(Courtesy Photo, La Maison Michelle)

There are more than 500 black-owned hotels in the United States. Outside of the US, that number is significantly lower.

For those looking to support a black-owned hotel abroad, La Maison Michelle should be on your radar. The villa, which sits majestically in the Platinum Coast area of Barbados, creates an entirely new form of the term “luxury retreat.”

Opened by husband and wife team Guy and Michelle Jenkins in 2014, Villa La Maison Michelle is the perfect getaway if you’re seeking romance, relaxation or rejuvenation.

(Courtesy Photo, La Maison Michelle)
(Courtesy Photo, La Maison Michelle)

Taking the scenic drive through the Platinum West Coast of Barbados, you will arrive at the wrought-iron gates of La Maison Michelle. Acclaimed as one of the most distinguished luxury retreats in the world, La Maison Michelle serves up luxurious accommodations, stunningly evocative views, and experiences to soothe the mind, body, and soul.

Get to know more La Maison Michelle through Guy and Michelle Jenkins below.

What year were you founded?

Villa La Maison Michelle, Barbados, has been open for business for two years.

What inspired you to launch your business?

The inspiration  for La Maison Michelle was to further the legacy of Dr. Gordon Ifill, Michelle’s father, who had the original vision over 50 years ago. That dream was to develop a lush and lovely piece of real estate that he and his wife of 58 years, Beverly, purchased on the west coast of the Caribbean island of Barbados. As the years passed, Dr. Ifill passed the vision to his daughter, Michelle, and her husband, Guy Jenkins. Three years ago, the dream came to fruition.

What makes your property unique?

The majority of villas were not originally constructed with the focus on the luxury client experience. Each of the seven bedroom suites  of La Maison Michelle have been uniquely designed  to envelope our guests  in a distinct aura, whether it is the tranquility and calm of the Ocean Suite, the light airiness of the pearly white Shell Suite or the hip and vibrant Glass and Mirror Suite. As La Maison Michelle is a spa villa, our guests  will enjoy a variety of on-site health and wellness services, from massages and facials to morning yoga and meditation. LaMM’s beautiful and serene open plan design is the perfect example of outdoor living indoors to take advantage of the invigorating and energizing Caribbean trade winds. In addition, we offer a variety of gastronomic dining options as well as a full service, attentive staff.

Why should everyone #buyblack and #travelblack this holiday season?  

Of all eras in our recent history, now is the time to support black businesses. Today, black businesses only get about 2 percent of the $1 trillion (with a T) of BLACK buying power. We should also note that black businesses are the greatest private employer of black people. Despite the hard-fought progress that has been made by our President Obama, the unemployment rate is still substantially higher for our people. We can and should help to change this growing gap..

How do you pay it forward within your community?  

Although, truthfully, it was quite the daunting experience designing and constructing this resort from the ground up, not to mention 3,000 miles away from where we live in New York, we were extremely dedicated to making sure that we were supplying jobs and income to both the local Bajan community as well as to black small businesses here in the States. Whether it was our choice of artwork or fabric for our Safari Suite drapery, we searched far and wide to pay it forward. Two of our three contractors were small, black-owned businesses, as were our IT specialists and architects, both within the US and in Barbados. Lastly, all of our staff, from La Maison Michelle’s 5-star chef to our house and grounds keepers, are also native Bajans.

What is your business mantra?

Relax, Restore, Rejuvenate.

For more information or to book La Maison Michelle, e-mail [email protected] or call 914-589-6550.

Kimberly Wilson is a writer and social media director at theGrio. Follow her on Twitter.