Known not only for her rich expertise in luxury multifamily residential interiors but also for her international hotel and historical renovations, Montreal born Alexandra Champalimaud is known for her lush interiors and iconic designs. With a history of infusing legacy spaces with modernity, her Champalimaud Design Team, blends tradition with once-in-a-lifetime style. Case in point, their recent work on the re-restoration of a majestic ski chalet on Eagles Nest in Vail, Colorado and their celebrated facelift of the 800 year old, 27 bedroom, Monkey Island Estate on the River Thames.
Tucked into the mountainside, the spectacular ski-in/ski-out residence we’re featuring is boldly situated on the side of Eagle’s Nest in Vail, Colorado, where it boasts endless views of the surrounding slopes. Champalimaud and her team were called in to tame some of the original design decisions made during a previous restoration, and to create a relaxed, comfortable space that also embraces the formal nature of the property.
Drawing on the beauty of the surrounding landscape and fir trees, the interiors have been nearly entirely panelled with exotic Koa wood, providing an inescapable sense of grandeur and elegance. The home’s rooms are large, with soaring ceilings and a double-height living room. With the challenge of harnessing the house’s opulence while creating an intimate family space, everything from the walls to accessories and furnishings in each room has been meticulously thought out to complement the charm and personality of the chalet’s owners
Champalimaud has also worked in the UK on a number of properties, but the Monkey Island Estate is one of the most admired. Located in the village of Bray-on-Thames in Berkshire, where many have enjoyed a fabulous meal or two at one of several Michelin-starred eateries, the historic Monkey Island Estate is a perfectly elegant home-away-from-home for its guests. Here, the respected interior design team took the listed heritage building and tastefully and sustainably modernized it to become a comfortable English country house hotel. Their timeless re-creation is a tribute to the island’s storied history, with custom furnishings that have been carefully selected to add newfound glamour to the estate.
Set across seven acres on an island in the River Thames, with a rich history dating back over hundreds of years, the hotel’s interiors were transformed room by room. Work involved breathing new life into spacious bedrooms and suites, as well as a range of dining options, including The Monkey Island Brasserie, with stunning vaulted ceilings and a lovely open kitchen, The Monkey Bar, with its charming garden terrace, and The Monkey Room, which has a Grade 1 listed, 17th century frescoed ceiling. There is even a secret staircase leading to the charming Whisky Snug, where many a merry evening has been spent enjoying a wee dram or two and one-of-kind views over the Thames. While working on their plan, the design team looked to the original structures on the land as inspiration for their design vocabulary, including the richly historical Temple and Pavilion buildings, which were constructed
by Charles Spencer, the third Duke of Marlborough, in the late 1730s.
By melding garden elements throughout, from the stunning botanical wall-covering in the entry hall of the Pavilion to the lattice-covered ballroom and restaurant terraces, the new design celebrates the soulfulness of the original Robert Morris buildings. The famed Andieu de Clermont paintings of monkeys dressed in finery and engaging in human-like activities have been retained and lovingly restored. The upholstery fabrics are inspired by the monkeys’ crimson and blue clothing.
Over time, a flock of peacocks has come to call the island home and Champalimaud has paid tribute to the fanciful birds through the River Room’s bespoke wallpaper. Lodging interiors are influenced by the boats making their way along the river, with their warm greys, deep blues and caramels perfectly framing the colours of the gardens.
The perfect home away from home.