Give in to islomania

Pri­vate is­lands sit at the very pin­na­cle of the lux­ury prop­erty mar­ket. Panna Mun­yal looks into the plea­sures and chal­lenges of own­ing one

The National - News - Luxury - - FRONT PAGE -

On land, your liv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence de­pends on oth­ers. Not so on an is­land

There are many things that might de­ter a dis­pas­sion­ate home seeker from buy­ing an is­land. Pri­vate is­lands are fright­fully ex­pen­sive and re­quire con­stant up­keep; those that are lo­cated in re­gions that suf­fer harsh win­ters can be ac­cessed only for a few months each year, while the trop­i­cal lot can get un­com­fort­ably hot. And yet, is­lands are al­most al­ways spo­ken about in po­etic, par­adi­s­aical terms.

De­fined as an ob­ses­sional en­thu­si­asm or par­tial­ity for is­lands, islomania af­flicts those who are lured by the idea of out­door liv­ing, one­ness with na­ture and, above all, com­plete and ut­ter pri­vacy. “On an is­land, ev­ery­where is your din­ner ta­ble,” is how Chris Krolow puts it. As host of the HGTV show Is­land Hunters, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Pri­vate Is­lands Inc and owner of Glad­den Is­land in Belize, Krolow is one of the world’s fore­most au­thor­i­ties on is­land buy­ing.

He be­came ac­quainted with the pe­cu­liar­i­ties of is­land seek­ers early on in his ca­reer. “The big les­son I learnt from my first few sales was that po­ten­tial buy­ers are in­ter­ested, first and fore­most, in the is­land it­self, rather than a par­tic­u­lar lo­ca­tion. Most peo­ple who mar­ket reg­u­lar real es­tate, do it by re­gion, right? Pas­sion­ate is­land hunters, on the other hand, are often open to trav­el­ling for even half a day to get to their is­lands, so say from Amer­ica, that opens up Cen­tral Amer­ica, the Car­ib­bean, and parts of the United States and Canada. So I learnt early on to mar­ket is­lands first to var­i­ous in­come brack­ets and then to fo­cus not so much on the re­gion, but on the beauty and pri­vacy of the prop­erty it­self.”

An­other ma­jor dif­fer­ence be­tween reg­u­lar and is­land real es­tate is that size rarely dic­tates price. For in­stance, the 11-acre Pe­tra Is­land in New York State is listed for US$14.92 mil­lion (Dh54.79m) with Vladi Pri­vate Is­lands, while de­spite boast­ing 800 acres, Lataro Is­land in the Pa­cific Ocean na­tion Van­u­atu is go­ing for less than $10m.

Vladi founder, the Ger­man busi­ness­man and au­thored­i­tor of the cof­fee-ta­ble book Lux­ury Pri­vate Is­lands, Farhad Vladi says: “An is­land is like a paint­ing. Just as you can­not value an art­work based on its square inches or the amount of paint used, you can­not com­pare square-me­tre prices when it comes to is­lands. An is­land that is closer to a main city will have a much higher land value. The sec­ond fac­tor is ap­pear­ance and, of course, emo­tional ap­peal. A 100-acre flat­land is not as wor­thy as a smaller but more beau­ti­ful is­land with trees, hills, beaches and rivers.”

Per­son­ally, Krolow says he prefers smaller plots to un­end­ing swaths of land. “If the acreage is mas­sive, you’re not ac­tu­ally go­ing to feel like you’re on an is­land – you may not even be able to see the water from your res­i­dence, for ex­am­ple. For many peo­ple, the mere idea of an is­land – the tan­gi­ble em­bod­i­ment of wealth, sta­tus, safety, sovereignty, pri­vacy and free­dom – com­pels and cap­tures the imag­i­na­tion. But it’s easy to get caught up in the ro­mance of a par­tic­u­lar re­gion or type of prop­erty with­out know­ing ex­actly how it will fit into your life.”

Elec­tric­ity, in­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity, fresh water sup­ply and prox­im­ity to hos­pi­tals, stores and even schools are some other fac­tors to keep in mind when seek­ing out a hab­it­able is­land, as is the li­cence to de­velop a home or, if you’re so in­clined, a re­sort, on it.

While do­ing up your is­land your way has its own perks, Ge­orge Dami­anos, pres­i­dent and man­ag­ing

bro­ker of Dami­anos Sotheby’s In­ter­na­tional Realty, says that an is­land that is ready to move into saves a tremen­dous amount of time and money that would oth­er­wise be spent de­vel­op­ing it. “The cost to de­velop [can] be greater than pay­ing for the is­land it­self,” he says. A plot with a mod-con res­i­dence and other ameni­ties is also likely to re­tain its value and fetch you a higher price should you wish to sell.

“If peo­ple want to sell their is­lands, I tell them to make sure the build­ing per­mits are in or­der and in writ­ing,” says Vladi. “Buy­ing a piece of main­land prop­erty close by also helps to host po­ten­tial buy­ers, some of whom may fly in or drive in from other parts of the world. Get­ting an en­vi­ron­men­tal study done helps to high­light the beauty and rar­i­ties of the is­land, while set­ting a re­al­is­tic price is al­ways help­ful.”

Of course, be­ing the sole owner of an is­land does not au­to­mat­i­cally give you free rein to build upon it. Each par­cel of land gen­er­ally has its own pol­icy: some may re­quire you to build some way off from the shore, for ex­am­ple, while oth­ers re­quire a flat but el­e­vated area to pro­tect the house from storm surges and the el­e­ments. Other is­lands, es­pe­cially those with his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance or ones that are home to rare or en­dan­gered species of bird and marine life, may not have build­ing per­mits at all.

“In our agree­ments, buy­ers have the right to do their due dili­gence for 90 days, so they can check out all the fac­tors that are cru­cial to them be­fore clos­ing the trans­ac­tion. We hire a lo­cal ar­chi­tect who can get or find out about per­mits and speak to the au­thor­i­ties,” ex­plains Vladi. He also in­vites po­ten­tial buy­ers to spend a week on the is­land he owns – a 1,700-acre plot in New Zealand, which is rented out when Vladi is not stay­ing on it.

“I al­ways tell my clients, be­fore you buy, get a tent and camp on the is­land,” adds Krolow, who says he sells at least 30 is­lands ev­ery year. “Spend enough time to know what it is you want to be look­ing at when you wake up in the morn­ing. At Glad­den Is­land, for in­stance, the bed­room faces the sun rise, while the liv­ing and din­ing ar­eas look west. Pri­vate is­lands bring a rare kind of plea­sure to their own­ers; not just of pos­sess­ing some­thing truly beau­ti­ful and unique, but also of know­ing that you’re the kind of per­son ca­pa­ble of at­tain­ing it,” he ex­plains.

And to this, Vladi adds one fi­nal up­lift­ing tenet. “To ex­plain the dif­fer­ences in real es­tate, I al­ways tell my buy­ers: if you own an is­land, you con­trol what you see. If you buy a prop­erty on land, you have ab­so­lutely no con­trol over that one neigh­bour with loud dogs, the other with wild­cats and the third who blares his stereo. On land, your liv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence de­pends on oth­ers; not so on an is­land.”

Fi­nally, there is the priv­i­lege of know­ing you are the sole pro­tec­tor of a lit­tle piece of the planet. As lev­els of pol­lu­tion soar, ar­guably the very act of not con­tribut­ing to the fur­ther ero­sion of the earth, en­vi­ron­ment and oceans is a lux­ury in it­self. If you have the means to power your is­land with so­lar pan­els, in­vest in a state-of-the-art sep­tic tank and hire a marine bi­ol­o­gist to pro­tect indige­nous species, it is your pre­rog­a­tive, per­haps in­deed your duty, as an is­land owner to do so. Just as you would not lit­ter your on-land apart­ment with rub­bish, your is­land home, too, needs to be kept as clean and nat­u­ral as pos­si­ble, not only so the lo­cal flora and fauna con­tinue to flour­ish, but also be­cause as your home, you can revel in the pride of own­er­ship.

“The last thing you want to do is throw a plas­tic bag in the ocean that laps at your doorstep,” says Vladi. “Even when peo­ple have tons of money, they often keep their is­land homes sim­ple be­cause they are there to en­joy bird­song and sun sets. True lux­ury on an is­land is the pris­tine na­ture that it af­fords you and that you can af­ford to up­keep. Cas­tles are sel­dom built on an is­land,” he con­cludes with a laugh.

Navy’s Acre Is­land, in Ge­or­gian Bay, Canada, boasts beaches, a pro­tected har­bour, and mul­ti­ple cot­tages and gar­dens

Op­po­site page: the ten­nis court at Foot’s Cay is­land in the Ba­hamas is com­ple­mented by a ca­bana with views of the beach. Above left: a res­i­dence at Horse Is­land in Cork, Ire­land, fea­tures six bed­rooms and a large liv­ing room with views of the ocean. Above right: ex­pe­ri­ence a va­ri­ety of wa­ter­sports at La Sistina is­land in Ar­gentina. Below: Blue Is­land in Ex­uma in the Ba­hamas boasts a 5,700-foot as­phalt jet airstrip

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.