View all newsletters
Have the short, sharp Spear's newsletter delivered to your inbox each week
  1. Wealth
July 29, 2020

How the pandemic is piquing UHNW interest in private islands

By Spear's

Safety concerns raised by the pandemic have sent private islands to the top of UHNWs’
shopping lists, writes Catherine Moye

Before the pandemic struck, as Knight Frank’s March 2020 Wealth Report showed, the real estate trend among UHNWs was for investing in wellness. Now Covid-19 has made the highest-rollers’ thoughts travel far beyond spa treatments, towards the isolated allure of desert island life.

Take Little Pipe Cay in the Bahamas. Along with incredible seascapes and pristine sandy beaches, it boasts a nine-bedroom mansion, several hundred feet of dock frontage and a large staff and operations ‘village’ spread over its lush 68 acres.

‘This is one of the most special properties that I’ve been involved with,’ says Edward de Mallet Morgan, a London-based partner at Knight Frank. He is marketing the island for $85 million, and since the crisis more of the ultra-rich have wanted to view it.

‘This is a very low-volume market,’ he adds. ‘When you’re talking about property in the $50-70 million-plus range, it’s about approaching clients to see if they might be interested.’

St. Athanasios Island, Greece, for sale through VLADI PRIVATE ISLANDS, Tel.: +49 – 40 – 33 89 89,

Yet the pandemic has enhanced awareness of those places where people can spend time with their families that are safe.

‘We have a number of clients from Asia who are looking at private islands,’ says de Mallet Morgan. ‘They mostly lead stressful lives in polluted cities with a lot of heavy industry, and where they’re not sure where their food comes from. Increasingly, they seek the opposite of that.’

Acquiring a private island is not all barefoot chic, however. Unless you are buying one that’s plug-in-and-play ready, the considerations are manifold. A decent dock or a landing pontoon for a seaplane is crucial. It needs electricity and network connectivity. Maintenance and supplies are other factors. Most owners house engineers and managers on their island.

Content from our partners
How Flygreen is ascending into the future of private aviation
Stoneweg, Icona, and CBH Strengthen Partnership with Cromwell Acquisition, Adding €4 Billion AUM to Stoneweg
Why investors should consider investing in nature

‘A well-run private island is like a military operation,’ notes de Mallet Morgan. ‘It also demands a certain amount of environmental responsibility because you’re nurturing a landscape for future generations. It’s not something you take on lightly.’

But it is increasingly something that UHNWs are looking to take on. Especially post-Covid-19, as Jacques Menahem, the Papeete-based owner of French Polynesia Sotheby’s International Realty, has found. His agency has several private islands on the market, some with permission to develop boutique hotels.

‘I used to get around two enquiries a day, but now I’m getting around ten from the USA, UK, France, Dubai and Italy,’ he says.

Farhad Vladi of Vladi Private Islands ( has a range of European islands for sale, especially in the Aegean and Ionian Seas, where a scenic island of around 1,100 acres has an asking price of €45 million.

Or there’s Santa Maria Island in Sicily, which comes with a mansion and olive groves, for €17 million. Escaping to an unsullied corner of planet earth has always been romantic. Whoever would have thought a virus would make it wise as well.

This piece first appeared in issue 74 of Spear’s magazine. Click here to buy and subscribe

Read more

How superyachts can boost the global luxury property market

This is a time for reflection, not ‘revenge spending’

Billionaire parents go to war with Le Rosey, the world’s most expensive school

Select and enter your email address The short, sharp email newsletter from Spear’s
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network