lives, by Christine McCabe, Susan Kurosawa
You know you've made it when you
own an island. It's the ultimate status symbol.
Privacy guaranteed. A paparazzi-free zone. Hot-to-trot
locales for cashed-up celebs include the Caribbean
and the Bahamas, with Belize fast on their heels
(Leonardo DiCaprio is rumoured to have purchased
an island there recently).
private islands are becoming scarcer and pricier.
A recent Forbes Magazine round-up of the world's
most expensive island hideaways has, at No.1,
the 6ha Isla de sa Ferradura near Ibiza in Spain.
Asking price? A cool $53million. This buys a luxe
hacienda and sundry accessories including boats,
Jeeps and golf buggies.
for the sale is Hamburg-based Farhad Vladi, the
high-flying L.J. Hooker of islands. For more than
30 years he has scoured the world for island real
estate and his company, Vladi Private Islands,
sells and rents islands and operates a travel
agency specialising in island holidays.
it's Port Douglas-based broker Cheyenne Morrison,
of Coldwell Banker Morrisons Private Islands,
who claims the largest portfolio: more than 170
islands valued at $US550 million ($723 million).
Last year Fortune voted the go-getting Morrison
one of the world's top three private island brokers.
buying an island is more than a little out of
your league, you may consider renting one instead.
They come in all shapes and sizes and vary in
price from a few hundred dollars a week to several
thousand dollars a night. New properties for hire
on Vladi's books include the aptly named Castaway
Island in the Maldives sleeping only four people
in luxury tents (from $US3500 a day).
there's Galloo, the second largest private island
in the US, located on the eastern side of Lake
Ontario in New York state. Boasting high cliffs,
sandy beaches, a natural harbour and a handsome
guest lodge with animal-themed rooms, Galloo is
a huntin', fishin' kind of place with good stocks
of whitetail deer, pheasants and ducks, while
the island's waters promise excellent catches
of salmon, pike and bass. Boats, kayaks, an island
Jeep and quad bikes are at guests' disposal. Rates
begin at $US19,500 a week for up to 12 guests
on a self-catering basis.
Branson is squire of a famous hideaway in rental
circles: the beautiful Necker Island, which is
sequestered, rather appropriately, in the British
Virgin Islands. The canny Branson purchased his
island almost 30 years ago when such flights of
fancy were more affordable.
Necker is thought to be worth $US100 million and
is more private resort than private island, sleeping
up to 28 people in a Great House and scattering
of Balinese-style bungalows, with the full Four
Seasons inventory of holiday attractions: swimming
pools, jacuzzis, tennis courts, gymnasium, speedboats
and every conceivable water-based activity from
kite surfing to deep-sea fishing.
on Necker vary according to the number of guests
and time of year but figure on a minimum $US30,000
a day (for up to 14 guests) plus service charges.
Hardly small change, but this includes all meals,
beverages and activities, and you'll be in good
company. Former guests include Oprah Winfrey,
Steven Spielberg and Diana, princess of Wales.
Necker also hosts Celebration Weeks when rooms
can be booked by couples or individuals and the
island's facilities shared. All inclusive rates
start at $US21,500 a week for couples.
an island of postage-stamp proportions
situated in Weligama Bay, 30 minutes' south of
Sri Lanka's World Heritage-listed Galle Fort
is too tiny to share. In fact, Taprobane is so
small it has been wrapped in fabric for a magazine
photo shoot. Transfers are DIY; just hitch that
skirt or sarong and wade through the surf while
the houseboy balances your luggage on his head.
(The truly indolent may consider an elephant-back
or sedan-chair crossing.)
with a neo-Palladian villa open to the sea breezes,
this jewel of a garden-clad islet enjoys a wonderfully
eccentric history, first settled by a somewhat
dubious count and at one time home to author Paul
Bowles, who wrote The Spider's House while in
residence. With five ensuite bedrooms, the house
comfortably sleeps 10 and comes with the services
of a cook, houseboys, gardener and security staff.
begin at $1000 a night and meals are made to order
following a daily meeting with the cook. Off he
wades to market while you lie by the pool or venture
forth to explore Sri Lanka's surf-lapped west
your idea of an island holiday is more Robinson
Crusoe than Richard Branson and your budget more
in keeping with a castaway than a millionaire,
fear not, Australia offers several down-home solutions.
Among them is 36.4sqkm Flinders Island, set 35km
off South Australia's Eyre Peninsula and boasting
50km of rugged coastline and 14 white-sand beaches.
hour from Elliston by boat or 40 minutes by air
from Port Lincoln, Flinders is perfect castaway
territory, where blond grasses meet sapphire waters
and days are given over to fishing (for whiting,
snapper and salmon), fossicking on deserted beaches,
snorkelling, surfing or simply daydreaming. Self-catering
digs are available in a down-to-earth Aussie beach
house sleeping up to nine (with four-wheel-drive
and aluminium dinghies on hand). Rates begin at
$80 a night for each person (minimum eight people).
Island, 8km from Edithburgh on South Australia's
Yorke Peninsula, is more accessible. Set on a
bush-clad sandy shoal, this charming hideaway
(1ha at high tide and 5ha at low, with fairy penguins
in residence) features self-contained accommodation
for eight in an 1860s lighthouse keeper's cottage
(also $80 a night for each person).
too far? Billabong Island bed-and-breakfast, perched
on a 1ha island in the middle of a lily-strewn
ornamental lake, is within easy strolling distance
of the alfresco restaurants of tropical north
Queensland's Holloways Beach. Downtown Cairns
may be a mere 10 minutes' drive away and mainland
neighbours within easy reach, but this charming
B&B feels as if it could be way off shore,
the outside world muffled by a collar of paperbark
trees. Accommodating a maximum two couples, nightly
rates are set at $145, including gourmet breakfast.
the ditch in Marlborough Sound, 15 minutes from
Wellington by helicopter, New Zealand's Forsyth
Island affords dramatic vistas best appreciated
by traipsing its 48km of walking trails. Accommodating
up to eight in a luxury three-bedroom lodge, Forsyth
can be rented on a self-catering or full-board
basis. Resident caretakers will provision the
house or prepare meals as required, plucking vegetables
from the island garden and fish from the sea,
not forgetting those marvellous local wines. Expect
the full gamut of water-based activities, including
whale watching in season. The island is accessible
by boat from Havelock if you're a tad chopper-shy;
rates begin at $835 a day for up to eight guests.
Add $67 a day full board for each person.
those hankering after warmer climes, Wadigi Island
in Fiji fits the bill nicely. Just over one private
hectare, it has three luxury guest suites and
two personal chefs at your disposal for $US2100
a day (two people, for a minimum of three nights).
among the Mamanuca Islands 10 minutes from Nadi
airport by helicopter (or two hours by boat from
Denarau Wharf), Wadigi offers the ultimate tropical
island getaway with two private beaches, infinity
swimming pool, heavenly lagoon and your own boat
captain on call for a spot of islandhopping.
as charming is laid-back Dolphin Island, a private
enclave set 10 minutes off the north of Viti Levu
and operated by New Zealand's famous Huka Lodge.
Twin tropical villas provide luxury digs and great
sunset views for a maximum of two couples (one
booking) with kindly hosts Dawn and Stanley on
hand to cater to every whim. There are water sports
aplenty; and the island can be circumnavigated
on foot at low tide. Fully inclusive tariff with
transfers from Nadi is set at $NZ2900 a day for
each couple (minimum three nights) or $NZ3700
for two couples.
more than 1100 islands floating off its picturesque
and rocky coastline, Croatia is lighthouse central,
offering alluring and idiosyncratic converted
accommodation for die-hard romantics. There's
a great selection of Famous Five-style holiday
boltholes, from the minuscule Porer Island, dominated
by an 1833 lighthouse provisioned by the obliging
Captain Giotta, to a lighthouse apartment on the
remote Palagruza Island, reputedly home of the
legendary Greek hero Diomedes. St Ivan Na Pucini,
part of a small archipelago lying off Rovinj,
offers two four-bed apartments in a 23m lighthouse.
More rock than island, St Ivan nevertheless boasts
two small beaches and promises excellent fishing
and diving with rates beginning at a very affordable
E134 ($224) a week. BYO egg and cress sandwiches
and lashings of ginger beer.
MYOLA Plantation Villa is a Fijian hideaway on
the Coral Coast of the main isle of Viti Levu
that operates in the same way as Dolphin Island:
there are two double suites but guests are taken
on only one booking. So round up a like-minded
couple or reserve sole use for a stay at what
amounts to a dream holiday home.
accommodation is self-contained, with all the
expected indoor luxuries, plus outdoor shower,
plunge pool and clifftop ocean views. A personal
chef and retinue of staff are on hand; meals are
created using organic produce grown on the estate
and in the nearby Sigatoka Valley, Fiji's rich-soiled
treatments with luscious Pure Fiji oils and lotions
can be arranged as part of the pampering package.
Myola Plantation Villa is about 45 minutes by
road from Nadi airport or do the full James Bond
thing and reduce the transfer time to 12 minutes
by flying in by chopper. And if you are really
doing it in style, there's a garden cottage available
for your retinue of staff or black-suited bodyguards.