- August 31st, 2009
- in Yachting
Kibanda translates to “small hut” in Swahili—think cabaña in Spanish or cabanon in French, cabin in English. But Kibanda, in Belmont, is not a small hut or cabin. And though it’s set amid the trees, it would never be called a tree house. It’s more like a tree palace.
In 1962, the original owners of Kibanda were the first to build in Belmont, and they had the pick of any lot. They chose to build 55 metres above sea level on the .88 acre knoll on which Kibanda is now perched. For good reason. Not only for the 180-degree panoramic vistas encompassing eleven islands but also the fact that the property is situated near two of the best beaches on the island: the mile-long Long Bay beach is a five-minute walk away, and Smugglers Cove is less than a five-minute drive.
Though originally built in the sixties, Kibanda was completely renovated in 2000. The double front doors open to a small landing two steps above the great room. Great is an understatement. The room reminds me of the octagonal, hillside restaurant set among the canopy of trees at the exclusive Anse Chastanet resort in St Lucia. But Kibanda’s great room is even more exclusive. Bonfire-orange blossoms of the large flamboyant tree frame the view of Belmont Pond, Belmont Point, Jost van Dyke, Little Jost, Sandy Cay and the blue waters in between. An eclectic mix of furniture fills the great room: wicker sofas and dark wood pieces, including a table and chairs made from old French oak wine barrels. The house comes fully furnished with exquisite pieces gathered by true collectors.
Off the great room is the library/study, complete with built-in mahogany cabinets, shelves, an enclosed entertainment centre and a huge wraparound desk. Beyond the library, the impressive kitchen boasts loads of storage space in gorgeous cabinets and a stunning centre island made from Imbuya, a beautifully grained Brazilian hardwood. A professional-sized stainless steel range brightly stands out amongst the dark wood. Across the room, a French solid oak dining table extends to host up to ten high-backed chairs. Two sets of double doors open from the kitchen to a gallery at the front and an enormous deck and pool area to the side. A deep pantry/utility room houses numerous cupboards, a sink and washing machine and opens to a kitchen garden and delivery access outside.
Atop the partially covered, expansive wooden deck, painted a subtle, seagrass green, sits a suite of coated, extruded aluminium all-weather patio furniture, an extendable teak dining table and eight chairs, four comfy armchairs and two chaise longues. A huge umbrella and a palm tree provide additional shade beside a true infinity-edge pool that blends into the blue sea then blends into the blue sky, blurring the horizon line. A stone-clad outdoor shower nest to the powder room offers the perfect place to rinse off before heading back inside.
On the other side of the great room, two bedrooms are linked by a gallery of the same wood as the deck. Both bedrooms are furnished with beautifully carved handmade Lamu canopy beds from Kenya that conjure the luxurious, curtained sedans of ancient nobility. The large master bedroom has two sets of double doors that open to the dazzling view. The master bedroom has three spacious closets and an en suite bathroom with a grand tiled shower. Basically just a smaller version of the master suite, the guest bedroom suite also has cathedral ceilings and Saltillo-tiled floors in the bedroom and bathroom. One set of double doors opens out to the gallery and the view. Rooms throughout the house have ceiling fans and fully-screened, louvre doors and windows.
A stairway from the gallery leads to two more bedrooms below. Between the two floors, a small lookout landing beside a coconut palm offers yet another perspective from which to enjoy the sight and sound of the sea. This is one of the few locations on the island that is high enough to offer a spectacular view but close enough to the water to deliver the hypnotic, soporific sound of the waves. The two downstairs bedrooms have plenty of closet space and en suite bathrooms.
Also downstairs are a sound-proofed generator and a storage area. In addition, every room has hurricane bars, except for the open-air great room, but all the great room furnishings fit into the guest bedroom beside it. The current owner asserts that the entire house can be fully hurricane prepped in less than an hour.
With four bedrooms, four and a half baths, a sprawling deck, pool, great room, library, professional kitchen and luxe furnishings, Kibanda is far from the small hut its name suggests.