In the Bahamas, A strong market for New Luxury Homes
The island of New Providence, in the Bahamas, has long been a popular vacation destination: Travelers from the United States, Canada and elsewhere visit for the beaches and the snorkeling, scuba diving and fishing. When it comes to accommodations, they have their pick of both high-end and affordable beachfront resorts, including in the capital of the Bahamas, Nassau. (New Providence was not affected by Hurricane Dorian, which caused severe damage to some areas of the Bahamas in August.)
Today, New Providence has at least one more draw: a handful of new or soon-to-open luxury residential communities — Albany, Baha Mar Residences and the Residences at GoldWynn — have made the roughly 80-square-mile island increasingly attractive to wealthy buyers from abroad. Nick Damianos, the owner of Damianos Sotheby’s International Realty in the Bahamas, said his company has seen a 15 percent increase in residential sales in New Providence to foreign buyers in the past decade; he declined to be more specific.
Alistair W. Chisnall, a real estate lawyer at the Nassau-based law firm Graham Thompson, said he, too, had seen sales rise in the past 10 years. Mr. Damianos and Mr. Chisnall said that the majority of the buyers are from Canada, the United States and Western Europe, although some are South American. Its sunny locale aside, New Providence appeals to foreign home buyers for several reasons, said Neil Sroka, a real estate consultant.
The living room of a three-bedroom villa at the Rosewood Baha Mar on New Providence.Baha Mar Residences “People love it because of its strong infrastructure, sophisticated feel, extensive airline connections, and proximity to the U.S.,” he said. (Miami is less than an hour’s flight). “It’s also a safe destination, which is a plus.” Those who establish New Providence as their main residence may be enticed by the tax benefits, Mr. Sroka said, because Bahamas residents pay no income tax.
Post-Recession Development Upscale residential development in New Providence took off after the end of the recession in the United States in 2009, Mr. Chisnall said. “After a bust economy, these new properties have been well received and are attracting buyers who want to establish a footprint in the Bahamas, as opposed to flipping them to make money,” he said. It is the second time after a recession that the Bahamas has lured international buyers, he said. “When the Bahamas came out of its 1930s recession, British socialites and tycoons of business started moving to the islands.”
Mr. Damianos, of Sotheby’s, said the current real estate boom began when the 600-acre Albany opened in 2010 on the southwestern end of New Providence. Until then, he said, the island had three high-end and well-established gated communities: Lyford Cay, open since the 1950s; and Old Fort Bay and Ocean Club Estates, both open since the early 21st century. “These communities always saw a steady stream of wealthy buyers, but when Albany opened, activity really picked up,” Mr. Damianos said. “Sales were especially brisk because the market was on an upswing after the recession.” He added the buyers were excited about the first new luxury development on the island in decades.
Once the location of a pine forest, the oceanfront community was developed by the private investment firm Tavistock Group and counts the golfers Tiger Woods and Ernie Els, along with the actor and musician Justin Timberlake, among its investors.
Albany’s managing partner, Christopher Anand, likens it to a contemporary urban village. The eight apartment buildings have sleek, white facades and units — 200 of which are complete, with 200 under construction — with light wood floors and large windows overlooking the ocean.
A bedroom at the Rosewood Baha Mar.Baha Mar Residences
Buyers may choose three- to six-bedroom villas as large as 6,000 square feet that take their design inspiration from traditional Bahamian architecture. And there’s land where they can build custom houses.
The community’s amenities include 10 dining venues; a marina that can accommodate large yachts; a tennis center; an 18-hole golf course designed by Mr. Els; a 40,000-square-foot fitness center and spa; an aquatics area with two pools and a children’s water playground; a movie theater; and a children’s center with an outdoor playground. A concierge staff can organize activities for residents, such as scuba diving, water-skiing and horseback riding on the beach. Properties start at $5 million, but Mr. Anand said the average price is $8 million. So far, he said, the community has seen $2 billion in sales. Some of Albany’s residents said they are drawn to its clubby feel. Jo Vickers, a publicist from London (Albany is one of her clients), and her husband, a bond trader, for example, have lived in a home there since 2017 and said that they love the country club ambience. “Everyone knows everyone, and there’s a sense of community,” Ms. Vickers said.
The couple vacationed in the Bahamas for years before buying a property, and Ms. Vickers cited many reasons for establishing a base in New Providence. “It’s efficient, safe and cosmopolitan and has great grocery stores, hospitals and boating,” she said. “Plus, Nassau has a financial center where we have our offices, and British Airways has nonstop flights to London since we’re constantly back and forth.”
Residences Within a Resort The newest luxury residences in New Providence, Baha Mar Residences, went on the market in the spring and are within Baha Mar, a $4.2 billion, 1,000-acre resort on a half-mile of beachfront.
Consisting of 198 ocean-facing one- to six-bedroom apartments and waterside villas, the properties are divided between two of the resort’s three hotel brands. Rosewood Baha Mar has 91 residences; they range in price from $995,000 to $25 million and pay homage to Bahamian island estate architecture with their ebony finishes and light gray and white palette. The 107 condominiums at SLS Baha Mar, in comparison, have a modern, minimalist design that includes white oak and natural teak woods and finishes in bright oranges, pinks, greens and sky blues.
A beachfront residence at the Albany on New Providence.Dana Hoff
Baha Mar’s president, Graeme Davis, declined to say how many units had sold but said the buyers are mainly from the United States, France and Italy. Residents can use the amenities that hotel guests enjoy, including the 100,000-square-foot casino overlooking the ocean; 42 restaurants and lounges; an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course; 11 swimming pools; and a spa with 24 treatment rooms. They also get 24 free rounds of golf a year, and discounts on food and drinks.
Part Residences, Part Hotel When it comes to luxury residential real estate in New Providence, the buzz these days is all about GoldWynn, Mr. Damianos said. The beachfront project, by Wynn Development of Toronto, is a half-mile from Baha Mar and scheduled to open in September 2021. “GoldWynn ticks all the boxes that you would want in a luxury property in New Providence,” he said. “The design is modern, and the location is fantastic.”
Randy Hart, the vice president of Wynn Development, said that GoldWynn’s 160 units are split evenly between hotel suites and residential condos, the latter of which are in a six-story building on the ocean with a rooftop pool. These condos range in size from studios to four bedrooms and cost between $500,000 and $5 million.
“The concept is to provide a boutique and intimate ambience in a market dominated by large developments without scrimping on the amenities,” Mr. Hart said. The amenities include a beachfront infinity pool, a seaside restaurant, a movie theater, a theater for plays and concerts and a spa offering cosmetic procedures such as Botox treatments. Construction of GoldWynn is well underway, Mr. Hart said, with 35 percent of its residences already sold to buyers from the United States, Canada and Europe.
Albany, Baha Mar Residences and GoldWynn have brought a diverse mix of upscale properties to New Providence’s real-estate market, according to Mr. Sroka, the real estate consultant. “So far, they are being absorbed at a surprisingly healthy rate,” he said.