By: Mary Pat & Raoul's Daughter, Nina
When Raoul and Mary Pat arrived in Anguilla 30 years ago they had the creativity and determination to make their tropical dreams come true. Five years after opening their successful French-Asian restaurant, Hibernia in Island Harbour, I was born. Here is the inside story of how Mary Pat & Raoul came to Anguilla and how our home, Villa Hibernia came to be.
Mary Pat & Raoul
Mary Pat first heard of Anguilla in the late 70's when her aunt was working for the Anguilla Ministry of Tourism. It wasn't long before Mary Pat went out to visit her aunt in the beautiful Caribbean island. Naturally, she fell in love. Being a teenage city girl at the time, she thought, “it is beautiful, but I could never live in such a quiet place”. Even so, Anguilla stayed in her mind.
In 1985 she met Raoul from France, who upon qualifying from the hotel management school of Strasbourg, was running a very successful restaurant in Dublin city while Mary Pat had become an independent clothes designer. They decided that they were at a point in their lives where they could explore the world.
They began in Venezuela and then crewed on a tug boat through the islands as far as St. Martin. There, they decided to set foot on land again and see what would happen if they went over to Anguilla. They found a house to rent for a month and the rest is history!
Island Harbour is situated at the very tip of the eastern side of the island and is one of the most special villages in Anguilla. Being Anguilla's main fishing village, and main source of fresh fish, it was an ideal location for their restaurant. From the very outset they felt right at home here as the community greeted them with such warmth when they first arrived in the 80's.
Hibernia Restaurant & Art Gallery
Hibernia Restaurant was created in a spaciously landscaped West Indian style house and in the early years, my parents lived in a couple of the back rooms... until I came along!
It was certainly their lucky day when a friend mentioned a nearby piece of land for sale. It had just become available as the original buyers had backed out. Out of curiosity, my parents decided to check out the plot. Being hilly, rocky and overgrown with bushes, it was enough to put them off but at the sight of the breathtaking view of the vast ocean and the secluded feel of the location, they knew at once it was the spot for their home.
Welcome to Villa Hibernia
Building their very own ‘home in paradise’ turned out to be more of an adventure than they could have predicted, especially since they took on most roles themselves. No fancy architects or elaborate plans were required. Villa Hibernia slowly came together with my parents' natural artistic vision and their desire to make the most of the beautiful surroundings.
Endless Views to the Sea
The design was inspired by a mix of their numerous trips to the Far East and from having lived in their West Indian restaurant for a few years. They were familiar with the realities of living in a hot climate, and knew the direction of the natural breezes and the music of the waves.
Deep Atlantic Blue
All of that knowledge came into play when laying out Villa Hibernia. The fundamental idea was to build a home with a very open design. To be in indoors, while feeling outdoors and with a strong sense of the closeness of the ocean. They aimed to emphasize the breath-taking location.
In their early 30s, with a moderate budget, the young couple set about building their dream home. It all started as a very rough draft, which would constantly be re-worked and perfected over the years to come.
As with any project, there were setbacks. One of the biggest?...
The construction of the house was finally completed in the summer of 1995 and off my parents went to Asia feeling very accomplished and deserving of a holiday. However that September Anguilla was struck by the very destructive Hurricane Luis, which took the newly laid roof with it. Fortunately no one was living there yet and it was still unfurnished!
The New Roof
A few years later when my mom, Mary Pat won a big raffle, she sold her prize and built a gazebo down on the sea rocks, to be just a few feet away from the waves. I have the fondest memories of sunset swims and night-time barbecues here. This was my favourite spot to get lost in a book.
The Seaside Gazebo & Villa Hibernia Above
Upon turning 40 and as a present to themselves, just outside their bedroom (the villa's master bedroom that overlooks the water) the suspended jacuzzi overlooking the sea was built.
And then? When I was about 10 years old the idea came about to build a big swimming pool. To this day, I still think that my constant pleading for a pool was the main motivating factor :-)
The Seaside Pool
From the jacuzzi, to the pool, to the terrace with outdoor dining area... it all revolves around the ocean. The main master bedroom, too, looks out to the sea. The second master bedroom opens up to the ocean as well, on the pool-level terrace.
The Living Room
On top of emphasizing natural surroundings, the villa is filled with art from all corners of the far east. My parents have always spent 2-3 months of the year traveling, mainly throughout Asia during Anguilla’s hurricane season. These travels inspired them in so many ways and always sparked new ideas to enhance their home and make it into the peaceful villa it is today.
When the idea of renting out “Villa Hibernia” came to mind, it stimulated even more creativity. My parents' desire was to refine every square metre of the house and make it into something extra spectacular.
I love my mom's motto when she was re-decorating..."White from Fright! There will be no white in my house." And so, Villa Hibernia is ripe with rich wood and stonework reminiscent of Asia. From the newly exposed wood on the ceiling of the balcony, to the Balinese stone tiles lining the pool, to the stone stair case to the sea...
Steps to the Sea
To the hand-painted tiles in the bedrooms...
The Master Bedroom
And Balinese stonework in the bathrooms...
The Master Bathroom
My parents' perfectionist personalities shone through in this process. They were determined to get each detail right in creating an exotic far eastern escape set on the Atlantic Ocean.
So to end my story... 20 years later and Villa Hibernia is complete! Nothing comes close to the feeling I experience when I walk through our home's wood doors. When I hear the sound of the sea. And, that liberating feeling in the morning, having breakfast while gazing out to the ocean or at night, starting at a million stars...
The Day's End at Villa Hibernia
They say "there's no place like home," and, I know I may be biased, but there really is no place like ours :-)