NEWPORT, RI, Aug. 2005 – A travel journalist with a penchant for perfection has arrived at a winning formula for the ideal villa rental.
Dena Kaye, who writes about travel and design for Town & Country and Architectural Digest, has created a villa on the Caribbean island of St. Barts with a discernment that stems from years of traveling internationally, houseguesting, renting houses in different countries, and staying at the finest hotels -- from the perfect bungalow to five-star palaces.
Located in elegant Pointe Milou on the island of St. Barts, Kaye’s newly renovated Villa DKD, available through WIMCO, the international villa company (www.wimco.com), offers ocean views from three sides, a 13-meter pool, two bedrooms, and an open-air / flowing loft-like space that maximizes outdoor living at its most glorious.
Villa DKD exemplifies her personal preferences in a vacation villa as well as a thoughtfulness that addresses both comfort and convenience.
Kaye, who lives with her partner Dick Fallin in Aspen, first discovered St. Barts in the early 1980s when she got off a boat, liked what she saw, came back a few years later and rented a villa. She's been a regular WIMCO villa client since, experiencing private homes in various locales and taking notes on everything from such kitchen appointments as garlic presses to how to maximize opportunities to enjoy the outdoors while in the shade.
"I don't like to be in the sun all that much but like to feel like I am outside," she says. Thus, a first consideration in renovating the villa was adding protected, outdoor living areas. The results are the Shade Porch, a porch covered in canvas with a big, pillow-strewn bed, plants and chairs that’s become a cozy outdoor space, and the Sun Room transformed from a terrace with a small pool into an airy space with high ceilings flowing out to the awning-covered deck. This room is appointed with rattan furniture and a bar closet with a small refrigerator for easy access.
Kaye says that for both personal use and as a villa rental it's important that a villa offer a variety of living spaces. So in addition to the two indoor / outdoor spaces, she's created two dining areas: in-kitchen dining for six at a white polyethylene table surrounded by stainless steel counters and appliances, and a dining area seven steps down in the Sun Room where guests can relax at a long wood picnic-like table. There's also a hillside, wood frame Gazebo at the end of the pool for a massage or sunset cocktails.
She loves outdoor showers; she added one by the pool. And from a small terrace she created an office that’s tucked away where guests can have their computer, use the fax or talk on the phone in complete privacy. The Living Room has a cushy, white duck upholstered couch, chaise and chairs and a flat-screen TV. Equally important to Kaye are comfort and convenience for her housekeeper, so the garage is now a laundry room with two washers and dryers and an owner’s closet.
"The key to making everything run smoothly in the house is our wonderful housekeeper," Kaye says, "who shares my aim of making the DKD villa experience as perfect for our clients as possible."
The identical Master Suites are air conditioned retreats with king beds with Tempur Pedic mattresses and Flos lighting from Italy (Kaye says even the best hotels rarely have adequate bedside reading lamps), window screens and diaphanous French butter cloth curtains for privacy and black-out window treatments. The twin-sink bathrooms with showers were designed with an abundance of shelves and niches so guests can hide or see what cosmetics and toiletries they wish. Guests enjoy winter and summer-weight bathrobes, depending on the season, thick towels, soft linens and pens, pencils and notepads with the DKD logo convenient to in-room phones.
"I wanted to add all of the amenities I've enjoyed in well-equipped hotels," she says. So there are organic bran, clay and algae soaps made in Paris, quality shampoo, cotton balls and q-tips arranged in an antique silver cup.
Kaye is sensitive to the stresses that people bring with them on any vacation and wants to make finding where to go and what to see a fun discovery, not a chore. She wrote and provides the DKD Book, a detailed house book outlining her choices of where to shop and eat, which beaches are near the house, and whom to call for massage, meals or manicures, as well as specific details on the villa.
She calls the DKD Book "a mini Town & Country article" to St. Barts. "Really what you are trying to do for a week or two is to have your guests feel at ease and relaxed as fast as possible, not losing two days finding the grocery store."
"The idea is that you want your life to be easy, to be able to walk through the house with wet feet and not worry about the floor," she adds. With this eye to relaxation, the floor is silver-green resin; the sink-into furniture throughout, including the living room, is comfort-based so folks can stretch out and put up their feet on the wood table. (Kaye has two sets of slipcovers for all upholstered furniture just in case.)
Guests also enjoy the DKD welcome package including a personal note on DKD stationery, a bouquet of bird of paradise flowers, a bottle each of red and white wine and a six-pack of bottled water.
Kaye likes variety in all areas, even CDs and books. CDs range from Mozart to the Beatles to Tony Bennett and Cuban salsa. There are games, puzzles and great coffee table books in the living room, and mysteries and novels in the bedroom bookshelves.
"There isn't one detail that Dick or I didn't pick in this house," she says.
Texture, luxury, simplicity and choice echo inside and out with high thread-count sheets, velvet-like blankets, Bouti coverlets (French country quilts) and wood and satin-covered hangers. The colors in the house were designed by Donald Kaufman and Taffy Dahl whose projects creating color interiors range from New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Delano Hotel in Miami. The colorists created a darker white for Villa DKD that reflects less light and is cooler. Christian Liagre and Artemide lamps, whimsical Philippe Starck stools and resin door levers from Paris are character-enhancing accessories.
The landscaping is equally restrained but still feels lush with palms, silver trees and filao pines. The orange bougainvillea is the only accent color, unless you count the blue of the sea and sky.
"Continuing the theme that having choices is great," says Kaye, "just makes a house feel like a more luxurious experience." For example, there are four different kinds of interesting beverage glasses to use outside, two sets of silverware, espresso cups plus coffee cups and mugs, a variety of plates, what she calls "really good posts and pans," and, because she is a serious cook, sharp knives and a five-burner gas stove... And, of course, a garlic press.
"The only things I don't have are muffin tins," she muses.
Weekly rates for Villa SIB DKD, based on the number of bedrooms requested, are $2,900 to $3,750 from now through mid December; $11,000 from Dec. 15 to Jan. 5, 2006; and $6,900 Jan. 6 to Apr. 14. Apr 15, 2006 - Dec 14, 2006.
Many St. Barts villas that are exclusively represented by Wimco, the Newport, RI, and London-based luxury vacation villa and hotel reservations company, have been completely renovated; and there are several brand-new properties to tempt visitors away from the changing seasons back home.
Rates include accommodation only and daily maid service (excepting Sundays and holidays). Wimco can tailor-make the villa holidays to suit each client's needs for private chefs, in-villa spa programs, yacht charters or simply a restaurant reservation.
Wimco's 2005-2006 villa inventory can be previewed on line at www.wimco.com (US) and www.wimco.co.uk (UK and Europe), by phone, please call toll free 1/800/932-3222 (US) or 44 0870 850 1144 UK).
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