Bahamas Private Island Ups Its Price
Little Pipe Cay in the Exumas is now listed for approx. $142 million.
Little Pipe Cay in the Exumas is now listed for approx. $142 million.
A Bahamas private island last listed for $121 million in 2018 is back on the market for approx. $142 million.
Known as Little Pipe Cay, the roughly 40-acre island is one of around 365 islands in the Exumas, a 209-km-archipelago in the Bahamas, according to listing agents Fredrik Eklund and John Gomes of Douglas Elliman. They are marketing the property with Edward de Mallet Morgan of Knight Frank.
The island was developed by the late Michael Dingman, an industrialist and the founder of Shipston Group, an investment company based in the Bahamas, according to a person familiar with the project. Mr. Dingman died in 2017. His family didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Mr. Eklund said the price increase is justified by surging luxury home values, particularly in places like Palm Beach and Miami, which is around 270 miles away and accessible by seaplane. “It’s a stronger market than we’ve ever seen,” he said.
In Miami Beach’s luxury market, the average sale price for a single-family home was 25.3% higher in the third quarter of 2021 compared with 2020, according to research and appraisal firm Miller Samuel. In Palm Beach, the average luxury sale price rose 79.4% during the same period.
Mr. Gomes said the Bahamas has become a popular tax haven, as well as a centre for cryptocurrency. Last year, the Bahamas became the first nation to issue its official currency in digital form. “The Bahamas is having a moment,” he said.
According to Mr. de Mallet Morgan, the owners spent more than a decade developing the island. He declined to speculate how much they invested. “Effectively, it was a 15-year labour of love,” he said. “This was very much a passion project for the family.”
The island has 22 structures, including living areas and outbuildings that house the island’s power and water systems. The main residence measures approximately 5,300 square feet, with three bedrooms and a covered veranda. There is a separate house for entertaining, called the Refectory, which spans roughly 8,900 square feet with a dining area, pub, gym and spa. The island also has four guest cottages, each with two bedrooms, as well as a staff house.
The homes are Bahamian Colonial in style, with copper roofs, Mr. Gomes said. Each home is decorated with colourful prints, he said, and all of the furniture and art is included in the offering, except for a handful of personal pieces.
The owners invested heavily in the island’s infrastructure, including a water filtration plant, freshwater storage and power station, as well as an underground power grid. “It’s like a small town,” Mr. Gomes said. Outbuildings on the island house a workshop, laundry facility and equipment storage. The owners also stockpiled replacement parts for all of the machines and appliances.
In general, the market for private islands is small, but demand, prices and the number of deals have shot up over the past two years, Mr. de Mallet Morgan said. “The pandemic has put a huge extra value on privacy, health and wellness,” he said. There are currently around 75 islands in the Bahamas that are for sale, ranging from an acre to several hundred acres in size and priced between US$495,000 and US$62 million, according to Private Islands Inc., a marketplace for private islands.
Little Pipe Cay is unique in that it is a freehold island, Mr. de Mallet Morgan said, meaning the buyer will own the land and property outright. Most islands in the area are leaseholds.
Mr. de Mallet Morgan said it costs roughly US$1.5 million a year to operate the island. Recently, after getting requests to charter the island for short stays, the family has made it available starting at US$75,000 a night, he said.
He said the family has turned down several offers to purchase the island because they were too low or had unfavourable terms. “There’s no undue pressure for the family to undersell it,” he said. “If you look at what people are paying US$100 million for in other parts of the world, Little Pipe Cay all of a sudden looks pretty reasonable.”
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Vacationers scratching their travel itch this season are sending prices through the roof. Here’s how some are making trade-offs.
Capri Coffer socks away $600 a month to help fund her travels. The Atlanta health-insurance account executive and her husband couldn’t justify a family vacation to the Dominican Republic this summer, though, given what she calls “astronomical” plane ticket prices of $800 each.
The price was too high for younger family members, even with Coffer defraying some of the costs.
Instead, the family of six will pile into a rented minivan come August and drive to Hilton Head Island, S.C., where Coffer booked a beach house for $650 a night. Her budget excluding food for the two-night trip is about $1,600, compared with the $6,000 price she was quoted for a three-night trip to Punta Cana.
“That way, everyone can still be together and we can still have that family time,” she says.
With hotel prices and airfares stubbornly high as the 2023 travel rush continues—and overall inflation squeezing household budgets—this summer is shaping up as the season of travel trade-offs for many of us.
Average daily hotel rates in the top 25 U.S. markets topped $180 year-to-date through April, increasing 9.9% from a year ago and 15.6% from 2019, according to hospitality-data firm STR.
Online travel sites report more steep increases for summer ticket prices, with Kayak pegging the increase at 35% based on traveler searches. (Perhaps there is no more solid evidence of higher ticket prices than airline executives’ repeated gushing about strong demand, which gives them pricing power.)
The high prices and economic concerns don’t mean we’ll all be bunking in hostels and flying Spirit Airlines with no luggage. Travellers who aren’t going all-out are compromising in a variety of ways to keep the summer vacation tradition alive, travel agents and analysts say.
“They’re still out there and traveling despite some pretty real economic headwinds,” says Mike Daher, Deloitte’s U.S. transportation, hospitality and services leader. “They’re just being more creative in how they spend their limited dollars.”
For some, that means a cheaper hotel. Hotels.com says global search interest in three-star hotels is up more than 20% globally. Booking app HotelTonight says nearly one in three bookings in the first quarter were for “basic” hotels, compared with 27% in the same period in 2019.
For other travellers, the trade-offs include a shorter trip, a different destination, passing on premium seat upgrades on full-service airlines or switching to no-frills airlines. Budget-airline executives have said on earnings calls that they see evidence of travellers trading down.
Deloitte’s 2023 summer travel survey, released Tuesday, found that average spending on “marquee” trips this year is expected to decline to $2,930 from $3,320 a year ago. Tighter budgets are a factor, he says.
Wendy Marley is no economics teacher, but says she’s spent a lot of time this year refreshing clients on the basics of supply and demand.
The AAA travel adviser, who works in the Boston area, says the lesson comes up every time a traveler with a set budget requests help planning a dreamy summer vacation in Europe.
“They’re just having complete sticker shock,” she says.
Marley has become a pro at Plan B destinations for this summer.
For one client celebrating a 25th wedding anniversary with a budget of $10,000 to $12,000 for a five-star June trip, she switched their attention from the pricey French Riviera or Amalfi Coast to a luxury resort on the Caribbean island of St. Barts.
To Yellowstone fans dismayed at ticket prices into Jackson, Wyo., and three-star lodges going for six-star prices, she recommends other national parks within driving distance of Massachusetts, including Acadia National Park in Maine.
For clients who love the all-inclusive nature of cruising but don’t want to shell out for plane tickets to Florida, she’s been booking cruises out of New York and New Jersey.
Not all of Marley’s clients are tweaking their plans this summer.
Michael McParland, a 78-year-old consultant in Needham, Mass., and his wife are treating their family to a luxury three-week Ireland getaway. They are flying business class on Aer Lingus and touring with Adventures by Disney. They initially booked the trip for 2020, so nothing was going to stand in the way this year.
McParland is most excited to take his teen grandsons up the mountain in Northern Ireland where his father tended sheep.
“We decided a number of years ago to give our grandsons memories,” he says. “Money is money. They don’t remember you for that.”
Chima Enwere, a 28-year old piano teacher in Fayetteville, N.C., is also headed to the U.K., but not by design.
Enwere, who fell in love with Europe on trips the past few years, let airline ticket prices dictate his destination this summer to save money.
He was having a hard time finding reasonable flights out of Raleigh-Durham, N.C., so he asked for ideas in a Facebook travel group. One traveler found a round-trip flight on Delta to Scotland for $900 in late July with reasonable connections.
He was budgeting $1,500 for the entire trip—he stays in hostels to save money—but says he will have to spend more given the pricier-than-expected plane ticket.
“I saw that it was less than four digits and I just immediately booked it without even asking questions,” he says.
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