A priceless view

Design Anguilla - 11 - DIGITAL_Page_64_Image_0003It’s not about the money; it is really all about the priceless! their Grand Outlook Castle echoes one of real estate’s oldest truisms—location, location, location. And it was the location that sold the couple on this property on their very first visit to Anguilla, just over a decade ago. “You just couldn’t absorb the whole view,” Paul remembers.

The 4-bedroom, 4-bath “Castle” they built over the following 4 years seems to embrace the view that surrounds it. Two pairs of identical bedroom suites, above and below ank, sprawl on either side of the open living spaces that comprise an expansive kitchen, dining room and gallery-height den. All of the rooms spill out onto a large in¬nity pool deck that overlooks Crocus Bay, with views of the visiting yachts, kayakers and turtles below; Sandy Island; and, on clear days, the island’s West End.

Natural materials and earth tones abound, and high ceilings and large windows lend a light, airy feel. Playful touches such as shields and ags supplement the home’s medieval theme. “The idea of a ‘castle’ took shape during construction,” Paul explains. “Our architect, Kevin Gumbs, had studied castles, and as the home took shape, it was easy to see it as one. High walls, a ‘dungeon’, a source of water and a massive gate—all effective during a siege!”

The couple’s efforts have been rewarded with many positive reviews, along with a “Top Villa” award on travel website Tripadvisor. Paul shares the elements of the Castle’s success.

A lot of wandering. When my wife, Elise, and I were younger, we travelled down to Florida when it was cold in Boston. The only problem was that it was kind of cold there, too. This led us to the Caribbean: places like St. Lucia, Tortola, Bahamas and Turks and Caicos. We went to Mexico, which scared the heck out of us at times!

We almost bought a home on Tortola in the late 90s. The island is mountainous and beautiful, but mountains can be dangerous. I don’t want to be stuck in a rainstorm on one side of the island or trying to climb a mountain with a big concrete truck barreling towards us. It’s very intimidating. Anguilla, on the other hand, was at, safe and beautiful. Our ¬rst visit was February 2003, and during the course of our ¬rst week on Anguilla, we looked at about 40 different sites. Nothing really moved us until we walked out onto this one… it was unbelievable! We closed within 6 months towards the end of 2003.

We did a lot of due diligence regarding builders, and we had friends who were also building at the time. We watched what they were doing and learned from it. We also owe so much to Kevin Gumbs, our architect, who has since passed away.

Handling it ourselves takes a lot of time. We have owned rental properties in a ski town before: they were close at hand, and we could get to them in a couple of hours. That’s nothing like the Castle. We’re always upgrading things, and we come here every few months. We have excellent staff, and we are fortunate that they’ve been with us since inception. They’re like an extension of us and have become great friends with our guests. It’s intimate, and I think that’s why we’ve had people return to the island and to the Castle.

Our staff, of course! Also, the location plays a big role. A lot of people come to the Caribbean and want to see a sunset over water. At the end of a great day at the beach, to be able to relax by the pool is priceless. Having four equally large, comfortable master bedrooms has a big impact. We travelled with three other couples in our youth, and so we know it’s always difficult to find a place where no one would be disappointed with the bedroom they drew. We have had guests come back for consecutive years, bring other friends, and do that comfortably.

We’ve had a family that was looking for a place to heal after losing their daughter in a tragic lab accident. They came to the Castle, and we think it helped, because they kept coming back. In the years that followed, their other daughter’s boyfriend proposed marriage by the pool at the Castle, and they then returned for their honeymoon a year later with both sets of parents. They’ll be back again this August, which will be their sixth visit. We’re very fortunate that it is easy for us to exceed our guests’ expectations. When we talk to them about the experience, it’s rarely about prices, or fancy bottled water, or high thread-count sheets, or anything like that. It’s not all about the money. You can stay at a Holiday Inn on a different island, but would that lead to a priceless experience?

Investment isn’t always just a percentage return. I think someone investing in Anguilla needs to look at the overall bene¬ts. We never did initially look at it as an investment, but our return has been a sense of stability and a sense of being on a unique island. We feel fortunate to have been a part of the community and a source of support for it. There’s also a sense of grati¬cation in delivering a guest experience. We are always doing new things to make it a new experience for ourselves, because we do enjoy it as well, but we enjoy the comments from our guests, like, “We just love the hammocks,” or “We love the new ice maker.” Little stuff, but it’s a matter of making the experience better.

We also understand that we are investing in a property that, from our perspective, is on a special island in a priceless location. I think it’s a great time to invest on Anguilla. I’m seeing an increase in people wanting to come to Anguilla. The island is starting to get its face back out and people are regaining con¬dence. It’s a great island, and more importantly, it’s a safe island.

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