leading island broker
The Courier Mail) - (Photographer Credit: Brian
your own private island, by Lacey Rose
Forbes.com - NineMSN)
Annual Most Expensive Private Islands 2007, by Matt
Woolsey - 1st February 2007
Woolsey Forbes Online 02.01.07
good news for those tired of waiting for global warming
to turn the country into an equatorial archipelago.
Endless summers on private island paradises are no
longer only for the shipwrecked or reclusive.
has ceased to be a form of deprivation, says
Cheyenne Morrison of Coldwell Banker Morrisons
Private Islands. In the modern world of mass
travel, mobile phones, faxes and e-mail, isolation
is the scarcest commodity.
itll cost you. Vatu Vara, the most expensive
island on this years list, has an asking price
of $75 million, and comes with miles of white-sand
beaches, palm groves, an aquamarine lagoon, limestone
cliffs and surrounding waters filled with sailfish
and black marlin. To the extent neighbors exist on
an island chain, Mel Gibson lives just down the way,
20 miles east on Mago Island.
sometimes, just as with local housing markets, there
are compelling reasons to rent.
cannot live by one island alone, says John Greer,
president of Unusual Villa & Island Rentals. Why
have only one island, when you can have them all?
fashion designer Peter Nygards private island
in the Bahamas, called Nygard Cay, rents for $35,000
per day and has played host to Oprah Winfrey, Robert
De Niro and Sean Connery. The Mayan-inspired compound
boasts an aquarium, three-screen movie theater, tennis
court, volleyball court and 48-foot fishing boat.
about the slow pace of island living? The legendary
Atlantis casino on Paradise Island is only 20 minutes
benefits of a private island are obvious, especially
for high rollers hounded by photographers. They offer
complete privacy, beautiful scenery and weather, and
pristine beaches free from others footprints.
good islands are hard to find. In the best locations,
such as the Caribbean or South Pacific, many are protected
nature reserves or have been sold off to resort developers.
Some countries, such as the Philippines or Fiji, have
restrictive laws regarding foreign ownership of islands.
further limit supply, inhabitable islands dont
come on the market very often. Marlon Brando bought
his Tetiaroa atoll in 1965 after filming Mutiny on
the Bounty and held onto it until his death in 2004.
Prices, as a result, are in the stratosphere.
year, for example, Forbes.coms list of the most
expensive islands bottoms out at $25 million for Coakley
Cay in the Bahamas. Though we spoke with brokers and
scoured listings for the properties on our list, there
are likely other properties that are being quietly
sold at comparable rates or higher.
in most cases, the listing price doesnt include
necessities of island-living such as food, water and
shelter, as most islands are completely untouched.
No megamansions here. For example, clocking in at
No. 2 is Ronde Island, a 2,000-acre tropical divers
paradise off the coast of Grenada. For $70 million,
one gets a completely undeveloped isle more than 2,000
miles away from the nearest Home Depot (nyse: HD -
news - people ), a tough slog even for those with
a Gulfstream V.
lot of people think its a thrilling thing to
be on an island, which it is, says Greer, But
people forget that at 11 at night, you cant
go down to the 7-Eleven and buy cigarettes.
starter island, likely a remote desert-isle fixer-upper,
filled with mosquitoes and in need of utilities and
a residence, might run about $200,000. And even though
many islands on the market are larger than some of
the worlds smallest countries, such as Monaco
or Vatican City, buying an island does not make you
president-for-life of your own nation. Rather, youll
be a guest of the host nation.
youre able to navigate through all the financial,
logistical and political challenges of finding an
island, make sure to study weather patterns. Beach
erosion, tidal waves, hurricanes and monsoons can
quickly leave newbie beachcombers marooned in a bad
situation in a country they dont know much about.
will no doubt be seduced by the surroundings,
says Morrison. But you have to ensure you tread
carefully because there are traps and pitfalls at
every stage of the property buying game, facts that
do not change just because you change country.
you were here, by Turi Condon - 27th December 2006
Mel Gibson has one, and so does pop star Shakira.
But you need more than a few million to buy a private
island and escape to your own piece of paradise, writes
years ago Arn Barnes bought an island off the central
Queensland coast to get away from it all. But it wasn't
quite as idyllic as it sounded.
previous owner turned out to be bankrupt and the title
was in dispute, so Barnes spent the next five years
in legal wranglings through the Queensland Supreme
Court before taking possession of his slice of white
sand and azure sea. The moral: one way or another,
you pay for paradise.
price of private islands is as varied as their buyers,
who range from movie stars to con men and those, like
Barnes, who just want isolation. You can pay as little
as $US50,000 ($64,000) for a 1ha atoll in The Philippines,
which island broker Cheyenne Morrison says he sold
while standing outside the church on his wedding day
in 2004, to Mel Gibson's $US15 million outlay for
Mago Island in Fiji and up to $US75 million for what
is the most expensive island on the market, Fiji's
Vatu Vara. And that's before the sorts of problems
that beset Barnes.
magazine's website carries a list of the most expensive
islands for sale in 2006.
the list was Isla de sa Ferradura off the northern
coast of Ibiza, Spain, at $US39.7million. Its 5.6ha
in the bay of San Miguel has a luxurious white hacienda
with a home theatre and revolving terrace overlooking
a swimming pool with its own waterfall and bar. There's
also a cave complex housing a whirlpool, solarium
and steam bath.
place was a tie between the undeveloped Cerralvo Island
off the coast of Baja, Mexico, and a deserted resort,
Pakatoa Island in New Zealand. Both have a price tag
of $US35 million.
October, pop star Shakira and Pink Floyd's Roger Waters
headed a group of investors who paid $US16 million
for the 283ha Bonds Cay in the Bahamas.
an island to buy isn't hard. Property website realestate.com.au
has two Australian islands listed. The one off Queensland
has drawn nearly 5000 hits and the other, off Tasmania,
are even specialist island brokers. The US-based Coldwell
Banker and German-Canadian Vladi Private Islands have
the lion's share. Vladi claims to have sold 2000 islands
in its 30-year history and has pages of islands for
sale on its website. Coldwell Banker, which has top-end
property franchisees in Australia, also has islands
for sale on its portal.
while listings of multimillion-dollar islands abound,
closing a deal is a bit harder.
Douglas-based Morrison, from Coldwell Banker, says
he has 180 islands worth $US700 million listed but
so far his most expensive sale has been $3 million.
He has Vatu Vara on his books but he acknowledges
December's coup may pose a stumbling block.
43-year-old Morrison says if he were to sell Vatu
Vara, he could retire. "All I've got to do is
sell one island a year and I'm doing fine." But
there can be a downside to being an island broker:
"I was in the Bali bombing, the last one,"
real buyers from voyeurs and crooks is also a problem.
"No matter how rich they are, there are still
tyre kickers," he says. "I have a whole
file on con men. I've had Russian mafia and Italian
mafia; $35 million prices attract con men." For
any island above $US1million, Coldwell Banker requires
potential buyers to prove their financial bona fides.
Gibson, Julia Roberts, Nicolas Cage and Johnny Depp
reportedly own islands but most celebrities aren't
interested in Australia, which has a coastline dotted
with comparative bargains. "For US celebrities,
it's an 18-hour flight to get here," Morrison
says. "They look in the Caribbean and the Bahamas."
He cites rumours that Russell Crowe has run an eye
over Pakatoa Island in New Zealand, however.
to home, some of Australia's smart money recognised
the potential for island residential and resort redevelopment
a few years ago. The Oatley family, which sold its
Rosemount Estate to Southcorp six years ago for $1.5
billion, bought Whitsundays' Hamilton Island for almost
$200 million in 2004. Sydney developer Terry Agnew
owns Great Keppel, Brisbane developer Kevin Seymour
teamed up with Daydream Island owner Vaughan Bullivant,
and former ironman turned property developer Grant
Kenny has taken a stake in the Lady Elliot resort.
sealing the deal is just the beginning. Island development
and living costs are at least 30 per cent higher than
on the mainland because of the expense of transporting
materials, goods and labour. You also have to generate
electricity, treat your own sewage and, for some,
desalinate drinking water.
journalist turned property developer Chris Mattingley
is selling Bamborough Island off the central Queensland
coast. Despite its beauty, and the cachet of owning
an island, it is costly and Mattingley has other developments
where he wants to use the capital. The island is leasehold
grazing land and Mattingley says annual lease payments
are $12,000. "Then you have to insure it, supply
your own power and there isn't a hardware store on
the corner when you need a box of nails," he
he do it again? "Maybe, at another stage of my
life. It certainly hasn't been a negative experience,
it's just having the time to enjoy it."
you can't afford to buy, you can always rent. Double
Island off Cairns was bought by OzEmail internet tycoon
Sean Howard for $4.5 million in 2000 and can be hired
lock stock and barrel. Ten guests staying three nights
costs $35,700. There's a group discount: 40 guests
for seven nights costs $157,500.
Barnes, who has a $4.5 million price tag on Long Island,
which is about halfway between Rockhampton and Mackay,
it's past the high tide mark. The island was a family
holiday spot for years but Barnes doesn't use it much
these days. "I'm 73 now and I've had too many
birthdays along the way," he says.
a Singapore-based Australian expat negotiating to
buy his 4800ha island. Barnes says the prospective
buyer, like everyone else, is looking for a place
to get away from it all.
Price: $US75 million.
Location: In Fiji's Lau group, close to Tonga.
Attractions: Limestone cliffs covered in dense jungle,
white sand beaches and a flat summit, sheltered lagoons.
Marketing blurb says a cross between Bora Bora and
the Lost World of Arthur Conan Doyle. Mel Gibson owns
the neighbouring Mago island.
History: Reputedly there's buried treasure. The island
was once owned by Joe Thompson, an American seaman
with a seemingly endless supply of gold coins. Thompson
was insane at his death and the secret of his treasure,
if it ever existed, died with him.
Negatives: Mel Gibson and the coup in Fiji.
In the Duke Group, named after British royalty. Bamborough
Castle, Northumberland, was founded by Ida, king of
the Angles, in the 6th century.
Price: About $2 million.
Location: In the Coral Sea off the central Queensland
Attractions: Whales and turtles, rocky headlands,
nine sandy beaches and secluded coves. History: Was
once part of a single pastoral holding with nearby
Marble Island. Marble has been used as a hunting resort,
mostly by Americans pursuing the island's deer.
Inclusions: Airstrip, dam and 11 rainwater tanks.
The four-bedroom home is furnished and has a mainland
phone line. There's also a caretaker's or guest's
Title: Residential leasehold expiring in 2021.
Negatives: Americans with guns nearby.
Price: $2.9 million
Location: In the Furneaux Group, eastern Bass Strait,
Attractions: A rugged coastline interspersed with
long sandy beaches. Fairy penguins, sea eagles and
mutton-birds can be seen.
History: First settled by sealers in the 1800s. In
1912 the windjammer Farsund was wrecked 200m off the
Inclusions: The 607ha island was mostly used for grazing
and includes an old house.
Title: Freehold, leasehold and crown land.
Negatives: Snakes, mostly harmless.
Price: $44 million, negotiable.
Location: Whitsunday Islands.
Attractions: 513ha, mostly national park, and white
sandy coves. Approval for a five-star hotel, marinas
and 800 homes.
History: Has had a few owners.
Inclusions: 131ha of partly developed land along 4.5km
of ocean front. An airstrip.
Title: Leasehold with 90 years to run.
Negatives: Could eventually house 3000 people at any
Condon is The Australian's property editor.
Islands Blog (Cheyenne Morrison)
Morrision SmugMug (news stories and photo portfolio)
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and the environment
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Morrison a friend and associate