"We cannot afford to be without luxuries."
It's a noisy and distressful world, pressing on the senses in all directions. You travel for a changeable environment peace, relaxation, calm and the avoidance of annoyance. I think that is the proper description of luxury stated by Wilde.
The entrance to Villa Nova is a drive bordered with cascading ferns and thickly shaded by mature mahogany trees. Near the entrance to the house (it is billed as a Hill Country Manor) are three cabbage palms towering over the premises. Just arriving is a prerequisite to halcyon.
Shrubs and flowering trees of the greatest variety and fragrance give beauty to Villa Nova the year around. The resort boasts Barbados' largest Queen of Flower Tree (Lagerstroemia Speciosa); the flamboyant or flame trees (Delonix Regia) and the yellow pouri (Tabebuia Serratifolia) and the frangipani (plumeria) add a coat of many colors. African tulip trees (Spathodea Campanulata) and ylang-ylang trees (canaga odorata), whose blossoms are used as a base to many perfumes, add the aromatics. The enormous bearded fig tree (Picus Citrifolia) by the swimming pool terrace is the national tree of Barbados and it has pride-of-place on the nation's Coat of Arms, as well as on the Royal Standard of Elizabeth II, Queen of Barbados.
The fig and tall stately mahoganies and Spanish Ash (Lonchocarpus Benthanriamus) provide the homes for other guests birds.
Just below the al fresco dining terrace rests the beautiful blue tiled pool that is paved all around with a cool-to-the-foot coral stone courtyard. I was in the middle of the pool that is as dark (at certain angles) as any hidden local shady swimming hole, gazing at the foliage splendor, when The Birdman seemed to appear right out of the bush. The Birdman is Villa Nova's resident gardener, but he should have his own CD pressed for the bird whistles and trills he mockingbird mimics. "All the birds know me; they build nests in the gazebo where I go." He kept me entertained with the bird calls of the Pee Witter, Cane Sparrow, Yellow Bust, Morning Doves, and Wild Pigeons, and I bet he could imitate the buzz of a hummingbird!
"I am determined to travel through life first class."
The true luxuries of Villa Nova are the gardens wrapped around the coral stone cliff rural landscape. Eden found his "Eden" while gardening and raising mango and papaya trees and vegetables and herbs. Villa Nova is an oasis set on a hillside that provides for complete privacy 900 feet above sea level, with temperatures five degrees lower than on the Platinum Coast to the west. Trade winds blow thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean and up over the uplands keeping the nights even cooler. Warm duvets on the bed keep you warm throughout the night.
The Berbice or planters' chairs have been in the house for many years and they offer great relaxation just off the reception area, with wings on the armrests that fold out you can place your feet up just like the Royal Regimental officers!.
To the west of the drawing room there is a mahogany staircase leading to the original bedrooms on the second floor. A few bedrooms are still rented out in the original part of the home; Eden's bedroom has been converted to a library and guest computer room. The hotel's entrance hall is paved with blue and white marble tiles, a traditional soothing welcome to visitors in the tropics.
One night the only Bajan bird warbling was the delightful tunes by local singing sensation Rose Mary Phillips, adding her clear vocal jazz impressions to an island tourism networking dinner party.
"Give us the luxuries of life and we will disperse
You arrived for privacy and peace and calm and luxuries and Villa Nova delivers . . . with a personalized greeting card in your room.
Patterned gray dyed sisal rugs cover the Guyana hardwood floors, giving my suite a tropical feel; spider monkeys are brocaded on the day settee in front of the Sony Trinitron TV. For an on-demand sampling of DVDs, just call the front desk and they hook up the movie. A turndown service magically appears in the evening they know when you are not in the room they don't want to annoy you.
The VN's Zen-like staff arranges golf outings on championship courses, deep-sea fishing, scuba diving, horseback riding, sailing or other water sports, or even horseracing, polo, or cricket matches; for in-house sports play tennis on the resort's two floodlit courts or workout in the air-conditioned fitness room. I preferred the 23x8 meter freshwater swimming pool and the trills of the Birdman's birds.
On July 10, 1834, the new house, or Villa Nova, was blessed by John Gottlich Zippel, Minister of Mount Tabor Moravian Church, and this event is recorded in the church journals now in the Government Archives; Mount Tabor Church is situated half a mile east of Villa Nova, built circa 1825 on land given to the Moravian Mission by Edmund Haynes.
Villa Nova was separated from these sugar lands in 1907 and sold to the Barbados Government. For the house and six and one-half acres of wooded gardens, the government paid 800 pounds or US$1,900.
The Government of Barbados made Villa Nova the residence of the Parochial Medical Office for St. John Parish. He lived there with his family and part of the house was used as his office and there was a small surgery center. This continued for nearly sixty years, until the late Earl of Avon, Sir Anthony Eden, former Prime Minister of Great Britain, and the Countess of Avon (Clarissa Churchill) purchased Villa Nova as a winter home from the Barbados Government in 1965. The Earl and Countess of Avon wintered at Villa Nova for six years. During this time extensive repairs were undertaken to the house and the swimming pool was added. The Earl's health deteriorated and his doctors advised him to sell the property and it was purchased in 1971 by Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Hunte.
Antique photos on the walls throughout the property attest to the international celebrities that have stayed here. In the 1990s Lynne Pemberton "inherited" the property. Lynne is a former hotelier and developer of the former Cunard Mansion on the Platinum Coast, now part of the Fairmont Hotel chain called Royal Pavilion and Glitter Bay. In fact, Lynne is a world renowned novelist and one of her tomes, "Platinum Coast", fictionalizes her life on the premium coastline. Her latest novel is "Eclipse". As she states: "I am up here just scribbling away."
The dining experience at Villa Nova combines English with Caribbean fare. Pumpkin soup is a common treat with the evening meal, but you can even order omelets at night. There are many bay trees (puineura recemorse) whose leaves spree many local dishes served on the Terrace, the most popular spot in the morning. I always chose the Bajan breakfast of local grilled vegetables because it was the most healthy, and with the arrival of the new Té Spa the resort will probably add a nutritionist to its staff.
Villa Nova's room rates include an unpacking service on arrival and optional steaming of guests' outfits on the first evening and welcome drink on arrival with full breakfast throughout the stay, either a la carte on "The Terrace At Villa Nova", or continental on your private terrace. A four night deposit is required in winter and a two night deposit is required in summer. There is no ATM machine on the property, but all major credit cards are accepted.
Upon departure the staff can offer limousine service to the Grantley Adams International Airport where you have full use of the Caribbean Lounge.
A well-being center has been recently completed (Spring 2004) in the virgin rainforest near Villa Nova's pool and it promises to bring a new standard to the property. There are individual massage houses built from the wood of Purple Heart and the shingles from pest resistant Guyana Walaba which has a natural oily residue. Lynne is also planning a Villa Nova Beach Club in the near future.
Club Villa Nova will represent the past colonial heritage with coral stone walls and floors, shuttered windows, wrap around verandahs, plunge pools, state-of-the-art entertainment, communications, and computer services. The living rooms will be designed letting the outdoors in. You can get your home designed with 2- 3- or 4-bedrooms, en suite facilities, studios, and balconied bedrooms with large al fresco dining areas. The houses command rental prices of US$25,000 per week for their owners. You gain Freehold title.
The architect is Ian Morrison one of the most renowned architects in the Caribbean, with concepts ranging from the innovative and contemporary to the traditional.
Home owners will have free access to Villa Nova's Té (pronounced tay) Spa. Each home owner will have year around access to the estate's private facilities, from the grounds, restaurants, library, and tennis courts, with access to the hotel's housekeeping and hospitality services, including airport transfers.
I have been a traveling zingaro my whole adult life and nothing approaches Villa Nova's stoic quaintness mixed with modern comforts, now complete with a stem cell research center so I can remember why I should never leave again, and if they ever add a lucid dreaming center then all my dreams will come true! By Kriss Hammond, Editor, Jetsetters Magazine.