Stepping into the La Maison Michelle, Barbados, you might be overcome with its beauty. Another reason the hotel is a standout is that it is Black-owned. Husband and wife, Guy Jenkins and Michelle C. Ifill, Esq., own and run the property.
“The inspiration for La Maison Michelle was to further the legacy of Dr. Gordon Ifill, my father, who is a Bajan (a term of endearment for Barbadian),” says Ifill. “My father had the original vision over 50 years ago when he purchased the property, at that time covered with nothing but palm trees and sugar cane crops. His dream was to develop this lush and lovely piece of real estate for him and my mother, Beverly, where they would eventually build their dream home for a long and relaxing Caribbean retirement.”
Michelle picked up the dream. “As the years passed, dad’s vision for early retirement had to evolve, culminating with me and my husband, Guy Jenkins, taking the legacy forward to create the resort and conference venue, Villa La Maison Michelle,” she says.
It has been a rewarding experience for Ifill and Jenkins.
“For us, there were actually three motivating factors. Firstly, the legacy goal I mentioned earlier. It is very important for those of us blessed enough to have ownership of the earth– actual real property – to keep it within the family,” Ifill says.
But starting a hotel requires major planning.
“One has to have a financial plan that makes sense. Building a resort on the property, especially given the stunning panoramic views seemed natural,” she explains. “We also wanted to create a space and experience that others could enjoy and truly benefit from, more than just our family and close friends.”
La Maison Michelle’s business mantra is “Relax, Restore, Rejuvenate” and it provides these three Rs.
“Over the past two years, since my corporate retirement from a Fortune 15 company, I have become more focused on the importance of good physical, mental and emotional health and wellness in all of our daily lives,” offers Ifill. “The pace that most of us are on, isn’t sustainable, or at least not positively, without some pauses. The serenity of La Maison Michelle reminds our guests that self-care is not selfish, but mandatory- a necessary investment in the whole self.”
The couple has found there are pluses to being in business together. “Thankfully, this business partnership has only made our marital partnership stronger, which is not always the case with couples,” she shares. “As with raising children, La Maison Michelle is another birth/creation for us both. The various trials and tribulations to bring this dream to reality required sacrifice, communication, and trust. All attributes that help to strengthen the relationships that we hold most dear.”
Coping during the pandemic has been a challenge. “Safety, along with having more control over their environment has become an important element for our guests due to this pandemic. We have continued to operate throughout this past year, as long as flights were available to Barbados,” she explained.
She continued, “But this hasn’t been an easy feat. The island relies so heavily on tourism. We recognize that our staff, most of who have been with us from the beginning (in an industry known for heavy turnover) relies on their paycheck every week. So we did our best to reduce hours but keep them employed during this challenging time. We were happy to have been able to host a few local weddings, love never stops- even during a pandemic!”
The villa’s design is extremely unique.
“My goal was to create a space where indoors and outdoors blend seamlessly; where the split-level design and architectural structure blends with the flowing lay of the land, showcasing the natural beauty of the island and its azure blue sea,” she explains.
Each suite is different. “The seven ensuites each have a distinct theme and were painstakingly created to provide a singular vacationing adventure. From our glass and mirror suite to the shell suite, to the safari-inspired suite, one can move from room to room and have a new experience each night,” says Ifill. “We made an effort to use local craftspersons to construct the resort as well as to source various raw materials and other components as it was important to us to support the local Bajan artisans and construction professionals.”
The villa will have two offerings from now thru the Winter of 2022:
1) Enjoy any of our full rental villa options and receive 1 or 2 nights complimentary, depending on the length of stay or
2) Reserve an individual luxury suite during one of our Retreats periods. (Themes are Women’s Empowerment and Rest & Rejuvenation for All) with the same free night offer.