Part of the magic of a vacation is the physical departure from one country to another. There is also something to be said for escaping to a locale that isn’t overrun with tourists; one that promises actual escape, peace and respite.
It’s no surprise that visitors both local and from abroad flock to Little Cayman for just these reasons. Thanks to endless stretches of beach, phenomenal flora and fauna and eclectic, deserted island vibes, the littlest gem of our three islands is no longer our own local well-kept secret. These days, the smallest of the Cayman Islands is more of a protected lifestyle sanctuary; a place where “island life” is still as simple as finding the next fresh fish or strolling the beach for the perfect sea shell.
Those who have visited Little Cayman know that the island’s homes and places of business follow a certain, unfussy vernacular. The structures are simple, often adorned with charming Caribbean-style shutters, lattice work and sand yards. The secret it seems of “Little” is not so much where you stay, but how you choose to use your space for the utmost reward in rest and inspiration.
Such was the challenge Natalie Urquhart took on when helping her parents, Claire and Sydney Coleman, decorate the family’s second vacation villa at Neptune’s Berth, located at the end of historic Blossom Village. They had initially purchased at Neptune’s in 2005.
“We’d been visiting Little Cayman sporadically since we were children and had been visiting more frequently by the early 2000s, staying with friends,” says Natalie. “We all fell in love with the peace and tranquility of the island.”
“Number eight” became the family’s go-to retreat, with the Colemans, their four daughters and extended family regularly hopping over for weekends and holidays. In 2015, the family purchased Neptune’s number six with the mixed mission of hosting family when needed and extending this special brand of Little Cayman living beyond just relatives and friends.
“Our family was growing and we all love to visit,” Natalie says. “To accommodate everyone at once, it seemed a great idea to purchase a second unit when it came on the market. It also doubles as a vacation rental.”
“Clean” and “fresh” were the words that came to mind when Natalie began outfitting the family’s new retreat.
“We wanted to honor the essence of Little Cayman and “beach living” in general so the unit is very simple and family friendly,” she says.
In order to give traditional Caymanian items such as thatch baskets and hats a contemporary feel, the design process started with a clean canvas of pure white paint with white wooden cabinets and pale grey granite. Accents and accessories in shades of blue punctuate the space and reflect the colors of ocean and sky.
“Being in Little Cayman brings amazing mental clarity, so it was important that the décor reflected that.”
Working from an aesthetically modern design base gave Natalie the bandwidth to incorporate a rich selection of local and found accessories into Neptune’s number eight. Wielding her characteristically creative eye, she made a DIY wall feature from three thatch hats perched jauntily above a sofa. Rattan footstools provide more rustic beach house flair and also cleverly double as extra seating and “conversational areas.”
“In keeping with a tradition in Little Cayman, there are lots of “found” objects from the beach, the results of hours of beachcombing.”
Fun and function
As much as Neptune’s number six is chic, it is also durable and easy to maintain – something that was a key factor for Natalie when installing furnishings and décor.
“You don’t want a beach house that you’re worried about bringing sand into, so we created an environment that encouraged people to relax and enjoy being directly on the beach,” she says.
Every space in the unit lends itself to effortless outdoor living. The main dining area is on the patio alongside a double hammock. The couch and chair covers in the living room can be pulled off and laundered. At every corner, there is a beach basket, hats or a stack of books.
“Most of all, the simplicity of the décor means it’s very easy to open up and leave without a lot of work.”
Leaving may just have been the most difficult part of this design exercise for Natalie and her family. Between the laidback interior of Neptune’s Berth and the luxuriously bohemian lifestyle of Little Cayman, this unique retreat is both elegant and effortless.
“Our family works in many different sectors and have different interests but all of us find that Little Cayman is a wonderful place to reconnect, both to Cayman’s stunning natural environment and to each other,” she says. “We always feel grateful for the time we have together there.”