Last week we headed down to the pink sands of a paradise called Harbour Island in the Bahamas for a friend’s magical beach wedding. We stayed at the only Bahamian owned property on the beach, The Ocean View Club, and it was total perfection. Actually it wasn’t perfect. That is what we loved about it. Owner Ben Simmons and his girlfriend Charlie have a very bohemian vibe (bohemian Bahamians dare we say?) and the hotel is filled with an eclectic mix of furniture (chandeliers made out of clarinets) and slumbering dogs and cats, instantly giving your stay a welcoming feel. The staff is wonderful and thoughtful, catering to your every whim. My highlight was when one of the kind women welcomed me to breakfast and rattled off a delicious menu. She mentioned a special Bahamian omelet so I enquired, ‘What is in the special omelet?” She bellowed back with a big smile, “Whateva you want baby!” How we love island life.
Ben and Charlie are equally as amusing too and were a delight to spend time with. We thought it would be interesting to profile an island hotel owner about his personal style. Here is what Ben sent us:
A bit about Ben:
Born in the Bahamas I am half Canadian and was educated in Ireland. I’m a kite boarder and dog lover. I live and work on a small island that is about three miles long and 1/2 mile wide. It’s eastern side boasts an amazing beach of powdered pink sand – this was my playground as a child and in many ways it still is. I started my event business – Little Island Design about six years ago. I now run it with my other half Charlotte (Charlie). We provide decor and on-island logistical support for our clients, as well as crafting events that are organic and rich with a laid-back island elegance. We quickly evolved to become a sort of ‘pop up’ restaurant on the beach, armed with tents, trucks, generators, and excessive amounts of decorative paraphernalia. I have a profound obsession with starting new projects and an equally profound belief that no project is ever complete. As such I am pretty much a compulsive hoarder, but fortunately I’m in an industry that indulges and forgives this behavior…
As of last year we have taken over management of my family’s hotel (The Ocean View Club). Dogs, cats and an honor bar are all at your disposal. It’s different and not for everyone but many have passed through it’s doors. It has been an institution for the fashionistas of the 80s and 90s in search of pink sand and turquoise waters as well as for the family who wants an unfussy, quiet island getaway.
As a child I hated the fashion photo shoots on our beaches – I was the annoying kid in the background with a giant inflatable toy ruining the perfect shot, but I loved growing up in the hotel. I learned to cook, mix drinks, fix toilets and sinks, install lights and build stuff. Ocean View is a family run place and provides a unique blend of home and hotel that is disappearing in an era that is more and more particularized by investors and foreign ownership. It is in fact the last property owned by a local family on the beach and I’m proud that I have the opportunity to keep it going.
As for my personal style:
Jeans: Anything skinny and black until summer then I cut the legs off (this year All Saints printed cigarette jeans)
Shirts: White or black Zara tees with scoop necks.
Pants: Pipe chinos from All Saints.
Suits: Never owned one…
Shoes: I can safely say that I have been barefoot for at least 60% of my life, but if I have too I’m a Converse guy.
Accessories: After 6 years of compulsive hoarding I find myself avoiding any additional ‘stuff’…
Outerwear: Bahamian heat is usually unforgiving of too many layers..
Your favorite App: Close tie between the calculator, Instagram and ‘Find my iPhone‘.
Next tech purchase: Convection oven or a new iPad