Paradise found (far, far away)
As David Hasselhoff buys on Gili Meno in remote Indonesia, Zoe Dare Hall finds other tropical islands with new luxury developments
When you are the most watched man on television, according to the Guinness Book of Records, and almost as famous for a Berlin Wall-busting song entitled
Looking for Freedom, you’re going to be in need of somewhere that offers blissful seclusion. Indeed, in these troubled times, it’s what most of us could do with right now – a peaceful paradise that takes us far away from reality and routine.
It seems that David Hasselhoff has found his slice of paradise on the tiny, car-free Indonesian island of Gili Meno, which sits a short helicopter hop away from the islands of Lombok and Bali. “I can just come here and park. I can breathe, work from here, scuba dive in the warmest water I’ve ever known and take a boat over to Gili Trawangan for huge lobsters that cost $6,” enthuses the 65-year-old former Baywatch star.
He is among the first buyers at BASK Gili Meno, a new collection of 87 furnished, luxury villas that start at $200,000 (£154,000) for a studio and rise to $1million for a three-bedroom beachfront villa like the Hoff ’s (baskgilimeno.com). It’s about half the price you would pay in nearby Bali.
The villas, designed by British architect Gary Fell, are mid-century modern combined with contemporary Balinese design, and are surrounded on all sides by water. To the front is the Bali Sea, and behind is a natural salt lake where villa owners can enjoy a spot of spa pampering.
Hasselhoff calls himself “a Hawaii guy” – though he thinks it is starting to feel too busy these days – and he’s also a regular visitor to Australia’s Bondi Beach. But a chance encounter with property developer Greg Meyer, chief executive of BASK, took him to the little-explored Gili Meno. Smaller than one square mile, it has a permanent population of just 500 and is starting to find a following among those who are looking for what Bali used to be.
“Greg told me about the resort, I said ‘let’s go’, and the moment I set foot on the sand, I said, this is where my condo will be, I’m in,” says the impulsive Hasselhoff, who has owned a number of holiday homes “pretty much everywhere”, he says.
“I’ve done it all, but right now I don’t have a significant amount of homes. I’m throwing balls in the air.”
Owners at BASK Gili Meno get a month’s personal usage of their villas and initial guaranteed rental returns of 7.5 per cent for the rest of the year. “It will be a hideaway for me, my family and my fiancée’s family,” says Hasselhoff, referring to Welsh shop assistant Hayley Roberts. “You can walk everywhere and meet the local people, who are frickin’ fantastic. They know me and say hello, but they don’t stop me for selfies. It’s a piece of heaven.”
The quest for calm and seclusion in this busy, connected world has led developers to search out other remote locations for a spot of luxury.
One such nirvana can be found in Koh Samui, the Thai island that is shrugging off its hippy image to become a luxurious and lessdeveloped alternative to Phuket. Koh
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Bay watch: the view from the pool deck at Beach Houses in east Barbados, above; a villa at Samujana in Koh Samui, main; a suite at Indonesia’s BASK Gili Meno, cover, and its clubhouse, below