and yummy things to eat. The best part is the chance to explore gorgeous Antigua at your pace, or simply sun-it-up on the beach while you slowly melt the stress away. The three freshwater pools also offers something different for those who may want to splash around without getting sand everywhere.

What To Do: The beachfront access offers guests so many water activities, from paddle boarding, hobie cat sailing, winsurfing and kayaking.



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seven must-have amenities for your island home Sat, 18 Aug 2018 13:47:03 +0000 Villa Tamarindo in entirety is designed to seamlessly blend with the ecology surrounding it and to frame the view beyond

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As designers of luxury villas throughout the Caribbean, OBMI is frequently asked what are the most lavish amenities that owners can include in their personal tropical oasis. Their secrets are unveiled, as follows:

1. Smart Home Automation 

Smart home technology is one trend that is gaining momentum with designers, home owners and the techie in all of us. From a fully integrated smart home system to various smart home gadgets, the industry is rapidly evolving into a multi-million-dollar hub of creative concepts to help make our homes more comfortable using the latest in technology. Integrated security systems can be controlled in the palm of your hand whether in the home office or your Manhattan office.

Integrated smart homes typically begin during the design stage of a home and can control everything that runs on electricity: locks, lights, shades and shutters, heating and cooling to security cameras. It’s important to discuss your desire for a smart home early with your architect to ensure it integrates seamlessly with the way you live.

2. Killer Views 

The Caribbean is blessed with some of the most spectacular views in the world, and we know how to ensure your home will showcase perfectly framed views: sunrises and sunsets; lush tropical foliage and endless sea views from every room. The design team starts by appreciating the site and its opportunities to frame views while blending into its natural footprint. Capturing and enhancing these views is an art and a must-have amenity for every island living home.Every luxury home must view water, whether that’s a view of the Caribbean Sea, a lake, a private waterfall or a pool. Private beaches further enhance the envy appeal of this amenity, along with sought-after private open spaces.

3. Indoor-Outdoor Living

This living comes with the territory in the Caribbean. With the endless sunshine and tropical tradewinds, island living boasts the best in alfresco dining and lounging in front of bedazzling views. To take full advantage of the weather and incredible vistas, we
are frequently asked to extend the living spaces outside. Whether homeowners want an eloquent outdoor cooking area extending the kitchen’s reach or go all-in with a segmented villa design tied together through a series of pavilions, one thing is certain,
indoor-outdoor space is a must-have amenity. During the design process, it’s important to plan for these spaces so that they can share the same language bringing together the best of both worlds.

4. Fire & Water: Resort-Style Pools & Landscaping

A must for luxury tropical living is a pool, but bespoke clientele are now demanding resort-style pools that dip their infinity edges into the warm waters of the Caribbean or feature waterfalls, fountains, swim-up bars and more. The more unique and the more amenities, the greater the envy-appeal, especially when water is elegantly set apart with fire. Integrated fire pits throughout your outdoor areas and even into the pool’s design raise the dramatic effect of both elements. Outdoor fireplaces make perfect gathering
places even in tropical areas due to fire’s natural soothing and natural draw.

5. In-Home Spas

Spa treatments are becoming essential elements for a healthy lifestyle. Homeowners are incorporating massage rooms, elaborate heated loungers, dry saunas, steam rooms, deep soaking jetted tubs and fireplaces fitted with opulent lighting and luxurious marbles into luxurious escapes that enhance their tropical island getaways, enabling them to indulge in
their spa fantasies every day at home.

6. Wine Cellars, Tasting Rooms & Art Galleries

From classic dark mahogany woods and stone floors to open spaces detailed in metal and glass, personal wine cellars can be a work of art for the luxury seeker. Today’s wine cellars are now visually opening up to not only showcase their liquid assets but also to create modern wine rooms that seamlessly blend into their surrounding through materials, décor and visual openness. These innovative and multi-functional wine cellars turned self-contained entertaining spaces are an oenophile’s dream and everyone else’s covetous. Along with private cellars, art galleries that house extensive private art collections are being designed into luxury residences across the Caribbean. From a formal gallery to integrating the collections into the entire home, we work with clients to showcase their prized art.

7. Exercise Rooms, Yoga Studios & Private Gyms

Dedicated space for fitness needs, high-end equipment, yoga studios and athletic facilities are becoming commonplace among health-conscious clients. Some clientele are even completing their lavish fitness amenities with oxygen therapy rooms. When it comes to luxury amenities, it’s all about finding the amenities that fit your lifestyle. Then when you’re ready to get started, be sure to contact an architect that knows island luxury and will work with you to turn your dreams into reality.

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sand dollar hideaway Sat, 18 Aug 2018 12:21:07 +0000 US Virgin Islands home exemplifies indoor-outdoor design

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Peterborg is a craggy peninsula stretching out into the sea like a long tapering finger on the north side of St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. On its western flank it borders Magens Bay, one of the top ten most beautiful stretches of beach in the world, and on its east side, the wilder Atlantic ocean.

Magens Bay has a dedicated 68 acre park with one mile of white sand beach, a six acre arboretum as well as 15 acres of mangroves and wetlands. St Thomas is the lively centre of the US Virgin Islands and has a rich history for its small size. A Danish territory dating from the mid 1600s, it passed back and forth between the British and the Danes until it was purchased by the US in 1917. Only 32 square miles in size, the island boasts glorious white sand beaches, lush green hills and rugged mountains.

It was the childhood home of Impressionist artist Camille Pissarro. Now it’s better known as a popular tourist destination, in fact, the capital, Charlotte Amalie, is home to the most popular cruise ship harbour in the entire West Indies.

Perched on the edge of a steep hillside on the western edge of Peterborg, overlooking the jewel like waters of the bay, Sand Dollar Hideway is a contemporary three-story villa that provides the ultimate in luxury Caribbean vacation living. Its owners, who live on the East Coast of the US, were attracted to St Thomas for many reasons, listing its range of high-end restaurants, enviable year-round 80 to 85 degree weather and pristine water.  They will also say that the availability of direct flights from many major cities, the friendliness of the people, and that it is a US territory are all added bonuses.   The three-level villa is not their first or only home on the island.

Adjacent to Sand Dollar Hideway is Sand Dollar Estate, a large villa, similar in style with an additional cottage, which they rent out or use for guests and friends who need additional accommodation.  The architect for both properties is Kevin Qualls, from the local St Thomas architectural firm of Springline.  Qualls and his firm are known for building eco-conscious homes that blend in with the local vegetation, and Sand Dollar Hideaway is no exception.   The owners take justifiable pride in this commitment to sustainability, an issue that is dear to their heart.  The surface area of the roof was maximised to collect rainwater, most electricity is solar generated, there is LED lighting throughout the house and grey water is recycled for the garden.

The owners wanted visitors entering the 7,000 square foot house to feel immediately welcomed and to experience the full impact of the Caribbean island setting, and they certainly succeeded.   Over-sized wood and glass paneled double doors open onto a foyer leading down a flight of stairs to the elegantly appointed double story living room, the heart of the house.  A 30 foot high vaulted ceiling and bank of glass doors with two tiers of clerestory windows above, lets in the light, as well as the real star of this house: the show stopper, sweeping views of the sparkling waters of the bay.  The owners admit that this is their favourite part of the house.  You can certainly imagine arriving, perhaps from an East coast winter, and enjoying the impact of walking into this magnificent vista. The living room flows seamlessly out onto a terrace and rectangular infinity pool with a wet bar and a Jacuzzi.  Travertine flooring used throughout the house has been extended to this terrace, enhancing the indoor-outdoor feel.  The glass doors leading out from the living room are designed to be stackable for safety and ease.

The infinity pool feels like an extension of the living room.   With its decorative mosaic of blue and aqua tiles, it is cantilevered out over the edge of the hillside and seems to merge with the waters of the bay beyond.  Its entire length of exposed exterior wall is lined with glass tile that has been painted a light blue with a special epoxy.  A shaded open-sided cabana at the southern edge of the pool similarly gives the impression of floating out into the bay below.  The warm and inviting open-plan living room includes a dining area and a large, light-filled state-of-the-art kitchen.  Again the indoor-outdoor flow is a repeated theme with the kitchen opening out onto a covered terrace and an additional, more casual, eating area plus a deck with a grill and bar.  Flanking the living area are two generous bedrooms suites each with a covered balcony.

A further flight of steps leads up from the foyer to the master suite.  This private and separate suite of rooms includes a covered balcony, study, office and bathroom with an outside Jacuzzi tub.   The bedrooms suites are each relatively minimalistic. Their artwork and soft furnishings are in complimentary warm palettes of rusty reds, deep blues and turquoise.  Here, as throughout the house, the terrazzo flooring adds a cool and sleek element.  There are three more bedrooms on the lower level, two on the north side and, independently accessible, a further suite designed to be virtually self-sufficient with a sitting room and kitchenette, covered veranda, outdoor dining, plus an open sun deck.  For the owners, this allows their guests and family members a degree of independence.  All the suites have direct access to the pool and beach.  It is easy to imagine splendid sunsets enjoyed in this setting, but the abundance of exterior shaded areas to relax in means that the outdoors can be enjoyed at any time during the day.  A final set of stairs leads to the lowermost level and beach.  It also features a gym, massage room and a beach deck.

No attention to detail has been spared in both the exterior and interior design of this house.  All furnishings and artwork were carefully selected by the owners and, where possible, locally sourced, including the cabinetry and woodwork individually made by local carpenter, Edway Mark, who was also Sand Dollar Hideaway’s builder.  Building a custom home in the Caribbean can be a challenge but the owners insist that the whole process was made more enjoyable by the combination of the design skills of architect Qualls and the high quality workmanship of Edway Mark.   In the living room, a frieze of large decorative wooden panels on the north wall was fashioned from Honduran mahogany and adds a deliberate touch of warmth echoed by the wooden staircases.   On the outside wall of the master suite, 12 by 12 inch acoustic panels to dampen any noise from the living area below have been artfully painted and framed.

Every additional amenity needed for the ultimate in vacation living has been considered at Sand Dollar Hideaway: private chefs, personal trainers, yoga and Pilates instructors, helicopter island tours, golf and tennis at nearby resorts, as well as deep-sea fishing and snorkeling and scuba diving for which St Thomas is famous, are all available.  The carefully conceived indoor-outdoor layout, with bedroom suites, affords maximum privacy and allows for the effortless merging of communal as well as individual space, ideal for entertaining.   It is not surprising that the owners of Sand Dollar Hideaway, along with their two sons, plan on spending an ever-greater part of the year in their sanctuary home. Who could blame them!

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the renaissance at shorelands Fri, 17 Aug 2018 13:50:05 +0000 The Renaissance is studded by the names of the artists and architects, with their creations recorded as great historical events - Arthur Erickson

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Just as the renaissance period provided a cultural link between classical and modern, the Renaissance at Shorelands on Trinidad’s northwest coast delivers a blend of old world charm and modern elegance and amenities— what Giambatista Valli refers to as where “the ancient bangs up against the contemporary.”

Brainchild of developer Joseph Rahael, the Renaissance at Shorelands provides a new benchmark for high-end resort-style living in the Caribbean. The development integrates an idyllic lifestyle that provides a select few with what one tenant describes as “like living in Florida, but with all of the benefits and beauty of the Caribbean.” Indeed, according to Rahael, “on a square foot basis, nothing else in Trinidad comes close to the Renaissance, in terms of value.”

Renaissance Design

The 74 impeccably designed, two-, three- and four- bedroom private residences and penthouses are highly adaptable, so as to meet the unique aesthetic preferences of tenants and owners. High ceilings and large wrap around terraces, as well as extensive light throughout, are aesthetic features shared by all of the residences. Romanesque details share a space with modern furnishings in the common areas, staying true to the Renaissance motif.

The spacious homes are ideally suited for families or those who enjoy entertaining. Private lobbies, staff quarters, and an extensive list of amenities are highly enticing for a diverse cross-section of home-buyers…

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dream big Fri, 17 Aug 2018 13:40:16 +0000 The dream project was a collaborative effort, combining the owner’s desires, traditional influences and a targeted approach at creating a distinct harmony and flow between individual spaces. In this way, bigger became so much better

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With 46,000 square feet of land, this commissioned house in East Trinidad could have been a daunting task for most. But for renowned architect Nigel Ali and established interior designers Glen Wihby and Jennifer Scott, it was a dream project.

With 18 years of experience between them, Scott and Wihby work easily together and their compatibility is evident in our interview, as they often finish each other’s sentences. Together, they run a design firm (Wihby Interiors) and have recently embarked on a new project, The Hideaway Design Warehouse. They discussed their design process and stressed how important it is for them to sit down with the client beforehand, and let the client describe his lifestyle, his home hopes, and the functionality of the rooms. The house should “reflect the client’s desires and personality.”

The exterior of the 17,250-square-foot house is distinctly Mediterranean, with a clay tile roof, multilevel roofline, coral stone walls, balconies, detailed wrought iron and interior and exterior arcades. The impressive home took roughly four years, from design to completion. It is unapologetically monumental, starting with two separate front entries, one featuring a majestic 18-foot door, custom made in California.

The house sits adjacent to a lake, and boasts a pool, jacuzzi and deck, private cinema, home office, saltwater aquarium, home gym, elevator and dumbwaiter, fountain and courtyard in the driveway, two four-car garages and two carports. Custom mahogany woodwork abounds throughout, and the detailed carvings on columns, archways, mouldings and trim were all created by local artisans. It is flooded with natural light from 125 windows and the flooring is engineered hardwood and marble, giving the house a bright and natural elemental look, a luxurious canvas for design.

For Wihby and Scott, the main challenge to the house design was actually the sheer space of it, and achieving a cohesive feel, with a coordinating flow from room to room. “It was almost like doing four houses in one,” says Wihby, and getting it to “gel” was formidable, but impassioned them as designers. On an early trip abroad to source furniture with the owner, the designers returned to Trinidad and realised they had “hardly dented” the house.

They advised the owner to not rush to buy everything at once, to “live in the house and let it evolve, be open to changes along the way.”

Another early challenge was in the foyer/entrance area, where the wall behind the stairway was an “expanse of concrete” leading to the ceiling. The solution: to create definitions in the space by dividing the floors with a railing and a textured wall treatment, giving direction to the eye.

The staircase is truly a feast for the eyes, with seamless marble treaders and custom wrought iron snaking its way up to a domed stained-glass canopy designed by Dalton Williams. The dome is a work of art and the outstanding feature in the grand entryway, with an intricate design in ochres, umbers, oranges and yellows.

The colour palette remains universal throughout the house, a neutral unifying element, with taupes, beiges and golds, which Wihby and Scott enjoy using as a backdrop, with accents of colour in accessories and art. Red is a favourite hue for a pop of interest in a few of the rooms.

The plan was initially for one large main living area, but the owners decided to create separate wings, essentially for living and for entertaining joined by a decorative hallway, that is accessed by another matching “front” door entry. One wing houses the entertainment room, with coffered ceilings and a custom-stained glass bar, also designed by Williams, but with a more geometric, slightly more masculine design. The fittings are brass from foot rail to glass holders, and the back wall displays liquor bottles like an art installation.

There are Moroccan influences here, found in the carved console table, and rich gold touches. The accordion doors pull back completely to offer an unobstructed view of the pool and deck area, with the intention of blurring the lines between inside and outside. This wing is also home to the cinema, and gym.

The inclusion of a private cinema is a rare addition in the Caribbean and Whiby enjoyed the opportunity to design one. No detail was overlooked, with wood panelling and gold wainscoting, a 120-foot movie screen, state-of-the-art movie theatre sound system, full bar, popcorn machine and oversized leather recliners with brass cup holders. There is also a domed feature in here, this time with nebular fibre optics that send shooting stars across the ceiling. An episode of Game of Thrones in here would no doubt be a memorable experience.

The living areas were created with special attention to the individual style of the family members. For example, though most of the house is traditional in style with soft furnishings that are Moroccan, Turkish and Spanish influenced, the owner’s son wanted something ultramodern, young and masculine. The designers opted for shades of grey in his suite, with touches of chrome and glass, but used transitional furniture so that the suite does not feel disjointed.

Every bedroom is oversized, providing the luxury of space, so much so that there is full sectional sofa in their daughter’s sitting area. All have adjoining balconies with greenheart trellises. The bathroom countertops are custom glass, and there is generous use of marble and granite.

This is clearly a house for entertaining. The covered patio areas are chic and tropical, with sophisticated cream fabrics and rattan furniture from Brazil, with faux beams covered in hardwood. The deck overlooks the fountains in the lake, and is flanked by oversized metal planters from Turkey. There is a full outdoor kitchen and bar.

The pool is the real star of the show, however, with a faux rock centrepiece complete with secret cave, cascading waterfall, footbridge and two fire pits that light up the evening and lend drama to the picturesque area. Again, there is attention to detail and magnificent elements, evident in the slabs of granite used for stepping stones in the garden. Allan Darwent of Talma Mill Studios cultivated alluring and colourful landscaping that complements the style of the house and surroundings.

Everything in and around the house has been carefully curated by Wihby and Scott, and this is especially evident in the collection of art gracing the walls. The selections are all local talent, and include the work of Martin Superville, Lisa O’Connor, Joanna Aldred, Ramon Navarro, John Otway and Glen Roopchand.

The dream project was a collaborative effort, combining the owner’s desires, traditional influences and a targeted approach at creating a distinct harmony and flow between individual spaces. In this way, bigger became so much better.

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the beach house Fri, 17 Aug 2018 13:02:54 +0000 Inspired by the natural beauty of Anguilla, with its spectacular sunsets and ocean views, The Beach House ensures that the transition from the outdoors to indoors is seamless.

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Ideally situated on Meads Bay, The Beach House by Sunset Homes¬†is also close to eclectic gourmet beach restaurants, a fine 18-hole Greg Norman Championship Golf Course and lies in the company of two of the world’s finest five-star hotels, which flank either end of the long beach at Meads.

The property is a labour of love by self-taught architectural designer Ian “Sugar George” Edwards, Dominican born, who moved to Montserrat to pursue a career as a construction labourer, and now is one of the region’s premier architectural designer-developers.

He is the holder of five prestigious international awards for architecture and property development in relation to his work on The Beach House. Edwards and his wif Janine, along with John and Valerie Barker, worked arduously to perfect The Beach House.

“Meads Bay is a destination in itself,” says Edwards as he reflects on the importance of “location, location, location.”

Inspired by the natural beauty of Anguilla, with its spectacular sunsets and ocean views, The Beach House ensures that the transition from the outdoors to indoors is seamless.

Decorated with sleek, modern sophistication, The Beach House incorporates large expanses of glass, clean and unexpectedly varied geometric lines and shapes, stainless steel trims and highlights, with warm touches of wood and complemented by natural oversized stone tiles. The gorgeous interior décor was created by Valerie Barker.

The villa is outfitted with chic and modern entertainment features, including a large home theatre, a fitness room, a tennis court, a stunning 50-foot infinity edge pool, and an outdoor jacuzzi. Large floor-to-ceiling window and door glass panels unsparingly envelop the view and can slide away entirely to invite the cool sea breezes into the home.

The design balances function and flow with aesthetics and incorporates design efficiency whilst maintaining the feel of carefree lavishness. Only the finest materials were sourced from various continents and islands around the world to execute the construction and finish of The Beach House.

Maintaining the view of the ocean was paramount and the house was designed and laid out to incorporate a clear view of the ocean from most rooms in the house. The spaces that do not open to the bay incorporate water features that maintain aquatic continuity throughout the home. One such water feature is the highlight of the interior, a 12-foot high waterfall made with split-face travertine.

The kitchen was conceived as a separate space, away from the open-plan living, dining and great rooms. “The kitchen was designed to be separate from the main living area to fit into the occupants’ lifestyle,” Edwards explained. “By maintaining the separation, the busy functions of the kitchen would not interfere with the relaxed spirit and entertaining mode in the great room.”

Continuing the celebration of the outdoors, external showers just beyond full-height glass panels bring natural light inside and allow the user to flirt with exhibitionism. The sunken jetted tubs melt unobtrusively into the floor, allowing the space to feel even larger.

Outside, a full kitchen with BBQ grill, fridge and a handmade, rubbed-concrete countertop complement the pool deck and create an elegant ambience for outdoor living.

If you would like to visit an idyllic Caribbean getaway, where you can enjoy the exclusivity of a private residence fully serviced by private chefs, butlers and other staff, then The Beach House is just the place for you.

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as the wood turns Fri, 17 Aug 2018 00:15:29 +0000 St John artist learned to work a lathe out of necessity

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Many artists arrive at their calling via magnetism, drawn to their medium by a creativity that flourishes from within, demanding to be brought to fruition. Woodturner Avelino Samuel’s story is unique. His path to virtuosity was a slow and steady march through boyhood and a long teaching career; his accomplishment as an artist is rooted in sheer necessity.


Avelino Samuel and his nine siblings grew up in Estate Eden, still considered a quiet, sparsely populated town five decades after his formative years. Lacking in retail outlets where shelves proffer the precise item one requires at the moment of its necessity, St John, the smallest of the three US virgin Islands, begs of its residents a certain resourcefulness.

“If a handle went on a pickaxe or hoe, my father gave me the job to make a new one by hand until we could get the chance to buy something of a better quality,” Avelino says matter-of-factly.

“From the time I was in elementary school, I was making replacement handles for tools, or replacement boat oars. You learn to improvise. You don’t say you can’t do something, you find a way to get it done. It becomes a mindset.”

Manually shaping tool handles and boat oars using a machete and a spokeshave, Avelino became intimately familiar with the way wood responded to his touch. He learned just how much pressure he could inflict to exact his desired result.

Avelino took his knowledge of working with wood beyond the functional, making small toys, crafts, even afro picks engraved with zodiac signs for his friends in the 1970s.

As an adult teaching industrial arts at the island’s Julius E. Sprauve School, Avelino expanded his repertoire with furniture, in particular four-poster beds.

Working with wood was a constant in Avelino’s life, but it wasn’t until he was in his 40s that inspiration struck like a bolt of lightning, igniting a passion that he couldn’t ignore. After he attended the American Association of Woodturners symposium in 2000, his thirst for the pursuit of art grew insatiable.

“When I got back from the symposium, I was so motivated and excited that I turned almost every day,” he says. “I went to work, came home and changed my clothes, then went downstairs and turned from dusk until no later than 9 p.m. so as not to disturb the neighbours.”

With every hour Avelino spent at his lathe, turning, experimenting, carving, obliging the wood to transform from characterless log sections to impossibly smooth, flowing round vessels, he himself underwent a transformation. The knowledgeable woodworker became a skilled woodturning artist.

“Once you engross yourself, you can improve your skills incredibly,” he says of the astounding amplification his talent underwent in the early 2000s. “The more you practise, the more consistently you can produce excellent work.”

Harkening back to the smooth, rounded tool handles Avelino made for his father as a young child, he began producing wooden vases and bowls, confident in his ability to create their fluid curved lines. A fast learner, he soon realized that while his talent for creating strikingly polished finished works was obvious, he would have to go beyond their simplistic beauty if he was going to make a name for himself. “The vases and bowls are just the canvas,” he says. “They alone won’t get you that far.”

He added flair with twists running down the sides of his vases, inspired by organic shapes found in the cascading vines and spiraled whelk shells of his island’s landscape. The lines curve so sleekly from each vase’s top to bottom, they defy belief that their creation was guided by human hand rather than computer-programmed machine. Twisted vases remain his signature, though now he often adds texture by meticulously, painstakingly burning tiny indent patterns on his vase exteriors, adding another layer of wonderment to his finished pieces. Avelino Samuel’s talent is so innate that even he struggles to define his woodturning prowess.

“I don’t know what I have,” he says. “I do what I do and it works out. I have a good feel for lines and proportions, and I have the ability to execute it as well. I had no idea where I was going with this; I just enjoy doing the work.”

Fifteen years after Avelino’s true gift began to reveal itself in the wake of the AAW symposium, he’s become a renowned woodturner known for his bowls and vessels that add grace and allure to the homes of their purchasers. He continues to attend the annual AAW symposium that first fuelled his zeal, but now the mentee has become the mentor. Avelino teaches at the symposium, and his calling has taken him criss-crossing the globe from the US to Australia to China to Tanzania, demonstrating his craft at exhibitions. While his talent is an obvious factor that sets him apart in the industry, the native St Johnian notes that he’s one of very few black men working as woodturning artists today.

Avelino Samuel is certainly one of the most notable residents of his small home island where, at his home and studio near Coral Bay, he accepts deliveries of salvaged wood from local tree-trimming operations. This makes up the majority of the material that he uses, staying true to his make-do-with-what-you-have ethos, though he does import African blackwood and ebony for the incredibly delicate finials that top some of his vases. A large jumble of nondescript logs sits in his yard, each awaiting its turn at the lathe. Avelino points out several, describing their interior colouring and appearance with a warm familiarity, showing particular fondness for seagrape, which grows prevalently along St John shorelines and exhibits a beguiling pink hue when turned.

The common practicality in which Avelino’s career is rooted comes up in discussion with him as frequently as remarks on the artistic aspects of woodturning. He prefers working with mahogany because he likes the look of it, he says, but also because it’s predictable and stable, and it doesn’t dull his tools.

The resourcefulness that drew him to wood in the first place is still very much a part of his approach today as a professional artist. He’s fashioned his own tools and made modifications to others so he can travel with them to exhibitions. Avelino’s knowledge of his craft’s technicalities run deep, but when he is at work in his home studio, the practical side of woodturning takes a back seat to the incredible vision of the artist at work.

The lathe’s motor whines, and ’s gouge emits a levelled grinding sound as it cuts away at the spinning wood, evoking the feeling of being at a construction site and momentarily distracting me from the transformation that’s taking place at the whims of Avelino’s dark hands. Wood shavings spray off at an impressive distance and I focus through the red mahogany shower, ensnared by the magic of Avelino’s work. The wood gives and changes shape fluidly, metamorphosing from an innocuous section of log to a simple yet beautiful bowl, as though that’s what it was always meant to become.

This is the crux of Avelino Samuel’s art—the ability to see beyond a slab of salvaged wood’s dull grey exterior to the beauty within.

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jumby bay Thu, 16 Aug 2018 22:38:23 +0000 Binns and Miller encourages you to move away from processed foods and return to the ground

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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have your own private island in the Caribbean—an uber-luxury hotel with 5-star service where all your needs are anticipated while you enjoy long walks on white-sand beaches? Of course, there would be no traffic noises—no cars, no helicopters jarring the sounds of the ocean—just the whirr of electric carts, which are the only vehicles allowed on the island, and the sound of laughter as people ride their bikes from restaurant to beach, to spa to swimming pool or tennis court. You don’t need to fantasise any more! A trip to Jumby Bay Island on Antigua and Barbuda will fulfil all your dreams.

Only two miles from Antigua, Jumby Bay is a private island of 300 acres, co-owned by some of the wealthiest players in the world. The island is dotted with breathtaking villas, some of which are for rent when their owners are away. These privately owned villas vary in price, with the most expensive costing a whopping US$35,000 a night. Most of us lesser mortals would need crowd funding to be able to afford that, but fortunately, there are 40 rooms and suites on the property that you can rent. For example, a Rondavel Room costs US$1,150 per night.

Money doesn’t pass hands as it’s considered a vulgarity here, so everyone signs for their meals and drinks, which are taken care of in the “all-inclusive” experience, encompassing all services—everything but the cost of treatments at The Spa. Tropical delights abound: a spa, swimming pools, water sports and cycling, and then there’s the food! Throughout the day as you laze on your loungers, soaking up the sun, drinks and snacks such as ice cream, sandwiches and fresh fruit are constantly being offered by the courteous staff.

On Jumby Island the focus is clearly on food.  Delicious, mouthwatering food is served at three very different restaurants on the island. The Verandah, famous for its Mediterranean-style dishes, is the heart of Jumby Bay. Everything and everybody pass through here at one time or another, and it’s open every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as being home to afternoon tea and the weekly White Night barbecue party. This is also where you’ll find the beachside Verandah Bar, boutique, and concierge.

Then there’s the Pool Grille, focussing on freshly grilled meats and fresh, tender seafood. The fish tacos and grilled fish kebabs are particularly succulent. If you can’t be bothered to leave the beach however, there is a Beach Bar, which has the most amazing all-day cocktails, as well as the Beach Shack, which serves a selection of roti and wraps.

Finally, there’s the Estate House, which has recently undergone a year-long, US$6 million restoration by acclaimed interior designer, Dennis Irvine. This stylish, elegant restaurant is a complete contrast to all the other venues. Prepare yourself for a sophisticated, elegant dining experience that’s considered the jewel in the crown of Jumby Bay.

The head honcho in charge of all these wonderful restaurants is the executive chef, French-born Sylvain Hervochon. “As an executive chef abroad, (Britain, Germany and the Caribbean) as well as manager and owner of a restaurant in France, I have acquired a competency in the management field. I came back to the Caribbean to work at Jumby Bay Island because the property is so unique and I really love the natural smile and liveliness of the people”.

When asked about his philosophy on food, Hervochon says, ”As a food lover from an early age, I always admired my grandmother’s preparation of Brittany specialties that she made on her charming farm.  Everything was home-grown and fresh. From that upbringing, the idea of the provenance of food has remained with me and is the recipe for creativity. There’s no limit as long as you know its origins and the culinary history of the region.

I always give the same respect to whatever produce I use and spend time sourcing quality producers.   For example, Hall Valley Farm, owned by Adrian and Vicky Hall, supply us with organic eggs, suckling pig and veal. Other local producers provide us with seasonal fruits and vegetables and on Saturdays we explore the vegetable market in St John’s, where you can find a lot of produce from other Caribbean islands. But obviously certain specialty items we have to import from Europe and America.”

Jumby Bay Island has recently added the new Jumby Farm and Kitchen Garden to their portfolio. Accessible by footpath, the farm encompasses a verdant vegetable garden, herb garden and orchard.  The farm also houses the island’s flock of Persian sheep, as well as 24 chickens that will provide fresh eggs daily.  The farm’s produce will be used to supplement the menu at The Estate House, as part of the daily “Jumby-grown” specials.  In addition to serving as a peaceful retreat for guests to explore and relax, the farm will also offer a number of unique programs and activities for the resort’s younger guests, including farm tours and gardening classes. The changing selection of vegetables and herbs grown on the premises includes basil, curly kale, Tuscan kale, local spinach, regular tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and bell peppers. Plans are afoot to develop the “farm-to-table garden,” where guests will be able to both dine and watch the chefs prepare their food.

Dining at the Estate House provides a totally different experience from the laid-back ambiance of the Verandah and Pool Grille. No swimsuits and wraps here.  There is a strict “smart” dress code. After a day at the beach, The Estate House gives you the opportunity to get your glad rags out. The original plantation house was built around 1830 and was once the centre piece of the island’s sugar plantations and the oldest building on Jumby Bay. The recently renovated Estate House now includes the Henzell Bar, boasting the largest public rum collection in the Caribbean, a main restaurant and three new private dining rooms, each featuring a different island-inspired menu and wine room.

Walking up the steps to the entrance of the Estate House you see elements of the original structure, including sculpted pineapples on the external balustrades and painted palm trees in the bar area. The enjoyment of the Estate House starts in the bar, where you can sip your cocktails before dinner.  If you feel like an elegant little nibble they serve three oysters from Brittany with caviar in a little wooden box. How stylish can you get!

Aspects of French style continue in the restaurant with crisp, white linen tablecloths, French Christophe silver cutlery and Italian Genori tableware. The food reflects the design of the Estate House–classic and elegant. Hervochon describes dining at the Estate House as having dinner in an elegant private home.

The à la carte menu is impressive. A few examples of what you can expect to taste are: a Foie Gras Terrine with walnut, celery, local pineapple and brioche, or if you prefer something a little lighter, there’s Rainbow Beetroot, which, Hervochon says, came from an inspiration of the beetroot itself: “We wanted to highlight different textures and colours of the beetroot: red, yellow and candy slices, some raw as a carpaccio and some slices cooked and served with a confit of lemon and aged Comté  from France.”

I found it hard to chose between the 18-oz grilled Chairman’s Reserved Beef Ribeye with potato tartiflette (a French dish from the Savoy region in the French Alps, it is made with potatoes, Reblochon cheese, lardons and onions), island organic greens and truffle jus.  Or, the Roasted Local Lobster, with roasted potatoes, baby carrots, asparagus, crispy trompettes and homardine sauce. I decided to go for the lobster, as it was local. It’s very simply pan roasted in butter and flamed in cognac with a reduced bisque as the sauce.  Once cooked, it is sliced and put back in the shell. It was sweet and delicious.

For dessert, I was debating between the Grand Marnier soufflé with citrus, candied peels served with a Grenadian chocolate sorbet and a Grand Marnier custard, or the Black Pineapple Baked Alaska. Hervochon told me that I had to try the signature dish of Black Pineapple Baked Alaska because “Black pineapple is a specialty of Antigua–it’s also gluten-free and dairy-free. Dennis Irvine told me that in England, during Elizabethan times people had glass houses in which they grew pineapples as a sign of wealth.” The pineapple symbol has been used a lot in the interior design of the Estate House. Even the signature baked Alaska dessert looks like a little pineapple made out of meringue with chocolate leaves. Rum is poured over and it and the chocolate leaves melt in front of the guests. Hervochon calls it his “living dessert.”  Needless to say, everything is paired perfectly with wines chosen by the sommelier.

Despite this being a very private island, the good news is that the Estate House Restaurant is open to the public, but reservations depend on the occupancy of the resort guests and villa owners, as they have priority for tables.  A reservation has to be confirmed with the hotel and the ferry has to be reserved in advance.  But it’s highly worth it, a delight for all the senses!


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a man apart Thu, 16 Aug 2018 22:16:21 +0000 Architect John Doak - What makes his world go round

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With more than 30 years of architectural experience, John Doak, an undeniable talent in the Caribbean, has contributed to the evolved design landscape of the Cayman Islands in myriad of ways.

A graduate of the Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow, Doak made his way through OBM International as international director of design and managing director of the Cayman Office until he started his own firm Cayman Style, which is now known as John Doak Architecture.

As a diligent project designer, Doak delivered singular attention to detail and on-the-nose project management. The firm has designed some of the most innovative and unique spaces on the island and throughout the region. Doak was recognised for his work in architectural preservation by Her Majesty queen Elizabeth II with a Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour in 2013.

What drives Doak is an ingrained sense of curiosity that he owes to the Cayman Islands themselves. “I have spent the last almost 40 years researching, writing, photographing and sketching this place. I continue to learn more about this region and about myself. While I have become better informed and have developed a passion for the Caribbean and its islands, my journey has also introduced me to an astonishing medley of experiences and people.” Architecture has also helped mark his time on the islands, as well as telling the story of the country’s progress.

“The architecture of the Cayman Islands has certainly changed over the last three decades that I have been blessed to be a part of. Interestingly, our architectural milestones are almost exactly 10 years apart and appear to coincide with the construction of distinguished hotels built on Seven Mile Beach and coupled with storey-height changes in the planning laws.”

Creatively speaking, Doak’s inspiration is fuelled by his love of the Caymans and the surrounding Caribbean region. With an understanding of how to design and build on a tropical island, Doak and his team are able to navigate the variations in Caribbean weather, topography and the types of materials that can survive in an often-unforgiving environment.

“Cayman now has a population of approximately 60,000 comprising persons of 140 nationalities, so one can imagine the challenges to satisfy those many and differing aspirations whilst helping to maintain the Caymanian identity that brings people here in the first place. For me, every new commission is an inspiration for it brings a different client personality, property, budget and wish list to solve.’’

Looking to the future, Doak hopes that despite advancing technology, there will be greater appreciation for the Caribbean’s cultural and geographic wonders. “We need to properly understand and appreciate what sustainability means for our islands in real terms and not because it’s a trendy word to be dropped into topical conversation.  In architecture, we continue to incorporate new technologies and ways to design and build whilst still maintaining our spaces in all that we do. We are implementing more selective materials and construction techniques for our buildings to be healthier to live and work in.”

John Doak Architecture

DotCom Centre, 342 Dorcy Drive, Airport Park, PO Box 10004 ,Grand Cayman,  KY1-1001.Cayman Islands

T: 345 946 3625




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