The joys and pitfalls of island life
Living on a private island would, to many, seem like a dream. The prospect of being able to do what you want, when you want and without having to pander to rules and regulations indeed does sound appealing. Swapping the rat race and daily commute for white sandy beaches, crystal-clear waters and peace and tranquility would undoubtedly tempt huge numbers of us. Taking up the mantle of Robinson Crusoe certainly has it’s merits, but what are the perils of owning an island and what is currently available?
On the leading website for the sale of islands, Private Islands Online, the most expensive undeveloped island on offer is the island of Patroklos in Greece. This relatively flat 643-acre undeveloped island boasts a “mild and pleasant” climate and 275-acres of cultivable land. It has about 150 goats and 5,050 olive trees and the agent suggests now is the perfect opportunity to exploit and develop tourism there. A price of £120 million is sought. So much for Greek austerity as whoever buys it will still have to shell out further to construct at least one residence.
An especially spectacular option, also available through Private Islands Online, is Petra Island, just 15 minutes by helicopter from New York City on Lake Mahopac. The island itself, which is said to have been for sale for a number of years, is 11 acres in size and is currently owned by Joseph Massaro, a sheet metal tycoon. The highlight here is a 1,200 square foot cottage designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and a 5,000 square foot residence, Massaro House, built to the same architect’s designs in 2008. Though the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation state of the latter: ““It’s not a Frank Lloyd Wright house, because it hasn’t been certified by the foundation,” this is a home that would certainly suit any James Bond villain. The agent declines to share the asking price, but it certainly at the higher end of the scale.
At a more modest price is Nautilus Island, off Brooksville in Maine. This 37-acre island was in the ownership of the same family for 130 years until 2004 and is named after the British war sloop “Nautilus,” that engaged the American vessel “Hazard” in battle in it’s waters during the American Revolutionary War.
The island includes a renovated 6-bedroomed main house, a farmhouse and a guest cottage. It also boasts open fields, perennial and kitchen gardens and a seaside vineyard for wine production. There is a protected harbour with a pier and moorings and over one mile of rocky coastline with gravel and shell beaches. A price of approximately £4.9 million is sought prior to auction on the 18th October through John Saint-Amour of LandVest.
Returning to Europe, Knight Frank offer a 65-acre island off Ireland’s west coast named Inishturk Beg at a price of £2.85 million. Sitting in Clew Bay, County Mayo alongside 364 other islands, receivers of an Egyptian-Irish businessman named Nadim Sadek are trying to find a buyer for a property that includes a main 7-bedroom house, 4 smaller properties, various outbuildings and an AstroTurf sports pitch.
Singing the praises of Insishturk Beg, Harriet Grant of Knight Frank comments:
“It is an easily accessible island and although it’s in the Atlantic it is very sheltered. And the island itself has plenty of natural shelter. It is an extraordinary development in which no expense has been spared. The electricity and water come straight from the mainland and it also has broadband access.”
British TV presenter Ben Fogle, who starred in the BBC reality show Castaway 2000, set on the Scottish island of Taransay, warned of the dangers of island ownership in an article in The Times recently when he commented: “A lot of people get seduced by the island dream without thinking of the realities.” Taransay came up for sale in 2011 and though Fogle put together a consortium that raised £1.5 million, he was beaten off by a landowner from the neighbouring island of Harris.
The Barclay brothers, owners of amongst other things The Ritz and The Telegraph Group, have had their fair share of trouble since purchasing the sister island of Sark, Brecqhou, in 1993. They have rowed with Sark’s government over everything from inheritance law to property taxes and whether they should or should not be allowed to use motor vehicles. Their case illustrates the perils of upsetting the locals.
Issues such as electricity provision, sanitation, the delivery of food supplies and how one would cope with an emergency may seem more mundane but also must be considered by those purchasing an island. Sir Richard Branson found this to his cost when the 8-bedroomed Great House on his £60 million Necker Island in the Caribbean burnt to the ground in August 2011. If he’d been on the mainland, his residence would most probably have been saved.
On this morning’s Desert Island Discs, Hollywood actress Goldie Hawn requested that the luxury she would like to take would be lip-gloss. Presenter Kirsty Young said she could have two tonnes of the stuff. Frankly, in reality though, anyone buying into island life would have to have a lot more practical things higher up their lists.
For more information on Inishturk Beg Island, Westport, County Mayo, Ireland, go to: http://search.knightfrank.com/gwr120043
For more information on the islands of Patroklos, Greece and Petra, New York, go to: http://www.privateislandsonline.com
For more information on Nautilus Island, Brooksville, Maine, go to: http://nautilusisland.landvest.com