Ian Fleming's fictional hero might not have been here, but plenty of real life playboys have. Indeed the property that is perched on a private spit of land, was built on the western end of Paradise Island by the infamous American Atlantic and Pacific food heir, Huntington Hartford, back in 1948. Hartford, who had an eye for women (the man married four times to women decades younger than he), saw the potential in what was then a scrubland called Hog Island – transforming the humble British colonial farmland into the height of luxury.
A tabloid staple during the 1930s and 1940s owing to his cash flash ways, Hartford sold his up-market villa on Paradise Island to the legendary actor, Richard Harris, in the early 1970s. The Caribbean pad was one of several properties that the Harry Potter star (who once confessed to being driven by “an uneducated Irish peasant attitude to land” claiming that it was the only worthwhile thing to buy because “they aren’t making it anymore”) bought with the money he made from the musical Camelot. The thespian renamed the Bahamian get away, Kilkee House, after the seaside town in County Clare (Ireland) where he went on vacation as a child.
Harris who died in 2002, had – much like his predecessor in Kilkee House – a reputation for being a hedonistic hell raiser and entertained A-listers like Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole at his Bijoux Bahamian base. Other high profile past guests to have been seduced by the property include Nicolas Cage and Pierce Brosnan; indeed the latter called Kilkee home while filming After the Sunset in The Bahamas.
The current owners – only the third owners in the home’s grand history – have lovingly restored the house (and its voluptuous grounds) to even beyond their former splendour, showing impeccable attention to detail, great respect for the past and appreciation for state of the art conveniences.
Stepping inside the premises is like entering a fairytale. The luxurious living space exceeds 11,000 square feet and includes four bedrooms with huge beds (ideal for a long lie in and a late breakfast), and bathrooms bigger than most people’s bedrooms – with tubs so wide and deep you never want to get out. In addition, you can expect a grand (but not intimidating) foyer, Scarlett O’Hara-esque dressing rooms, living rooms, oh and a formal dining room that can comfortably accommodate no fewer than 18 guests. There is also an extraordinary gourmet kitchen with double height ceiling and a state of the art gymnasium, which should appeal to the active amongst you. Averse to physical exertion? Kilkee House has an original historic panelled library should you – heaven forbid – get bored of the beach views.
Mention must be made of the custom furnishings; current owner and Capetonian, Colleen Kosoy, has handpicked the luxurious furnishings – all of which hail from her homeland and are available to purchase separately. If, however, the origin of the artifacts is conjuring up images of Out of Africa think again, for there are no batiks, tribal masks, chocolate coloured carvings or other examples of “Africana” to be found in Kilkee House. Rather Kosoy describes the style of the fittings as “updated traditional – eclectic, even.”
Certainly Kilkee is a “décor with a difference”, blending sweet nostalgia with a sharp style to create something that is far from cutesy and not quite what you would expect. Case in point? Subtle, sleek silk curtains successfully share space with rainbow hued-rugs.
Kilkee House is not only a dream inside; the outside also elates. The grounds span over two acres and encompass a meandering stone pool grotto that is hard to resist, magnificent, manicured gardens on one side, a private sandy and sundrenched beach (translation: absolutely no interruptions), and on the other side of the property a harbour side gazebo – the perfect place to pen your postcards.
What more could you want? How about a stunning poolside guest cottage with private terrace; perfect for when visitors arrive (which mark our words, they will). Or perhaps you would prefer 200 feet of water frontage on its southern harbour exposure, meaning that there is dockage for yachts or sailboats of almost any size?
Truly this place is something special; so much so that when Harris decided to dispose of all of his property in one of his darker moments, he kept his Caribbean home – even choosing to have his ashes transported from his native Ireland to Paradise Island to be scattered by the house. Harris was not wrong. There is something magical about the venue; just being here makes you feel better – deadlines disappear and “to do” lists fade away.
Part of the property’s appeal is that it works well as a retreat far from the maddening crowd, being accessible only by boat or helicopter (there is no road access), which creates a feeling of being miles away and lost in a secret world. Yet conversely, Kilkee House is also within easy reach of ritzy resorts like the ever expanding Atlantis complex and One & Only Ocean Club, as well as a cornucopia of exceptional eateries (the trouble is not finding somewhere to eat out, it is deciding what cuisine you fancy), world-class golf courses and up-market boutiques for those who can not shake the western urge to splurge.
All told, it is impossible not to fall in love with this palatial property, which personifies “la dolce vita”. One of The Bahamas’ top retreats, this is the perfect playground for anyone wanting to listen to the lapping shores of the sea in total luxury.
For more information contact George Damianos at Damianos Sotheby’s International Realty.
Tel: (242) 362 4211 • Cell: (242) 424 9699 • Email:
• Website: www.SIRbahmas.com
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