Private islands during coronavirus: demand is increasing

Private islands during coronavirus: demand is increasing
(CNN) – While almost all pleasure trips are on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, demand for private islands is on the rise.

The privileged few who can afford such extravagant isolation are exploring their options with new fervor.

Brokers and travel industry experts say that since March, potential buyers and renters around the world have shown an increasing interest in escaping to an island exclusively for them.

Chris Krolow is the CEO of the Ontario real estate company Private islands, which rents and sells more than 800 islands. He says the company now sees 150 requests per day compared to around 100 before the crisis.

These potential customers come mainly from the United States and Canada and are interested in the Caribbean and Central American islands.

“They want places with easy accessibility and this excludes Asia and the South Pacific,” says Krolow.

Rent or buy?

Gladden Island in Belize is an isolated and intimate retreat, available for rental.

Courtesy Private Islands

The peak of reservations for the island that owns and rents personally, Gladden, in the Belize Barrier Reef, illustrates the growing propensity to privacy. Krolow says that although it has always been popular, it was quickly almost completely booked for the rest of the year after Covid-19 gained traction.

“We also received requests for March and April, but the borders are closed and no international travelers can enter,” he says.

A grain of one acre of land surrounded by the sparkling turquoise blue ocean, Gladden accommodates only four people and comes with a boat and a staff of four who live on a nearby island; all inclusive night stays starting at $ 3,695 for two people.

Buying an island, on the other hand, isn’t as simple or as frequent as a rental, says Krolow, and his company hasn’t closed sales since the virus shook travel and left international buyers unable to see for yourself the islands you are considering.

It is better in the Bahamas

With prices ranging from $ 50,000 for a small undeveloped island in Canada to over $ 150 million for a few thousand acres complete with a megasized Caribbean villa, purchasing can be an expensive proposition.

And it can come with added headache, warns Krolow.

“If you’re looking to build on the island, you can expect to deal with the local government bureaucracy to get permits,” he says. “Otherwise, the process is no different than buying a house. Sign a contract and it’s yours.”

More precisely in the Caribbean region, international buyers seem to have a propensity to buy in the Bahamas.

Nick Damianos, a broker with Damianos Sotheby’s International Realty, says the company has more than double the requests, from around 12 to 15 per month to over 30, for sales of private islands from Covid-19. Web views of private islands for sale are also increasing traffic.

Rising requests

As with the private islands in Ontario, this interest has not yet manifested itself in sales.

“Given the financial investment, people want to experience the islands live. At the moment, we are only doing virtual shows,” says Damianos.

The Bahamas are an attractive destination for buying a private island for several reasons. There are no taxes on income or capital gains, for one, and the country enjoys close proximity to the United States. Furthermore, it is economically and politically stable.

Damianos says there are around 20 private islands for sale in the Bahamas, half of which entered the market last year.

An example is a Island of $ 29 million in the Exuma Cays. Spanning 46 acres, it has four houses with a total of eight bedrooms, three staff cottages, a 700-foot-long marina, long stretches of beach and paved paths lined with tropical vegetation.

“It’s like a hotel in that it has everything you need,” says Damianos. “You can move with a suitcase.”

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Aside from real estate companies, high-end travel tips are also seeing an increase in requests for private island rentals in the wake of Covid-19, along with confirmed bookings.

Privacy is the maximum of luxury

Aren't you taking me to the town of Funk Caye? This private island in Belize is one of the last available for sale in the region.

Aren’t you taking me to the town of Funk Caye? This private island in Belize is one of the last available for sale in the region.

Courtesy Private Islands

Misty Belles, global public relations manager for the luxury travel network Virtuous, which posted $ 30 billion in sales in 2019, says its advisors are receiving “many more requests” and reservations.

“We expect that social distancing will last much longer than closing borders,” he says. “In general, people want to stay away from others, except for their family and closest friends, and a private island is the perfect environment to do it.”

“In our new world of coronavirus, private is the buzzword in travel,” he says. “Our customers are telling us that they want to feel safe and comfortable and go somewhere where they can reconnect with family and friends. A private island is what comes to mind first.”

Ready to book?

Necker Island is the ultimate retreat for those who wish to reunite after months of quarantine.

Necker Island is the ultimate retreat for those who wish to reunite after months of quarantine.

Courtesy Virgin Limited Edition

Ezon says that Embark clinics are more interested in renting an easily accessible Caribbean island like Musha Cay is Necker Island.

Owned by the American magician David Copperfield, Musha Cay is located 45 minutes by boat from Great Exuma in the Bahamas and has 12 bedrooms spread over five houses. Renters pay out $ 42,000 a day to enjoy seven beaches, a hot tub, and an ocean-view pool and activities such as sailing, water skiing, fishing, and snorkeling.

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At $ 102,000 a night, the 74-acre Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands rents for more than double the price of Musha Cay. Sir Richard Branson owns Necker and recently brought it to the fore because he is using the island as collateral in an attempt to save his travel activities that have been severely affected by the crisis.

This fact does not take away from Necker’s charm, says Ezon.

Amenities include 11 bedrooms, most notably a Balinese-style main villa with an outdoor hot tub; six smaller Balinese-style houses; several beaches lined with palm trees, a pavilion for the swimming pool with a swim-up bar and a jacuzzi large enough to accommodate 30 people; a second enveloping pool; and an endless list of activities that involve the cost of a stay such as kitesurfing, wakeboarding, tennis lessons with a professional player; and excursions to the surrounding islands.

“Necker is the ultimate retreat for couples and families who want to get together after months of quarantine,” says Ezon. “It’s the epitome of what you imagine a sexy private island is.”

Shivani Vora is a New York City-based writer who travels as often as possible, whether it’s a walking safari in Tanzania, a mother-daughter trip with her 10-year-old daughter to Istanbul or surfing in the north of Portugal.


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