A dose of Tulum bohemia, a dash of Harbor Island flair, Kamalame is a dreamy island retreat and an incredibly personal testament to one family’s love for the Bahamas.
Born and raised in post-colonial Jamaica, Brian and Jennifer Hew came of age in an era when the island nation was a jewel of the Commonwealth; its sultry, tropical ambiance steeped in British and Caribbean heritage. The children of generations-old local families; they met in grade school when Brian would save his allowance to buy Jennifer sweets. They’ve been together ever since.
In the 1970’s, with the political climate shifting violently, many long established Jamaican families departed and resettled abroad. Just married, Brian and Jennifer landed on the shores of Florida, where they launched a large plant nursery and started a family. With toddlers David and Kimmie in tow, the Hews regularly sailed into the nearby Bahamas where, a decade later, they would come across the deserted island that would become their home.
An untouched atoll in the Andros archipelago, just off the spectacular Great Barrier Reef, there was only one problem: Could they convince the Bahamian government to sell them Crown land? Yes—but only if they agreed to build a hotel in the middle of nowhere. An isolated, 96-acre slip of sand that’s only neighbour was the largest, yet least developed, island in The Bahamas, where there was little population and even less infrastructure.
Uniquely unfazed, the Hews purchased the Cay in 1994, named it for its red bark trees, and set about bringing the basics—electricity, plumbing, water—over from Andros. Jennifer designing the beach houses while Brian oversaw building crews, they imported limestone and wood for construction, introduced thousands of palm trees, and layered the landscape with hibiscus and bougainvillea, frangipani and ginger-lily. Transforming their newly christened Kamalame Cay from scrub grass and sand into a flowering tropical jungle scattered with a custom-built collection of classic West Indies cottages, villas, and bungalows.
A lush private island sanctuary that evoked their treasured island heritage, the Hews created an extraordinary environment, far beyond the bustle of the modern world, where they could enjoy—and share—the idyllic tropical lifestyle they’d grown up with. Grandma Nellie sewing the original curtains, while a 12-year-old David hung the artwork and Uncle Peter drilled in the towel racks, the birth of Kamalame—launched 1996 with just three beach houses and the Great House; luggage delivered by wheelbarrow—was a true family affair. A tradition now in it’s second decade with Kimberley Hew running the Reservations Office while her brother David, and his husband Michael King, have taken over the resort’s Operations; bringing their own remarkable, next generation, flair to Kamalame.
As David earned an Art History degree in Miami, then worked in prestige galleries, London’s Tim Jeffries among others, Michael, originally from New Zealand, followed his advertising career across Sydney, Zurich and Washington, before landing in Toronto as a publisher of luxury lifestyle magazines. Well-traveled food and design aficionados, Michael and David made Kamalame their permanent home in 2012. Pooling their international panache, they reimagined the island’s cuisine program, enhanced the wine and spirits lists, refreshed décor, guided fresh directions in interiors and architecture, and introduced social and culinary events that draw a stylish crowd over from Nassau.
In 2016, Travel & Leisure named Kamalame Cay ‘BEST HOTEL IN THE BAHAMAS, CARIBBEAN, AND BERMUDA’.
Praised for its relaxed chic, natural charm, and authentic island lifestyle, Kamalame remains the very antithesis of the corporate luxury hotel. Here, a bikini and sarong count as dressed for dinner, every guest is treated as family, and the atmosphere is as much gracious vibe (and chilled Rose…) as spectacular setting.