July 31, 2021

Destination of the week

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0x600-2A taste of the billionaire life in the British Virgin Islands: Valley Trunk Estate
By Ann Abel From Forbes
IMAGES: Valley Trunk Estate In The BVI David O. MarlowValley Trunk
Yes, there are newer, more design-forward private villas on Virgin Gorda. But is contemporary style really the first thing that draws us to the Caribbean? Cool hunters may want to look elsewhere, but Valley Trunk Estate has much to offer families who want a private enclave with glorious gardens, spectacular views, a secluded beach, a well-practiced staff and a certain retro appeal. It also gives guests a glimpse of life as it’s been lived by one particularly well-off family. The Wildenstein family, who made their fortune in art and horseracing, built Valley Trunk in the early 1980s, and used it as private residence for the 30-odd years that followed. When the current generation assumed more responsibility for the family’s affairs, they decided to open it to the public as an exclusive-use villa. “The worst thing you can do for a house in the Caribbean is mothball it,” says Chris Tilling, whom they hired to manage Valley Trunk. Now the staff keeps their jobs, the house stays open, and guests get to step into another world. There was another incentive for opening it up, too: All the profits go to support the black rhino conservation work being done on the family’s Ol Jogi ranch in Kenya. Beyond the Wildensteins, enough wealth has settled in Virgin Gorda to justify the “billionaires’ playground” tag. Richard Branson and Google’s Larry Page meet up for kiteboarding off their private islands nearby. The yachts in the harbors can be jaw-dropping. But there’s a lot more going on here than simple voyeurism. As at so many resorts in the Caribbean, that “place out of time” feeling is part of the allure. The eight individually decorated bedroom suites have been impeccably maintained and technologically updated, but not redecorated. Mine had boxy bamboo furniture, a pink-and-green bathroom, and a mirrored wall behind the bed with bamboo insets in the shape of palm trees, which a companion described as “so seventies-sexy.” (I stayed as a

guest of the owners.) It was a throwback, for sure, but is it such a bad thing to be thrown back to a time when I didn’t have an iPhone that chirped at me every ten minutes? I rather liked it. The main house has had a few more updates, especially a screening room with a high-definition projector and a massive couch that seats at least 20 (download movies before your trip—BVI Wi-Fi isn’t quite up to the job—and they’ll play them from your computer) and a much-used popcorn machine. But generally guests don’t spend much time inside, preferring the terrace, where a 17th-century Dutch West Indies Company bronze canon is dramatically perched, and the serpentine swimming pool (chlorine-free) that surrounds it. The views from both are a major selling point. The estate was built on 19 acres of impeccably maintained (by a staff of six gardeners) tropical gardens overlooking Valley Trunk Bay, and all of the eight officially listed rooms have sea views and superb privacy. (A few more smaller, garden-facing rooms, best suited for children or staff, can take the head count a bit higher than the recommended 16 guests.) And the beach down below, cart dotted with striking granite boulders, is a stunner.
Steps back from the beach is the Bali House, which was one of the first houses in the BVI to be discovered in Bali, dismantled piece by piece, and rebuilt on the beach here. It’s a dreamy a site for open-air lunches or dinners, or simply a respite from the afternoon sun. Starting at $77,700 per week for up to six people, the rates are higher than at many villas on the island. But along with supporting the family’s conservation work, they include quite a lot: all food and drink, prepared by the family’s longtime private French chef; laundry service; and on-site activities, such as tennis and paddleboarding. Massage therapists and yoga instructors are on call (for an extra fee), and the can-do staff can arrange everything from a sushi dinner prepared by a Japanese chef to a nighttime Scuba outing. That weekly rate also includes unlimited use of Xanadu, the estate’s 68-foot yacht (though fuel isn’t included), whose capable crew is always on standby. Lunch in Anegada? No problem. These guys have had practice making whims into realities.
For more on this story go to: http://www.forbes.com/sites/annabel/2015/02/02/a-taste-of-the-billionaire-life-in-the-british-virgin-islands-valley-trunk-estate/

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