It’s been almost a decade since Celine Le Fevre and her family had a vacation together. Her parents have an empty nest in Toronto, while she’s in Montreal and her brother’s studying in Ottawa. When the stars finally aligned and the opportunity arose to enjoy a getaway together, Celine, a Luxury Retreats Concierge, collected the gang and set off for Tortola.
Leaving from Toronto one late May morning, a mix-up during their stop through Miami was a blessing in disguise, “We were upgraded to first class—and needless to say, it was definitely worth the extra wait. Champagne, delicious food and total comfort found us before we even reached Tortola,” says Celine. Arriving in St. Thomas, Celine notes that there’s something special about deplaning directly into the soft Caribbean breezes and hot sunshine, as opposed to a stuffy airport terminal. “I was so excited coming into St Thomas. You can see all of the surrounding islands too—it’s the ultimate teaser.”
“We took the ferry from St Thomas to Tortola” she continues. “It’s amazing how easy and smooth it all was. The villa manager for Villa Aja, Chevone, met us at the dock. It was so comforting to have this level of service and attention.”
“There’s nothing like sitting out on your terrace, taking in the view and having an amazing meal prepared for you”
Ascending the hilly Tortola roads, the family knew one thing: the higher up, the better the view. And when they arrived at the villa, the view definitely satisfied their expectations. From the back deck, an emerald pool looks onto a secluded beach with rolling waves peacefully lapping into shore. The open-air dining area is blessed with this view too—meaning the delicious meals served by their private chef, Kathy, were enjoyed against an unforgettable backdrop. “The meals by Cathy were really memorable, such as a spinach salad with prosciutto, hot pepper oil and pine nuts, or grilled Mahi Mahi in a lemon caper sauce with veggies. There’s nothing like sitting out on your terrace, taking in the view and having an amazing meal prepared for you,” says Celine. Meals so good that you try and bring them back home with you in some way. “Actually, that reminds me!” Celine smiles, “Cathy owes me the recipe to her brie, tomato and basil dip.”
But the meals with a view weren’t the only impressive thing about Villa Aja. What surprised Celine and her family most was the beautifully detailed finishes they found in every corner of the villa. From the floor-to-ceiling windows in the master bathroom with full views of the ocean to the iridescent purple tiles on the walls, Celine says, “Everyone was blown away.” The living room, with its minimalist furniture offset with bright punches of color, became the central relaxation spot, “It was perfect because there was a space in the villa for everyone,” says Celine. “My brother and I spent a lot of time enjoying the pool, and my parents could relax after a day on the beach cruising their iPads on the couch.”
Once of the advantages of traveling in the Caribbean is the accessibility to other islands. So, a week in Tortola meant seeing St Thomas and Virgin Gorda too, including a memorable day trip to Virgin Gorda on Celine’s birthday, spent snorkeling at The Baths (Virgin Gorda’s natural rock pools). The family also set out to find their favorite conch fritters, a local delicacy. “We made a point of trying as many different conch fritters as possible, we wanted to find our favorite!” (she admits that the first fritters they tried, at Rum Shandy’s while waiting for the ferry in St Thomas were the best: “Perfectly light and crispy”). The conch fritters were often complemented by “Painkillers”—Tortola’s signature drink, which Celine explains as, “Very similar to a pina colada with fresh ground nutmeg added; sweet and delicious.”
When you combine a luxurious villa that boasts something for everyone, with a view that not even your imagination could muster up, and an impromptu conch fritters tour, you get a new appreciation for quality family time. Distant memories of hot and sticky days fighting in the back seat of the car are replaced by fresh memories of stress-free quality time. And needless to say, the Le Fevre family all agree that their stay at Villa Aja was well worth the wait.
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