Villa Mani takes villa vacations (and retirement) to a new level.
By Kathy Borsuk ~ Photos By Christine Morden & James Roy, Paradise Photography
If you could retire anywhere in the world, and do anything you desired, what would you do? If you had the resources to choose any vacation spot on the planet and savor every pleasure available, where would you go? What if the answers were the same? Villa Mani, a one-of-a-kind vacation complex sprawling over 2 1/2 acres on Providenciales’ quiet south shore, is both a retirement haven for owners David and Carol Pease, and a vacation paradise for guests in the all-inclusive luxury rental villa.
Besides its eye-catching flamingo color, Villa Mani is distinctive for its magnificent location. The 15,000 sq. ft. villa lounges along a hill in Turtle Tail, with one side overlooking most of Providenciales and the other offering sweeping views of the ocean’s south shore and Caicos Banks. Villa Mani is fronted by a private marina and backed by a private beach, its lagoon protected in the embracing curve of a tiny cay. Spectacular 360º views await guests at the top of the tower, where there is a lounge and bar, the ideal place to greet each morning and end each day. Best of all, nearly anything and everything needed for a perfect vacation—from support staff to sports activities—is included in the rental price.
David and Carol Pease are as glamorous as their property. An outgoing, interesting couple who married later in life, they have experienced a good sampling of the best the world has to offer. Vivacious and beautiful, Carol describes arriving in the TCI for the first time on their 80 foot Italian yacht Phoenicia during a tour of the Bahamas in 2001. “We came for a week, ended up staying for a month, and bought property.” The Peases had been looking for the perfect place to retire, and happened to present their nearly impossible wish list to Bengt Soderqvist, one of Provo’s original real estate developers. Unbelievably, the Villa Mani site met every criterion.
David, a Navy veteran, accredited captain and successful businessman (he invented the first residential steel door and revolutionized the market) has traveled the globe and states that he has not seen more stunning water or a more comfortable climate than that in the TCI. “The ocean changes color like a kaleidoscope and it’s never too hot or too cold. Privacy is a given and the Islanders are friendly and welcoming.” They sealed the deal and began planning their dream home, starting by tearing down the original John Finnegan house. Carol envisioned interiors and purchased the majority of the furniture and fittings to ship to the Islands in a half-dozen containers. Then a family tragedy struck, and the couple’s plans were put on hold for several years.
Throughout the long construction process, the Peases enlisted the talent of Ron Shaw, a TCI-based architect noted for award-winning luxury properties throughout the Caribbean. They “pushed him to be curvy” as they designed the various wings of the home to hug the hillside and flow along the shore, mirrored by large terraces and sinuous gardens designed by Palm Beach landscape architect Warren McCormick. With Carol entirely in charge of the quite-distinctive interiors, local artist Pam Leach created several lovely wall, ceiling and exterior frescos.
Although he had years of experience in the construction industry, David Pease says, “Building Villa Mani was a challenge because we did lots of re-design, but the end result made it all worthwhile. There was no problem procuring anything I needed.” He wanted the villa to be well built and high tech. As a result, bamboo floors are cushioned with foam, electronic locks don’t require keys, and there are 28 individual air conditioning units, which, along with the lights, operate on sensors that switch on and off when a person enters each room.
The end result can only be described as “over the top.” Carol says, “I thought we were going to ‘downsize’ our retirement home, but somehow, it just grew and grew!” Entered via the marble-floored front porch which reigns over the terraced garden entranceway, Villa Mani’s “Great Room” opens onto the ocean view, yet is decorated in regal style, including a baby grand piano, chandeliers and glass curio cabinets.
There are six bedrooms, each with private bath, sporting a unique decor and opening onto terraces overlooking the ocean. Half of the bedrooms are two-room suites, and all are appointed with luxurious feather beds, down duvets and the finest linens.
There are also five bars on the property, a testimony to the relaxation mode that seems to naturally take over. These range from a beachside cabana bar, tiki hut palapa and swim-up pool bar to the magnificent tower bar. An elevator from the auto court to the main villa level completes the amenities.
Like many retirees, the outgoing Peases realized that occasionally renting out their “castle” would provide welcome stimulation, and a chance to meet other interesting and affluent families and corporate executives. They set apart a private suite for themselves and opened the rest of the villa for occasional rental for 1 to 15 guests. Understanding that the wealthy would rather not deal with details, the Peases decided to streamline by including almost everything in the rental rate.
As a result, guests (about 1/3 arrive by private jet or yacht) are met at the airport (or come straight into the marina’s private boat dock) and driven to the property by Villa Mani staff. Notable private chefs prepare gourmet breakfasts, lunches and dinners via daily consults with guests. George is the on-site butler and masseur, lured from his tenure at The Regent Palms and available for spa treatments anywhere on the Villa Mani property.
A 33′ power boat with captain is on call for snuba, fishing trips or picnics on secluded cays. Jet skis come from nearby Caicos Marina, the luxury catamaran Beluga stands ready for sunset sails and Provo Ponies’ steeds for horseback rides along the beach. The Peases act as concierge/coordinators of the five-person staff to cater to guests’ every need, and say they can be as “visible” or “invisible” hosts as their guests desire.
The Peases note that many guests simply savor the nooks and crannies and toys of Villa Mani, and rarely venture further afield. The greatest lure is the protected private beach. Overlooking the beach is a multi-level infiniti pool, complete with underwater chairs for sitting, sunning and sipping. Water toys include kayaks, hobie cats and paddleboards; planned for mid-2013 is a waterslide from the pool into the ocean. Indoors are a range of the latest electronics, including sound systems, flat-screen TVs in every room, WiFi, a theater room and library of “the world’s greatest books.”
Since Villa Mani opened in 2012, reaction from guests typically ranges from overwhelmed to overjoyed, and the property is developing a certain caché among the upscale clientele it attracts. Among the most honored guests are their “Wounded Warriors,” war veterans and their families. David’s military background inspires him to host four such groups annually, commenting, “I would do anything for the folks fighting to protect our country.”
The Peases often share their experience with other couples like themselves who may be considering retiring to the Turks & Caicos. “Besides the relaxing seaside lifestyle, perfect climate and great people, Provo is easy to get to and has great medical facilities and an experienced group of private doctors.”
It’s clear that the Peases, with a world of choice, are content with their decision to make the TCI their retirement home. Family and friends often visit, and their daughter was engaged, and later married, at Villa Mani. As we close the interview at the top of the tower, the sun just starting to sink into the ocean, a late winter glow lighting our faces and a gentle breeze at our backs, David muses, “The Islands are not for everyone, but for us and our guests, everything we like is right here.” That’s not hard to believe.
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Cover photographer Christine Morden works for Paradise Photography www.myparadisephoto.com , a full service boutique company based in the TCI. She especially enjoyed the Rejouvenance photo shoot to learn about the benefits of coconuts and to smell the amazing scents of their hand-crafted products.