More of an experience than your traditional bed-and-breakfast, Villa Anita is the love-child of artists Carlo Roncancio and David Aaron Smith. Originally a historic home built in 1951 by a disciple of Richard Neutra in the heat of Death Valley, the space was taken over by Carlo 15 years ago, and in the short span of 3 years has been transformed by he and David's vision into a haven for alternative and sustainable design.
The house is the full-time home of these two artists, and it is their canvas in which they guide their guests through their vision. It's a place that you'll be able to say you saw back when, and you will be the last guests to see the house in the state it is during your stay.
Drawing comparisons already to the Madonna Inn, House on a Rock, Porlligat, the Winchester Mystery House, and Noah Purifoy's work, Villa Anita is making use of re-purposed materials and outdoor space in a big way. Some say it's like entering the mind of the artists.
During your stay, you will have privilege to the artists' studio and the outdoor sculpture garden and the myriad collection that is plastered all over the house. You could say the house is "encrusted" with little mementos, paintings, masks, statues, and fabrics from around the world.
Maybe the most beautiful thing you will see during your stay is the 180 degree view of desert wilderness or the clear, starry sky at night. This is a place to take haven and enjoy peace away from the buzzing of electronics, the smog of city living, and the sounds of cars whizzing by. As of now, the house has two bedrooms.
The main bedroom we rent, the mask room, has a queen and a twin bed that sleeps three comfortably. (The bathroom is not attached). The Opium Den is our upgrade for couples that features a 300 year-old Chinese opium hand-carved from teak wood and some of the most lavish decorations in the house. The property is growing and will soon feature themed rooms such as: the Light Therapy Suite (made almost entirely from bottles), the Shipwreck Suite (where we've built onto a vertical boat to create a chapel-like feel), and the Silver-bullet Suite (a vintage Airstream updated with our signature design style) . But, for now, you'll be treated to be a part of the creative process, watching the artists as they work and watching your dime go toward making mundane materials into extraordinary luxury spaces.
I almost forgot to mention, we have hot springs here! The mineral content in the water here is rivaled by only one place in Japan, and has healing properties. You'll feel like a new person when you leave, relaxed, focused, and inspired to do great things!
Carlo's place is other-worldly to sum it up! We were a group of 6 friends who were visiting Death Valley for the thanksgiving weekend and Carlo and his team happily accommodated us. They welcomed us with an awesome thanksgiving dinner and drinks.
The place itself is a palace turned up from sustainable items one would find in a junkyard. We were blow away by how much effort and artistry went into making the place. Aaron and Carlo made entertaining conversations with all of us, while never stopping to please us with the constant hospitality. And their dogs, they're cutest most adorable pooches. Some may find them as a bother since they try to get your food but our group of dog lovers simply didn't have a problem.
Highly recommended for anyone looking for an artistic escape in Death Valley.
The experience at Villa Anita is unique as in other reviews. The food and conversation was fabulous. While the dogs were sweet to the max, they were not given appropriate boundaries. Guido routinely rested his head on the dining table waiting to be able to steal food. One time he snatched a piece of bread out of my hand. That was a surprise. Mr Magoo was allowed to stand on the dining table. (not during meals) The water in some of the rooms is solar heated and so is only hot certain times of day. Carlo was gracious enough to let me use a shower with a hot water heater. If you are fastidious, Villa Anita might have too much visual input and being in the desert, there is dust. The rooms, some of them, have indoor and outdoor components. Villa Anita is an adventure!
We loved our stay at Villa Anita, and happily became part of the family - 6 rescue dogs, Carlo, the owner, and Aaron, the long time artist-in-residence. Also there during our visit was a "woof"er - work on an organic farm for room and board, another member included in our new family.
The house is a work of art in progress - Carlo's vision and energy meshing with Aaron's prolific production of paintings and found object constructions, as they add on rooms and shady outdoor, sitting areas while greening up this desert oasis. It is beautifully situated on the edge of the desert with wonderful hikes, the Amargosa River and public hot springs nearby.
There is an unending supply of inspiration from their collections of interesting objects, artifacts and recycled building materials. Carlo is an amazing, creative chef, cooking up delicious meals in mammoth quantities to keep everyone fed (small additional fee - way worth it). We loved their willingness to allow of our visions, allowing us to add constructs, using whatever materials appealed to us. We will definitely go back for more therapeutic creativity, including the propensity to burst out into song at the drop of a hat. If you need conventional normalcy, this place may not be for you. But if you are looking to free yourself of dull ordinariness, go to Villa Anita!
* Approximate monthly price. Actual pricing will depend on the days of the month you stay.