Happily under the radar, super-exclusive private-island communities provide the best of both worlds. Owners enjoy peace and security, without having to worry about day-to-day niggles. Holly Kirkwood has scoured the globe to present the very best.
One of the better-known private-island communities, 1,400-acre Mustique, in the Grenadines, has an interesting history. Bought in 1958 by Lord Glenconner, one of the first owners of a plot of land was Princess Margaret.
A heady cocktail of high society and rock royalty soon followed, finding the Caribbean island the perfect place to let their hair down unseen, from Mick Jagger to David Bowie and Bryan Adams; more recently, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall have become regulars.
The Mustique Island Company does a remarkable job of balancing the needs of owners with the business of catering for holidaymakers — about 70 of the 110 private properties are currently rented out. In terms of re-sales, there’s an astonishing architectural range, from classic plantation-style to Modernist masterpieces.
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Prices start at about $8 million (£6.5m) for a five-bedroom villa and Knight Frank currently has seven properties for sale, starting at $9 million (£7.22m) (020–7681 1553).
Of all the island destinations in the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles is unquestionably the most beautiful. With jungle-covered mountains and azure seas paired with a wonderful climate and a fascinating mixture of European, Asian and African cultures, it has to be one of the most romantic destinations in the world.
The luxury-property market here is relatively undeveloped and it’s not always easy to buy a house as a foreigner, but Eden Island provides clients with the opportunity to purchase a base from which to explore the entire region.
Linked back to Mahé by a bridge, Eden comprises 125 acres of reclaimed land. A modern marina development with first-class facilities, each property — from chic apartments to large private villas — comes with its own berth. Amenities include a gym, tennis court, communal pools, shops and four marvellous beaches; prices start at $455,000 (£371,332) through Savills.
Only 10 minutes by boat from the hustle and bustle of Antigua, Jumby Bay is one of the world’s ultimate private-island getaways. In 1998, residents bought the entire island and created the Jumby Bay Island Company, which selects its small number of owners from like-minded people who share the same dream of laid-back Caribbean luxury.
Although it’s a resort (run by the Oetker Collection, which manages Le Bristol in Paris), the 300-acre Jumby doesn’t feel like a hotel. Development is very low density — there are only 56 homes and 40 hotel suites.
Each estate home is generously built and has its own character, charm and at least one amazing pool; the very best have multiple pools and their own private beach.
There are currently a number of homes on the market on plots ranging from one to five acres, priced between $9.5 million and $30 million (£7.8m and £24.5m).
The newest kid on the block in the private-islands community is Canouan. This 1,200-acre island in the Grenadines is home to the Mandarin Oriental’s Pink Sands Club. Its setting is unspoilt, with glass-clear seas and white-sand beaches — it’s surrounded by the Caribbean’s largest living coral reef.
Owners have full access to the impeccable resort facilities, which include golf, tennis and the best spa (as well as the best service) in the entire archipelago. Currently on the market are the Patio Villas, three-bedroom open-plan beauties with views out across Godhal Beach, priced at $8.2 million (£6.7m) through Savills (020–7016 3740).
Miami has been at the cutting edge of art, architecture and design for a century — and, throughout this time, the number-one destination for old money in Florida has been Fisher Island. Developed by the Vanderbilts in the 1920s and 1930s, essentially as a private members’ club, this 216-acre island sits only three miles across the water from downtown Miami.
The 650 properties (mostly apartments) don’t come cheap; a well-placed, three-bedroom condo could easily set you back $5 million (£4.08m). The ultra-exclusive residents’ club is based in an impressive, and vast, Mediterranean-inspired mansion, which appears to come straight from the set of The Godfather.
Owners love the privacy and safety on Fisher and new arrivals find that there’s a very clubbable atmosphere. With golf, tennis, a spa, state-of-the-art fitness centre, private beach, marina and a great choice of restaurants, who needs Miami?
Kamalame Cay, Bahamas
The devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian earlier this year shouldn’t put you off — recovering via tourism is the Bahamas’ best hope. And many places came away relatively unscathed: the brunt of the impact was felt on the northern islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama, but many other places — including Kamalame — were spared.
It’s a beautiful spot. Spread over 100 acres of swaying palms and lush foliage an hour’s flight from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Kamalame Cay is heaven for those of a sporting persuasion; owners can enjoy world-class game fishing, diving and bone fishing right on their doorstep.
Located just off the island of Andros and accessible only by ferry, this private Bahamian island has been sensitively developed. The resort boasts miles of pristine beaches, a Great House with fine dining, beach bars, tennis courts, a freshwater pool and, famously, the only overwater spa in the Bahamas. Beachfront lots start at about $700,000 (£571,363) and a two-bedroom turn-key beachfront cottage starts at $990,000 (£807,938).