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25 April 2024

The Dh367 million island of your dreams

By Reena Amos Dyes

If you are a hard-working industrialist or a high flyer, whose life is full of stress and tension that comes with being at the top, and dream of retiring in a beautiful and peaceful place, then it might just be a good idea to buy an island.

And you won’t even have to work very hard to find the isle of your dreams, as one such place has just gone up for sale if you are so inclined. The island in question is Ronde. This 2,000-acre, Dh367 million lush-green gem is situated in Grenada in the Caribbean.

The archipelago region includes places as far north as Bermuda right down to southerly Tobago. The Caribbean is accessible to many parts of the world and provides a warm weather escape when most of the Western world is shivering indoors.

Like most properties in the Caribbean, the Ronde island is a freehold property being sold by an individual owner and it is up to you to develop it or leave it untouched. The island does need to have amenities such as water, electricity and other utilities brought in from the mainland. And as there is no firm currently engaged in developing the property, you can choose a developer if you decide to buy the island.

Describing the island, Alexis Pappas, director of operations, Private Islands Inc, told Emirates Business: “The Ronde is breathtakingly beautiful. It is dotted with hills and small valleys and has several large well-protected bays so whoever buys it will be able to anchor their yachts easily. And it has miles and miles of pristine beaches, too.

“It is an ideal place for sailing enthusiasts because the close proximity of the 7,000-odd island territories to each other makes the region a sailing haven as land is never too far out of sight.

“There are few animals on the mainland, but lush tropical ferns and foliage abound. In fact, Grenada is dubbed the “Spice Island” because of its production of nutmeg, cinnamon and other spices and the rolling and mountainous landscape is covered with fragrant spice trees and rare tropical flowers.

“However, what it lacks in wildlife it more than makes up in marine life. It is absolutely isolated and untouched by any development whatsoever so its marine life is stunning and in plenty. The waters surrounding the island are so clear that visibility exceeds 100 feet, and brightly-coloured fish, turtles, eels and other residents of the corals in the Caribbean Sea are a common sight.

“It also has a gorgeous underwater topography, if you are one of those people who like to go deep sea diving or snorkelling.

“It has breathtaking drop-offs over vertical walls, coral-encrusted canyons and even a cave. You can swim through this cave and it opens to an underground cavern that is full of stalactites and quartz crystals. I can’t imagine anything more beautiful than that.”

But is the island only for residential use or can the person who buys it put it to commercial use in order to recover his investment?

Pappas said: “The government of Grenada is investment-friendly, and Ronde Island has extensive development potential. Possible uses for the island include a large number of villas, a marina and hotel, or virtually anything the future owner can imagine. “With almost 2,000 acres, there is room for even a number of charming resort towns. Of course, island owners always want to preserve the natural beauty that makes these properties so special and unique in the first place, so it’s anticipated [but not mandatory] a portion of the island will be preserved.

“Agreements to preserve natural territory as a condition of development are not uncommon, however, to the best of my knowledge this would not apply to Ronde Island.”

But what about finance? “Islands are virtually always cash transactions. It is difficult to find a bank to carry a mortgage on an island because there are few market comparables, so value assessments are difficult to obtain. They are also viewed as second or vacation properties, which further reduces the likelihood of getting a mortgage.

“However, some owners may be amenable to providing financing or payment plans, and this is the most common method of financing,” said Pappas.

Non-Grenadians wishing to purchase property in Grenada must apply for an Alien Land Holding License. The application involves a police clearance from the purchaser’s country, a bank reference and a character reference. Upon granting the license, the purchaser pays an Alien Land Holding Tax that is currently 10 per cent of the purchase price. A purchaser will normally acquire absolute title, which is registered in the Grenada Government Land Registry.