Palm Beach-based Kemble Interiors puts its stamp on Boca Grande’s historic Gasparilla Inn & Club with a makeover that marries whimsy with vibrant, coastal-chic decor.
A new Beach Cottage at Gasparilla Inn & Club
Since 1911, Gasparilla Inn & Club has been a beacon of vacation splendor on Gasparilla Island’s Boca Grande. Having undergone numerous renovations and expansions, and hosting tycoons like J.P. Morgan, Henry Ford and Henry Plant throughout its centurylong history, the historic hotel has perfected the art of keeping up with the Joneses—all, of course, in signature hospitable style. Most recently, Palm Beach-based Kemble Interiors led the charge in a reimagining of the Beach Club and the addition of nine two-, three- and four-bedroom beachfront cottages that infuse modern appeal while remaining true to the inn’s classic Old Florida charm.
“We are thrilled to offer our first gulf-front accommodations, where people can enjoy the sunset from their balcony and walk 30 feet to the beach,” says General Manager Jon Reecher
“The setting of Boca Grande is unique in itself,” says Kemble Interiors’ Cece Bowman. “Cars give way to golf carts, and the island has preserved its charm by curbing most commercial development. … This informed our work to feel casual but transportive,” she continues. “We wanted people to feel as though they were in the well-appointed beach house of a friend, but they never had to worry about overstaying their welcome.” In keeping with the oceanfront locale, the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico are never far from mind. In the Beach Club, a showpiece of a 23-foot fireplace mantel is covered in colorful seashell specimens, the walls of the lounge are plastered with memorabilia such as fishing rods and watercolors from local artists, and the chandelier in the dining room features glass bubbles with schools of swimming fish. “It was a heart-stopping installation,” Bowman recounts.
Pastel and citrus hues paint the cottage’s full kitchens
The oceanic theme continues in the cream and light-blue exteriors of the Beach Cottages, where walls showcase handpainted sea creatures and tropical foliage, verandas overlook the sugar-sand beach and a newly constructed pool and cabana, full kitchens boast convenient eat-in dining, and bedrooms celebrate the tranquility of the water. “We hope it feels more house than hotel,” Bowman says, “and if decoration tells you how to behave, we hope the rooms tell you to relax, have fun and never take yourself too seriously.”
The decor celebrates coastal-chic aesthetic, with blue tones, wicker and rattan furnishings and accents, and vintage finds. Kemble Interiors’ Cece Bowman calls the design “‘friendly’ because the property is welcoming, playful and approachable at every turn”
The vacation-ready mentality of Gasparilla Inn & Club flows throughout the entire property. “The character of the Gasparilla Inn has a Southernness about it,” she adds. “The inn is clad in wood with a balcony surrounded in Chippendale fretwork. The ceilings of the verandas are painted a pale sky blue. It’s a place you would feel happy to idle away an afternoon in a wicker rocking chair with a book. It is the stark opposite of the Florida square-stucco hotel that is ubiquitous here. We maintained this personality throughout the renovations by using plenty of vintage pieces and architectural elements that connect back to the original structures.”
The nine Beach Cottages have two-, three- and four-bedroom options
Says Gasparilla Inn General Manager Jon Reecher, “The beauty of this island is that you don’t need a strict schedule—you can truly relax.” From an expanded Beach Club menu with options ranging from the grilled avocado plate to mahi sandwiches and reimagined lounge spaces to family-friendly beach games, shelling expeditions and pools, Gasparilla Inn is the authority on hospitality. “The level of service and attention that our employees have every day is remarkable,” he says. “They truly take pride in the place they work, and it shows. The renovation and expansion have been a wonderful project for us long in the making, but what truly sets us apart is the people.”
Life under water is depicted in the handpainted murals. “The artists were on-site for three months creating these fanciful designs,” says Bowman
Following its annual summer hiatus, Gasparilla Inn & Club will reopen for the season beginning Oct. 7. Beach Cottages $1,590-$2,490 per night, the-gasparilla-inn.com
Photography by: Photos by CARMEL BRANTLEY