Situated on the famed “Platinum Coast” of Barbados’ western shores, one of the newest Barbados luxury spa resorts, La Maison Michelle, ushers in a new era of elegance in villa vacation leisure. Developed by [African American] husband and wife team, Michelle and Guy Jenkins, these two have changed what it means to experience luxury in the Caribbean.
La Maison Michelle is a distinctive split-level home expertly designed from individually themed bedrooms to unique art and decor not seen at any other luxury Caribbean villa. The owner, Michelle, supported by her husband, Guy, did not hesitate on this design concept, and its uniqueness, which was executed by Michelle from start to finish, is a reflection of their taste.
From the moment you pass through the grand wrought-iron gates, you will be immediately aware of having been transported to another world; one of luxurious accommodations, stunningly evocative views, and experiences to soothe the mind, body, and soul.
BlackEnterprise.com had the opportunity to get some intel on what it was like to build this property from the ground up, the challenges of maintaining a property abroad while also juggling a full-time job, and also why traveling to Barbados is so special.
BlackEnterprise.com: What makes Villa La Maison Michelle special? Why should guests choose it for their wedding or special occasion?
Guy and Michelle Jenkins: La Maison Michelle is located in one of the most desirable locations in the Caribbean, the Platinum West Coast of Barbados. Our villa provides the privacy, luxury, and space that is desired for a special event such as a wedding (for 50 to 500 people). Combine that with our inclusive dining options and a place for lodging for 14 adults (with additional secondary bedding for children), we can handle all of the reception and honeymoon options for the bride and groom along with providing a vacation for the other guests at the same time. Add a pool party or cocktail reception to your agenda to enjoy a glorious weekend or weeklong celebration. Quite unique for any villa or venue.
How did you come up with the concept for not just the property, but each of the unique rooms?
Michelle is a lawyer by trade but the talent she exhibited in providing direction for every aspect of LaMM is unbelievable. In addition, blessed by a steady breeze at our villa, she included in the design concept an open air spa approach. For example, each bedroom (en suite) is oversized and supported by large sliding doors that lead to a private terrace. Windows are plentiful and used to capture this fantastic breeze when air conditioning is not desired. The common areas have similar large sliding doors to let in this breeze while the music system in these areas (17 speakers from entrance foyer down to the pool) plays your favorite tunes from any device including your telephone. The Blu-Ray system housed in a dedicated room makes the movies even that much better, and when it’s time to take care of the body, a private gym with a spa is there for you. We also feature two waterfalls on the grounds along with several larger decks for entertaining. What’s left is up to you. Relax, entertain, or party?
How long did it take for this labor of love to finally be complete?
Are there many black-owned properties in Barbados overall?
There is no other luxury, U.S. black-owned owned villas on the west coast of Barbados that we know of.
What can guests expect when they visit?
The first thing you will notice is the proximity of LaMM to the Royal Westmore golf course and the five-star Sandy Lane Hotel, which spells location with a capital “L.” Then the sheer beauty of the villa and it’s fabulous panoramic views from all angles are breathtaking. Pictures and videos only tell part of the story. LaMM is private and luxurious by all standards. It’s supported by impeccable service featuring a butler, two housekeepers, and a landscaper. We also feature a five-star chef within our dining options. Most guests find it hard to leave La Maison Michelle and the transition back to reality, from what we’re told, is not easy.
Why should travelers visit Barbados?
The island is safe, generally upscale, and guest can easily connect with direct flights from several eastern U.S. cities. The food is fabulous with a fish fry every Thursday and Friday that is outstanding. One thing you will notice as you travel the island is how friendly the people are. You will always feel safe. If you love clear blue water and world class beaches that are not private and without pushy vendors, you want to come to Barbados. So grab a rum punch (or enjoy the rum shops with great food—Mount Gay is made in Barbados—and enjoy the consistent 85-degree weather year round.
Are you both looking to open up additional properties in Barbados or other countries?
We, the family, have a second property in a residential area of Barbados. Options are being discussed.
It was recently reported that millennials are just not investing, specifically in properties. Why was ownership so important to you all?
For us, it’s two-fold. A legacy piece for the family (Michelle’s dad bought this property 50 years ago) and also, after close examination, this project provided us with a solid investment for the short and long term. The challenge, whether abroad or in the States, is making or taking that important first step toward financial independence, which we did. We encourage those who have similar aspirations to take that step.
What are the challenges that you face on a day-to-day basis? Specifically with juggling your full-time role(s) abroad, and maintaining the property?
Our day-to-day challenges have been successfully addressed, as the fantastic staff we have developed has provided excellent stability for this venture. We encourage a working relationship that has everyone working together as a team. This took time and patience.
What can we expect over the next few years from the Villa La Maison Michelle brand?
As more people find out about the financial and privacy benefits of booking LaMM for a vacation, wedding, or special event, our resources will expand and we see more business application that will use the conference capabilities incorporated into the Guesthouse. Examples of this would be small business employee retreats, health and wellness retreats, music recording sessions, and several others.