June 2001by Jan Gordon
You have to wonder about the codes we use for our villas in St. Barts: BEV, PAT...those nonsense codes have been the villa lexicon for many years. WOW, OUI, and ZEN - now those are codes! How could I help but choose one of these superlatives (let's hope we don't do any coding like DUD or SOS) for my family vacation?
After 13+ years at Wimco, I have been at least an annual visitor to St. Barts, but always on business. With three rambunctious children on their annual two-week vacation, we had always chosen other non-Caribbean spring break destinations that afforded our family more sporting activities and for my husbands business demands, the requirement of telephone connectedness. This year was our year to say "oui" to St. Barts and to laze in luxury at OUI. The children, now college age, are far more amenable to carpaccio and chilled rosé than milk and a burger, and with St. Barts' AOL accessibility, our laptop provided all the connectedness we needed.
We had an ambitious (if not foolhardy) plan to rendezvous in St. Maarten one afternoon while arriving separately from New York, Newport, and North Carolina during the week of the largest Nor'easter to hit the east coast in years. Remarkably, we all made it on the designated afternoon, but not in time for the last Winair flight to St. Barts. With a gritty determination to get there the day we planned, a quick call to Wimco resulted in an evening boat charter on Yannis Marine’s "Coconut One." The 45-minute passage was the perfect remedy for my travel-weary, city-dressed, winter-pale and flight-cancelled family. Yannis welcomed us aboard with a shoes-off policy and an invitation to a cooler of chilled Carib beer. Passing distant island peaks silhouetted by periodic heat lightning in the unstable night sky, I felt myself downshifting from frazzled to mellow on that late-night, calming cruise. The hum of the Merc engines and the spray of warm salt mist from the contrails cut by the bow just brought all of us to an island state of mind without the "bends" of arriving too suddenly. If the water is calm, I highly recommend this wonderful method of arrival. I am told, however, that in a good chop the passage can be rough and Dramamine more appropriate than beer.
Villa OUI is a climb to the highest point in Petit Cul de Sac, up steeply climbing roads and switchbacks that had my gang in giggles as they rode, tightly packed into our rental Terio and alternating the tempo of breathing lest they burst the car’s seams by inhaling simultaneously . The arrival is stunning: the first look is at the well-decorated, overstuffed, designer-coordinated living room and the stretch of huge pool overlooking distant oceanfront cliffs with crashing waves lit up by the moonlight and our friendly, familiar heat lightning. The second look brings out the details: hand-painted folk art cabinetry, a thoroughly modern kitchen where every item in a set matched, so unlike the kitchen mishmash of a 25-year marital collection at home; a killer sound system broadcasting Euro New Age rock throughout the house and terrace; ample and inviting upholstered poolside furniture with perky blue and white fabrics and individual sun awnings to pull down over one’s head and shoulders for reading in the shade while sunning (we thought the cute striped awnings made us look like big babies in prams, but it sure kept the burning sun away); and the bedrooms - Ah, the bedrooms! Three bedrooms of exactly equal size and quality are distinguished by their individual, bold color schemes and equally bold fabric selection. A fourth bedroom doubles as a TV room/office with bathroom and pull-out trundle bed making it equivalent to the other three bedrooms and even bolder in color and fabric scheme. OUI's interior décor and colorful design statement make it a candidate for any Architectural Digest feature, even a cover!
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