Renovations at Caneel Bay Resort Keep Rockefeller’s Vision Alive

Caneel Bay Resort’s Cottage 7.

Renovations will soon be underway on guest rooms at Caneel Bay Resort in an effort to update the rooms while keeping alive resort founder Laurance Rockefeller’s vision of an eco-resort.

Two model rooms and Cottage 7, the original Rockefeller residence, already have been refurbished. The resort’s beachfront rooms are scheduled to be redone during the off season this year and the remaining rooms will be completed in 2007.

Lack of Repairs
Caneel Bay Resort, which was sold to Rosewood Hotels and a New York investment group in May 2004 by Deustch Bank, suffered from a lack of general repairs during the time it was on the market, according to Caneel Managing Director Rik Blyth.

“Because it was on the market for a number of years, there was a lack of infrastructural repairs,” he said.

Since the sale, Caneel Bay Resort has been focusing on more behind the scenes repairs, including rebuilding boat en-gines and replacing generators.

“We’ve gotten these out of the way,” said Blyth. “Last year, we started getting into the public areas, like redoing the bar and putting in new fabric and furniture in some of the restaurants and the breezeway. This year, we’re getting into the guest rooms.”

The renovation of the rooms will involve a shift away from the current Oriental decor, to a “mid-century modern beach house, like it was in the ’50s and ’60s,” said Blyth.


Caneel Bay Resort’s beachfront rooms, as shown above, will be receiving renovations during the off season this year.

Minimal Color
Color in the rooms will be kept to a minimum.

“There’s not a lot of color, because the color is outside,” he said. “We’ll use materials like teak and birch.”

The rooms will feature simple bamboo shades that roll from the bottom of the window up, offering privacy, while allowing guests to enjoy the view.

The renovations are part of the resort’s effort to get back to the simplicity that the resort offered when it opened in 1956. “We are very much trying to bring it back to that simplicity,” said Blyth. “We want to do things that are low-impact and that fit with the demographics of our guests. This lets people take advantage of our setting.”

Other changes at Caneel Bay Resort include the resurfacing of the tennis courts, which are now done in the “U.S. Open blue color,” said Blyth, and the installation of a croquet court.

Blyth said he got the idea to include croquet at Caneel Bay Resort after a family vacation to the Woodstock Inn in Vermont – a hotel the Rockefeller family was very involved with.

Low-Impact Activities
“It’s very simple, laid back and not impactful to the environment,” Blyth said.

Rosewood Hotels, which managed the resort for years before purchasing its 30 percent stake, and the New York investment group that owns the other 70 percent, are committed to keeping the resort in line with Rockefeller’s vision, Blyth added.

“The key with Caneel is that you have to change, but it has to be done at a slow pace that is sensitive to the history of the place,” he said. “It’s a classic property, and you need to be sensitive to that. The ownership is very sensitive to that as well.”