To be beautiful

DeckHouse sparkles with style.

Babazeka Sun. Image: RON ROSENZWEIG
The foyer featuring a Sharon Marston chandelier and Ruby Marr artwork. Image: STEPHEN CLARKE PHOTOGRAPHY

Babazeka Sun is the name of Heather and Steve Reynish’s new home, which is part of the DeckHouses development at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.

“We have lived as expatriates in a number of locations around the world including Africa,” says Heather. “Babazeka is a Zulu word meaning ‘to be beautiful’. We thought it was appropriate for this project; it is fun to pronounce and also adds a little bit of mystery.”

The couple bought the house lot in 2018 after considering other locations as far afield as Southeast Asia, Central America and the Mediterranean. They decided Grand Cayman was by far the best place, initially for a vacation home but with a view to eventually settling on the island.

Square dining table for eight, back-lit wine cabinet and unique art pieces. Image: STEPHEN CLARKE PHOTOGRAPHY

“With our children growing up and moving away, we had been looking for a warm place to start the next chapter of our lives for some time,” says Heather. “The combination of the weather, direct air links, language, law and order, and health facilities is difficult to beat from our perspective. The Ritz-Carlton connection adds an extra dimension.”

Heather and Steve then contracted design-and-construction firm Encompass, run by husband-and-wife team Eric and Tracey Kline, and began building mid-2019, with interior design provided by Decorators Unlimited of South Florida.

Step-down TV lounge with modern stainless steel circular elevator and concrete stairs to first floor. Image: RON ROSENZWEIG

“We wanted a two-storey, four-bedroom family house, approximately 6,500 square feet in size,” says Heather. “While we wanted something unique, it needed to meet the high standards of the Ritz DeckHouses development and ‘fit’ the style of the island.”

At that point, they planned to be overseas for a good amount of time during construction, but the sudden lockdown of the COVID pandemic, magnified the situation.

“This project could not have happened when it did without using email, WhatsApp, text, Dropbox, and Zoom meetings,” says Heather. “More importantly, the commitment by the Encompass team to keep us up-to-date and in the loop made all come together smoothly. At no point did we feel out of touch or blindsided.”

Importantly, Heather and Steve wanted a sense of space with large open-designed rooms and high ceilings and lots of light. They also asked for elevation-changes to create separate ‘conversation spaces’, without too many separate rooms, to facilitate family- and friend interactions in a communal area.

Upstairs landing. Image: RON ROSENZWEIG



The couple also desired a number of attention-grabbing ‘wow’ items such as the stair/elevator, chandeliers and artwork, to provide interest and conversation-starters.

The elevator is a mix of modern and industrial materials, creating a centrepiece of glass and stainless steel. A spiral staircase wraps around the elevator, with treads custom-made in concrete.

“We are delighted with the way it has turned out,” says Heather. “Given the variety of ceiling heights, we wanted to create a ‘wow’ with some of the lighting features. It was Tracey that identified Sharon Marston as a suitable supplier. Sharon’s unique designs are well known in the high-end hotel business for her ability to build a centrepiece that makes a loud statement.”

Bold art is found throughout the house, including an arresting triptych in the foyer by Ruby Marr, renowned locally for her ocean-inspired paintings. Other island artists include David Bridgeman and Carolyn Whitney, whose pieces have lots of colour and local flavour. Heather and Steve also have works from artist friends, as well as up-and-coming Royal Academy artists, and photographs that have personal meaning to the couple.

Fully equipped and built-in kitchen area, including butler’s pantry. Image: RON ROSENZWEIG


Pedestrian access to front door. Image: RON ROSENZWEIG

Tracey and Heather took the lead on the furnishings and fixtures using Encompass’s established contacts in the United States.

“We discovered very quickly that they had a similar sense of style,” says Heather. “Having built two homes previously, we (Heather and Steve) have a well-developed sense of what we like and don’t like, and we are able to make decisions quite quickly.”

One particularly important design detail was to have high countertops. “Our family is relatively tall, and we do not like to stoop,” Heather explains. The couple also plan to spend a lot of time outdoors, which the house’s location allows them to do.

The elevator is a centrepiece of glass and stainless steel. Image: STEPHEN CLARKE PHOTOGRAPHY

“At the property we have a variety of outside entertainment areas such as the garden, the pool area patio and the upstairs deck,” says Heather. “We have quick golf cart access to Seven Mile Beach to the west, and direct boat access to the North Sound to the east of us. We have access to the Ritz-Carlton amenities, including the golf course.”

After many months of following progress remotely, she and Steve were finally able to visit the property in November 2021 and both were delighted with their completed home.

“We are very excited to be able to entertain and create family memories on Grand Cayman and we hope that this property will become a family legacy for many years to come,” says Heather. “What is not to like?”


This article appears in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of InsideOut magazine, now available at magazine stands and delivered to select homes.