Sea Salt Villa, Jamaica
Decades after falling in love with Jamaica as a young boy, George Hodges returns to build a family home that embraces the island vibe.
Words by Erin Burke. Photography by Jessica Walker.
Tucked up on the verdant, undulating hillside of Jamaica's north shore within the 2,200-acres of preeminent Tryall Resort, sits Sea Salt Villa. Warm, welcoming and inherently endearing, the home is the bricks and mortar realisation of an enduring love affair with the island. As unique as its impetus for being, the home's unpretentious luxury reflects a family’s desire for connecting with the local vibe while enjoying all possible creature comforts.
"Jamaica has a distinct heart and soul to it," says owner, George Hodges. "The people are just marvellous, and I can’t say enough good things about their culture." His life-long passion and unwavering 'one love' for Jamaica took root as a young boy when he spent school holidays tramping the wild grounds of his aunt and uncle's Tryall Resort villa in the 1960s. Then, but a stripling, he has returned time and again with his ever-expanding family, eventually building Sea Salt in 2007, so they too can explore the wondrous island that so enraptured and inspired him.
A family endeavour from concept to completion, the Hodges strove for an abode that incorporated their distinctive design tastes, personality and love of food (its moniker is borrowed from the Hodges’ favourite restaurant – with permission, of course), all while embracing the simplistic beauty of Jamaican architecture.
Hired to create this homage was Nancy Maffessanti of Maffessanti Architecture & Urban Design. Born and raised in Jamaica, Maffessanti understood the spell of the ‘irie island’, and armed with her passion for tropical life, in addition to her impressive credentials, the Hodges knew she implicitly understood the balance they wanted their home to strike between function and aesthetic. “The Hodges wanted to build a house they could really enjoy with family,” she states. “And I like to create a personal palette that exudes my clients’ lifestyle completely. It was the perfect marriage.” In a delightful twist of fate, it is interesting to note that her father, Guiseppe ‘Pino’ Maffessanti, played a role in building Hodges’ aunt and uncle’s home.
What arose is a many-splendoured, five-bedroom, six-and-a-half bathroom, Georgian-Colonial structure. Kinetic in its participation with the thriving rainforests and shifting tides that surround it, the home is situated just so. Every vantage point from the house is replete with stunning views, flourishing gardens, the western coastline and sky blue waters of Montego Bay.
An expertly blended potpourri of influences from the more formal British and Spanish architecture to the relaxed local vernacular, the home is naturally modern, incorporating clean lines and open-door living for both practicality and beauty. Calculated, casual touches such as exposed shingles on the high, vaulted ceilings offer context and enhance the home’s roomy appeal, while outside three alfresco garden showers invite communing with nature and large covered terraces easily lull one into a state of utter relaxation. Hardware, such as the Georgian-esque knocker adorning the front door, is classical in form, but moulded from polished nickel to add a touch of modernity.
Within the home, an energetic, organic rhythm permeates – its conductors the natural fibres of the sisal rugs and fabrics, the indigenous plant life and susurrations of the Caribbean breeze. Mahogany chairs, tables and beds – handcrafted by local artisan, Prince Palmer, adorn, but do not clutter. And though the myriad styles hint at trends, in no way do they compromise depth or thematic intentions.
A native-mahogany living room floor contrasts in spectacular fashion with the light-hued travertine tile walkways, all of which inevitably lead to the central courtyard. Utilitarian in its purpose to dovetail Sea Salt’s 7,700 square feet of living space, the lush oasis steals the scene.
Many are the easy-going design qualities incorporated into this almost five-and-a-half acre property. Be not fooled though, Sea Salt is still every bit the five-star magnum opus that earned it Premier Villa rental status – the highest at Tryall Resort. Equipped to entertain up to 120 people, special detail was afforded to the kitchen such as commercial-grade appliances, Italian marble countertops and an adjacent rotisserie capable of roasting a small pig. In addition, there is a dedicated staff of six locals, including a chef, who “are an extension of our family,” insists Martha Hodges – one of many indications that family comes first at Sea Salt.
In the interest of achieving a balance of luxury inside and out, a 25-foot by 70-foot, three-edged infinity pool with fibre optic lighting subtly graces the landscape just beyond the outdoor sitting area. Dualistic in its role, this impressive element also serves as an introduction to its recreational counterparts – a 1,500 square-foot putting green and regulation shuffle board.
While Sea Salt certainly provides escapism for the Hodges when they want to disconnect, those craving a technology fix need not fret for the villa is equipped with wireless Internet, flat-screen televisions, Sirius radio and a high-tech sound system.
Decades in the making, this magnificent property, which so effortlessly blends laid-back luxury living with the natural world, inspires wellbeing and calm. Like a heartbeat in synchronicity with the rhythms of Mother Nature, there is a sort of harmonious mutual embrace as nature and nurture become one in the land of ‘one love.’
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