- February 28th, 2010
- in Yachting
BVI Sotheby’s International Realty presents Sterling House
From the second-floor balcony of Sterling House, I discern between the sounds of waves crashing below me: the sea splashing against the beach wall, one-foot waves breaking on the beach, ripples over outcropping rocks and the distinct sizzle of the foam atop the sea.
I sit at a custom-made marble table for two that makes this corner of the massive veranda seem intimate, and as I listen to the calming surf, I watch hundreds of tiny, milk-coloured butterflies pirouette about the vines on the blossom-covered hillside beside the house. Beyond the hill spans the Atlantic Ocean, broken only by the emerald knolls and golden beaches of Jost van Dyke, Little Jost and Sandy Cay. From this cosy corner of this expansive home, I’ve seen and heard enough to be perfectly content, like when I stopped in front of a masterpiece at Musée des Beaux Arts in Nice, France only to realize that there were at least a thousand other paintings that I had to visit. But, like Sterling House, once I accepted that I should try to take in as much as possible during my time there, I was able to move around and enjoy each room.
The fact that the villa evoked a European setting is no surprise nor is it a mistake. Designed in the Mediterranean style, this castle-like structure overlooking Long Bay could easily be imagined in Antibes or Alicante. But if I were in the Med this winter, I’d be wearing a coat, scarf, wool trousers and boots instead of a sleeveless sundress and flip flops. Through towering archways, the sights, sounds and scents mingle into the villa’s great room—replete with travertine marble floors, a granite-topped breakfast bar with eight barstools, and a sitting area with leather couches—then they spill back out into the outdoor lounge and kitchenette beside the infinity-edge pool.
All photos by yachtshotsbvi.com
With blue iridescent tiles, the pool shimmers as much as the sea. One waterfall cascades from a wall furbished with arches and columns while another creates a rainfall barrier between the swimming area and the built-in spa. Both waterfalls are more than just visually and aurally pleasing as they also massage the neck and shoulders of swimmers beneath them, similar to ones I’ve experienced at top resorts in the Caribbean.
The outdoor kitchen features top-of-the-line stainless steel appliances with a barbecue grill while the indoor kitchen boasts floor-to-ceiling, custom-made hardwood cabinetry that conceals a 46-inch, flat-screen television, a pantry, an entertainment centre and a side-by-side refrigerator/freezer. Two dishwashers and a commercial stove are artfully hidden behind the breakfast bar. The villa was obviously built for entertaining, and I can picture guests weaving in and out of the arched doorways.
Beside the main entranceway, the marble, cantilevered, spiral staircase with mahogany banister evokes a cross-section of a nautilus shell. I look up toward the Cyprus ceiling as I ascend and marvel at the colossal, wrought iron chandelier. The owner tells me it was salvaged from a Spanish monastery. The indoor, architectural views rival the natural vistas outside. All rooms on the third floor possess these vistas, including the bathrooms and a hidden hot tub nook that’s accessible through a retractable wall in the master suite’s shower. The master suite also includes a large bedroom with doors that open to the sea, a comfortable entertainment room, a walk-in closet and a marble-clad bathroom. The house-spanning, seaside balcony is accessible from all upstairs rooms. The second bedroom suite contains a bedroom, adjoining library (with a hidden Murphy bed for extra visitors) and two en suite bathrooms.
The corridor that connects the upstairs rooms again reminds me of a museum with its original oil paintings, marble travertine floors and peaceful, understated lighting. Off the corridor, on either side of the spiral staircase, are two doors that lead outside. The first leads up to a fourth-floor tower which houses a movie-viewing room with excellent acoustics, surround sound, a 60-inch flat-screen television, a wet bar and furniture that was made on site to hug the curved walls. The circular tower room serves as a cool and quiet sanctuary.
Back to the central hallway and beyond the hand-carved pineapple finials, I open the second door to the outside which leads me across a small walkway to an artist’s studio. The studio, complete with easel and unfinished oil paintings, provides a compact, self-sustaining escape from the opulence of the main house. The balcony overlooks the pool and the seascape, providing more than enough inspiration for any type of artist. The studio has a hideaway bed that pulls down from a cabinet built into the wall, a full kitchen and a full bathroom. As I lingered at the corner table on the veranda, I also linger in the studio—another little intimate corner in this otherwise expansive home.
I descend the outside stairs from the studio’s private entrance to the second floor patio then down to the first floor and the strip of lawn above the beach and the ground floor of the villa. The two-bedroom, first floor unit serves as a short-term rental property. Inside, four-poster beds, a full kitchen and a living and dining area replicate the grandeur of the upstairs rooms and offer a pampered stay while the veranda, beachside lawn, a mosaic-tiled pool with waterfall, outdoor dining and lounging areas and the seven stone steps down to Long Bay Beach guarantee an unforgettable, “pinch-me” experience.
As Brynley from Yacht Shots takes some exterior photos from the other end of the beach before we drive away from Long Bay, I look back at the villa, and the white sand that seems unrolled like a red carpet leading up to it. A masterpiece. And the perfect property to launch BVI Sotheby’s International Realty.
Listing price is $6.5 million including furnishings. Viewing by appointment only through Maritha Keil at British Virgin Islands Sotheby’s International Realty (284) 494-5700 or 340-5555.