Gigi Salisbury’s husband had a surprise question for her. “We were coming back from a fishing trip in the Bahamas and my husband said, ‘How would you like your own little piece of paradise?’” she says. At that point, Salisbury’s husband had already done his homework, figuring that Grand Bahama Island’s proximity to the US—a mere one hour by plane from Miami—would be the perfect complement to the couple’s already impressive real estate portfolio, which includes homes in Manhattan and Miami’s South Beach. “My husband had done the research on the area, and all we did was select the piece of property on the ocean and on the back side of the canal,” explains Salisbury. “We truly felt like we could be here and have the beauty and serenity of being in Thailand, but not have to fly sixteen hours to get
Thailand, as it turns out, played a major role in the couple’s decision to design their new home around a modernized Asian aesthetic that coupled Old-World touches with modern-day amenities. The inspiration: The Jim Thompson House, the historic home of James H.W. Thompson, a self-made American entrepreneur who was also founder of The Thai Silk Company. “We had been to Thailand many times and fell in love with everything there,” says Salisbury. “We were enchanted with the architecture. . . . Each of the villas [on Thompson’s property] has teak
floors, walls, [and] ceilings. It’s such a beautiful, dense wood. . . . The wood was so soft; it felt like butter. I told my husband, this is how I would like my next house to be.”
With that in mind, the couple enlisted Stephen Ewing of de Reus Architects located on the island of Hawaii, to draw the plans for their newest dream home. They call the home Nandana, which means
paradise in Sanskrit. “As soon as we saw Stephen’s drawings, we knew it was exactly what we wanted,” says Salisbury. The layout, similar to the Jim Thompson House, was one story but consisted of several stand-alone dwellings or villas that connected via open-air pathways to the main living quarters. “We love it because you and your guests can get together in the main hall, but when you need downtime you can retreat to your own bedroom,” she says of the five one-bedroom suites including two 1,000-square-foot beachfront pavilions, two garden bungalows, and a 2,000-square-foot safari-style tented canopy suite.
Each dwelling, though, was similar in that teak—imported from Burma—
encapsulates the entire space from floor to ceiling, giving each area a true Asian aesthetic. Intricately hand-carved teak serves as stand-alone artwork while the buttery smooth floors give way to expansive ocean views from every room on the property. To complement the Burmese teak floors and walls, the couple, who designed the interiors themselves, opted for Balinese limestone accents and Italian marble fittings; a true departure from their modern apartments in New York and Miami.
To furnish the interiors, Gigi and her husband opted to fill the home with pieces from their travels abroad to countries including Saudi Arabia, India, and Cambodia. Antique rugs throughout the home are from Iran yet were purchased in Saudi Arabia, while a statuesque antique lion was picked up during the couple’s travels to Cambodia, and the front doors of the home are from a temple in Bali. “We wanted to keep it a simple interior,” says Salisbury. “We wanted our guests to come in heels and beautiful dress and then also feel comfortable in a bathing suit.”
The jewel of the property, though, is the outdoor living space. Large sliding glass doors in the main hall open to an expansive veranda and infinity pool, which is surrounded by limestone and overlooks the ocean. Three hundred palm trees and tropical plants provide an intimate, tropical feel while a private, deep-water canal provides dock access for yachts as large as 200 feet long. “In the evening we can have dinner outside on the terrace,” says Salisbury. “You can listen to the beauty of the ocean.”
Though it took nearly five years to complete the home—not to mention 200 logs, eight shipping containers, and twenty-five yacht carpenters from a yacht finishing company—the couple is enamored with the end result. “Anywhere you go, you look at the location and the people and the food,” says Salisbury. “And if all three things are perfect, it makes for an amazing experience.” That’s exactly what they were searching for.
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