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For 14 years, Robin Leach bid television audiences "champagne wishes and caviar dreams," his trademark adieu while globetrotting to a myriad of exotic destinations as the famed host of one of televisionís all-time successful series, "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous." When it came time to choose his own dream hideaway, this jet-setting, renowned celebrity having visited virtually every country on the planet had little trouble deciding on the perfect spot. Jumby Bay, the 300-acre resort island just off Antigua in the British West Indies, became Robin Leachís oasis and the site of his spectacular Italian-style villa.
The 4000-square-foot main house is situated not only to maximize the magnificent sea views but also to the flow of the constant tropical breezes, with the inclusion of ceiling fans, high ceilings, and arched doorways thereby eliminating the need for air conditioning. And the interiors were formulated to be comfortable yet uncomplicated.
The main floor includes a cool ivory-hued living room, which opens to a loggia of arches leading to the formal pool and the sea beyond. A library adjacent to the living room contains the main entertainment center with two home offices, across the hall from one another, providing ample and comfortable workspace.
The Mediterranean-style kitchen completes the downstairs floorplan, and is, along with the patios, Robin's favorite area of the house. An avid cook, who helped launch the Food Network cable channel, he can often be found whipping up caviar pie or grilling fresh blackfin tuna for himself and his guests. An adjoining breakfast nook for quick meals, and the striking open-air dining room nearby seats twelve around a built-in concrete table topped with Italian tile for a beautiful effect.
Up the grand central stairway from the entry hall is the master suite, which includes a large private terrace overlooking the sea. The bedroom is dominated by a dramatic canopied king-size bed with four nine-foot-high Balinese wooden posts carved in the shape of island women in sarongs. The adjacent master bath features an open shower and separate sunken tub with views of the azure waters peeking through the shuttered windows.
Besides a secluded, private hideaway, the home is perfectly suited to graciously accommodating a variety of guests. "Going on the old adage about how fish and guests start to smell after three days," quips Leach, two main guest houses plus a pool and tennis court cabana, designed as miniature Palladian temples, were the perfect solution. Each includes a loggia and patio furniture, a large bedroom with sitting room, full bath, and a small, full kitchen. So besides the seclusion, he adds, "This set-up means that even I, as a Virgo, don't have to worry about whether they're keeping things tidy!"
For owner and guests alike, there are plenty of activities besides the obvious loafing by the sea. In addition to the stunning rectangular formal pool, beach, tennis court, and croquet lawn, Leach keeps a boat for puttering around the island for water skiing, snorkeling, and scuba with his myriad of celebrity guests. Occasionally, he takes a walk, run, electric scooter or bicycle ride around the perimeter of the 3.3 mile island, and two large water bicycles provide entertaining exercise. Indoors, the home's game room includes a pool table, darts, table tennis, and Robinís elaborate collection of antique games, including old carnival slot machines.
His home, and the whole Jumby Bay Island experience, seems custom-made for dream fulfillment. This magical spot and the elegant villa Leach has created seems to mark the perfect pinnacle of a life spent on the road, a reward of peace and solitude under the soothing rays of the warm Caribbean sun.