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Briland makes the Miami Herald
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Posted by:Oct 27th 2003, 04:56:09 pm
KimberlyGreat article, Kristel. Here's the entire story, reposted for those of you with limited dialup access:

In the pink: a getaway for jet-setters to kick back
Models, actors and other celebs get away from the glare on the sands of this charmer of an island.
Special to The Herald

Wearing a postage-stamp-size bikini, the model works the camera tilting rail-thin hips to the left, then right, then left again.

''Work it,'' the photographer coos, camera snapping. ''Sultry . . . sultry, now.'' Lips pouting, steel-blue eyes peering from caramel-brown skin, she's exotic, electric. Not famous. Not yet. But if the pink-sand footprints of those before her (Elle MacPherson; Tyra Banks) are any indication, she will be.

Just an hour by flight but a world away from the high-rise, glitz-and-glamour of Miami, Harbour Island -- off Bahamas' northern Eleuthera -- is a thriving fashion-shoot capital.

Top-photographer Gilles Bensimon pioneered the craze in the late 1980s when, inspired by the island's turquoise waters and rose-sand beaches, he started bringing Elle magazine models. Victoria's Secret, Sports Illustrated and Glamour magazines soon followed.

But it's not just supermodels poking their toes in Harbour Island's pink sand. Barry Diller, chairman and CEO of USA Networks and fashion-designer wife Diane von Furstenberg, are island ``regulars.''

And record-mogul-turned-hotelier Chris Blackwell believed so much in the magic of Harbour Island's Pink Sand (hotel, that is) that he invested after Hurricane Andrew destroyed much of the island in 1992. ''You take one look at the beach and how could you not want to be here?'' says Blackwell. ``It is simply one of the most beautiful beaches on the planet.''


And when he does, Reggie Major, a native Brilander (that's Harbour Islander pronounced real fast), is first to know. Never mind that golf carts are the primary mode of transport up and down the island's narrow, sandy streets framed by bougainvillea. Major, with his clunky blue van and easy smile, is a cabbie in demand. Almost daily, he receives calls from the States requesting pickups for visitors arriving by seaplane and water taxi.

Harrison Ford. Friends of Elle (who lives on the island much of the year). The legendary Paris-nightclub-queen Régine (whose son owns a hotel on the island).

''I'm not rich, but I'm famous,'' Major jokes. ``Houses on Harbour Island don't have numbers; they only have names. And I know them all. Even other cabbies call me.''

For $20 Major gives a ''cabbie tour,'' of sorts -- sharing island history, stories from his own boyhood and colorful present-day anecdotes. Like that of Lord Ashley (the late Laura Ashley's husband), who was banished from Harbour Island two years ago after shooting a neighbor's dog. With some prodding, he'll point out notable houses like Daryl Hall (of Hall and Oates). But ask too many questions and he becomes protective of the people who come here -- a characteristic seemingly infused into Brilanders veins at birth.

''Famous, not-famous, rich, poor, black, white -- it makes no difference to us,'' says Brilander Prince Mather. ``People go around in bare feet, bathing suits; they talk, play dominoes, just shoot the breeze and nobody bothers them. Nobody cares who they are.''

And that's what people love about Harbour Island -- why they come.

''Harbour Island is not a St. Barth's or a St. Tropez . . . and never will be,'' says Nancy von Merveldt, who runs Blackwell's whimsical Pink Sands with her husband, Clemens. ``It's not chic enough. Many people in the film-and-music industries own homes here. But no one walks down Bay Street to be seen.''


Wallace Tutt -- a designer whose renovation portfolio includes the late Gianni Versace mansion Casa Casuarina and Cher's homes in both Miami and Malibu -- landed on Harbour Island serendipitously in 1990 after a sea captain insisted he check out the colorful Bahamas Out Island -- a blend of Key West meets Concord, Mass.

''I fell totally in love,'' says Tutt. ``The architecture was stunning; the hearts of the people, beautiful. I stayed an extra three days and never wanted to leave.''

He never did, really. With partner, Don Purdy, Tutt purchased and renovated Caribe Cay -- a private-island fantasy home just off Harbour Island which rents for $15,000 a week. Christie Brinkley, Elijah Blue (Cher's son), Diane Sawyer and David Copperfield are among the Who's Who who've stayed there. Tutt most recently put finishing touches on Rock House, a nine-room hotel set high on a bluff overlooking the harbor that opened last November.

''I live in Miami but my home is here,'' says Tutt. ``Harbour Island is a unique place in the world. People grow up side by side, black and white. There is no prejudice; people don't think about it. I don't know if they ever have.''

Certainly, not in the 60-plus years Bone-Fish-Joe -- the island's legendary bone fisherman -- has been around. Inside his electric-blue cottage, family photos of Joe's late wife, children and grandchildren are flanked by his ''other'' family: visitors from all over the world.

Most are regulars, returning yearly to fly-fish with the Bahama legend, hear him sing as he maneuvers his boat through shallow waters, then tap ever so lightly on the hull, laughing hysterically as the bonefish swim toward him. One recent photo shows Joe giving away a bride; another shows Joe singing at a New Jersey wedding. The bride's parents have fished with Joe for years.

Six years ago, the goddaughter of Prince Charles (and young bridesmaid in his wedding to Princess Diana) moved from New York to Harbour Island. After Hurricane Floyd caused major damage to her friend's hotel, model India Hicks and partner David Flintwood offered to add touches to the guest rooms, and to bring back the colonial feel of Old Bahamas.

Today Hicks and Flintwood are co-partners of The Landing and raising their young sons on the island. ``They run barefoot everyday; they're free. I could never go back and live in the city now that I've had this experience.''

While Jacqueline Percentie has never been further than a water-taxi ride away from Harbour Island, she inherently understands.

Every morning, the great-grandmother makes her way to the straw-market down on Bay Street where she sells baskets and giant starfish and sodas to tourists.

As the mood strikes, she gives away jars of the island's famous pink sand to the ``unfortunates who must live somewhere else.''

''I am very blessed,'' says Percentie. ``I was born on Harbour Island, raised on Harbour Island and have lived on Harbour Island for 78 years.

``When it comes time to move from this place, six men will carry me.''
Posted by:Oct 27th 2003, 04:05:49 pm
KristelLong link... but check it out...

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