The Cliffs, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands
Eco-sensitive abodes that seduce on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands.
Words by Laura Collacott. Photography by Christian Horan.
Gazing out on a hazy Caribbean scene, Christopher Columbus' eyes settled on the dramatic shape of an arched, rocky island draped in velvety vegetation. Musing, he decided that it reminded him of a reclining woman. And so Virgin Gorda (‘the Fat Virgin’) was named.
The fanciful explorer may have been among the first to appreciate this isle in the British Virgin Islands’ inherent beauty, but he was not the last.
Nestled on the quiet eastern tip lies Oil Nut Bay, a low density, earth-conscious development that revels in the natural beauty of the region. Situated on 300-acres of pristine land, the community offers 88 villa plots (freehold – unusual in the area) each with spectacular views over the Caribbean idyll. Neighbours such as Richard’s Branson’s Necker Island and Laurance Rockefeller’s Little Dix Bay allude to the calibre of this princely development, but it is not just princely. It is also kind.
Environmental guardianship has been placed at the heart of the design agenda by developer David V. Johnson, Chairman of Victor International, in recognition of the location’s picturesque natural allure. Architect Doug Kulig, along with Tim Peck and OBM International Destination Creation team, are masters in constructing stunning, minimum impact buildings, and the result here is no exception. A thoughtful and seductive complex, Oil Nut Bay is as design savvy as it is technologically advanced.
Plots flow seamlessly from one to another, the use of natural materials and green roofs artfully integrated to give the impression of long-established residence. Working with the island’s natural contours has created a cascade of buildings down the hillside, maximising the view and minimising the need for excavation, and thus containing environmental impact.
Fifty percent of the land has been designated as open space with nature trails and conservation areas that not only enhance the scenery, but also serve the local wildlife. In charge of the necessary nitty gritty, Harris Civil Engineers even incorporated an ecofriendly pond that includes dedicated shallows for migratory birds, while a cutting-edge system collects and treats storm water run-off before discharging it safely into the pristine sea.
Infrastructure is state-of-the-art to sidestep a compromise between convenience and sustainability. Electrical power systems are underwater or in-ground; solar-powered reverse osmosis plants turn seawater into fresh drinking water; a fleet of electric carts allow zero-emission free movement; buildings even have turtle friendly LED lighting. This is a complex designed with Mother Nature in mind.
In keeping with the meticulous planning given to this world-class development, there is also a Beach Club, multiple ocean-front restaurants and three pools all set upon a tranquil bay with powdery soft sand and a protected coral reef teeming with aquatic life just waiting to be explored. If that is not enough, head to the Kids Club, Nut House or Nature Centre complete with an in-house marine biologist. For those in need of a little pampering, the Spa and Wellness Centre offers a full service gym as well as a broad menu of luxurious spa treatments.
More inclined to ocean endeavours? An 88-slip marina with easy access to every conceivable service makes dockside living as convenient as possible.
However, if you have not the whim for a permanent piece of paradise, you need not miss out. The Cliffs Suites are three luxury one-bedroom apartments built into the rocky promontory of the southeast cliffs and flooded with natural sunlight. Architect, Doug Kulig, elaborates, “The Cliffs represent life on the wild side of Oil Nut Bay. In keeping with this, the residences were designed as layers of linear structures crafted into the face of the cliffs, with minimal visual impact on the natural beauty of the setting.” Indeed. Views of the shimmering azure waters fill every room thanks to floor-to-ceiling sliding picture windows from Custom Fenestration Products, while wraparound terraces deliver panoramic views of the exquisite beyond, perfect for supping a sundowner. Here, the views are so uninterrupted you could be forgiven for imagining you are on the prow of a ship.
Inside, interiors in a palette of creamy coconut, muted mink and rich teak envelop guests in a sense of calm. “Our inspiration was to create a neutral palate that would be in harmony with nature and compliment the amazing sea views, not compete with them,” says interior designer Pam Johnson. As the wife of Oil Nut Bay’s developer she stepped in to lend her eye for design to the décor, with the simple brief to “make our guests feel as though they are in a luxurious home.”
Above, teeters the pièce de résistance, an expansive Penthouse luxuriously styled with Fendi Casa furnishings. A majestic Murano Via Lattea chandelier hangs in the sitting area above plush leather sofas and views to make the heart leap. Settle into a settee, the enormous sliding doors thrown open to the cool tropical breeze, the infinity-edge pool seamlessly knitting sky and sea, and you almost melt into the Caribbean mosaic.
Leading from the front, Oil Nut Bay aims to preserve the raw beauty of this exclusive island enclave that grows in harmony with nature, offering luxurious, state-of-the-art living that sits lightly on the earth. Whilst there are many tempting resorts in the region, it would be safe to wager this is the one that would seduce Columbus.
"This is a complex designed with Mother Nature in mind."
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