How to own an island

2014-06-22 15:00

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Why spend your spare change on a seafront home in Cape Town or a well-appointed log cabin somewhere in the Drakensberg when you could buy your own island instead?

It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds: earlier this month, The Telegraph listed 15 of the world’s most beautiful islands for sale and an international agency that specialises in island rentals and sales counts anonymous South Africans among its most recent buyers.

Vladi Private Islands boasts that it is “the world’s number one island broker”, with 2?500 islands sold to satisfied customers in 40 years.

Vladi’s Sabine Rollinger told City Press via email the company recently sold “two Norwegian islands to clients from South Africa”.

She declined to give any further details, citing confidentiality reasons.

Several Norwegian islands are listed on the company’s website and three were sold recently. The price tags are a mystery, replaced by the word ‘sold’ in red.

Krotteroy Island is still on the market, its five hectares on offer for about R1.25?million. It is, according to the website, “located within the charming rural surroundings of the Norwegian skerry coast, not far from the town of Molde”.

Rollinger said the company has 248 islands for sale on its books and, for those with a more modest budget, 174 for rent.

“Our island rentals consist of everything from luxury six-star resorts to extra-special peninsulas and even some exclusive villas,” she said.

The most sought-after regions for islands are the Mediterranean, the US east coast and along the Scottish coast, said Rollinger. Despite the big demand for islands in the Mediterranean, there are very few on the market and this is what drives up the prices, she said.

“Our rental clients prefer the more traditional island destinations, such as the Seychelles, the Maldives and the Bahamas.”

In some cases entire islands are available for purchase and sometimes just one section or a single island property goes on sale at a time.

Many of the entries on Valdi’s website list are accompanied by three little words that suggest the islands are way out of the price range for mere mortals: “Price on request.”

Some of the diverse spots on sale include a Greek island in the Ionian Sea, which boasts “natural harbours, clear blue-green waters, sand and pebble beaches and sea caves” (445 hectares are all yours for about R655?million) and songbird Edith Piaf’s French home.

Piaf’s home is 100km from film-festival town Cannes, “located in a peaceful setting on the top of a hill, yet within easy reach of the villages, towns and beaches of the Côte d’Azur”.

It’s approximately 2 hectares and will set you back about R82?million.

There are also rugged Irish islands – including the recently sold and quaintly named Mutton Island – and another Greek spot called Little Lesbos. The latter, stretching to 6.5 hectares, is on sale for about R11.7?million.

Rollinger adds there are taxes and maintenance costs to consider once you’ve bagged the island of your dreams.

“A small island of about 1.2 to 1.6 hectares in a lake or off the Atlantic coast of Canada will cost you as little as 500 Canadian dollars per year in taxes,” she said.

But of course, a fully established Caribbean island from which you can operate “a five-star resort, airstrip and marina” is going to push your maintenance costs into the millions – of US dollars, that is.

Still, Rollinger and team believe the benefits far outweigh the cost: previous buyers, she boasts, “often have found that an island could be a cure for their soul”.

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