"CHAMPAGNE DREAMS, CARIBBEAN WISHES"
Robin Leach's Luxury Antigua Estate by Kaya Morgan
For 14 years, Robin Leach bid television audiences "champagne wishes and caviar dreams," his trademark adieu while globetrotting to a myriad of exotic destinations as the famed host of one of televisions all-time successful series, "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." When it came time to choose his own dream hideaway, this jet-setting, renowned celebrity having visited virtually every country on the planet had little trouble deciding on the perfect spot. Jumby Bay, the 300-acre resort island just off Antigua in the British West Indies, became Robin Leachs oasis and the site of his spectacular Italian-style villa.
"It has always been a dream of mine to retire in the Caribbean," explains Leach in that universally infamous, oh-so-Brit accent. "I think its a dream of a lot of Englishmen who grow up in a place that is quite often gray and dreary." One could say that Robin Leach has always been drawn to island living, albeit islands of a different sort. Originally raised in the British Isles, other home bases include that magical isle called Manhattan, another home on Candlewood Isle in Connecticut and then more recently an "island unto its own" that oasis in the middle of the desert his newest residence in Las Vegas.
Of course, Leach has his own theory about the appeal of island living and the desire to be surrounded by water, which he traces back to the beginnings of human life. "In our first nine months of existence, we are surrounded by water, cradled by it ... and this is the point where we feel most secure. We are sheltered, fed, protected. And, I believe that the desire to escape to islands is a longing to return to that." Robin himself has island-hopped to the extreme in that he has visited every Caribbean island and over 50 countries while hosting "Lifestyles."
Why Antigua? Leach confesses that the attraction was instant. He had hoped to find a residence on either Antigua or Barbados, those being the two English-speaking Caribbean islands that met his transportation requirements, both offering direct access by air to cities in Europe and the U.S. Initially, he began house hunting during his visits, but to no avail. Then, while working on a "Lifestyles" segment, he boarded the catamaran shuttle from the main island of Antigua to Jumby Bay Island, and knew he'd discovered the ultimate paradise. "My decision was immediate when I stepped off the boat onto the dock. I said to myself, Ive found it. as I rely a lot on instinct."
Intent on creating the perfect beachfront home in his newly discovered paradise, Leach had definite ideas about the design for his new dream home, calling upon architect Andrew Goodenough fellow Brit and resident of Antigua to help him. They discussed his desire for an Italian-style villa, the goal being a residence that wouldnt look like new construction but one that would, in fact, appear to be "three hundred years old." The resulting design called for a two-story, columned, main villa of neo-classic style, to include a spacious living area, open-air dining room, canopied breakfast area, Mediterranean-style kitchen, two matching offices, audio/video entertainment library, large arcaded patios, and one master suite to occupy the entire upper floor. Add an outdoor pool, tennis court, croquet lawn, with four individual guest houses on three landscaped acres and the plan was complete.
To integrate the home with its environment, about half of the property is devoted to extensive landscaping including a cactus garden and rare koi fish pond surrounded by palm trees, bougainvillea, ficus trees, orchids, and Leachs favorite organic fruit and vegetable gardens. The result is a residence that blends in gracefully with its stunning surroundings, without the obviousness of a new project.
"I truly love Italy and the Italian way of life its food, wine, everything about it," Leach explains. Although purely Italian in design, concessions were made to accommodate island living. The 4000-square-foot main house is situated not only to maximize the magnificent sea views but also to the flow of the constant tropical breezes, with the inclusion of ceiling fans, high ceilings, and arched doorways thereby eliminating the need for air conditioning. And the interiors were formulated to be comfortable yet uncomplicated.
The main floor includes a cool ivory-hued living room, which opens to a loggia of arches leading to the formal pool and the sea beyond. A library adjacent to the living room contains the main entertainment center with two home offices, across the hall from one another, providing ample and comfortable workspace.
The Mediterranean-style kitchen completes the downstairs floorplan, and is, along with the patios, Robins favorite area of the house. An avid cook, who helped launch the Food Network cable channel, he can often be found whipping up caviar pie or grilling fresh blackfin tuna for himself and his guests. An adjoining breakfast nook for quick meals, and the striking open-air dining room nearby seats twelve around a built-in concrete table topped with Italian tile for a beautiful effect.
Up the grand central stairway from the entry hall is the master suite, which includes a large private terrace overlooking the sea. The bedroom is dominated by a dramatic canopied king-size bed with four nine-foot-high Balinese wooden posts carved in the shape of island women in sarongs. The adjacent master bath features an open shower and separate sunken tub with views of the azure waters peeking through the shuttered windows.
Besides a secluded, private hideaway, the home is perfectly suited to graciously accommodating a variety of guests. "Going on the old adage about how fish and guests start to smell after three days," quips Leach, two main guest houses plus a pool and tennis court cabana, designed as miniature Palladian temples, were the perfect solution. Each includes a loggia and patio furniture, a large bedroom with sitting room, full bath, and a small, full kitchen. So besides the seclusion, he adds, "This set-up means that even I, as a Virgo, dont have to worry about whether theyre keeping things tidy!"
For owner and guests alike, there are plenty of activities besides the obvious loafing by the sea. In addition to the stunning rectangular formal pool, beach, tennis court, and croquet lawn, Leach keeps a boat for puttering around the island or for water sports water skiing, snorkeling, scuba with his myriad of celebrity guests. Occasionally, he takes a walk, run, electric scooter or bicycle ride around the perimeter of the 3.3 mile island, and two large water bicycles provide entertaining exercise. Indoors, the homes game room includes a pool table, darts, table tennis, and Robins elaborate collection of antique games, including old carnival slot machines.
His home, and the whole Jumby Bay Island experience, seems custom-made for dream fulfillment. This magical spot and the elegant villa Leach has created seems to mark the perfect pinnacle of a life spent on the road, a reward of peace and solitude under the soothing rays of the warm Caribbean sun.
When asked how much time Robin spends at his villa, he replies simply, "not enough." Between his constant schedules as ValueVision's TV Home Shopping Channel spokesperson, serving as their celebrity host for 24 worldwide location broadcasts, a busy promotional schedule at the Venetian Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, numerous guest appearances on Oprah, the Discovery Channel, MTV and PBS just as starters plus the many charitable events Leach hosts there is just not enough of that elusive leisure time he had once looked forward to after "Lifestyles." Yet, in answer to the rhetorical question, "Are we having fun yet?" You'd better believe it Robin Leach practically invented the word!
More stories by journalist, Kaya Morgan, can be found by clicking the link. Contact us for reprint rights as most articles are available.
All Rights Reserved ©
Press Coverage | VentureCapital | Business Development | Venture Opportunities | Resources | Contact Us | Investor Extras | Home