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Embrace your happy place

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Embrace your happy place

If ever there were a year when thoughts of our happy place are essential in helping us navigate challenging moments in life, collectively, that year is 2020. From massive protests fighting systemic racism to global pandemic measures relegating us to months of self-isolation in our homes, the screeching halt to our day-to-day lives sent us all in uncharted waters.

Finally, with Ontario slowly opening up in time for summer (with extensive social distancing measures in place), we are all breathing a sigh of relief as Canadians venture into society again. Yet for the wanderlust like me, international air travel is still off the table for some time; well they say Rome wasn’t built in a day, and being grounded doesn’t stop me from visiting my happy place in my mind. Throughout the lockdown experience and even still, sweet memories of my time last fall at The Crane Resort on the South East coast in Barbados spark that much needed joy factor during this global crisis and reinforces my desire to return to this jewel in the Caribbean as soon as we have the restored freedom to roam.

Classic Caribbean

The natural, authentic beauty is largely untouched by the passage of time; it is the antithesis of the island’s Platinum West Coast where there are no jet skis, celebrities, condominiums or night clubs.

Since 1887, the historic Crane Resort has been famous for the ‘healing powers” of its spectacular beach, cooling trade winds and the surrounding pristine landscape of the island’s less-travelled coast. Beyond the idyllic setting, the ever-growing resort and residential properties brought to life by The Crane owner, Torontonian Paul Doyle (he acquired the property in 1988), the resort’s expansion has also been a journey in design. From the Marine Villa to the new suites, “We were very respectful of The Crane’s place in history of Barbados,” says Doyle. The iconic architectural details, such as the coral stone walls, mahogany vaulted ceilings and four-poster beds in all the colonial-style suites were deliberately kept faithful to the design of the original Crane Beach Hotel.

Do you know how the island got it’s name? A Portuguese sea captain, Pedro A. Campos pondered over the island’s numerous bearded fig trees, and decided the island needed a name which emphasized how much of a prominent feature those fig trees were. And so, Barbados, before it was known as Barbados, was called Los Barbados, which means “bearded one.”

A piece of paradise

A hybrid design approach where contemporary style pays homage to Bajan classics was Doyle’s inspiration for The Crane Private Residences, which debuted in 2017. A master planned luxury development of condo-style units spread over five acres feature clean architectural lines and finishes that reflect the Crane Resort’s signature use of coral stone.

However, it is the latest property development of 63 beach villas at Skeete’s Bay where Doyle plunges wholly into modern design. “In the Skeete’s Bay villas, we take another leap and aren’t worrying about history at all, it is completely modern.”

Generously scaled and beautifully appointed, each villa sits on approximately 1/5 of an acre and offers breathtaking 180-degree ocean views, floor-to-ceiling glass windows, infinity-edge private pools with hot tubs, private patios and gardens with “no tan-lines levels of privacy,” hammocks and barbecues. This secluded, low-density and eco-friendly development truly delivers on the Beach Houses’ tagline: When you really want to get away.

“The bathrooms open up to the private garden with sliding glass doors, so the entire wall disappears and opens into a landscape courtyard.”

Serenity now

Modern design principles are put into action to create a feeling of Zen throughout the home. From the openconcept floor plan, muted tones, to the seamless cabinetry, which keeps fixtures out of view and also serves to protect from the harsh salt air. The paradisiacal component to this design is most definitely the blurred lines between indoor and outdoor living spaces as it allows for complete sensory connection with nature. “The bathrooms open up to the private garden with sliding glass doors, so the entire wall disappears and opens into a landscape courtyard. The shower is outside adjacent to the garden space… It’s an amazing experience that you just don’t get in Toronto,” says Doyle.

Sustainable & lush

Sustainable design is also an important component of the beach villas’ construction. Every home includes a living rooftop. The displaced verdant landscape from each of the 63 building’s footprint has been thoughtfully moved to the flat roofs, revealing clear sight lines. “When we started, there was very little landscape, it is a very intense environment on the East coast with winds and strong breezes coming in,” says Doyle. The solution was to add landscape plants that thrive in the environment to the perimeter of the flat roof, as well as solar panels in the middle, with the goal of going off the grid as soon as testing permitted.

Beach house chic

Naturally, there is also a casual beach vibe accentuated with the decor touches in the villas, including sisal rugs, rattan chairs and avocado-coloured lamps. It echoes the casual comfort of the island in a spectacular setting. “For hundreds of years, Barbadians look to the East Coast as a place to get away.” Doyle says. Then draws a local comparison to depict the location accurately. “The Skeete’s Bay area is what Muskoka represents to Torontonians.”

The result of The Crane’s latest East Coast Barbados property development is the ideal tropical luxury retreat for those who prize peace, tranquillity and natural beauty. I am grateful to have experienced the magical place first-hand. I truly believe that inner peace starts at home and as homeowners, we are naturally drawn to add some of the design elements that resonate with us from our travels into our own homes. I relish the thought of returning to Barbados (the island of the flying fish); a glorious way to indulge the senses in real time and build up that reservoir of happy place memories and moments for years to come.

For more information on the beach houses in Barbados Skeete’s Bay Beach and Culpepper Island, go to beachhouses.bb

Inspired by beauty in all its forms, Toronto-based RENO & DECOR editor, Silvana Longo combines her love of design and travel, exploring trends in interiors and stunning destinations around the globe. writerbydesign.ca

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