"We set out to build a house. We had no idea we had to build everything else," Hill reveals of their collection of eight "pavilions." "We basically had to build a little town."
"You've got to have staff houses. You've got to have infrastructure [for the construction workers]...Water. Electricity," McGraw adds. "You don't quite put all that together at first." In the meantime, the country couple and their three daughters stayed in seaside yurts -- which Hill describes as "camping." "The kids loved it!" McGraw recalls.
"As long as our family is together, we can pretty much make a home anywhere," Hill says.
Of course, Hill and McGraw didn't build their tropical paradise alone. The pair hired McAlpine, an architecture and interior design firm that had previously worked on their homes in Nashville and Franklin, Tennessee. "I thought, 'In paradise, you live in ways you can't live in civilization.' So every room is a separate building," says architect Bobby McAlpine, who designed the compound with his partner Greg Tankersley. "You can bathe outdoors or climb a tower and feel that you're being lifted up into the air. All these sort of romantic ideas, we got a shot at doing here, and we took them."
While the family was involved in the design from the beginning, they stepped away from the project in the six to nine months before their home was finished. "It was killing us!" McGraw reveals. "And when we finally got down there, it was early evening, and the landscaping was done and the house was furnished and open and there were candles lit, and it just took our breath away. It still does, every time we go there. Every time we land the plane and walk onto the beach and head up to the house, we turn to each other and say, 'This is the best place in the world.'"