Donna Karan’s family retreat in the West Indies

Donna Karan and her daughter Gabrielle

When you have money you can afford some luxurious homes you call retreats. But before you go assuming it was all about luxury for Donna Karan, her home in the Turks and Caicos Islands in the West Indies (aka Carribean) was a labor of love, literally.

She tells the December 2009 issue of Architectural Digest that it’s her sanctuary, a piece of land she had purchased nine years ago as a gift to her late husband, Stephan Weiss as they celebrated 17 years of marriage by renewing their vows in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Karan’s gift to her husband was the wild piece of land, next to the villa they had been renting and had its own strand of white beach ‘that at sunset, blushes like a bride’.

Weiss died of cancer six months later. But “he asked me to promise that I would build a house on the property for each of our three children,” Karan says. “He imagined it as a retreat where three generations could enjoy total privacy but be together. For the kids, it has become a mini resort. For me, it’s a sanctuary where I go to create awareness.”

It took her years to fulfill her promise but working together with architect Cheong Yew Kuan, she built a compound consisting of a main house and pavilion, a spa villa, two guest villas, a guest pavilion and a yoga pavilion. Together with two more architects they created a tranquil environment that complimented the fragile eco system and featured no solid walls.

“My ideal dwelling is a tree house,” Karan commented, but like any house it needed walls so glass was used as a threshold between the inside and outside.

Check out more images in the December 2009 issue of Architectural Digest or online at

Now we feel like going on an island holiday (with laptop in tow of course)… if only the up coming holiday season didn’t make it more expensive to travel – Helen


donnakaran-achit-4 donnakaran-achit-5

1 Comment

Comments are closed.