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Mount Hartman Bay Estate
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The challenge was on. A fortieth birthday loomed. How to throw a memorable house-party, and fine-tune the invitation list to accommodate parents, god-parents, a clutch of recalcitrant teenagers, another clutch of turbo-charged pre-schoolers and the demands of a bunch of high-achieving closest mates. Did such a villa exist anywhere in the world that would be large enough, special enough and flexible enough to live up to such an occasion?

Mount Hartman Bay Estate located on the southern shores of the charming and quirky island of Grenada near where the pale turquoise of the Caribbean and the indigo of the Atlantic meet and mix, may well be the perfect party location. Owned by a telecom millionaire with obvious vision, the house squats like an exotic bug among three acres of tropical garden at the end of a private and secure promontory overlooking the bay. Built partly into the rock-face with a cactus and grass covered roof and cooled by internal waterfalls, this is the antithesis of the usual sedate colonial- style island house. What you have here, instead, is as fantastical, futuristic and fabulous as Octopussy’s lair, complete with helipad and private jetty and, as local folklore has it, a secret elevator that accesses the beach from the master bedroom. Having said that, even after a fortnight searching, I never succeeded in locating it!

Actually, ‘master bedroom’ is a misnomer; one of the great things about Mount Hartman Bay is that there is no ‘best’ room for any one to bicker over. All 12 suites have equal space and spectacular views across the bay, most with indoor and outdoor bathrooms and all have enough high-tech gadgetry to warm the cockles of any technophile (or James Bond villain’s ) heart with Bose sound system and flat 42” plasma screens, ipods loaded with 1,800 tracks in all the bedrooms. There is also a home cinema, Sony Playstation and plenty of other toys-for-the-boys including a record-breaking Blade Runner 51ft powerboat capable of speeds of up to 70 knots for the exclusive use of the guests. It even has an outdoor misting system, a sort of air condition to keep passengers cool while sitting in the cockpit. There are also motor launches for wakeboards, jet boats and sea scooters.

Everything in the house is built on a generous scale; beds and wardrobes are oversized, the theatrical Biedermeier furniture upholstered in black damask would seat an entire foot ball team, the kitchen and the wine cellars are vast and cavernous and perfectly adapted for party-entertaining. Indeed, the dining room table, hand carved out of Venezuelan purple heart is so heavy, immoveable and huge (it can seat 30 comfortably) it had to be made on the premises.

There are pods of rooms in different zones across the estate so that, for instance, the children’s hysteria over sightings of spiders and lizards need never intrude on the whispered canoodlings of the loved-up couples. The children, we hardly saw. They could not have been more thrilled by The Flinstones meets Tracy Island architecture, and spent happy hours sliding through the internal waterfalls and using the rocky wall face of the semi-troglodyte setting as a climbing frame. We never saw much of the teenagers either, while the freshly-minted fiancées were sent off to the turret suite – a wonderful romantic eyrie located up a funky glass staircase overlooking the pool. The noisier singletons were consigned to the separate beach house with its own pool and spacious wooden decks giving on to the beach where we enjoyed daily sunrise yoga sessions with marvellous Mike, the fitness instructor.

Nothing was too much trouble. ‘No problem!’ was his response when we insisted on night time yoga on the pontoon – a can-do enthusiasm shared by all members of the 16-strong resident staff, managed by ex-SAS factotum Pete, aka ‘Bionic Man’. He was certainly a force to reckon with, with his impressive biceps, bald head and command over the huge mastiffs that roam and protect the estate at night. He met each new request as a challenge to be handled with humour and grace. When we casually said we wanted to dine alfresco he organised for the roasting spit and grill to be delivered to nearby Hog Island for a Caribbean-style ‘jump up’ and barbecue beneath the tamarisks on the sand. He personally towed the spit himself, strung out on a rope behind the boat and bouncing around in its wake. The chef (a disciple of Gary Rhodes) willingly gave us cookery demonstrations and rose mightily to the challenge of meeting the various allergies, vegan or AA leanings of the demanding group in exceptional formal feasts night after night.

It was easy to fall under their spell and the ‘anything’ goes charm of the island. Easy to be seduced by the languid beaches and crazy history of the island. We spent days exploring waterfalls and volcanic craters in our 4 x4s; we sampled a variety of fish specials at different and sensational restaurants everyday. We road-tested cocktails at memorable beach shacks like Aquarium and spent siesta hours snoozing beside the 27 metre infinity pool, cooled by remote controlled mist vaporizers built into the retractable awning.

Whether our euphoric highs were generated by the easygoing sprit of the island or by the fun, innovative design and spirit of the villa, it was hard to say but as a venue for a special event, Mount Hartman Bay Estate is impossible to beat.

TO BOOK: 08704288411 www.mounthartmanbay.com
The estate accommodates up to 24 guests in 12 doulbe rooms including the Beach House which can also be rented separately) Cost from (check) £2750 per person a week including all food and drinks , laundry , staff of 16 transfers all boats and the use of two Mitsubishi Shoguns 4x4s.

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