The former Stuart residence, located in the exclusive Ocean Club Estates on Paradise Island, is an iconic Venetian-inspired palace. With its perfectly positioned southern exposure, the grand estate showcases expansive views of Nassau Harbour and the awe-inspiring turquoise waters of the Bahamas. The owner of this majestic home, Len Stuart, now deceased, was a Canadian business legend who started a small lottery printing business in 1970 with three employees, and, over time, developed it into an international manufacturing empire with 2,600 employees and over 200 million in sales.
Growing and expanding as a wildly successful stylish grand bahama living entrepreneur, Stuart and his various businesses have been profiled in such publications as Forbes and Barron’s, and Stuart himself eventually became a trusted business partner to governments around the world. After more than a 20 year run in the gaming industry, Stuart raised more than $50 million per year for charity. During this same period, he served as co-chairman, co-owner, secretary, and treasurer of The Second City Inc., otherwise known as Second City Television, financing its first seven television programmes, where he was the recipient of two Emmy Awards, 13 Emmy Nominations, and an Actra Award for lifetime achievement.
Prior to his passing, with his fortune in hand, Stuart sought out to buy not only a grand piece of real estate in a Caribbean paradise in which to enjoy his success, but a luxury lifestyle to go along with it. He chose the exclusive and extremely private Ocean Club Estate, which would offer him access to its world-class 18-hole Championship golf course by Tom Weiskopf, its state-of-the-art tennis courts and private beach club, in addition to the use of all the facilities of the Atlantis Resort & Casino and One & Only Club Resort.
Loving everything about his purchase except for the style and décor of the actual home itself, Stuart imagined its potential if placed in the right hands. Wanting only a top designer that would help bring his imagination to life, Stuart hired premiere interior designer, Steven Zelman, of Zelman Style Interiors – a Florida based luxury design firm.
Upon arrival, Zelman evaluated the estate, immediately recognising the need to transform the space from its very dark and very traditional feel to something more contemporary and light, but not modern, which was a familiar style trait for Zelman. The integrity of the architectural details needed to be well maintained and the property should exude a European contemporary feel with moderately traditional backgrounds, assisted by light colours, modern Italian furnishings, beautiful lighting, mixed with contemporary, if not modern, artwork.
After reviewing Zelman’s ideas, Stuart sealed the deal and Zelman Style began their preparations. Presentations were created so that every detail would be covered, affording Stuart to not only see selections, drawings, fabrics, stone and marble samples, etc., but also to experience a virtual walk through of the main living areas. This would be created through Auto-CAD drawings, complete selections of all furnishings, flooring materials, lighting, artwork, accessories, automation, backgrounds, built-ins, window treatments and even landscaping. Then, once approved, the ideas were brought into a 3D realistic setting for Stuart’s final stamp of approval.
The home, once transformed, featured a one-of-a-kind mother of pearl mantel, an open-plan living and kitchen area beneath a lofty 35 ft cathedral ceiling, with three 30 ft Palladian style windows accented by Venetian hand-finished walls and columns.
A custom kitchen and bar boasting a unique recycled glass countertop with a built-in Miele coffee maker and Wolf and Thermador cooking appliances are any chef’s dream. A breakfast nook featuring handmade Italian leather chairs and a separate private formal dining room with a custom made nine ft table with chairs covered in Romo fabric and exquisite silk meet all dining needs. A butler’s pantry housing a 100 bottle Sub Zero wine cooler, with handsome staff quarters and a laundry room nearby all add to the luxury of the property.
The master suite encompasses the entire eastern wing of the home, adorned with custom-made furniture and Italian light fixtures, as well as an office, a sitting room, a walk-in wardrobe, and ‘his and her’ bathrooms with patio doors that open out to the pool and covered veranda. ‘Her’ bathroom has a custom-made vanity and is bedecked with Austrian crystals, adding femininity, elegance and ambience to the lighting.
Most of the furnishings throughout the home are custom-made. The sofas in the parlour were made in Italy, however with fabrics imported from different countries. The sofas were also made to dimensions comfortable for Stuart. Zelman commissioned the chandeliers to be made in Italy and had them custom-painted by one of the most luxurious Italian car manufacturers to illustrate a pearlescent feel unattainable by other forms of paint.
Wall sconces hand-blown in Murano, Italy and a dining room table and built-in server designed and built specifically for purpose add to the uniqueness of the property, as was the parlour credenza, bar, and master bedroom bed. More one-of-a-kind features include the bar and kitchen island counter made out of giant piece of recycled glass, and, low light-up specifically designed for the bar, for when Stuart entertained.
While the entire estate is impressive, a most intriguing design is the lit, pass-through wine towers that separate the bar from the breakfast room. These towers are see-through, architecturally chic, and useable, without being obtrusive, as if they are floating on the bar, a challenge, no doubt, for the designers to get the electricity to run through them without altering the appearance of having them float.
On the mezzanine level, there is an extensive library curving around the second floor, plus an additional family seating area, two additional en suite bedrooms with walk-in closets and private balconies – one to the east with a playroom and one to the west. The designer chose an overall neutral background palette, however making the large walls in the main parlour and the upper walls in the master bedroom a beautiful shade of blue to accent the water visible from nearly every window. The palette for the backgrounds throughout the home were neutral earth tones married with warm greys and silvers, and the artwork, pillows and mosaic inlays were added to bring a splash of colour.
Additionally, he designed two spacious very private one bedroom guest houses, one on either side of the driveway. Both showcasing a petite kitchen, walk-in wardrobes and private porches that open to the lush landscaped gardens.
The entire re-do required everything to be shipped in two 40-foot containers. Getting materials to the property was not a problem, however getting the workers and their tools there was apparently a challenge. Zelman shipped the tools needed to do the installations in the containers, however the cost to ship them back was not feasible, so he sold the tools to local sources at a discounted price. Shipping the recycled glass was also challenging as the counters were pre-made in the States, and were very costly. They had to be carefully crated and weighed thousands of pounds. Because each slab is book-matched, any damage would cause Zelman to have to remake the entire top. It took 14 men to bring them into the home and the installation went in without a hitch. Ken Gibson of the Bahamian company Top Tier Installers, provided a great deal of assistance.
All in all, Len Stuart and his wife moved into the property 10 months after his initial meeting with Zelman. Thrilled and relaxed, cold weather clad Canadian Stuart was now set to enjoy his palatial island paradise in the tropics, and that he did!