David Matthews owns Eden Rock Hotel, arguably the most elite establishment on the tiny island of St. Barths. Shortly after discovering the property in 1995, after seeing it from a boat, he signed the papers and transplanted his family from their native England. Ever since, they’ve been hard at work remodeling and maintaining their investment while pursuing green initiatives. Eden Rock’s most recent addition is named Villa Rockstar. The 16,000-squarefoot space includes a pool, bar, gym, communications center, screening room and the recording console that John Lennon used to create “Imagine.” Not too shabby. More from the hotelier after the jump.
On the Eden Rock’s transformation from vacation home to hotel: Obviously everyone loved it; it’s the iconic building of St. Barths. I bought in ’95. We kept the bar going and people would wander up for a beer or two. We were going to have it just as a family home but then we liked the lifestyle so much, and I kept buying bits of land and putting it back to its original shape. We eventually bought the hotel next door to expand and quicken the pace.
On natural hazards in St. Barths: The hurricanes and the weather in the early days were unstable. It’s settled down again now. Having learned from the force of the ocean, we’ve been able to design structures, which we think will be able to recover from storms quite nicely. Between ‘95 and ’99, there was a full-on hurricane each year and one or two tropical storms.
On the disadvantages of living in paradise: There’s no metro, no major libraries, no major theaters, no ballet. For that side of life, you’ve got to go to Manhattan or London. Other than that, it’s a wonderful island and a wonderful life. It’s surprisingly crime-free and trusting. A very welcome thing in this day and age.
On his favorite time of the year: Christmas and New Years. It’s never been more fantastic than it was this past year. It was just incredible who you see here. The joy of life was just wonderful. You didn’t know who you were going to bump into from the world of movies, music, art, and business.
On Villa Rockstar: We had a large corner site which was quite a big space according to St. Barths standards. We built quite a big house on three levels of 15,000 square feet. And it was possible to put into that house everything what we thought parents, teenagers and the whole family would really enjoy. Electronic games, music making devices, a pool, bar, gym, communications center and screening room. Then we got into a partnership with Ocean Way Recording Studio in Hollywood. They provided the recording equipment for our studio, the console that John Lennon recorded “Imagine” on. As we worked more at it, we enjoyed meeting people that we would ordinarily never meet in our lives. It wasn’t just about making money; it was about living life to our standards and making a world class hotel. Then again, there are thousands of world class hotels, so we had to know how to make it unique. This makes it unique in many ways.
On the architectural aspects: My partner is an artist, and I always enjoyed creativity. This was an opportunity to pay attention to shapes, and to colors and to mix that with technicalities of how to make the buildings work well. How to make them open when the weather was beautiful and how to close them quickly when little showers come through — which in the tropics is quite a lot. Then also to be strong and fortified in the case of an approaching major storm which only happens in September and half of October when the whole island is closed. But around those requirements, it’s been an interesting set of practical problems, laced together with creativity.
Go-to places in St. Barths: For me it’s adventure to even put my nose out the gate. Maybe go out to do some shopping. But I’m always working and I like it.
Favorite thing about living in the tropics: Beautiful girls! They’re here all the time.