You don’t need to be fluent in Sanskrit, to guess what the word Mayavee means. All you need to do is take a look at Phuket’s Villa Mayavee. It’s mesmerizing.
It made perfect sense for Gabriel Cardona, the owner of villa Mayavee in Phuket’s Kamala, to invite me to his home to tell me more about it. Firstly, seeing is believing - you can read about Mayavee in high-profile design magazines, you can gaze at its pictures on luxury-living internet portals, but only in person one can experience the extent of the project’s beauty. Secondly, it’s where Gabriel spends most of his time – why go anywhere if one can enjoy a house like this? And thirdly, this is simply the way Gabriel Cardona and his partner Paitoon Arunrat are – hospitable, welcoming and well known for the parties they throw at Mayavee.
“We used to be a bit of party animals when we built the house. Now we do it less, but of course, we still like having guests,” tells me Gabriel, and who could blame him - an architectural gem he calls home deserves to be shown off.
We chat with Gabriel sitting on what he refers to as “the bridge” of the house. And a bridge it is, connecting the three-bedroom guesthouse section of the villa with the master living zone. But it’s also so much more than just a bridge - sprawling 400 sqm of suspended mid-air space, this glass covered area sits at Mayavee’s heart, is its entertainment area, living room and a sea view terrace. Airy and blessed with an abundance of natural light, it gives a perfect first impression of the house.
Also, as Gabriel tells me, it rarely needs air-conditioning thanks to the sea breeze which takes care of cooling. The breeze comes from the ocean which is right there, within hand’s reach. The villa is set on a cliff of what is the westernmost point of Phuket and offers a panoramic view of the seascape on one side and of jungle-covered hills on the other – probably best enjoyed from Mayavee’s rooftop terrace where Gabriel and Paitoon sweep their guests of their feet with the vistas.
“It’s a view to kill,” I say when we reach the top, and in reply, Gabriel tells me how he used to watch James Bond movies when he was a kid. “There was always this incredible, ultra-modern property on a cliff. This stuck in my mind somehow. And now I often call Mayavee ‘the James Bond house’”. When I point out that it’s usually Bond’s nemesis who resides in a cliffside mansion, he bursts out laughing and continues to tell me the story of Mayavee conception.
Gabriel and Paitoon first purchased Mayavee’s 3200 sqm plot of land back in 2005 and immediately got down to business – drawing concept art for their dream house and searching for the perfect architect to execute their vision. A few months later they made their pick - Martin Palleros of TIERRA design, best known in Phuket for his Twin Palms project. Palleros more than met the owner’s project brief – he expanded on it and created an enduring design of glass, wood and metal. There isn’t a single element of traditional Thai architecture here, yet the house fits perfectly within the surrounding tropical landscape; all the building materials might have come from abroad - Italy, Switzerland and beyond, but they look and feel like they belong right here, at Mayavee.
And even though the project is 13 years old, the house looks as if it was built yesterday. Partly thanks to the owners’ efforts to maintain the property in a perfectionist manner, but also due to the timeless design, which ages gracefully, changing along with the owners’ lifestyle. I see numerous expressions of this lifestyle as Gabriel takes me for a tour of the villa – art pieces, photographs, souvenirs. “One of the comments I appreciate the most from people who come and visit us is that they know it’s our house, they recognize our hand in the objects gathered here, in the feel of the house, in its good vibes. Over the years we made it ours” tells me Gabriel and adds:
“Mayavee was one of the names selected by a Thai monk who came to bless the house. It reminded me of ma vie which mean “my life” in French and I liked it instantly. But what I also like is the Sanskrit meaning of the word – it means mesmerizing. I think it fits perfectly.”
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