The largest charter fleet of yachts worldwide is berthed in the British Virgin Islands, a group of 60 small islands north-west of Antigua and south-east of Miami where see-through waters make for perfect sailing. Most of the islands are deserted, sand-ringed beauties. Only 15 are inhabited and several of those are privately owned, including two by Richard Branson.
These Caribbean islands are a British Overseas Territory and a major offshore financial centre that appeals to high net worth buyers. Branson is a full-time resident and his islands, Necker and Moskito, are next door to 30-acre Eustatia, the personal fiefdom of Larry Page, co-founder of Google.
All three islands are activity-packed hideaways for their owners or paying guests — from £60,000 a night at Necker for 34 people — and lie in beautifully natural North Sound off the eastern tip of Virgin Gorda island.
Owning an entire Caribbean island is beyond most budgets — two-acre plots on Moskito sold out for £13,775,000 — but Oil Nut Bay, also in North Sound, brings the dream to a few more buyers. American developer David Johnson of Victor International is selling homes at this delightfully off-radar resort.
BUY INTO THE ACTION
With 43 completed luxury residential schemes in the US, Johnson understands the need for top facilities in a five-star holiday resort. Oil Nut Bay has tennis courts, well-equipped gym and beach club, 91-berth marina, beachfront pools, restaurants and kids’ club, all completed and operational. Johnson lives at Oil Nut Bay half the year.
The resort covers 300 acres at the eastern tip of Virgin Gorda, the third largest island measuring nine miles by three, and the developers have kept Oil Nut Bay accessible only by a short boat ride or helicopter. It is this combination of idyllic castaway beauty with winning facilities that appeals to buyers, says Johnson.
“The British Virgin Islands have great financial security and personal safety with no corruption, and the rule of law is overseen by the British Government,” he points out. “There are no chain restaurants and few big-brand hotels. When we started this project all the hotels on Virgin Gorda were about 40 years old.
“Oil Nut Bay reflects the best of the British Virgin Islands with green hillsides, beaches where turtles nest and shallow seas to the coral reef, and matches that with contemporary design and high-quality construction.”
On offer are 88 plots for luxurious freehold homes priced from £2.25 million. There are eight different property types, with detached villas from three to eight bedrooms. Buyers can choose from plots on the beach or high in the hills and can custom-build their own substantial homes.
Jewel Box is an attractive completed house for resale. This light, airy two-bedroom home has a garden and pool directly on the beach among palms and an enticingly shady patch of sea grape trees. Built in 2010, the 1,800sq ft house is £2.6 million, fully furnished.
Thirty-two plots of the 56 released have been sold to date, over half to Americans, but Europeans have bought a significant number. Owners are either young families or older couples looking to enjoy multi-generational holidays. Johnson believes up to 85 per cent will put their homes into the rental pool.
FOR PERFECT PEACE
Virgin Gorda is ideal for buyers seeking seclusion and privacy, says Walter Zephirin of 7th Heaven Properties. Most homes there are detached, and priced from £700,000 to £7 million.
“Compared with Barbados, the islands have few resort communities and prices are about 10 to 20 per cent higher,” adds Zephirin. “Besides the exceptional landscape, the British Virgin Islands have one of the strongest Caribbean economies with a high standard of living and no income, capital gains or inheritance taxes.”