- March 31st, 2012
- in Yachting
Comprised of Frenchmans Lookout and Frenchmans Paradise
“Frenchmans Lookout is the most beautiful place I have ever stayed in the Caribbean.” —Supermodel Kate Moss
Frenchmans Estate, a two-home, four-lot complex on three acres that comes with a powerboat docked nearby, offers unrivaled excellence fit for celebrities, royalty and the wealthy elite. The location blooms with bougainvillea, coconut palms, neem, mahogany trees, and fragrant plumeria atop Frenchmans Cay—an islet connected to the west end of Tortola by a small bridge near Sopers Hole Marina. The estate commands some of the most spectacular views in all of the Caribbean from sunrise to sunset.
I first heard about Frenchmans Lookout, the topmost home on this sprawling estate, when writing about the host locations of the 2009 Winemakers Dinners. Through my research, I discovered that the villa was the preferred Caribbean retreat of Kate Moss and other high-profile guests. The name of the property originates from when pirates used this location as a lookout. I next came across the house in July 2010 when a date asked, as we sailed through the Sir Francis Channel between Tortola and St John, if I knew anything about the stunning property on the hill—identifiable by its deep, unrivaled, two-story wraparound porch. I told him what I knew but looked forward to seeing the property first-hand.
I recently did so, and despite the passing glance from miles away on a sailboat, the photos on the website and the testimonials, I was not prepared for the pristinely appointed yet relaxed architecture, furnishings, landscaping and décor of this divine house—the height of class on Tortola. The entire estate stands strong against the elements and has been designed with the best of materials and workmanship.
The plantation style design combined with meticulous attention to detail make this property unique to anything I’ve seen in the Virgin Islands—it’s a perfect fusion of an estate from the pages of Southern Living with the wisdom of Caribbean vernacular design. The ten-and-a-half-foot-deep, two-story, covered wraparound porches—reminiscent of antebellum plantations in Louisiana—serve as the property’s striking signature feature, doubling the villa’s space and offering breezy locations for dining, reading, lounging, entertaining or swinging on one of the eight hammocks in each of the corners. The southwest corner overlooks the barefoot wonderland below—dense lawns, stone pathways, blooming gardens, padded lounge chairs, natural boulders and a dark-bottomed pool. The inviting L-shaped pool features an elongated section for swimming laps and a wider, shallow section for splashing around with friends or kids. Behind the pool, under the majestic palms, rests a gazebo with a professional barbecue and a bar for having sunset cocktails while overlooking views that cannot be taken for granted. Islands, beaches, mountains and cays extend from the foreground to the horizon, showcasing multi-layered vistas that belong in the movies.
Inside, the impeccably outfitted décor evokes classic films, from the opulent Savannah, Georgia plantations in Gone with the Wind to the creekside ease of Seabrook Island, South Carolina in The Notebook. The furnishings and art are beyond compare. Majestic European antiques, fine drawings, artwork, and contemporary pieces combine to make an interior which is both graceful and functional. Gentle winds, boosted by ubiquitous ceiling fans, sweep the fresh sea air through the 10’-high doorways between 12’-high ceilinged rooms—all topped with elegant crown molding—of the ground floor. The kitchen itself showcases utility, professionalism and elegance with a colour palette, textures and equipment—sage green cabinets, terra cotta tile floors, pine wood furnishings, granite countertops and island, stainless steel professional appliances—reflecting the epitome of sophistication. Other rooms on the ground floor, including an accessible bedroom, employ mahogany French doors to frame the outdoor panoramas whether opened or closed. A wall of mirrored cabinets in the dining room, with a table large enough to seat up to 20, reflects turquoise seas, azure skies and billowing clouds.
A grand staircase in the heart of Frenchmans Lookout conjures another movie scene: the beautiful girl at the top of the steps waiting for her date, but as I ascended the steps, I forgot any preconceptions as I was struck by the light and scenery which filtered inside through the use of consciously placed full-length mirrors to reflect the views from each bedroom. The top floor rooms have tongue-in-groove cathedral ceilings and multiple French doors to the balcony that allow fresh breezes to twirl through each room. While light from outside illuminates every corner of the upper rooms, the shade from the balcony and its roof keep the rooms cool and comfortable, making the air conditioning units almost unnecessary. Precise, conscientious design continues upstairs with crown molding, subtly bright paint colours, translucent drapes and natural fabrics and textures.
A separate game room and full personal gym enhance the property for those who want to do more than just relax, and a separate laundry and utility room houses the washer and dryer as well as dozens of shelves for extra storage space.
Just below Frenchmans Lookout in elevation, sits Frenchmans Paradise. Complementing its plantation-style neighbor, the three-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath new home showcases the best of contemporary design incorporated with the natural beauty of the Caribbean setting.
The home was designed by Steve Fox of OBM International and built by the best local craftsmen. The centerpiece of this modern home—the great room—with a cathedral ceiling, gourmet kitchen and a vast living room with folding doors, completely opens up to the outside veranda, allowing breezes, light and the fragrant hillside to permeate every space. The open kitchen with marble countertops and island encourages the chef to socialize with guests while preparing canapés using professional equipment and appliances. The great room and deck provide an ideal setting for everything from small, intimate dinners for two to lively drinks and dancing for fifty. Spilling out from the deck, a stone patio and oval infinity pool offer additional areas for outdoor lounging, socializing or stargazing.
The villa borrows a few elements from its sister home, most notably the two-story balcony which is accessible upstairs from the great room, the pool deck and the master suite and downstairs from the top deck stairway and the lower-level hallway and guest bedroom suites. From all the outdoor spaces, the view stuns. Sunsets from the villa are arresting—with the sun, clouds and sky peeking through mountains and hillsides of nearby islands which dot the sea all the way to the horizon line.
Though completely private in Dolphin Estate on the islet of Frenchmans Cay, Frenchmans Estate is minutes away from the popular marina, shopping village and restaurants at Sopers Hole as well as the famous North Shore beaches of Smugglers Cove and Long Bay.
Frenchmans Estate can be purchased in part or as a whole, with the guesthouse and building lot for US$2.75M and the main house, game room, service building and pool and another building lot for US$8.5M or a reduced price for both. For more details contact Maritha Keil or her team of associates at British Virgin Islands Sotheby’s International Realty.
Frenchmans Estate Summary
Size – 2.98 acres
Gated community, 35ft contender sport fishing boat, exercise/gym/games room, pool & Additional building lot.
Frenchmans Paradise Details
Bedrooms – Three
Bathrooms – Three and a half
Price – US$2.27M
Frenchmans Lookout Details
Bedrooms – Five
Bathrooms – Five and a half
Price – US$8.5M
For more info contact:
t (284)494.5700 m (284)340.5555
e [email protected]