Peacefully Furnished Above Little Bay

Golden Pavilion Villa, named after a Zen Buddhist temple in Japan, is a Balinese-inspired villa majestically positioned overlooking Little Bay on the eastern hills of Tortola.

The bold hues of the house’s exterior—poui yellow and palm-leaf green—reflect the Caribbean colour scheme, but when combined with the interior textures and patterns—woven rattan chairs, carved flower motif pillars and rich upholstery—the house transforms into a Matisse painting, one of his Intérieurs in Nice where ornate tapestries share the canvas with tessellated floors that are then striped by the sun streaming through balcony railings.

The top two stories of the original Golden Pavilion in Japan are covered in pure gold leaf, creating a striking contrast to the surrounding evergreen trees, similar to the way that Golden Pavilion Villa’s bright yellow contrasts to the Tortola hillside. But through the gateway and carved teak doors, the bright colours fade to the background as the Zen-ness of the house reveals itself.         


The front entranceway and courtyard, complete with gurgling goldfish pond, boast custom-made stone lanterns and statues, including a large Buddha, which pose on pedestals along the walls. Overhead, ornamental terra cotta roof tiles point to the meditative sky. Many of the items in the house that were imported from Bali came from Arawak Interiors who were called in at the earliest stage of the house’s construction, when it was basically a shell. Roy Keegan from Arawak got a feel for the theme of the house and began purchasing items he felt would suit the villa.

In The Miracle of Mindfulness, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh instructs readers how to be ever-mindful, ever-present among life’s daily distractions. Mindfulness of the body is encouraged by Golden Pavilion Villa’s contrasting polished and corrugated surfaces that entreat hands to touch. Once inside the house, the carved teak columns that stand between the entrance and the great room, installed by the team at Arawak Interiors, exemplify the combination of smooth and rugged textures with the polished teak planks accented by rough-hewn flower carvings. Woven rope end tables, wicker stools and ornate four-poster beds sit atop glossy tiled floors.


The same type of contrasting décor can be seen in Golden Pavilion Villa’s open spaces that are interwoven with kaleidoscopic patterns, a contrast that entertains the eyes. In the centre of an immense, pollen-coloured wall in the entertainment room, an abstract bronze metal sculpture of a school of fish shimmers and seems about to swim off the wall and into the sea. The sculpture, also from Bali, promotes quiet contemplation in a room full of every possible modern distraction.

The top floor of the Golden Pavilion temple in Kyoto is the most ornamental and has the best view of the nearby reflective lake. Tortola’s Golden Pavilion Villa’s second floor boasts a 360-degree view of its surroundings—Little Bay Beach, Guana Island, the Atlantic Ocean and beyond. But Golden Pavilion Villa is not all about relaxation. The pool table, bar, musical instruments and high-end sound system in the top-floor game room, as well as the hanging swing chair from Arawak, all demonstrate the more playful side of the pavilion.

Unlike the temple in Japan, the Golden Pavilion in the British Virgin Islands is available for rent, providing more than just meditation. The inspired touch of Arawak Interiors is present throughout the villa, making it feel more like a home than a vacation rental.