A Taste of the Mediterranean in Alys Beach
By Tori Phelps | Photography by Jack Gardner
If you think there’s no such thing as the perfect house, you probably haven’t experienced Aspri Villa. Spread out over 11,157 gorgeous square feet in Alys Beach, it’s a one-of-a-kind sanctuary that truly redefines luxury. Sound like a cliché? Then you definitely haven’t experienced Aspri Villa.
The estate, which was commissioned by Charles Renfroe and designed by renowned Florida architect Tom Christ of Christ and Associates Architects and Planners, was remarkable before it was even built. It all started with a homesite—the largest in Alys Beach when it was purchased in 2010 and perhaps today as well.
Acquiring a homesite so large in this ultimate Emerald Coast community is unusual, and Renfroe wanted to make the most of a find that consisted of a three-corner lot impossible to hem in by other construction. Architect and homeowner had collaborated on multiple homes before, so Renfroe knew he was getting an innovative designer. Still, he told Christ that he wanted Aspri Villa to be his most creative work yet.
And that’s exactly what Christ delivered.
Far from just another cookie-cutter luxury home, Aspri Villa offers unexpected treasures on the interior and a refreshingly unique design aesthetic on the exterior. The first thing people notice about the property is its tower, which rises over forty feet high and features an open staircase that conveys a light, airy feel. “It’s conical, so it tapers at the top,” Christ explains. “It was fun to design but tricky to build, though the contractors did an unbelievably accurate job.”
Many of the elements were influenced by the architecture Renfroe enjoyed during travels to the Greek islands. “He loved the stark whiteness of Greek villages and how they used architecture to create these hilltop homes,” Christ recalls. “We tempered that with elements the town of Alys Beach wanted, which is more of a Bermuda-Moorish look. The house is a hybrid of those three styles.”
Alys Beach’s design code involves elements like curved walls that are double the thickness of typical eight-inch block walls, Christ explains. He managed to satisfy municipal standards—delivering a fortified structure built to withstand hurricane-level winds—while also rendering an artistic masterpiece. His secret was creating layers of visual interest. Christ’s approach included softening the building by sculpting planters at the base of the curved walls and adding elaborate exterior fireplaces with built-in steps.
He loved the stark whiteness of Greek villages and how they used architecture to create these hilltop homes. We tempered that with elements the town of Alys Beach wanted, which is more of a Bermuda-Moorish look. The house is a hybrid of those three styles.
But by far the most exciting exterior feature doubles as an interior feature. The centerpiece of the entire property—and what transforms it from a home into a compound—is a courtyard with a magnificent pool around which everything else is positioned.
The grand thirty-two-foot saltwater pool offers round-the-clock entertainment with underwater music features, a sheer descent waterfall, and a separate rooftop Jacuzzi. Colorful jets add a fun dimension to evening swims, while the outdoor fireplace, wet bar, gas grill, and dining loggia make romantic dinners or parties a breeze.
The interior is equally impressive, boasting 6,880 square feet of living space that sleeps fourteen. The five bedrooms include two master suites with private porches, steam showers, and fireplaces; a four-bed bunkroom, complete with colorful decor and a media center just for kids; and a two-bedroom pool suite with separate fireplace, mini-kitchen, and two full baths.
The separate living quarters by the pool epitomize the home’s luxurious but functional design, Renfroe says. “The guest suite has its own fireplace sitting area with two adjacent bedrooms, so it’s perfect if you’re traveling with a nanny or grandparents who want a little more privacy—or just two couples who might enjoy the option of coffee and breakfast in their own kitchen.”
Not that the main house is such a bad place to be. In addition to opulent bedrooms, it’s furnished with a media room that includes a wood-burning fireplace and a massive wall-mounted fifty-two-inch HDTV, a formal living room, and an elegant dining room with seating for twelve, plus an expansive kitchen. A tangible feeling of space and comfort infuses every inch of Aspri Villa, which is exactly what Renfroe had in mind. “It flows so well,” he insists. “When you’re entertaining eight or ten couples, there are so many areas to enjoy that it feels spacious even with that many people.”
Renfroe is one of seven owners of the home, with each owner granted a block of time throughout the year in which to enjoy the property. Aspri Villa has also been a wildly popular rental option for groups of friends, extended family vacations, or corporate retreats, in part because its generous proportions never leave guests feeling like they’re on top of each other.
People who stay there go to the beach one day and then discover they don’t want to leave the compound anymore. They just want to enjoy that house.
With six partners, Renfroe was able to build consummate quality, as well as blissful space, into the home. From the superior tile to the appliances, Christ was given free rein to incorporate details designed to awe: smooth Venetian plaster walls, stunning baseboards and crown moldings, carefully selected marble in the bathrooms and kitchen, and a master bedroom with a fireplace and a private porch overlooking the pool. Christa Renfroe Hurley was also an integral part of creating the luxe yet livable ambience of the home. No detail was overlooked. With a budget defined only as “first-class,” she was able to handpick luscious colors, fabrics, and art, as well as show off her artistic skills with the exquisite tile work she designed for the bathrooms and the pool area.
Actually, every bedroom has private sitting areas and porches—the better to enjoy the compound’s courtyard. One of Renfroe’s mandates to Christ was a design in which all of the living areas had an interior focus, opening to the courtyard and pool rather than to the street. Christ then had to ensure the palm tree–lined courtyard was worthy of being a focal point. By all accounts, he succeeded. “People who stay there go to the beach one day and then discover they don’t want to leave the compound anymore,” Renfroe relates. “They just want to enjoy that house.”
And why wouldn’t they? From the exceptional pool and unique dining loggias to the richly detailed interiors, there’s no place like this home. “I believed from the beginning that Aspri Villa would be one of the premier residences on the Scenic Highway 30-A corridor,” Renfroe says. “And I think we accomplished that.”
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In the market for a five-star getaway unlike anything you’ve experienced before? Aspri Villa is the answer. The compound, located at 140 Charles Street in Alys Beach, is available for purchase through Alys Beach Properties, LLC. For more information, call Annie Mangrum or Robbie Roberts (850) 213-5500.