Anquilla is a 16-mile long, three-mile wide sliver of land resembling an undulating eel (which the island is named for) in the Leeward islands north of St Maarten and east of Puerto Rico. Owing to some far-sighted planning by the island’s local government in the Eighties, development was limited to discreet small hotels and elegant upscale resorts and no casinos, nightclubs, shopping malls or mega cruise ships have been allowed. With its deep white-sand beaches and glistening Caribbean waters, it is delightfully slow paced and unpretentious. Its preponderance of white villas makes it seem more like a Greek island, especially when approached by boat. As a result it now boasts the highest concentration of luxury properties in the region and is developing a growing reputation as an up and coming upscale vacation destination, abuzz with recent openings of new hotels, restaurants and “super villas.”
Las Esquinas—Spanish for “corners”—is a two-storey, 7000-square-foot white villa set on a small, intimate cove on a corner of Little Harbour on the southeast coast of the island. It boasts sweeping views across the water to St Maarten. The owner gave the house its name because of the many corners she incorporated into the house design that consists of seven buildings, including a garage and staff apartments, ranged around a courtyard. She also made sure there was generous outdoor space and multiple terraces, all adding to the sense of privacy.
“I have always wanted to design and build a real Mediterranean-style house—as in Greek or Ibizan style—white, cubic, nice clean lines and definitely all white,” she explains. A Canadian who grew up in Spain, she has developed a lifelong passion for travel. She came to Anguilla to visit her sister who had been living there for 20 years, and “slowly but surely” fell in love with the little island. “It has the best beaches and the best gastronomy in the Caribbean,” she says.
There was nothing slow about her decision to buy the piece of land on which Esquinas now sits. She was determined to purchase as soon as she saw it despite finding out later that she might not be able to build the size house she envisioned. Luck and timing proved to be on her side, however, and her presented plan was given the go ahead. The design of Esquinas is all hers and she was fortunate to have one of the best and most honest builders on the island to work with. Although it took almost five years to complete the villa, she is thrilled with the result—a peaceful sanctuary with lots of privacy.
The house features four grand suites, one on the ground floor, three on the second, each decorated to reflect four corners of the globe, places she has either lived in or visited countless times: Bali, Mexico, Morocco, and the Mediterranean. Soft furnishings have been carefully selected to reflect the colours of each location, such as the deep orange Mexican bedspread, turquoise throw pillows in the Mediterranean suite, and rich purples in the Bali-themed suite.
Each bedroom suite has balconies with generous views of the water and the bathrooms have a polished jewelstone, sand-coloured cement finish on the walls. The global theme extends to the tower block at the entrance of the house which is punctuated with glass blocks mimicking the holes in the towers of the wall surrounding Marrakech. This Moroccan theme is carried through to the inner courtyard with its quartet of palms, three in each corner. Every room in the house takes advantage of the views. On the ground floor, the entire front of the house with its open-plan dining and living space, opens out onto the pool terrace. An entire wall of the sleek, functional kitchen with its central island opens onto the dining area with teak pocket doors. Italian porcelain tile used throughout the house for flooring gives it a seamless flow.
Another striking feature is the long rectangular lap pool which has been built right up to the front of the house. Its design cleverly integrates the existing terrain and extends right out to the rocky promontory edge of the property with a lower sunbathing terrace on one side. It is accessed by three sets of stairs leading down from the main living area. Landscaping has also incorporated the existing rock and scrub.
The owner had a hand in the design of all of the furniture in the house. “I learned from my mother who was an interior decorator,” she explains. She has been collecting items for her new house for over six years, Mexican pieces from her time living in that country as well as items from Bali and Morocco brought over from her house in Spain. She also has included some family antiques. In the dining room a striking dining table, a free form slab of beached wood, set atop a gnarled tree trunk base, was sourced in Bali on her last trip there.
When I asked her why the white palette—all the exterior and interior walls are white—she explained that the last house she built in Spain, was a potpourri of materials and colours. This time she wanted to go “very simple and clean.” She adds, “I am a Taurus and very practical,” a useful quality indeed for the challenges of island living. Indeed, Taureans who are known for their persistence and patience are also said to be “builders, restorers and caretakers who take a great deal of pride and pleasure in fixing up and maintaining a home.” This time, there is no arguing with the stars.