5 Questions for William Anderson, CEO, Half Moon Bay Antigua

Hospitality Design
Feb 19, 2019

Vancouver-based property developer Replay Destinations seeks to redefine luxury living in the Caribbean with its ambitious masterplan for newly acquired Half Moon Bay. Spanning 132 acres of verdant land in Antigua, including one of the world’s most picturesque crescent-shaped beaches, the site is being reimagined as a resort destination that meets the social, lifestyle, and environmental demands of affluent homeowners and travelers today. William Anderson, CEO of Half Moon Bay Antigua, talks about the serendipity involved in the site’s acquisition, responsible stewardship, and shaking up the luxury paradigm in the West Indies.

Tell us how you came to acquire Half Moon Bay?

Over in the Caribbean, the most wonderful sites are already developed and typically consist of a beautiful beach with flat topography. The peninsula that forms Half Moon Bay differs in its topographical features, combining stunning sea cliff elevations, coral sand beach, and real estate of rare magnitude. One part of this beautiful peninsula was home to a hotel that was damaged by a hurricane in 1995 and hadn’t been restored since. The other parcel belonged to the late Bunny Mellon, designer of the White House Rose Garden and close friend of Jackie Kennedy. She acquired the plot during her lifetime to preserve the view she faced out onto from her adjacent estate. Through an extraordinary set of circumstances, both parcels became available at the same time and we saw an opportunity to create something memorable. From a civil engineering side, the inherent challenge has been to introduce utilities and roads from scratch but the pay off is well worth it because there won’t be a room in the resort that doesn’t come with its own spectacular views.

Through a mix of residences and resort, you’ll be appealing to an affluent demographic. What are they looking for when it comes to luxury living?

The old guard of Caribbean resorts has followed a fairly simple formula, catering mostly to couples aged between 45 and 65, usually traveling without children. We’ve since seen a transition of wealth to a younger demographic: couples with children and parents traveling as multigenerational family groups. This means you need to provide unparalleled soft programming and indelible experiences for all ages. For example, we will have the latest in kiteboarding activities designed for children and first-timers as well as those who enjoy the sport semiprofessionally. We’ll run a children’s program, including a cookery school out of a functioning two-acre biodynamic agricultural farm, which will also cultivate fresh seasonal ingredients for our kitchens. The international owners who come to Antigua reside in cities in the UK and U.S., so they’re searching for destinations where they can hang out with their children barefoot and participate in activities that connect them to the land and sea.

How important is sustainability?

People today have a strong view on sustainability, particularly if they have children. They’re interested in food provenance and what they put on their skin. As stewards of this extraordinary property, we see it as our overarching responsibility to leave a sensitive imprint here. Yes, development needs to deliver on ultra-luxury, but we want it to feel rooted and for any intervention to be gentle, residential, and low-scale.

There will be no great building mass. We’ll implement obvious green solutions such as solar energy, and we’ll avoid artificial fertilizers while regenerating the land. Crucially, we are also addressing the issue of drought in the Caribbean by prioritizing water conservation. Half Moon Bay Antigua will be the first resort to use mass composting of seaweed from the local bay as a preservation technique, thereby significantly reducing the water required to maintain the land and farm. We’ll also channel monsoon water to areas where it is needed most, use greywater for irrigation, and install a desalination plant.

What role will design play?

We have implemented design guidelines to ensure a sense of continuity throughout our three accommodation components: the hotel, which will be managed by Rosewood Hotels & Resorts and will consist of 44 residential-style suites and a three-bedroom presidential suite; 42 Rosewood-branded residences of sizes varying from 2,500 to 10,000 square feet; and 10 exclusive estate plots dotted around the peninsula for private ownership. These guidelines tap into a Caribbean vernacular so that none of the architecture will jar with the landscape. We have selected Amsterdam-based Studio Piet Boon for the design of the hotel and residences because the firm understands the materials that traditionally work here and know how to introduce little twists for a contemporary viewpoint. Piet just instinctively gets the Caribbean. In the back of our minds, we have had Oliver Messel’s design approach to early homes in Mustique as an aesthetic ethos. External living, which is key, is achieved through transitions to outdoor spaces and courtyards taking full advantage of the topography.

So the homeowners will be guided according to these principles too?

Absolutely. Our design review board will ensure that no three-story castle is erected, for instance. At the same time, the guidelines require homeowners to respect water conservation through planting restrictions and via the inclusion of greywater and cisterns on their properties. We are here to facilitate the process and make it as seamless as possible so while the owners of the 10 plots are free to choose their own designers and architects, we can also recommend builders who know the region and will contribute to the ribbon of familiarity weaving its way through the site.