Caribbean people are experts when it comes to living in small spaces. Even though the world is now catching on to minimalist homes, the Caribbean perfected this from as far back as the 1600s. Chattel houses, which were the innovative homes built by formerly enslaved people, are testimony to how people found comfort in small homes. To this day, the chattel house is a remarkable symbol and some of its elements are incorporated into modern-day Caribbean architecture.
Chattel House Villas in the Caribbean
With the rise of new types of tourism and the ever-changing traveller profile, some Caribbean stakeholders have designed authentic island experiences with this in mind. For example, there are chattel house villas throughout the Caribbean which have used the core design concepts of the chattel house to create bespoke dwellings for unique Caribbean travel experiences.
Many of these properties were constructed with features such as spacious patios, large windows and doors, full wooden structures and facades, and small, yet tasteful design elements. Some of the chattel house villas in the Caribbean which have utilized these features in their designs are West Rock Barbados in Barbados; Hermitage Nevis in Nevis; Belle Mont Farm in St. Kitts; Strawberry Hill in Jamaica; and Cocobay Resort in Antigua & Barbuda.
West Rock Barbados
The roots of West Rock Barbados run deep into the heart of Barbados. The unique villa concept was designed by Barbadian architect John Allsop. In his design he took advantage of views of the west coast sea, brilliant sunsets, and the direction of the cooling island winds. Located close to Holetown and Royal Westmoreland in the parish of St. James, West Rock is a private retreat that allows guests to enjoy a bit of the bustle and the tranquility.
The property consists of a pool house, a saltwater pool, four one-bedroom and two two-bedroom chattel house villas. One-bedroom villas are situated at the front of the property. They are one-story structures with a separate bedroom, an open-plan living and kitchen area and bathroom. The two-bedroom villas are two-story structures with the main living area on the ground floor and two bedrooms and two bathrooms on the top floor. The grounds surrounding the villas feature tropical plants such as bougainvillea and palms.
Hermitage Nevis is the essence of Caribbean island living and is described as charming and authentic. Built around the oldest wooden house in the Caribbean which dates back to 1670, Hermitage is an elegant hotel on over five acres in the island of Nevis. This boutique hotel which is one of the oldest hotels in Nevis is located in Gingerland and offers hospitality and tranquility. Its closest points of interest are the Nevis Botanical Gardens, Pinney’s Beach and the Sea Bridge Ferry Terminal.
The hotel property is in its own little world with a swimming pool, sun terrace and tennis court. Guests are free to roam and spend quiet time amongst the fruit trees and palms. Accommodation options include hillside and garden rooms; balcony rooms; the Yellow Manor; the Rose Villa; and gingerbread cottages. The gingerbread cottages are architectural gems that feature shingled walls and fretwork around the patio porch. They are spacious quarters with a main bedroom, living room and kitchenette.
Kittitian Hill is a sustainable living community that offers an authentic escape that is steeped in its natural surroundings. This tranquil chattel house community is spread across 400 acres of fertile land on the island of St. Kitts. The Kittitian Hill story began with a dream to create a community where guests could enjoy the fruits of the earth and the culture of the island, with an option to partake in traditional tourist activities. With this in mind, Kittitian Hill aims to be a unique St, Kitts vacation experience that refreshes the spirit, mind and body.
Visitors to St. Kitts, who want to experience Kittitian Hill, can stay at Belle Mont Farm or Yaya Groves. Belle Mont Farm is a five-star eco-chic resort that welcomes guests to experience something amazing. Guests have the option of staying in luxury cottages, luxury villas or the private farmhouse. The other option is Yaya Groves, a collection of chattel house villas nestled amongst the tropical trees at Kittitian Hill. The villas are spacious, and have three to four bedrooms; rainwater showers; and breath-taking views of the ocean.
High in the famous Blue Mountains in Jamaica, lies a unique and exquisite luxury chattel house resort. Strawberry Hill is a resort, whose strategic location between the Liguanea Plain and the mountains, that benefits from fresh, cool air and exotic plants and foliage. The property, which consists of post-plantation cottages is a scenic 50-minute drive from the Norman Manley Airport. There is also an option to take a helicopter ride, which is another scenic excursion.
Strawberry Hill is a historic location that was once a haven for the late, legendary Bob Marley. In 1994, the Strawberry Hill Hotel threw open its doors to the world, and with superb architecture and artistic elements. In no time, the resort soon won awards for its use of wood in architecture; its beautiful design and recognition as the best resort/ villa/ hotel. Visitors to the property have several options such as the Studio Suite; Studio Cottage; One Bedroom Villa; Two Bedroom Cottage; and Two Bedroom Villas. These villas feature finely carved fretwork by local artisans, toiletries made from locally sourced herbs and modern interpretations of historic Colonial styles.
My dream chattel house villa is one that’s located away from the hustle of commercialized cities. Cocobay Resort checks this box because it’s located on a tranquil hillside that overlooks the stunning Ffryes Bay. This all-inclusive property is on the western coast of Antigua, approximately 25 minutes from St. John’s (capital city of Antigua and Barbuda) and 45 minutes from the V.C. Bird International Airport.
There are 65 private Caribbean cottages with views of tropical gardens of the beautiful Ffryes Bay. The cottages are modern chattel house villas with luxurious décor and fittings, and custom wooden furnishings. Cocobay Resort cottages feature large airy verandahs with daybeds and hammocks. Guests can choose from the Azure Private Pool Suite; the Premium Waterfront Pool Suite; the Deluxe Pool Cottage; the Deluxe Cottage and the Standard Cottage.
As tiny home experiences grow in popularity, this will inspire more interest in chattel house villas and similar accommodation experiences in the Caribbean. Curious guests who want a new Caribbean experience should visit one (or all) of these luxurious villas and see what it’s like to be part of the chattel house movement.
Image Credit: West Rock Villas Barbados