Rosewood Little Dix Bay, Virgin Gorda
Designed by Meyer Davis
Rosewood Little Dix Bay epitomizes tranquility and luxury. Nestled naturally into the surrounding landscape on the crescent-shaped bay of Virgin Gorda – ‘the Fat Virgin’ christened by Christopher Columbus in 1493, it provides guests with a true sense of discovery upon arrival. Founded by Laurance S. Rockefeller in 1964, the original hotel consisted of fourteen informal “stilt houses” on what he called “wilderness beach”. The property was a testament to Rockefeller’s commitment to environmental integrity and reflected his vision for Little Dix Bay as one of an “earth in balance”, where the architecture blended harmoniously with the existing landscape. When asked to renovate the storied property, Meyer Davis took Rockefeller’s vision and Rosewood’s reputation to heart. Design decisions were born out of a desire to pay homage to the era in which the resort was founded, and to provide an understated, casual elegance that respects the existing landscape.
To maintain the hotel’s legacy the design team simply had to take a step back and let the spirit of the property take the lead. The era during which Little Dix Bay was built was a vibrant time in the design world, fostering eccentricity, forward-thinking, and playful energy. The project presented the opportunity to channel and celebrate that Mid-century era in a contemporary way. The design team restored and maintained as much as possible from the original site, and introduced pure and honest materials – mainly light woods and leathered stone finishes – to reflect back the beauty and vibrancy of the surroundings. And to contemporize the hotel for design lovers and savvy guests – chunky custom furnishings with an element of quirk paired with bright artwork and bold pattern. The palette is modern yet timeless, an eclectic mix of vintage and new, fitting for a generation that experiences design through social media. During the renovation, the design team weathered over five years of development – from the original design in 2014, through the devastation of Hurricane Irma in 2017, all while navigating a changing luxury landscape, eventually leading to the unquestionably evocative design unveiled earlier this year. A true labor of love, the hotel is reinvigorated and modernized to excite the existing clientele and entice the new.
Open floor plans, bringing the outdoors in, and uniting form with function were driving concepts at Little Dix Bay. All paired with distinct attention to operational details. Each outlet, robe hook, and side table placed so that no guest would feel lost for any amenity. Reception desks conceal clutter, public and private seating areas put comfort first, and decorative lighting creates an attractive glow throughout. For this design team, the guest was and is always first in mind. The intent was to arrive on site and experience the pleasure of exhale. The architecture of the resort is broken into several smaller structures, most based in a hexagonal shape. This provided an interesting challenge in terms of decorative lighting, millwork design, and seating arrangement.
Spirited curved banquettes (a reimagining of the Mid-century boomerang) and campaign-style case goods enhance the structures’ shapes, while woven seat backs and details of snaps and buckles create texture and warmth. The marriage of these inherited components paired with fresh, contemporary additions truly enhances the offering of an escape to guests. And finally, every precaution was taken to work with the greater team to provide resilient and durable spaces, in the hopes of outlasting the harsh weather that may plague the island again.
The resort’s pristine, half-mile beach is protected by the nearby coral reef, ensuring calm waters for swimming and snorkeling. The rooms, cottage and treehouse are just steps away from the sand. When tackling the hexagonal framework of the suites of Little Dix Bay, the design team began at the center. The focal furnishings of the suites allowed the team to heighten – and brighten – the hex above, and push secondary programming to the edge. The suite is flanked by core millwork – an expansive bar decorated with art and objects of interest in the living room, and a double sided closet hidden behind the master bed and concealed into the back wall. Centralizing monolithic furnishings also allows an ease of circulation in the space. One guest can lounge, read or nap easily while another bustles about without disrupting each other’s flow. Framing the existing windows and doors is a whitewashed oak datum that organizes the millwork and drapery below while allowing for an open and airy feeling in the pitched ceiling above.
The elegant and organized light oak framing creates a backdrop for eclectic and inspired furnishings. Each piece carefully designed or curated to inhabit these suites takes a cue from the property’s heyday; the design team steered clear of sourcing direct vintage pieces or leaning too heavily on the Mid-century. Contemporary blackened steel task lighting pairs well with turned wood table lamps, tightly woven bench seats play against a chubby lounge chair with stitched details. And a sectional with pillow-like seat cushions are packed with pillows that add heavy punches of graphic blue pattern. To all of this is added touches of walnut, inspiring Slim Aarons photography, and an effortless neutral rug below, as well as softness in elements that guests reach for – leather pulls enliven simple nightstand drawers and a quiet desk chair (you know, just in case you need to get some work done). To top off the living area are slabs of crisp gray marble, both on the bar and nightstands. A room that is easy to clean will always look sharp.
The suite bathroom is an experience in and of itself. Here the hexagonal architecture inspires the design more directly. A neutral yet bold pattern of hex wall tiles creates a fresh and playful backdrop for a floating central soaking tub. With an expansive vanity, unlacquered brass fittings, and a private makeup station and water closet, nothing is amiss. Again, the plan is centralized, the height is embraced, and guests want for nothing, with each hook, drawer, and towel bar expertly placed. All of this in an effort to remind guests just why they came to Virgin Gorda – the water, the views, the breaths of fresh air. A plunge pool just off the private terrace reflects back the beauty of the sky above and surrounding vegetation. The residential quality of these standalone suites is undisputed. If the public areas weren’t equally so beautiful, you might never leave your room.