Owen Coleman is an entrepreneur and world class designer who has created and built many strategy and branding firms since his first design firm in 1966. After 30 years, he became partners with the Interpublic Group, forming the Coleman Worldwide Partnership, comprised of the finest brand design firms in 18 countries. His friendship and mentorship with those partners endures today.
His sense of architecture and interior design brought him the most important personal design project of his life: He created Caille Blanc Villa, a Boutique Residence in Soufriere, St.Lucia, on the most extraordinary mountain cliffside facing the majestic world heritage Pitons, jutting out of the Caribbean sea like the finger of God. Owen also selected the finest materials, antiques and furnishings from India, China and the United States. The individual buildings reflect the style of Santa Fe New Mexico and the antique Palace doors in the individual suites came from India and Afghanistan. The Colemans live in New York City, and their five grandchildren love to swim in their new St. Lucia 65 ft infinity pool.
What is it that you do exactly?
I’m an entrepreneur – I look at doing things and building businesses that are first and foremost fun, interesting, and exciting, and then they have to make sense financially. I’m extremely interested in the developments in the Caribbean, and I’ve recently attended the first Caribbean conference on hospitality, where the consensus was that the growth and economy is changing in that part of the world. I bought Caille Blanc when I could hardly afford to be in the Caribbean – I found it accidentally. It was a wonderful, romantic, exotic place to be for 15 years. I’d go there for school holidays with my wife, Ellen, and my son, Brad. I always had a dream and a vision of being on this special island and building an infinity pool at the edge of the cliff, where the Pitons could be sitting directly on top of the pool – and after years of creative dreaming (and some red tape), I was able to actualize that dream: I bought the adjacent property and expanded the 2 bedroom home into a village with 6 free-standing suites.
What would you say are the 3 best places you’ve ever stayed?
The oldest inn in Kyoto, Japan – a 350 year old inn, surrounded by a steaming, busy little city. When you enter the gates and the doors, it’s like getting into Shangri-La, a new world of peace and tranquillity.
A trip on the Sea Cloud II, a luxury sailing yacht that accommodates 60 people (+ 90 staff), sailing around the Italian Riviera – Porto Fino, Capri.
An incredible spa in Ouchy, Switzerland – in a palatial room with a soaking tub, facing the Swiss Alps; an indoor swimming pool with a glass wall that allowed you to swim underneath and come out on the outside.
What’s been your most memorable dining experience to date?
I recently became friends with chef Alain Sailhac, the Director of the Culinary Institute of New York, and his wife, Arlene, who started Degustibus. Whenever we go to dinner together, restaurants recognize him and start bringing out amazing dishes. We ate at the restaurant associated with the institute, and had a wonderful meal prepared by the young students, all wanting to impress their Director.
Have you rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, either through your work or your travels?
Of course I’ve encountered celebrities over the years – but I like to allow them to stay anonymous and have their privacy. I will say, however, that a wonderful place to rub shoulders with the famous is at the Red Rooster in Harlem – if you can get a reservation.
What currently ranks highest on your travel wish list?
I’d love to go back to safari in Africa, since my wife, Ellen, and I were married by the District Commissioner near the base of Kilamanjaro 30 years ago.
Thank you for taking part in our interview, Owen. I also have a soft spot for Tanzania as it’s where I chose for our honeymoon almost 10 years ago. I’d love to go back one day, too.