Architect Lauren Rottet Reimagines Barefoot Luxury At Anguilla’s Belmond Cap Juluca

By Carrie Coolidge, Contributor
Belmond Cap Juluca on Anguilla is one of the most luxurious resorts in the Caribbean. Edgardo Contreras

Belmond Cap Juluca, a five-star luxury resort on the island of Anguilla, is bound to impress both its loyal repeat clients as well as new guests, as it is now better than ever. World-renowned architect, Lauren Rottet of Rottet Studio, along with her New York based team, David Davis, partner, and James Cull, design director, are the creative minds behind the beachfront property’s extensive $121 million renovation. Belmond Cap Juluca offers 66 guest rooms, 42 suites, four restaurants, a cocktail lounge, bar, spa and an infinity pool.

Guest rooms and suites offer stunning views of the sea. Each guest room comes with two elegant chaise loungers reserved on the beach. Edgardo Contreras

A Resort That Has Been Reimagined

Cap Juluca’s comprehensive transformation is described by Rottet as “reimagined” as opposed to “renovated”.  “The property was always a favorite for many who had come from all parts of the world year after year, but it had declined over the years and was a shell of its potential,” she explains. “We kept the “barefoot” luxury feel but elevated the experience.”

Transforming an already iconic hotel into a better version of itself, is nothing new to Rottet whose extensive portfolio of work includes such hotel projects as The Four Seasons in Chicago, Illinois, The Four Seasons in Houston, Texas, The Surrey Hotel in New York City, Loews Regency in New York City, The Ritz Carlton in Los Angeles, California, and The St. Regis in Aspen, Colorado, just to name a few.

Although Rottet achieved stellar results, the project wasn’t without its share of bumps in the road. Not long after she started working on the resort in mid-2017, Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm that was one of the most powerful ever recorded in the Atlantic, blew through Anguilla causing extensive damage throughout the flat island. The first model room review at the resort was scheduled shortly afterward. “We all went there, including the owners and team from Belmond, and stayed in modest private residences not destroyed by the storm,” she recalls. “The entire island was on generator, there was one location serving food and we had to time our showers and electrical usage. We could not charge our phones and were all worried how we would wake up in time for the model room review in the morning. It turned out not to be a problem as the roosters crowed at the crack of dawn. The locals were amazing and took great care of us. We all felt a part of the recovery process.”

Architect Lauren Rottet of Rottet Studio. Damian Miranda (courtesy of the Naftali Group)

Rottet had her work cut out for her. The original structures were built in 1988 with an architectural style that can best be described as Greco-Moorish, but the interiors needed attention. “The architecture is well-suited for the look and feel of the island as well as for holding up under the pressures of hurricanes, but the interiors were not sympathetic to the architectural style,” she says. “They were disjointed and lacking a distinct point of view.”

The Texas native spent time on the property and envisioned a storyline of what it could reflect—-a fantastical home of an English aristocrat who sailed to Anguilla for the riches of the Caribbean and who fell in love with the island life there. “He built a compound for his family on Maundays Bay,” she explains. “By using the island’s sand and stones to build, he patterned the architecture after the stark white Greco-Moorish villas that held up so well to the ocean’s storms.” The compound included a main house and a series of cottages for guests coming the long distance from Britain. Over the years, the home and cottages were filled with an eclectic mix of fine British Colonial furnishings and art and locally made goods.

Maundays Club at Belmond Cap Juluca. Courtesy of Belmond Cap Juluca

The architect says her inspiration came naturally after spending time on the property, walking barefoot through the sand, picking wild flowers on the rock outcroppings by the edge of the sea, swimming to breakfast and dining on locally grown greens and vegetables, along with the daily fresh catch. “We wanted the feeling to be natural ”barefoot luxury” with as little as possible between the guest and the sea—-as close to Swiss Family Robinson or Gulliver’s Travels as possible, but with the Belmond unspoken luxury and service style. Belmond is very good at immersing you in their brand – nothing predictable, nothing too forced or pretentious, just exquisitely found, designed and curated for the ultimate experience in the Caribbean Bay.”

Guests at the property experience a relaxed open-air luxury. “We did not so much design Belmond Cap Juluca like a hotel, but more like a restoration of an imaginary family island compound. This is the way it feels – like it is your home and it is for the week or months you stay in “barefoot luxury”.

Belmond Cap Juluca is located on the island of Anguilla in the British West Indies. Copyright © Richard James Taylor.

A Resort That Is Ahead of Its Time

Belmond Cap Juluca has long been known for its healthy food with greens that are grown in a greenhouse on property and serving fish that is freshly caught locally from the sea.

The largely open-air resort is also environmentally healthy as it offers many health and safety features that are now in demand by the discerning traveler. Guests are met at the airport and transported in a hotel car that has been sanitized. They are greeted as they arrive by staff with minted clean cool hand towel and they check in under the canopy of the open-air pavilion or they are simply greeted and given the keys to their buggy and villa. Should a guest not want to interface with others, they can go straight to their villa, ride in their own sanitized buggy or bike or walk or swim anywhere on property with a great deal of privacy.

The open air lobby at Belmond Cap Juluca. Edgardo Contreras

Long before the Covid-19 pandemic, Rottet was integrating health precautions into her designs, as her father was an ear, nose and throat doctor well known for his natural and holistic treatments. For example, Rottet consults with mechanical engineers to find the best ways to keep indoor air clean and fresh. “In my opinion this is the biggest health issue,” she says. “There are filters, ionizers, purifiers, etc. but the best thing is to keep humidity down and a LOT of fresh air coming in.” “I have long loved the idea of a wash basin at the entry of the restaurant,” she explains. “I had seen this on the ancient Greek island and because people literally walk barefoot or sometimes swim across the bay to dine, I felt it would be welcomed.”

The Infinity edge swimming pool at Belmond Cap Juluca. Edgardo Contreras

For Belmond Cap Juluca, Rottet found a huge block of local limestone and had it carved into a wash basin. She had bowls of the native salts placed on top of it so guests could have a salt scrub hand wash before going in to eat.  

The demand for health and wellness is everywhere right now and is somewhat new as a focus for hotels. “We are blessed and lucky to have properties like Belmond Cap Juluca which is so open and naturally healthy,” says Rottet.

Visiting Cap Juluca

Rates at Cap Juluca start at $845 per room, per night in addition to a 22% government tax. There is currently availability for holiday bookings. The property will open on October 22, 2021 for its 2021/22 season.

Belmond Cap Juluca offers 66 guest rooms, 42 suites, four restaurants, a cocktail lounge, bar, infinity pool and spa. Copyright ©Richard James Taylor.

Visiting Anguilla

Visitors to Anguilla who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, must be fully vaccinated (last dose or only dose 21 days prior to arrival) to be granted entry to Anguilla. Visitors must also fill out an application form prior to scheduled travel. It includes the desired time frame of stay, proof of health insurance, and a negative PCR test within three to five days before arrival.

Upon arrival in Anguilla, a PCR test will be administered, and visitors will be asked to remain within the resort until receipt of your negative test result (results are usually received within six to twelve hours of testing). During this time, you may utilize any of the restaurants within the resort and enjoy the beach and beach services. Once you have received your negative rt-PCR test result, you can leave the resort and explore the island at will.

Face masks are required in the resort area, including restaurants, lobby and Main House. We can provide a single-use disposable mask for any guest needing one.

Belmond Cap Juluca asks all guests to undergo a contactless temperature check on arrival. Anyone who does not complete the check will not be permitted to enter the hotel.

Upon request and according to your travel requirements, a second PCR test can be administered on site prior to departure. Our team remains at your disposal to assist you with this process. Testing is subject to an additional fee. Test results will be provided by the Anguilla Health Department.

Travelers are encouraged to follow the pre-travel requirements from the Government of Anguilla at the Visit Anguilla website.

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