For a long time, whenever Veronica Lloyd’s husband suggested buying a second home in one of their vacation spots, she resisted. His business designing health and leisure clubs, a business which for many years she shared, had made him, in his spare time, an inveterate searcher-out of choice real estate.
In 1996, still cherishing the idea of a vacation house, he suggested a trip to Barbados. Both keen golfers, they were excited to try their skill at a new golfing development on the island. But golf was only the first of many enticements. When she arrived, Veronica fell head over heels for the year-round sunny climate, the friendly people, the nightlife (safe enough for her teenage daughters), and, of course, the beaches. She also liked the fact that the island felt close; it could be reached with a single eight-hour flight from her home in London. “It was wonderful,” she says. “It had everything that I had not previously found in other locations.”
For the first time, she began house hunting in earnest. Soon the couple’s minds were made up to buy a place in the golfing development, but the friend with whom they were staying made a fateful suggestion: Why don’t you go look at a beach house?
On the north corner of horseshoe-shaped Sandy Lane Beach, mere steps from the white sand, they found the house, their house, which they now call Landfall, a word that signifies homecoming. It didn’t feel like home at first. It was rundown and strangely decorated. From the 12,000-square-foot interior, “the house wasn’t particularly enticing,” Veronica says. But then they stepped out onto the terrace and beheld, practically at their feet, the warm placid waters of the Caribbean Sea. The panorama took their breath away. “We stood there and we said to each other, ‘If it’s true what they say that when you buy a place it’s about location, location, location, this is the location.'”
She could drag her feet no longer. But even after buying the house, much remained to be done. The Landfall plot had been occupied since 1899, and after many years of alterations the current house “was rather higgledly-piggledly,” as Veronica puts it. To make matters worse, the previous owners had been all too preoccupied with privacy; although the house commanded a wonderful view, much of it was screened off with greenery. And so the Lloyds set about opening it up, making the most of the natural surroundings, making the most of the windows and light. They refurbished the interior, installing shellstone flooring from South America and outfitting the six bathrooms in British marble. They added terraces to the upstairs bedrooms. What they kept were the arched windows, arched doors, and recessed lighting created by a local architect, touches that felt authentic to Barbados. “We liked the idea that it looked and felt like a Bajan house rather than a modern cosmopolitan house that could have been anywhere,” Veronica says.
Entering the house now, you walk through an arched doorway into an interior courtyard that is open to the sky, with hanging baskets of tropical plants above and, at its center, a fountain in a pool of water. The house is built around this un-roofed atrium, with the second-floor bedrooms giving onto an elevated walkway that runs the perimeter of the courtyard below. On the ground floor, a large living room is anchored by a wooden table on which a piece of coral serves as a whimsical reminder of the villa’s Caribbean setting.
Modern conveniences abound throughout the house, including satellite TV and a stereo with iPod dock connected to a high-end sound system throughout the house. But Landfall’s amenities extend far beyond mere appliances. There is a full household staff to see to your needs, at least three members of which have been with the house for more than 18 years, even longer than the Lloyds. When she first bought the villa, Veronica remembers wondering whether the staff would be a boon. Now she can’t imagine Landfall without them. And with a staff to cook and clean, vacationing in a rented villa becomes even more carefree than staying in a hotel. “All that headache is taken away,” Veronica says. “It’s a very relaxing setup.”
That fits perfectly with her aim to make the villa a family getaway for herself and for visitors. Initially the Lloyds would bring their elderly parents to Landfall on holiday. Along with the staff, the sprawling quarters and close proximity of the beach make it ideal for older relatives, “because you don’t really need to go anywhere,” Veronica says. “There’s plenty of room in the house, nobody is on top of each other.” Grandchildren are now part of her family, and Landfall remains a center of gravity which three generations now orbit around. The villa “allows us to all be together in a way that we can’t be when we’re in Britain,” Veronica says. “I don’t know of any other situation in my life where it’s quite as easy to do that, and have everybody content.”
It’s difficult for her to single out a favorite part of the house, but after mulling it over she declares it would have to be the master bedroom terrace, which runs all the way along one side of the house, overlooking the infinity pool and jacuzzi below and, a little farther out, the open sea. Up there, reading a book or sewing, she is able to look on while her daughters, now grown, and her four small grandchildren play. “That is my most special spot,” she says. “Particularly at sunset. The sunsets are just glorious.”
But there are plenty of things in Barbados worth leaving the house for. One excursion Veronica recommends is heading into the island’s interior to see the old plantation houses – visible reminders of the British, who first arrived in Barbados in 1625. There are also tropical wildlife areas and flower gardens open to the public. And golfers are spoiled for choice. Veronica’s favorite place to tee-off is a new championship course at Apes Hill Club, which opened in 2009.
Other pleasures include the island’s excellent dining options, of which the most famous is a restaurant called The Cliff. A 10-minute drive down the coast from Landfall, it sits on a rocky outcrop above a little cove, affording an unobstructed view that has to be seen to be believed. It’s a favorite of international jetsetters. “The food is absolutely top-class,” Veronica says. “It’s also extremely expensive, so I wouldn’t recommend that anybody go there very often. But I tell my guests that if they’re prepared to face the bill, then it’s worth going once in their lives.”
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