Friday, January 27, 2023

Eclectic, Sustainable, & Tropical: The Unpretentious Luxury of The Ray’s Interiors

As of late, many of my friends have escaped to Tulum to bask in its jungle-like landscape. But with the greatly anticipated opening of The Ray set for exactly one week from today, we won’t have to hop on a plane to find an oasis. Describing itself as Delray Beach’s “tropical luxury hotel,” there is no denying that The Ray is poised to become THE hotspot not just for out-of-towners, but for locals as well. 

This design-focused hotel is the vision of not one, but three award-winning interior design companies: Virserius Studio, Studio Munge, and Celano Design Studio. Each firm was tasked with designing different spaces, and yet they managed to create a cohesion throughout the property, while still leaving their own individual marks. “The design was done very separately between the different design firms to keep a great diversity of experiences for the guests,” confirmed Therese Virserius, Founder and Principal of Virserius Studio.

Upon entering The Ray, one can’t help but gravitate toward the lush surroundings of plants, including living walls, a rooftop floating forest, and a lush tree canopy. The lobby, designed by the team at Virserius Studio, was inspired by both Palm Beach and Italy’s Amalfi Coast in the 1930s and 1940s. Guests instantaneously feel the glamour upon entry, but it’s far from pretentious. In the Pineapple Grove Arts District of Downtown Delray Beach, there is a beach-like feel that anchors The Ray, making it incredibly welcoming. 

“[We] focused on making the guest a part of the design and part of the space,” Virserius shared. “We wanted the guest to experience it as if he and she were in their dream home. Imagine the bar as a kitchen island that you can walk around as you do at home enjoying southern, Florida style, crafted cocktails. The living space can showcase movies that are being projected on the center column. A long fireplace serves as a perfect place to curl up on a rainy day and the library is great to lounge in its sofas with friends and family. The result of our design was a complete transformation from gratuitous social space to an eclectic, sexy, yet non-intimidating experience.”

Each of the 141 rooms and suites, also designed by Virserius Studio, showcases an incredible attention to detail, from the custom-made furniture, to hand-woven rugs and to the hand-carved marble wainscoting (yes, marble) in the bathroom.

I had the opportunity to experience the hotel’s Ember Grill firsthand earlier this month. The cuisine by Chef Joe Zanelli was a culinary delight, but flanked with real plants while sitting at a banquette table, the tropical modern motif designed by Studio Munge is a fabulous co-star to the menu. When you’re there, make sure to take note of the massive fan-like light fixtures. They are show-stoppers! 

“Inspired by the Pineapple Grove Arts District’s eclectic vibe and tropical modernism, Ember Grill features a dynamic and connective layout celebrated with a storytelling combination of artisanal furnishings and custom details feathered with luxuriant vegetation,” said Alessandro Munge, Founder & Design Director of Studio Munge. “Designed as a botanical haven with an industrial edge, we marry sage and hunter greens with terracotta and burnt oranges. Soft textiles are juxtaposed with tanned leathers to engage the senses and ground the room with warmth and comfort. At the same time, glossy glazed ceramics and antique mirrors contrast matte rattan and natural oak, adding an energizing touch of shimmer to the soulful restaurant.”

Another featured space is the stunning experiential 22,000-square-foot Rosewater Rooftop, perfect for locals to meet, connect, and recharge. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been yearning for a stylish rooftop lounge outside of Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Also designed by Studio Munge, Rosewater Rooftop is flanked with sweeping baldachins, oversized umbrellas, and trellises and pergolas, with of course the continued use of lush foliage.   

And, if you haven’t heard this news yet, Michelin-starred Chef Akira Back is bringing his culinary talents to The Ray with his namesake restaurant designed by Celano Design Studio. Natural elements are used throughout the space with a sculptural cladding of undulating teak panels, floating wood liquor shelves, and a carved blue stained wood-front bar topped with marble. There are even personal touches to the decor—which I love—especially the round upholstered banquettes created from a painting by Chef Back’s mother.

“The main inspiration for Akira Back came from the area, Delray Beach,” said Vincent Celano, Founder & CEO of Celano Design Studio. “The sensation of walking on the pristine beaches, the glow of the sunset and the natural surroundings provided tones, sensations, and textures that were combined to bring forward a dynamic and inviting space that’s deeply rooted in the area but with an Akira Back twist.”

The Ray’s sustainable aesthetic is an eclectic marriage of natural and local materials, custom carpets and mosaic flooring, textures, live plants, and large-scale art. I’m inclined to keep on gushing about The Ray’s interiors, but we’ll all get to discover this new gem in Delray Beach very soon. In the meantime, sign me up for a staycation! 

The Ray Hotel, 233 NE 2nd Ave, Delray Beach; 561/739-1700;

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Olivia Hollaus
Olivia Hollaus
Olivia Hollaus is the Founder and Creative Director of Protect My Shoes, a brand focused on creating stylish, sustainable, and practical shoe care products. She loves fashion, design, and all things fabulous, so she’s always on the lookout for what’s new and unique. Aside from running her own business, Olivia is the proud mom of two boys who keep her on her toes. IG: @protectmyshoes

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