Soon development began, guided by the firm principle of designing in harmony with nature. “This is a proactive strategy of collaborating with the natural system, not forcing ourselves on it,” explains Mark Permar, founder of Permar Inc., the Kiawah Island, S.C, firm that helped design Christophe Harbour. “We don’t just develop and leave—we create communities. We’re making decisions for the long term.”
Permar was among the first of Darby’s team to arrive at Christophe Harbour. During the 15-minute drive from the airport, he was reminded of California’s Big Sur. “It’s a big landscape,” he says. “The road is a ribbon going back and forth between the Atlantic and the Caribbean. When you approach the core of Christophe Harbour, with Nevis as a backdrop, it’s dramatic and pretty striking.” But Permar was there to work, and so he had to remind himself: “You don’t want to fall in love with this place—at least not right away.”
Permar and the rest of the team, many of whom first worked together on Kiawah Island, began to create a community. The ambitious project started with measuring topography, vegetation, solar and wind orientation. It was easy to select the protected inner harbor area that would become the superyacht marina, with the marina village slated to go alongside. Next came the delineation of recreational areas, including those that would become the award-winning Pavilion Beach Club and Salt Plage bar, the Tom Fazio golf course, the Park Hyatt hotel and, of course, the home sites, each precisely situated to take advantage of ocean breezes.