At Hummingbird House and Cottage at Seabreeze hills in Cap Estate, the horizon seems to stretch out endlessly, interrupted only by the outline of Martinique, the French département 21 miles across the channel. Perched on a windlashed peninsula that abuts the powerful Atlantic, Hummingbird stands sentry over the dramatic seascape.
Light and air feature distinctively inboth the house and cottage, which take advantage of the stunning vistas afforded by the coastal elevation, the near constant flow of air, and the crispness of light and colour. Initially looking at apartments in the more populous Rodney Bay area as an investment opportunity, the owner was immediately drawn to Sea Breeze Hills and the Lane Pettigrew-design home.
The “tranquil setting away from the bustle of Rodney Bay [with the] meditative quality of the sea stretching out towards Martinique was hypnotic,” he says. That tranquillity begins with a beautiful landscaped pathway, punctuated by an impressive traveller’s palm, that leads to a colourfully tropical outdoor foyer. This opens up to a large, light-suffused atrium that serves as the main living and dining space. The owner opted for coral stone wall finish for the interiors, and travertine tile runs through the entire house.
The organic, textured result creates an inside-outside feel, augmented by having both garden and horizon views through the windows that form the north and south walls of the room. High ceilings draw the eye upwards to the living area’s statement piece, an Italian-designed, blown glass, white swan chandelier that is at the same time elegant and whimsical. The owner wanted a contemporary design that acknowledged the Caribbean architecture, and worked with the locally based G&G Interiors to achieve that end. The coral stone dining table gets an update with modern Italian dining chairs. Every effort has been made to incorporate the amenities without jarring or disrupting the organic feel of the house: in the living and dining room, built-in coral stone fixtures house the television, cable box and wires, coral stone pedestals and bas relief mounts support decorative elements—a brass clock and backlights that illuminate mounted coral fans. Of these features, the owner is especially proud.
While the heart of the house is both intimate and airy, the real gem is the adjoining outer room. A wall of French doors and windows leads from the atrium to a roofed court where the owner spends much of his time. It’s clear to see why. A fourth wall is dispensed with entirely and in its stead is a commanding sea vista, and a walk-in infinity lap pool that gives the impression of emptying out into the rolling ocean below. At night, the space is dramatically lit by large gas-powered lava rock fire bowls, on the pedestals on either side of the lap pool. “They are a spectacular feature on a dark night with the backdrop of the sea behind.”
Like they have done outdoors, inside the designers created niches for both entertaining and retreating. The central atrium acts as an access point to each of the four rooms that occupy the corners of the house. North-east facing is the master bedroom, a bright, open room characterised by the views it commands and the light it brings in. French doors throw open on its north side to ocean views and access to the main lap pool. Here again the value of light and air is underscored. The travertine-tiled master bath adjoins the room and is large and spa-like. It features a separate shower with a rain shower head mount and an Airbath soaker tub. A 19-inch LCD TV is mounted flush onto the wall above the bath. From there, a side patio extends the room outdoors. Its focal point is a step-down pergola-covered jacuzzi. Stairs lead down into a garden filled with palms and succulents.
The second and third bedrooms, each also with en suite shower and bath, occupy the south east and northwest corners of the house. While the niches and sanctuaries of the house invite repose, the home is also designed to be a hub for entertainment. Its south-west corner houses a large kitchen with an island unit, marble countertops, and appliances like the Siemens stainless steel refrigerator, Britannia gas cooker, Miele dishwasher and laundry, and the Gorenje wine cooler. Set slightly apart is a breakfast nook that seats four and which opens out onto a bright deck on the leeward side of the house.
The tiled deck is furnished with an outdoor rattan dining set and gas barbecue. Hummingbird Cottage shares the same characteristics which make the main house so appealing. Only a few steps away, it feels distinct and private, largely because it opens out to capture a distinct windward vista. Guests enter through an open-concept kitchen and living space which leads out onto a patio. On the other side of the unit is a bright, large bedroom and en suite bathroom with a free-standing Airbath tub and a wall-mount TV.
The bathroom windows look out onto lovely garden views. The grounds at Hummingbird are striking and just as essential to the overall effect of the home as the architecture and interior design. The restrictions imposed by salt air and exposure to the elements don’t mean compromise; they simply create an opportunity for a different aesthetic, exploited to its fullest at Hummingbird House. The landscape is in harmony with the topography and climate. The windward side of the property is largely succulents, cacti and palms which impart a wild beauty, while the leeward side of the property is festooned with fuchsia bougainvillea, yellow allamander, red ixora and sea grape. The owner observes, “The variety of plants and palms creates a tropical oasis. Every time I come back, the gardens always amaze me.”
Hummingbird House offers a retreat from the bustle of life, with a compelling vantage of the dramatic land and seascape. For the owner, being able to watch a thunderstorm lighting up the skies over Martinique from his bedroom is all the return on his investment that he needs.