A fortress-like home in Grenada is the islandÂ’s latest luxury retreat. By Lindsay Lambert
Built in 1995 as a private residence by British sailor Robin Viney, Mt. Hartman Bay Estate perches on a verdant cliff overlooking the cerulean sea. The propertyÂ’s setting is similar to many in the Caribbean, but its fascinating features, inside and out, set it apart from the rest.
What is most unique about this estate is that it was built not only on a cliff, but into it, earning it the nickname Â“the caveÂ” by locals. Some say that Viney, who died before its completion, might have chosen the homeÂ’s design to render it a safe haven during a disaster of apocalyptic scale. Other features of the house lend credibility to the shelter theory: a desalination plant that draws water from 50 feet below the sea bed; a generator powered by a diesel tank engine; and 18-inch-thick reinforced basement walls, to name a few.
With its fortress-like features, VineyÂ’s home felt more about lockdown than luxury, and it was slow to sell after his passing. However, in 2002, British entrepreneur Richard Lee and his wife, Rosa, an architect, fell in love with what they call its Â“Gaudi-meets-GollumÂ” architecture. When the couple bought the estate as a family getaway, it was about 70 percent complete, but they stripped it back to about 35 percent completion and started over.
Today, the home, which the couple has repurposed for sale as a hotel/villa, is awash in Greek Island white, which Â“reflects the sun and accentuates the organic lines of the building while highlighting the green of the grass roof,Â” Richard says. The couple also added more bedrooms, a new hotel-standard kitchen with a walk-in cold room, a top-floor suite with a Juliet balcony, and an 80-foot swimming pool.
The final changes were made to the estateÂ’s separate four-bedroom thatched beach house, which they completed with a more informal feeling compared to that of the cave house. Richard Lee says the houseÂ’s giant suites, with wood and limestone floors, have novel, round bathrooms with semi-sunken baths and Â“risquÃ©, open-air showers that are actually totally private.Â”Â The beach house has its own swimming pool, along with a large outdoor Tiki bar and kitchen, and, now, its very own beach.
But now, with their children in school and schedules increasingly difficult to synchronize, the couple says itÂ’s time to sell. The new owner is tough to predict, says Rosa, adding that the ideal candidate will be Â“someone who. . . enjoys smiling at the world and at himself sometimes. ItÂ’s a house without pretension.Â” At this modern-day fortress, pretense doesnÂ’t stand a chance. 473-405-5400, mounthartmanbay.com.