Update: Originalia appears to have closed. SLurls have therefore been removed from this article.
Imagine you had a small personal fortune. Enough to, say, buy your own tropical island atoll. What might you look for in such an island prior to purchase? What might you do with it? What style of house would you opt to have built there? What facilities would you want to include to make it that special place where you can escape the pressures of life and simply be, enjoying sun and surf and the haven of tropical splendour with your family and / or friends?
Doubtless, many of us have fantasised having a life where we could “do a Branson” and have such an island – and I wouldn’t at all be surprised if in our individual mind’s eyes, it didn’t in some ways resemble Originalia.
Designed by Minnie Blanco (Minnie Atlass) of Soul2Soul fame for region holder Amase Levasseur, Originalia is an utterly stunning Full region this fully embodies the idea of a tropical paradise home. And if you’ve never dreamed of having such a place to call your own, or in letting your mind wander the fantasy of owning a private island getaway you’ve not pictured anything quite like it, I’ve little doubt that after a visit, you’ll be unable to picture anything else.
Set within an archipelago of off-sim islands – some quite mountainous – Originalia offers what could easily be the atoll top of a drowned volcano: an oval of sand and rock rising above the surrounding sea, the wall broken to the east, allowing the waters to enter the crater’s bowl to form a lagoon. Beyond the curve of the island lies an outer semi-circle of low-lying rock, home to scrub grass and palm trees. It suggest that perhaps at one time the cone forming Originalia sat within a larger caldera, perhaps the last gasp of the volcano that formed it, pushing itself above the waves before falling silent, and then allowing the millennia and the sea take over the work of giving the land its current form.
Whatever its origin, what remains is perfectly idyllic; a horseshoe-like island running from sandy lowlands to the north around to a high ridge-line to the south, the ring of rock open to the sea to the east and also linked to the waters of the old caldera to the west, where the crater wall has in part collapsed to leave a magnificent arch of basalt arching over the waters below, thus forming a broad bridge linking the high plateau with the lower reaches of the island and the beaches there.
It is on this high shoulder of rock, from which waterfalls tumble from numerous points, that Minnie has sited the ideal residence: The Patron Banyan House by Eliza Wierwright, itself a stunning build that has always impressed me. Offering a southward view out over the lagoon, the house grandly sits on the high plateau, the pool between its arms feeding one of the falls that tumble over the rocks and into the blue waters of the lagoon below. Across the rocky arch from it sits a rotunda like cottage by Cory Edo, perfectly complementing the house and offering a spa style setting in which to relax.
The overall suggestion of house and cottage perhaps leans toward Thai in intent; but as is often the way with me, the setting carried soft echoes of places I’ve visited in Sri Lanka, such as
Finding your way around the island is easy: just take the wooden board walk and bridge from the little sand bar of the landing point, then follow the rocky paths laid across sand and scrub. These wind over island and up hill under palm trees and between shrubs and rocky shoulders. Here and there the paths branch, offering routes to the outlying beaches where little hideaways can be found and boats bob on the surf at their moorings.
I’m not sure if Originalia is permanently open to the public, or whether public access is for a limited time. However, I do know that it is a setting that not to be missed – but do allow time for a visit; there is much here to captivate the eye and the imagination. And do make sure to have local sounds enabled; as something of a sanctuary for birds of all kinds, Originalia has a rich accompanying sound scape.
Our thanks, once again, to Shakespeare and Max for pointing us to this island gem. As Minnie points out in the comments, those taking photos are welcome to submit their pictures to the region’s Flickr group.