The exclusive Indian Ocean nation of the Maldives is not your typical holiday home destination.
There are no golf course resorts, no Renaissance homes layered in culture and certainly no Florida-style theme parks. Anyone looking to buy a home on one of the 1,200 tiny, low-level islands will find only a handful of options, all top dollar.
Yet the popularity of the Maldives among big spenders has never been greater, with the number of recent five-star hotel openings reaching fever pitch. Ten opened in just a few months last year, each trying to outdo the other with underwater restaurants and resident mixologists.
The Maldives hasn’t always been a five-star destination, say Sonu and Eva Shivdasani, husband-and-wife hoteliers whose newest offering, Soneva Jani, was one of the most anticipated openings of last year.
Their first resort, Soneva Fushi, opened in 1995 and arguably did more than any to put the Maldives on the map.
There are now 120-plus resorts keeping to the model of one island, one resort. Yet when Eva first visited in 1980, there were four hotels in all.
“Even when we opened Soneva Fushi, the Maldives were regarded as more of a three-star destination,” says Sonu. “The Maldives truly were mass market well into the Nineties.”
Soneva Fushi knocked that concept out of the crystal-clear Indian Ocean waters, attracting a wealthy A-list crowd of holidaying celebrities, Paul McCartney and Madonna among them.
After 22 years of operation its repeat rates are nearly double the region’s average, thanks to its “barefoot luxury” concept of personal butlers and laid-back desert island charm.
It’s all wrapped up with a genuine drive for marine sustainability in one of the Earth’s most photogenic but fragile areas. Soneva Fushi was first to offer property for sale in the Maldives, selling detached beachfront Robinson Crusoe-style homes on 50-year renewable leases.
The rustic homes, constructed largely from bamboo, wood and palm leaves, start from £2.6 million. So far 10 have sold, all placed back into the rental pool for hotel guests.
Soneva Jani is in the northern Noonu Atoll, 40 minutes by float plane from the capital Mal, on five palm-fringed islands around a remarkable turquoise lagoon. It has the largest overwater villas in the Maldives with a fun factor that includes retractable roofs to watch the night sky, a slide from your private roof terrace into the lagoon, and an open-air, overwater cinema.
Residents might be living in barefoot bliss but they are being looked after in five-star luxury, complete with a world-class sommelier managing an extensive wine cellar.
These are trophy homes, agrees Sonu, normally a fourth or fifth property for the fortunate few buyers, but with the additional benefit of a demonstrable net cash yield of four per cent achieved annually for owners at Soneva Fushi.
Four buyers have signed up at Soneva Jani — Swedish, American, Chinese and British purchasers — paying from £2.3 million for the 24 completed overwater villas or 30 off-plan island homes.
OWNING AN ISLAND
Vladi Private Islands is selling entire islands in the Maldives, from four undeveloped acres 15 minutes from the international airport, up to a five-star resort on 38.8 acres with 100 hotel rooms.
Small virgin islands with a development permit start from about £3.8 million, says Tatjana Simonsen from Vladi. The distance to Mal’s international airport, the quality of the house reef, any existing infrastructure and how the island will be used all influence the price.
Along with the other, more affordable Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius and Seychelles, projects in the Maldives are encouraging British buyers to look east from more familiar Caribbean winter sun homes.
“The Indian Ocean’s excellent marine environment, high level of service and cultural diversity have all helped the region gain ground from the Caribbean,” says Sonu. “For property owners we can demonstrate that like-for-like villas have risen 40 per cent in price.”
Full details are available from the link below:
Source URL: Google News