Sam de Teran, the owner of the Cobblers Cove hotel in Barbados, has an impressive bio: She’s a former fashion designer and sportswear brand owner; a china designer who designed all of the plates and cups at Cobblers Cove; and a children’s book author (under the name Sam Angus) whose best-selling book Soldier Dog will become a movie in 2021. She also designed the hotel over the past five years and has most recently worked with British furniture design firm Soane Britain to bring a fresh new look to the property. She has five children, two dogs, and many horses. But she still found time to chat.
The goal of the hotel’s decor is to embody British elegance with Caribbean charm. Why did you select Soane Britain for the collaboration? What will guests notice in the rooms and decor?
Soane Britain was a natural and obvious partnership, not only for their extraordinarily beautiful rattan furniture, which paired so well with what we were already doing and with our location, but also for the Old World grace and elegance of their aesthetic. Most importantly though, is that the Soane aesthetic combines elegance and grace with charm and humor and joy. Charm is particularly important because it is difficult to achieve. Cobblers Cove has always been known for its charm—the charm of its staff, its location, and its gardens, but now the furnishings embody this too. Guests will find Soane’s exquisite linen fabrics throughout the hotel, as well as their inimitable Ripple Console table and the Fern furniture in the drawing room, which was created especially for us and colored in a Messel green. Everything Soane worked on for us has elements that are key to Cobblers: colonial elegance, country house comfort, and Caribbean charm.
What has changed about the suites and public areas during the five-year refurbishment?
So much has changed, but the whole color scheme is the biggest thing, back to a coral pink and white woodwork from the original Great House. Overall, everything feels brighter, larger, fresher, breezier, and more glamorous. The bathrooms are bigger and airier, and the suites generally have been opened up, glass windows have been removed and replaced with plantation shutters for a through breeze. All cushions and pillows have feathers, not foam, so everything is as comfortable and restful as it can possibly be.
We try to source everything either from the island itself or from within the wider Caribbean. For example, the handmade rush matting is made for us in the jungle in Guyana; coral stone floors come from St. Vincent; ceramic lamps are made to my specification on the island; artwork for the walls has been commissioned from local artists, and all the original rattan furniture in the rooms was made for us on the island in the 1970s. In the gardens, herbaceous borders are being replaced by indigenous palms and ferns. We even have our own palm house in which to cultivate rare palms.
The whole environment now gives the guest a very strong sense of the place. I think this, to the discerning, thoughtful traveler, is an important thing.
What are your favorite things to eat at the on-site restaurant, Camelot?
At breakfast, without fail, I always have either the smoked flying fish with poached tomatoes or the crab eggs benedict, plus some paw paw [an exotic fruit] with banana bread. I’m at my most greedy at breakfast after a morning swim. For lunch, I’m a creature of habit. I always have Barker’s Catch, and I have it blackened with an avocado or mango salsa. Barker is the hotel fisherman. In the evening, I’d choose one of the plates of the day, but I always finish with the island grown Sleepy Tea and a shared plate of homemade truffles made with Grenadian chocolate.
What is the “dream” suite at the hotel, in your opinion?
The Camelot suite is heavenly and better than ever since Soane Britain waved their wand over it all. You can lie in bed and look out through the seaweed lace curtains of the four-poster bed directly over the sea, and I think it has the loveliest and largest verandas of all the suites.
What does a perfect day at Cobblers Cove look like?
Swim first thing across the bay and back, enjoy smoked flying fish for breakfast, then pick a shady sun lounger and kick back with a book enjoying the stream of sorbets, fresh fruit, and ice waters brought to you. Go water skiing just before lunch, then have a rum punch while the steel band plays. After lunch, head back to a sun lounger and enjoy reading until tennis at dusk, then a barbecue on the beach. If it were a very perfect day, there’d be a full moon over the bay, flying fish playing down the path of the moon stream, and baby turtles hatching in the sand under my feet.
Tell me your most insider tips for staying at the hotel. What should guests look out for?
Look at the very early maps of the island that date back to the 1700s and the botanical artwork by local artist Hilary Alexander throughout the hotel, which reflects the planting in the gardens. Find a pair of fabulous oil paintings that are a sort of Caribbean take on chinoiserie, created by a friend, Miranda Johnston.
Ogle all the fabulous Soane Britain rattan furniture in the Great House Hall and Drawing Room.
Mostly just enjoy the sun loungers—they’re covered in toweling and are the deepest and most comfortable sun loungers you will find anywhere, and they lie beneath the most glamorous double-decker fringed, candy-striped sunshades. Swim with the turtles that live in the bay and look out for the hatchlings on the beaches. Book the boat to take you for a full barbecue picnic at the lovely Maycocks Bay.
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