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A Great Escape

More than part of what makes a vacation truly rejuvenating is that feeling that everything is taken care of. A sense of being pampered while still having all the comforts of home will make any vacation extra restful. It makes sense that any home should be designed to be highly functional and a little bit indulgent, but this is exceptionally true when creating a “home away from home” vacation property or rental experience.

OBMI senior designer James McDonald loves the challenge of creating a vacation home that has all the creature comforts of our modern world while simultaneously embracing the environment, climate and culture of the Caribbean. He also welcomes the tough task of bridging the gap between a desire for connectivity and ease with a need for rest and “unplugging” that our society craves.

Location, Location, Location

The true experience of “getting away from it all” includes immersion in the local environment. In the Caribbean, this means local stone, pitched roofs with large overhangs and spectacular ocean views. Glass walls, multi-level living spaces and materials that not only embrace the climate but make it more comfortable are all an important part of the design phase. Location comes into play when choosing technologies that make island living more spectacular as well, and it’s best to dream big early, then hone the smart home wish list as the design develops.


Fabulous and Functional

When thinking about incorporating smart home technology into the design of a vacation home or rental villa, it’s best to consider how often it will be used and the areas that will be utilized most often. If entertaining is an important part of the desired lifestyle, ample space, as well as unique technological touches, can make a home extraordinary. Home offices, outdoor areas and even garages are incorporating smart technology, so determining how the home will be used most is a great place to begin.

Up to Speed

As technology forges ahead at breakneck speed, there are numerous ways to incorporate these new features into homes to make living in them not only easier, but safer and more affordable.

“For both vacation homes and holiday rentals, adding some worthwhile smart home equipment can also enhance the value of your property,” said McDonald.

Saving on utility bills is a simple way to enjoy smart home technology. From learning thermostats to smart light bulbs that automatically turn on and off depending on a room’s activity, it’s easy to see how these technologies could be especially beneficial in a rental home. Security cameras that can be accessed via smartphone or tablet while away from the property can also allow a certain peace of mind when the home is not occupied.

An experienced architect can incorporate smart home technology into any space and make it look smart too. OBMI recently integrated LG Art Cool Gallery air conditioning into a home, making energy-efficient cooling unobtrusive and even elegant with the incorporation of a gallery-style frame to conceal the unit. The following properties are spectacular examples of how good design and smart home technology can beautifully enhance island living.

Nevaeh Villa

An entertainment dream, the Nevaeh Villa in Anguilla features a dedicated home theatre with a multi-zone audio system and iPad dock with video features that allows you to see smart tech activity in real time. The front entry boasts a wall-mounted touch panel media centre for controlling sound in any room, and the outdoor areas are equipped with speakers in the ceiling and in the ground, all controlled by a sleek touch panel.

Cheemaun Villa

Inside the exclusive Oil Nut Bay community on Virgin Gorda, Cheemaun Villa is not only beautiful but full of technologies that make it even more luxurious. Motorized screens make indoor-outdoor living simple and easy, while reflected lighting for high ceilings – both indoors and out – can be controlled to just the right level with software. This beachfront home receives ample sunlight through the floor to ceiling windows and doors in the great room so designers incorporated motorized screens to reduce heat and protect furniture.

On the Wild Side

Also located in Oil Nut Bay on Virgin Gorda, On the Wild Side Villa is the only property to have both north and south sound views. The thoughtful design of the home was intended to give every area the appropriate shade for sun protection and cooling effects. Not only is the spectacular home beautiful, but each room is equipped with wireless audio technology, and the LED lighting incorporated to outdoor areas can change colour and be dimmed to create just the right ambience for entertaining. Motorized shades to reduce heat and save energy costs while bathroom windows become instantly more private with a flip of a switch to produce frosted glass.

Poseidon’s Perch Villa

Perfect for the music lover or anyone wanting top-notch audio technology, Poseidon’s Perch in Oil Nut Bay has docking stations in the kitchen, great room and master bedroom. Recessed speakers blend seamlessly into the interior design, while “rocks” conceal speakers in the outdoor pavilion area. The master bedroom’s deck also features surface mount speakers, and all music and TVs are controlled via iPads with property-wide wifi.

Bringing the Dream to Life

With the ever-increasing number of technology options, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. This is where an experienced team comes into play, and why good technology integration takes place in the design phase of a project. A seasoned architect will know how to incorporate different items into the home, while an AV engineer will understand all of the “behind the scenes” items that need to be in place.

Another item to consider is a totally tech-free zone. Due to the literal onslaught of technology a person deals within just one day, quiet, tech-free zones are becoming popular places to unplug. An owner’s respite away from the rest of the house, a private oasis can be a no-phone, no-computer place to relax, unwind and simply enjoy some quiet. This is particularly important in vacation homes or rentals, where owners can keep a space totally to themselves and inaccessible to renters. A refuge space that is calm, encourages human interactions, and features an abundance of natural light and greenery is the perfect place to enjoy a home away from home.

Whether you’re wanting lights that dim automatically depending on the time of day or a full-on smart home with voice-assisted technology, anything is possible with good design and a big imagination.


Sara Sherman
Sara Sherman is a former St. Thomas resident and the editor of Virgin Islands Property & Yacht.
Sara Sherman

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