- June 11th, 2008
- in Yachting
Twice the Charm
It is refreshing to come across a West Indian-style house on a Caribbean island that has not bent to any new influences of style, and has stayed true to its roots of tranquility, practicality and family living. Two Egrets, on the ridge road, nestled in the highlands of Tortola, is just such a gem. Built with vision and longevity in mind, it combines shades of yesteryear with a solid foundation for tomorrow.
Steeped in tradition, the house’s builder and designer, John Smith, lived on the island for 30 years before constructing it. Modelled after a West Indian home, the design features thick two-foot walls, 10-foot high ceilings, attic space and eight-foot doors, which provide a natural cooling area and lend the dwelling a spacious air. Pine floors and mahogany cabinets give the rooms an appearance of coolness and depth, whilst tongue and groove overhead echoes our laughter and firm footsteps as we walk through. This is a family home, and the views around the property are panoramic.
Mr. Smith’s interest in history and botany are evident throughout. An abundance of palms circumnavigates the property: fishtail, travellers, coconut, soca, king and queen to name but a few, all of them dancing and swaying in the constant trade winds. A stream of majestic Norfolk pines guards the eastern side, a sloping lawn leading down to the Mediterranean wall of the 22-foot pool and its poolside garden. Here the lunch area—one of three dining areas—takes a break from the fine dining area inside the main house and the mosaic concrete table of the outside breakfast area adjacent to one of three fountains on the property.
The main house boasts two and a half bedrooms. The extra rooms have traditionally been used as playrooms for young children, but could be easily converted into offices or entertainment rooms. The living and dining space is in an “L” shape off the main lobby, with its large welcoming doors. A molded framed arch marks the entrance to the bedrooms, whilst high arches demarcate the kitchen though the dining area to the comforts of the living room. The kitchen is 15 feet in length, and is fitted with all modern appliances and pine cabinets above and below. The automatic generator switch can also be found here, so there is no need to leave the house to transfer the power; its machinery lies in one of two garden potting sheds at the edges of the property. A tented herb garden and potting area were also added recently. This suits the botanist in you, taking inspiration from the previous planters.
Paved areas leading from the electronic gate to all areas in Egrets afford a rustic solid feel. Privacy exists in the planting of trees and palms. The wooden shutters on each window are complemented by rolling hurricane sliding finishes. A gazebo announces the poolside, whilst a fish pond trickles near the self-contained guest house, which is a smaller replica of the main house and carries the Caribbean colours of sandy yellow, blue cobalt and pink.
This is a beautiful property, and truly unique in terms of what is available on the island. Its designer lived in an 18th century house for 30 years, being attentive and respectful to help maintain the property’s longevity and comfort for years to come. Access to town is two minutes, whilst the ridge road gives the midtown south side access of approximately five minutes, with northern shores only 10 minutes away. The higher altitude, with its cooling effect, offers a crucial advantage to the landscaping and the seasonal blooms of carefully selected ferns and plants. Asking price for this one-acre property: US$1.6 million. The serenity and enjoyment derived from Two Egrets: priceless.