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Lau Izarrak: Paradise Found

The Virgin Islands invite some of the most positive and uplifting architectural design on the planet. With an ample amount of bright sunlight and saturated natural hues, the environment begs to be celebrated. High above Tortola’s northwestern-most beaches, within the serenity of Belmont Estate, Lau Izarrak stands as an illustrious testament to all that is bright and beautiful among these glorious islands.

The radiant pastels and cheerful charm of Belmont’s Lau Izarrak give this three-bedroom hillside hideaway an undeniable sense of energy and aliveness. I visited the tucked-away home with Sotheby’s Maritha Keil during a dewy morning in November.

A short drive from Long Bay and Smugglers Cove, the Belmont home exists within one of the most prestigious neighbourhoods on Tortola. A long driveway through almost two acres ensures privacy and seclusion, and the home’s cheerful glow welcomes its guests.

As we disembark our vehicles, I first notice the on-property garage—a rare treat in the Virgin Islands, where the extra storage space always comes in handy.

Tropical flora from the outside garden compliments the home’s bright yellow, pink and teal hues. As we approach the home, stonewalls meet a front gate, arched in ruin-like fashion and draped with green ferns. Exterior lighting custom designed by Trellis Bay’s Aragorn Dick-Reed is sturdily secured to both sides of the entrance.

The stonewall ruins stand out in bold contrast with the bright backdrop—a nod to a scene from a medieval fairytale. The home’s original architect, Michael Arneborg, has famously interspersed ruin-inspired stonewall with bright tropical hues through many of his homes. His work distinctively etches out a large portion of Belmont’s hillsides, where unique yet complimentary homes brighten the terrain.

As we enter the great room, I’m simultaneously cooled by the steady breezes and warmed by a bright, open setting within the main entertaining room.

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Maritha explained to me that each room intentionally remained open on all four sides to encourage the refreshing flow of our ample trade winds. Mexican Saltillo tile floors blend in harmony to connect the kitchen to the main room and verandah. Tall ceiling with sturdy beams overhead bring space and security to the room.

Within the kitchen, unique Louis Wells cabinetry shield the modern utilities, while hand painted tiles add an artistic splash behind the main cooking area. From the ceiling, a large centerpiece hangs as a rack for easy access to pots and pans—and acts as a unique attribute. A spacious pantry provides the perfect finishing touch to inspire culinary genius.

Dining most likely occurs outside, where a sheltered dining table and sitting area are arranged neatly near the pool and overlooking spectacular views over Smuggler’s Cove and St John and St Thomas. I can imagine entertaining friends or intimate dining under celestial skies most days of the week.

The pool acts as a centerpoint to the three separate but connected dwellings. Stonewall ruins bring coral stone walkways to a congregating point in the middle. In the summer, the light coral stone remains cool enough to provide a comfortable barefoot commute between rooms.

The master bedroom takes the commanding vantage point above the pool, with a spacious sleeping area and ensuite bathroom. The cozy bedroom uses a combination of glass and screen doors to invite cool breezes sans mosquitos, but AC units provide an alternative option for particularly hot days. Solid brass fixtures and fittings add a touch of detail to each door.

From the shower, the views amaze. I couldn’t think of a more invigorating way to start the day, or relaxing way to end one than from underneath an invigorating open-air shower. Like the great room, tall rafters provide extra comfort and protection throughout the home.

The guest bedrooms, which occupy the third bright bungalow on the property, enter with through a traditional foyer, lined with local artistry and bright scenes of Caribbean culture.

Because the home was originally owned by an interior decorator, the home currently remains decorated with particular attention to character and detail. For each room, an individual bathroom finds a strategic spot to bring in the magical views. Like the great room, the guest beds share a spacious verandah, ideal for admiring morning views over coffee or cozying in at night with a good book.

As our tour of the house ended, a gentle rain began to sheet the pool and gently pattered on the pink roofs, and I admired the views from under the great room’s shelter. Light rays emitted from beyond Long Bay and added to the seascape’s undeniable beauty. It’s these moments of serenity that we live for here in the Virgin Islands, and it’s homes like Belmont’s Lao Izarrak that help to truly encapsulate its beauty.

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