Miami-based designer extraordinaire Luis Pons enlivens St. Barts’ Le Guanahani resort.
Aerial view of the Rosewood Le Guanahani resort.
Leather, wood, textiles, rattan and aluminum are only some of the materials Miami designer and architect Luis Pons has used to transform the interiors of St. Barts’ renowned Le Guanahani resort. Anticipating the resurgence of leisure travel, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts spearheaded the transformation of the hotel, which suffered damage during Hurricanes Irma and Maria and visitor decline due to COVID-19 restrictions. In response, Luis Pons Design Lab (luispons.com) drew inspiration from the island’s heritage and the resort’s scenic location to create materially tactile and deluxe spaces that are also fresh and welcoming. Miami Magazine speaks to Pons about his distinctive interior and furniture designs.
Designer Luis Pons PORTRAIT COURTESY OF LUIS PONS DESIGN LAB
How did the Creole and Caribbean heritages of St. Barts inspire you? The Caribbean style and its Creole influences are at the core of the entire resort’s renovation. We incorporated materials such as Panama hat weave and thin wood moldings and used the facades of the historical cottages as inspiration to create a unique neocolonial-style furniture collection. Each public and private cottage carries the three signature colors of Rosewood Le Guanahani: yellow, blue and lavender, which is then complemented by a contrasting color to visually suggest the hotel’s layered history. The rooms contain memories of different owners across time periods, reflected in the art and accessories.
Interior of Bar Mélangé PHOTO BY KEN HAYDEN/COURTESY OF ROSEWOOD LE GUANAHANI HOTEL
The resort is located alongside beaches and a protected lagoon. How did you consider this idyllic water setting in your interiors? Most suites overlook the sea, and the verandas celebrate the transition between in and out. Then the color selection brings the ocean and sun into the suites, while sisal textures and other finishes remind us of the pleasure of being on a beach. It was important to remove the traditional heaviness of colonial style and replace it with light furniture so that comfort and lightness define the interiors and reflect the idyllic turquoise sea. Unlike traditional hotels, the resort is a village of communities including clusters of Caribbean-style cottages set within a network of gardens, offering views over hills and mountains, beaches and valleys. Each place was designed keeping all these variables in mind, so that the smallest to the largest building carries the same principle: ‘rooms as a map of life.’
The Ocean View pool suite is the pinnacle of luxury. PHOTO BY KEN HAYDEN/COURTESY OF ROSEWOOD LE GUANAHANI HOTEL
Tell us about some of the custom furniture you designed for the suites. I believe in contextual design, so the furniture collection gave us a chance to explore Caribbean colonial style and history and design something new, as well as practical. The resort needed furniture that is versatile and flexible—suites have different sizes and layouts, so the furniture can be added and removed accordingly.
The lobby seating incorporates tropical colors and greenery PHOTO BY KEN HAYDEN/COURTESY OF ROSEWOOD LE GUANAHANI HOTEL
What is the experience you are hoping to impart to Le Guanahani visitors? Authenticity and local DNA. It is important that guests feel they have been in the Caribbean on a French island in a small village rooted in the essence of this small piece of paradise. I hope they feel welcome, at home and comfortable.
Photography by: Photo Courtesy: Rosewood Le Guanahani Hotel