Hawksview Estate, St. John, USVI
A home with a higher power on the paradisiacal island of St John, USVI.
Words by Juliet Austin. Photography by Dan Forer.
Close your eyes if you will, and imagine the quintessential Caribbean nirvana... a fantastical isle fringed with white-sand beaches, rolling hills and mysterious valleys. Sun bathes the walls of a sumptuous private villa, resplendent on its lofty hillside perch. Enfolded in tropical woodland wilderness, spellbinding views spill out over endless aquamarine, where sea horses play and pelicans wheel and dive in skies of impossible blue. Languishing in a tropical orchard, a hammock sways in the sea breeze… Eyes open and you will see your dream made bricks-andmortar- reality in the form of the achingly insouciant Hawksview Estate, a prototype for paradise on the north shores of St John, USVI.
Situated high on eleven rambling acres tucked within the boundaries of one of St John’s National Parks, the 14,500- square-foot property is skirted by the renowned Trunk Bay and picture-perfect Hawksnest Bay. Commanding soaring 270° views out over thirty or more tiny islands and cays, the four-bedroom, sevenbathroom home and guest studio are the heavenly hillside haven of European owners, Katrin and Karl-Erivan Haub and the masterstroke of St Thomas architect, Michael de Haas.
Embracing the inherent beauty and innate wisdom of the local vernacular, a vintage brick driveway leads to a gated Portuguese limestone courtyard, offering tantalising glimpses of the watery wonderland beyond. Entering on the upper lever, guests are lured along the colonnaded entrance hallway with the promise of colour and light and air as the home unfurls enticingly into the scene-stealing Great Room. Here, through mahogany-framed windows and doors, the eye is transported on a metaphorical flood tide, past the coral stone deck and fortyfoot infinity pool – its compass rose seeming to navigate the way onward, to the culminating glory of Nature’s everchanging canvas.
Rising synergistically with the splendour of its setting, Hawksview’s open, symmetry-driven aesthetic – its heavy columns, louvered doors and carefully proportioned Palladian arches so reminiscent of famed theatrical designer-turned-Caribbean architect extraordinaire, Oliver Messel – is impelled, somewhat whimsically, by the elements themselves. Conversely, its intelligent design ensures protection against the ravages of powerful winds and driving rain. Modular in nature, covered breezeways connect rooms boasting trellised balconies and French doors flung open onto charming private terraces. Topped with hip and pavilionstyle rooflines, interior ceilings are either vaulted – allowing for cool air circulation, trussed and anchored by king posts as seen in the gallery and upper floors, or traditional tongueand- groove cypress. Offset by cool underfoot Bulgarian limestone and Italian marble floors from Paris Ceramics, at nightfall up-lit exposed wood beams become umbrellas of warmth and protection while, outside, from the hawk’s view, the property’s silhouette harmonises with its surroundings, the rise and fall of its rooftops echoing the undulating hills of neighbouring islands.
Inside, crisp, timeless interiors, brainchild of St Croix designer, Twila Wilson of Twila Wilson and Associates, whisper sophistication and old world elegance, simultaneously appearing fresh and de rigeur. Counterbalanced by eye-catching colour accents, placed with an artist's eye – kiwi green, tangerine, hibiscus pink, mango and assorted yellows – the scheme is unified by refined dark wood furnishings, a peppering of intriguing objets d’art, lush indoor foliage and romantic Indian gauze panels. Billowing in the breeze, they introduce a note of sensuality and movement, temptingly obscuring transitions between spaces.
Revisited in the bed-tenting in each bedroom suite, rooms pay homage to striking views. High polished wood floors mirror blue skies, while walls painted in complementary tones amplify, but never compete with, the palette of paradise. Like gazing out from a magical tropical snow-globe, the master bedroom’s octagonal configuration allows for alternating windows and doors in each wall, flooding the area with brilliant light. What could be more irresistible than moon gazing from your private balcony or wishing on shooting stars from the comfort of your dreamy fourposter cocoon?
Aptly named, Hawksview shares many symbolic associations with its namesake. Synonymous with vision and power, the hawk soars aloft, gaining deep perspective for the minutia of its environment, observing what others may miss. Likewise, Hawksview Estate is master of all it surveys, intimately connected in time and place, its insightful design making it guardian and protector of the realm.
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