Dominica’s elegant 1930s retreat
Pointe Baptiste is an atmospheric holiday home built in the 1930s by a Scottish adventurer and novelist
Few holiday homes in the Caribbean are as atmospheric as Pointe Baptiste, says Polly Pattullo in the Guardian. Perched on a promontory on the north coast of Dominica - "that wildest of Caribbean islands" - it was built in the Thirties by the "remarkable" writer and "adventurer" Elma Napier. She was a Scottish aristocrat who fell completely for the island's "mysterious charm", as she called it, remaining at Point Baptiste with her husband and children until her death in 1973. There, she wrote novels, got involved in politics (she was the first woman ever elected to a Caribbean legislature) and reflected on island life in articles for the Manchester Guardian.
Pointe Baptiste has "barely changed since Elma's era". In its "casual elegance and intellectual atmosphere", it reflects her passions, with "dark glowing antiques" and "paintings by local artists" everywhere, along with cluttered bookshelves "on which one visitor found a letter from Noel Coward". Below the house are two beaches, just a few minutes' walk away "through dry forest where the ghostly pink petals of white cedars coat the ground". One has black sand, "powdered like coal", and is surrounded by "a vast amphitheatre of red-ochre rocks"; the other is golden and so "gorgeous" that Fredric March shot scenes for his film Christopher Columbus there in 1949.
Dominica's jungled mountains are crisscrossed with rivers, peppered with waterfalls and "perfect" for hikers of all abilities. From Pointe Baptiste, it's an "easy" walk to "the bubbling Boiling Lake, enveloped in a cloud of vapour", and not far to Chaudiere, where two rivers cross and you can bathe in a Jacuzzi-like pool among high rocks, with "the green lace of the forest looming above". For the most adventurous, the Waitukubuli National Trail is soon to open, linking the north of the island with the south through a series of "extraordinary" rainforest treks.
Pointe Baptiste (001 767 445 7368) sleeps six and is available from $270 per day or $1,620 per week. ·
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