When you are creating what could be the most luxurious new resort in the Caribbean, the days of relying on a beautiful beach, a spot of paddle boarding and a spa are over. These days, you need to offer one-off experiences, extreme sports for the millennial offspring of millionaire buyers and “the new paradigm in ultra luxury”.
So says William Anderson, who has variously developed, managed and marketed some of the world’s most exclusive residential resorts over the last few decades, among them the private island resorts of Jumby Bay in the Caribbean, The Wakaya Club in Fiji, and the Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa. “People aren’t so worried about where it is per se. It’s more about buying the experience,” Anderson comments of the new breed of luxury residential resort.
His new focus, as CEO, is the dazzlingly beautiful Half Moon Bay on the east coast of Antigua, a secluded spot a 20-minute drive from the yachties’ hub of English Harbour. The site once housed the 1950s-built Half Moon Bay hotel, one of Antigua’s first hotels, which fell prey to the 1995 hurricane.
The beautiful Half Moon Bay, on the east coast of Antigua, is a secluded spot
Next summer, work will start on turning it into a low-density 132-acre resort centered around a world-class Rosewood hotel and some of the most expensive villa plots in the Caribbean.
“When you have a location with this level of beauty, you feel a responsibility to keep the footprint as simple as possible,” says Anderson.
There are just 10 plots for sale, some lining the perfect pink arc of the coral sand bay, others set on the rocky peninsula. Prices start at $10m for a one-acre plot and rise to $25m for the trophy plot – the three-acre Mellon Estate, once owned by the US billionaire Mellon family and set on the highest point in the resort.
The late Bunny Mellon had a home in the Mill Reef Club on the other side of the bay – now owned by billionaire fashion designer Tory Burch– and bought this peninsula to save it from development and preserve her view.
Now that the peninsula plot is available to develop for the first time in 50 years, some trophy hunters are sniffing around. “A couple of people are circling that one, people with a deep appreciation of architecture,” says Anderson. “This will truly be one of the greatest houses in the world, starting at the top of the cliff and cascading down.”
William Anderson has variously developed, managed and marketed some of the world’s most exclusive residential resorts
Three of the other plots have already been reserved, two to New York-based buyers and the third to an ultra-high net worth London couple.
“One of the New York buyers hasn’t even seen the property. He has been waiting and waiting for a place he finds compelling and he says this kind of offering is long overdue. He has young children and wants them to grow up there. It’s a legacy for him,” says Anderson, who expects to see an even 50/50 split of US and UK-based buyers.
Besides the 10 plots, there will be 42 branded villa residences for sale, ranging from 2,500 sq ft to 10,000 sq ft and priced between $3.5m and $15m. They will form the Rosewood’s accommodation and be sold turnkey and fully-furnished, interior designed by Amsterdam-based Studio Piet Boon.
If paying up to $25m on a plot of remote Caribbean land – plus a further $5m-$7m to build a single-storey villa – seems high, Anderson argues that prices are comparable to nearby Jumby Bay, which sits just off Antigua’s north coast.
Antigua is also home to Pearns Point, a similarly secluded coastal tranche where Savills is selling plots ranging from $1.5m up to $77m for several beach plots packaged together.
An aerial view of the stunning The Half Moon Bay
“You can say it’s expensive,” says Anderson of Half Moon Bay’s prices, “but look globally and it’s comparable. The Mellon estate is a unique sell and we couldn’t find anywhere in the Caribbean where you can buy on a beachfront like Half Moon Bay, let alone with a top hotel operator.”
As for attractions, buyers will have all the services and facilities of the Rosewood hotel at their fingertips – the sporty stuff, luxury pampering and fine dining.
“We will have a really top chef. The contenders – names you would know - are in New York and London, and London is leading so far,” says Anderson. “Activities will be as good as you would expect from a resort at this level. In Fiji, we offered a desert island beach where couples could spend a day on their own. We’ll do something like that here,” he adds.
There will also be a “funky West Indies bar” on the rocks, to provide a cool social hub, and an amphitheatre that makes the most of the undulating site to provide an atmospheric outdoor cinema for families.
And there will be a first for a resort anywhere – a biodynamic farm at its core, where planting and harvesting revolves around methods based on astrology and, some would say, mysticism, introduced in the early 1900s by the Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner.
“It’s an emerging trend in the natural food space – in Germany, 10 per cent of organic farmland is certified biodynamic and it’s a growing movement in the US. We see a farm as a self-sustaining organism, not a factory,” says Elizabeth Candelario, president of the Demeter Association, the largest certified body for biodynamic farming.
“To apply the ideas in a resort, especially on an island, is a beautiful thing that has never been done before. In the Caribbean, which is susceptible to drought, it will bring a whole different level to farming as it finds answers within to issues such as water conservation and disease rather than looking outside.”
Besides the 10 plots, there will be 42 branded villa residences for sale, ranging from 2,500 sq ft to 10,000 sq ft and priced between $3.5m and $15m
Owners and guests at Half Moon Bay will benefit by knowing exactly where their food has come from. “Everyone is a foodie now. Everyone’s keen on the provenance of food,” Anderson, Candelario’s husband, chips in.
The kids’ club will include opportunities for children to get their hands dirty, and the spa will offer “an extraordinary array of esoteric treatments with a biodynamic element,” Candelario adds.
Ultimately, though, the resort will be all about something that needs no explanation - the staggeringly beautiful bay itself. Anderson describes how he tilted the orientation of the future hotel every so slightly so that the moment you walk in, you get a direct view of the spot in the sea where the waves crash every 10 seconds.
“This will be the shot that everyone will take,” he assures. When Half Moon Bay is up and running in 2021, we will see.