By Sue Nickason and Sheline Chandi
“You use your money to buy privacy because during most of your life you aren’t allowed to be normal,” said actor Johnny Depp. Celebrity Justin Timberlake shared his sentiment, lamenting that “the worst thing about being famous is the invasion of your privacy.” Even one of the greatest influencers on society’s desire for more information about the private lives of others, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, observed that “privacy is a social norm of the past.”
The trend is apparent – for the wealthy and the famous, privacy is the new luxury. From seeking a welcome reprieve from the media spotlight to live a “normal life” for themselves and their families to having private retreats in which to enjoy vacations with friends and family, demand continues to grow for secluded estates and family compounds as boundaries between private and public life continue to wane.
And it’s not just a desire for privacy from the public eye that is causing this surge in demand. Personal safety concerns are also prompting a search for residences which afford high levels of security in terms of the property characteristics but also in the places where they are located. Incidents such as the yellow jacket protests in France and independence protests in Hong Kong to on-going crime issues in Brazil are prompting the affluent to somewhat retreat from former explicit demonstrations of wealth to live “below the radar” as inconspicuously as possible in an effort to mitigate personal security risks. The idiom “out of sight, out of mind” may well characterise future trends in the sale of private estates and family compounds.
The concept of a private family compound is not new. Examples from history include the magnificent European medieval castles of the 14th and 15th centuries, the stately manor homes of the 17th and 18th centuries built in the United Kingdom, and, more recently, the iconic residential compounds of the Kennedy family in Hyannis Port and the Vanderbilt family’s Biltmore House in Asheville. There has always been a desire for large and private properties where high-net-worth individuals can accommodate family and friends for vacations, sudden and urgent needs for safe places of refuge and, in some instances, for permanent residency. Purchasing these properties often does not just serve the needs of the present; the acquisitions are often motivated to serve as a legacy for future generations to enjoy and, in addition, to diversify investment portfolios.
What specifically do the wealthy and famous look for when searching for such properties? The criteria typically starts with a location’s attributes: ease of access, a low crime rate, political stability, modern infrastructure, an ease of integration, anonymity in the local population and – more recently due to COVID-19 – good healthcare and residency status in order to access locales with borders closed to all but those who are legally permitted to reside there.
The Cayman Islands boasts these attributes and more, offering a superlative culinary scene, exceptional marine- and land-based recreational opportunities and a cosmopolitan flair, thanks to a local population comprised of over 130 nationalities. Private and luxurious residential properties are readily available, and with no restrictions on foreign ownership of land in the Cayman Islands, owning a private family compound in this tropical British Overseas Territory is easy.
Given the low density of Cayman’s population (one of the lowest in the world) it is possible to find or construct estates that permit three generations to comfortably convene at once. A service-oriented network of hospitality and professional service providers on Grand Cayman helps assure affluent clients enjoy hassle-free lifestyles when visiting the island and an excellent telecom network and reliable utility grid alleviates concerns for globally mobile individuals to remain connected to the world while enjoying island living.
At Provenance Properties – the official Christie’s International Real Estate affiliate in the Cayman Islands – we specialise in assisting high-net-worth individuals in finding private estates and compounds. Here are a few examples of properties we recommend:
The Peninsula Estate
This private multi-dwelling compound comprises a 25,000-square-foot estate on almost two acres of lushly landscaped grounds. Located in Crystal Harbour, one of Grand Cayman’s most desirable gated communities, this custom-built palatial residence is well suited for entertaining family and friends.
This property features lavish amenities, including a 700-bottle wine cellar, outdoor barbecue and entertaining area, and two pool bars surrounding the island’s largest residential swimming pool. A separate building adjacent to the main house operates as a private entertaining venue, complete with a 21-seat home theatre, bar area, and on-site restroom. Beyond the splendour of the home’s interior awaits a waterfront amphitheatre, providing serene year-round alfresco dining, gazebos, a park, and a secluded beach area.
Fit for the entire family, this residence offers ample accommodation for guests: The main house has four bedrooms, each with en-suite bathrooms, while an additional two-storey, loft-style guesthouse provides privacy with two bedrooms, a full-equipped kitchen, and living area.
Ravello in Salt Creek
A hidden treasure in Salt Creek, one of Grand Cayman’s most secluded and luxurious gated communities, this enchanting villa is surrounded by lush landscaping and an impeccably kept garden. The influence of Italian design and tradition is highlighted by the carefully selected attributes in this home, from the exquisite marble floors to stunning mosaics.
Thoughtfully designed to entertain large groups, the outdoor space features an infinity-style pool, complemented by an outdoor kitchen with barbecue, a wood-fire pizza oven and family-style outdoor dining. Built to host family and friends, the main house features five bedrooms, each with en-suite bathroom. An additional two loft-style suites are privately placed above the detached garages on either end of the villa, each equipped with a kitchenette and living space.
Offering an uninterrupted and panoramic view of world-acclaimed Seven Mile Beach, this spacious penthouse sets the precedent for luxury resort-style living. With five bedrooms and four-and-a-half bathrooms, N1002 is the largest residence currently available at The Residences at Seafire. The bright, light-filled great room features a breathtaking view and is the heart of this nearly 4,000-square-foot residence, leading out to a private oceanfront terrace.
The sea-to-sound views are simply awe-inspiring from the sanctuary of this residence or the shared owners’ rooftop terrace, The Nest. Fit for entertaining, this rooftop terrace features a full bar area and barbeque, cabanas and idyllic sunrise and sunset views. Additionally, access to all the unparalleled amenities of AAA Five Diamond-rated Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa is just a few minutes’ walk away. Owners at The Residences at Seafire can experience the luxury resort lifestyle when dining at one of three signature restaurants or enjoy the intimacy of private chef service in residence.
Secluded on the 10th floor, Residence N1002 benefits from the privacy of limited neighbours, with the ability to purchase or rent additional residences should further space be needed to accommodate extended family and friends.
About the authors
Sue Nickason has been VP Marketing and Sales at Dart Real Estate since May 2017. Originally from Canada, Sue has worked in luxury residential-resort development in the Caribbean for over a decade. Sue and her team are committed to promoting the unique value proposition of the Cayman Islands to those seeking to establish a personal and/or corporate presence here. They serve as trusted advisors and offer exceptional service, timely market information and a warm “Caymankind” welcome. Sue earned a BA (Honours) from Mount Allison University, an MBA (Distinction) from University of Guelph and has completed studies/earned certificates in journalism, economic development, adult education, customer service, revenue management, and protocol. Sue is a member of the Christie’s International Real Estate Master’s Circle and an Angel in the 100 Women in Finance network.
Sheline Chandi is the Senior Marketing Coordinator supporting Provenance Properties, the exclusive Christie’s International Real Estate affiliate in the Cayman Islands, representing luxury homes across Grand Cayman, including developer-owned properties including OLEA, the first for-sale residential project at Camana Bay, and The Residences at Seafire. A student of the world, Sheline has been educated in the US Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Florida and California, most recently obtaining a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from UCLA.