The magic of Mauritius
Michelle Funke speaks to Ross Alexander, one of the developers of the West Island Resort in Mauritius, and finds out how buyers can stake their claim in paradise
FORGED by volcanic activity, the 2,040km² island of Mauritius, with its blissful beaches protected by coral reefs, clear lagoons and array of holiday resorts is arguably one of the most popular holiday destinations in southern Africa. This once-poor country whose economy relied heavily on sugar production and export, has, in recent years transformed itself into one of the most successful economies in Africa. The Mauritian economy achieved success through gradually diversifying into the textile industry and then into the services sectors such as tourism and finance. The services industry accounts for 75% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The introduction of the Integrated Resort Schemes (IRS) in 2002 and Real Estate Schemes (RES) in 2007, which allows foreigners to acquire freehold property for a minimum investment of US$500,000, was another way in which this island has diversified its economy, with real accounting for 13% Mauritian GDP in 2011.
Situated in Tamarin on the west coast of Mauritius — a welldeveloped area of the island with modern infrastructure, excellent up-market shopping facilities, easy access to schools, good medical facilities, and entertainment offerings — is the West Island Resort. This development has been established in terms of the Mauritian RES, which allows foreigners to buy freehold property on the island, and thereby apply for residency in Mauritius.
Ross Alexander, one of the developers of the West Island Resort — the only RES development in Mauritius to boast a marina — says that there are many advantages to owning Mauritian real estate, including the fact that there are no capital gains, estate or inheritance tax. “Mauritius,” he says, “has a low-tax jurisdiction with a tax ceiling of just 15% for both companies and individuals.
estate of the The country also has double-taxation agreements with 34 countries, of which SA is one.” Alexander goes on to say that the stable democracy and solid exchange rate make for a good investment climate, while the residency opportunities available through purchasing property in a RES development add to the appeal of the investment.
Alexander explains that RES projects are subject to oversight by the Mauritius Board of Investment (BOI), and therefore provide significant investment protection to buyers. Residency is attached to the ownership of freehold property, with an entry point of US$500,000, for as long as the unit is owned. West Island Resort will assist buyers with applications to the BOI for residency.
West Island Resort offers a range of luxury residences consisting of one- and two-bedroom suites, family residences, penthouses and villas — all of which enjoy direct access to the water. All units also enjoy either ocean or mountain views.
The resort is set on an island and has a single access point, which, coupled with 24/7 security at the main gate plus constant patrols, ensures excellent security.
Clustered around the yacht basin at the heart of the development is a residents’ entertainment centre called Le Sunset which includes a restaurant, bar, comprehensively equipped gym, spa, infinity swimming pool, children’s mini club, and marine adventure centre for boating and diving activities.
A water taxi will be available to transport residents anywhere within the marina and to local beaches. Residents also benefit from other services — room cleaning, security, block and common area maintenance, pool services, night staff (front desk, concierge) and garden services. Residents can also select an additional level of luxury from the a la carte concierge services: stocked fridges, airport transfers, a private chef, grocery shopping and child minders, to name just a few.
Property owners at the West Island Resort can also choose to participate in an innovative rental pool, which will be based on a selfcontained operating model that is forecast to provide a meaningful return to buyers before any capital growth is taken into account.
Alexander says that this operating model provides the lowest cost base, the highest return to owners and the greatest amount of flexibility. He explains the reasoning behind opting for a selfcontained operating model as opposed to adding a hotel to the development: “The last few years has seen demand in the hospitality industry shift from luxury, 5-star hotels to greater demand for value and service flexibility. Guests want to be able to select the services they require and not have to pay for expensive services they won’t be using. Tourist growth in the luxury self-contained market is expected to significantly outperform any other area in luxury hospitality, especially the luxury hotel market.”
“Occupancy in year one is forecast at about 45%, while occupancy is expected to rise to about 65% by year five. This represents a conservative approach as the annual average in Mauritius for large hotels is 65% occupancy.”
Derrick Mace, head of sales for West Island Resort says that the south west coast is growing rapidly and property there is in high demand which drives strong capital growth. “West Island Resort has been exceptionally well received, with only 20 of the 60 properties still available for purchase. Finance options are available with loans usually up to 60% of purchase price and indicative interest rates of 4%,” he says.
Development the resort is well underway, with occupation set for December this year.
“Historic evidence shows that early, prebuild buyers are the ones who benefit most from the boost in prices once the project is built,” Alexander concludes.