To luxury resort architects, a site is often the equivalent of a painter's canvas waiting to be transformed into the extraordinary. But on a recent project, GSB architect Michael Hinchey faced the challenge of improving upon one of the world's most naturally beautiful sites.

As the first Caribbean resort for the ultra-luxury St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, Temenos Anguilla establishes a standard by celebrating the unique appearance and ambience of its exotic location on the island of Anguilla, British West Indies.

Access is usually key to a resort's success, but Anguilla's draw has been its seclusion. With a small airstrip and no cruise ship port, the island appeals to CEOs and celebrities who long for a tourist-free slice of paradise. Among its most desirable destinations are the three Temenos villas, which garnered recognition as Conde Nast Traveler's top-rated Caribbean resort. The architecture for the villas is derived from the beautiful white washed Greek isle architecture of Santorini and Mykonos.

Temenos is Greek for “sanctuary,” and the villas perched on the 4,400-foot sugar-white beach along Rendezvous Bay's turquoise waters provide guests with the privacy they crave and breathtaking views of nearby St. Martin. The popular Cuisinart and Cap Juluca resorts bracket the 286-acre property.

When the resort opens in 2008, visitors to its 32-room luxury boutique hotel, 18 Temenos estate residences, 10 Temenos villas residences, and 56 St. Regis residences will enjoy the privacy and seclusion Anguilla promises, along with the comforts and amenities of a St. Regis property. “The design mission statement called for us to create barefoot elegance,” Hinchey explains. “Resort guests will know they're staying at a six-star resort, but they'll be comfortable walking around in bare feet.”

“The luxury resort site is on the beach front,” he describes. “The luxury guest rooms and most of the resort facilities face the ocean and St. Martin by design. The inland areas of the resort site have limestone that we've been using for walls and landscape features. Anguilla is so isolated that it's highly cost-effective to use materials native to the island, when the design allows.”

Temenos Anguilla also houses Anguilla's first championship golf course, an 18-hole, 7,200 yard Greg Norman design. GSB designed the golf club house in the same Greek isle architectural style and is the crowning jewel of the course. The 30,000 sf golf club house provides resort and villa guests with dining overlooking the Caribbean. A second level lounge will provide jazz music entertainment to guests and visitors alike. A pro shop will provide all the Norman attire for your golf outing in the event you came unprepared. Expansive locker rooms have private grooming areas as a well as lounge areas with adjacent outdoor courtyards. The golf course was designed to take full advantage of the native landscape and views of the Caribbean. The 18th hole plays right up to the golf club and the outdoor lounging terrace so players can observe their competitors while they enjoy their end of the day refreshments. Native limestone was used wherever possible when we designed the stone bridges and water features along the course. These architectural design features recall the 18th hole at St. Andrews.” A visit to the golf club will certainly be on the must do list for all resort guests, whether they brought their clubs to play or just want to relax and dine.

Resort guests are escorted from the island's dock, which accommodates the water ferry from St. Martin, or from the island’s quaint airstrip to the resort. Following arrival at the luxury resort’s understated and elegant gatehouse, resort guests are driven along the main entry drive through the golf course past the golf club house. “They'll have a dramatic view down the hill to the ocean and St. Martin beyond,“ Hinchey explains. After passing the hilltop residences that include estate homes and villas, they'll arrive at a porte cochere in the manor forecourt. The manor house lobby, where guests check in, really isn't an interior arrival experience at all. It's actually designed as an outdoor garden courtyard open to the sky and the Caribbean with a vaulted pergola adorned with abundant flowering bougainvillea. Zero edge water features around the courtyard bring the Caribbean right to your feet.

Anguilla's consistent temperatures (rarely below 75° or above 85°) gave the GSB design team the freedom to use exterior spaces in exciting ways. “We wanted to carefully design invisible connections between the indoors with the outdoors. All of the luxury guest rooms have privately designed bathroom courtyards with outdoor showers, which are luxuries the space and climate of most resorts do not provide,” notes Hinchey. Frameless glass between the bathrooms and the bathroom courtyards make bathrooms seem twice as large. “The golf club locker room lounges and the spa and treatment rooms were designed with outdoor terraces and gardens so resort guests can have massages inside or outside,” he adds, adding to the indoor/outdoor experience. “And all of these spaces are designed to shield them from Anguilla's constant eastern breezes.”

“The biggest design challenge was trying to fit everything on the beach front,” Hinchey recalls. “At a Caribbean resort everyone wants to be on the beach, but it was tough to do so while maintaining the separation and privacy guests expect from a six-star resort.” Staggering and offsetting guest buildings to give each the feeling of a private beach achieved the effect.

Every luxuriously designed building is oriented to provide both privacy and breathtaking views. The choice of architecture contributes to that sense by minimizing the scale expected of a resort this size. “The design of the existing villas was derived from Greek isle architecture, so we extended that concept through to include the hotel, estates, villas, and golf club. All of the buildings have white stucco walls and are no taller than two stories, so the architecture is modest and residential, as well as elegant and contemporary.” Rooftop terraces provide opportunities for sunset dining and private sunbathing.

“It's not going to be like a Hawaiian resort with green grass and palms,” Hinchey says. “It's going to be a unique, native Anguilla experience. Guests will truly appreciate Anguilla’s arid landscape and everything it has to offer.”