Design Destination: La Bananae — A Tropical DelightAuthor:Allison McCarthy
On ritzy St. Bart’s—with its five-star resorts and millionaire mansions—the luxurious cluster of bungalows known as Villa La Banane is considered budget lodging, that is, for the rich and famous with money to burn. Built by French cabaret star Jean-Marie Rivière in the 1970s, the villa was a celebrity hangout in its heyday, but was revamped nearly a decade ago by French owners Jean-Marc Israel and Benjamin Fabbri.
The two gave this palm-shaded hideaway a modernist makeover with a design that feels hip without being pretentious. Located in the heart of a spectacular coconut groove, steps from Lorient Beach and a five-minute jaunt to St. Jean beach and shops, it feels a world away from the jet-setting high life on the rest of the island.
The villa’s nine brightly lit one-bedroom bungalows feature outdoor bathrooms and private verandas. Slim Aarons books are piled high in the open-air, poolside library alongside giant Hermès playing cards, and a cocktail bar with a wall mural by Cyprien Chabert draws guests for nightly Sundowners.
A cleverly designed two-tiered pool area is shaded by palm trees, latania, and blossoming hibiscus.
Palms shade the poolside lounge area.
Colorfully accented rooms, each with a distinct architecture, feature en-suite bathrooms with open-air showers. Furniture is signed by French designers Charlotte Perriand and Jean Royère, and light fixtures come compliments of French industrial designer and goldsmith Serge Mouille.
Pristine white bungalows are brightened with pastel-colored walls, custom-designed geometric tiles, and furniture made by Swiss-born architect Pierre Jeanneret for his cousin Le Corbusier. Beachy touches include Mia Zia beach baskets with pom-poms that match each sherbet-colored room, coral doorknobs, and coolers to wheel down to the sand.
Visit: Baie de Lorient, St Barts (note: entire villa must be rented by one party), labananae.com