Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
By Mark Moffa
Each bedroom enjoys oceanfront balconies.
The view from the living room.
An oceanside deck has steps directly into the ocean.
In my 13 years with Unique Homes, I’ve been fortunate to travel to so many amazing places for this On Location feature. Yet a recent visit to the Wymara Villas in Turks and Caicos provided the most luxurious accommodations I’ve experienced yet.
What are the truly affluent seeking in a Caribbean property? Seclusion. Safety. Sophistication. Convenience. High-end finishes, amenities and technology. And on-site personnel who provide an unsurpassed level of service. You’ll find it all here.
After a less-than-four-hour direct flight to Providenciales from New York City, we arrived midday Friday for lunch on the pure, white sand of Grace Bay beach at the Wymara Turks and Caicos (a Wymara Resort). Once settled on the other side of the island at our $4.75 million Atlantic Ocean-front villa — only a short, 10-minute shuttle ride away — we felt at home.
A Maldives-inspired design with Greek island architectural elements is both modern and timeless, breathtaking and comforting. Part of an exclusive six-villa site designed to take advantage of unique topography and stunning elevated sea views, the indoor/outdoor feel is exhilarating and the high ceilings are invigorating. We didn’t want to leave the infinity pool or multiple decks — one with steps directly into the ocean — but Brendan O’Neill of The Agency insisted on touring us around the island.
“We don’t have really high density. We’ve managed to find this niche. People really want to come here. There’s a real brand for Turks and Caicos,” he says as he shows us how manageable the island is. “No nightclubs stay open late. The people who are here embrace what is great about the place.”
The Turks and Caicos brand is one that can’t compete with Jamaica or the Dominican Republic for volume or lower-spending clientele — nor does it want to. The island uses U.S. currency, has no limitation on foreign ownership (unlike the Bahamas), and has no limitation on how long you can work in residence (unlike the Caymans and the Bahamas). Private schools, private jet FBOs and a population of less than 40,000 add to the draw for the likes of Bruce Willis, Donna Karan, Dick Clark and Prince, all of whom have owned property or spent significant time on the islands.
Before returning to the U.S. on Monday, we experienced an array of memorable moments: blissful beach time, the most relaxing massages ever at the resort’s Spa (and we have had our share of great massages), snorkeling at the third largest barrier reef in the world, and unique encounters on Iguana Island (Little Water Cay) chief among them. But without a doubt, the most romantic and unimaginably indelible aspect of our escape was the villa itself. Impressive.
Photos courtesy of The Agency
Every year we select locations to highlight as Markets to Watch. This year change is underway and we take a look at some top performers, others that are beginning to transition, and a handful of under-the-radar locations that are emerging.
On track for another record with sales up more than 3 percent, Austin’s luxury patina shines ever brighter. In October, the medium home value in Barton Creek increased to $1.02 million, making it the city’s first million-dollar neighborhood. Austin’s charms include no income tax to win over newcomers, but music and tech might be tops.
Bozeman might seem like a sleeper on this list, but with ranches, the Yellowstone Club and Big Sky country it’s an under-the-radar hangout for demi-billionaires and billionaires.
Brooklyn, New York
No longer second best! Buyers are making Brooklyn a first choice. Median prices in the most expensive neighborhoods hit the $1 million mark. Israelis, Chinese and Western Europeans also gravitate here. It’s no surprise this New York City borough is No. 2 on Urban Land Institute’s Markets to Watch.
By August, the Chicago area recorded as many luxury sales as in all of 2016 or 2017. Sales of $1 million-and-up properties set a record in the third quarter with a 19-percent increase over 2017. According to RE/MAX, luxury is booming in the west loop area. Upscale suburbs trail the city. Lots of new condos and stunning new buildings open doors to more urban opportunities in a market that hangs in the balance.
Few cities have charted a post-recession course as strong as Dallas and the city remains Urban Land Institute’s No. 1 location for overall real estate prospects in 2019. But the dramatic post-recession price increases are over, say economists. Moderating prices and adjusting inventories are positive indicators that that a move back to a normal market is underway.
Real estate’s Rocky Mountain high isn’t over yet. Denver continues to rank in the top group on many lists. In the upscale bracket, a shift toward balance is underway with the inventory of $1 million-plus homes at about seven months. Year-over-year prices are up on average 9.29 percent. Boulder remains a sweet spot for luxury, ranking 10th among cities and towns with at least 10 neighborhoods considered million-dollar.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Projections call for appreciation as high as 10 percent this year. Nevada was the fastest growing state, with new platinum communities; forward-looking, innovative architecture; and spectacular views capturing the attention of buyers looking for lifestyle and tax relief.
Hilton Head, South Carolina
Coastal South Carolina and Georgia are ground zero for demographic shifts and the growing ability among the affluent to live wherever they want — a trend just taking off. New developments including Palmetto Bluff add to demand for the Hilton Head region.
Moving toward balance. A long-awaited uptick in homes on the market is one of several hints of a market shift. Median prices reached a record high this fall, and homes still sell quickly. Still the inventory of homes for sale is one of the lowest in the country. Upper tier and move-up brackets are less competitive.
D.C. continues to be in the top group on watch lists but Amazon’s recent announcement makes real estate in Northern Virginia much more interesting. What the prospect portends for current homeowners is uncertain, but sure to make this a market to watch in 2019.
Park City, Utah
No longer just a ski hangout, this Salt Lake neighbor is luxury’s newest player. The most desirable neighborhoods see a shortfall of inventory. Land prices increased by 25 percent with the highest number of sales occurring at Promontory. Opportunities abound: new projects at The Canyons, a large expansion of Deer Valley, a $4 billion renovation of the Salt Lake airport and a bid for the 2030 Olympics.
Wikimedia Commons / Don Lavange
Beaches and skiing, does it get any better than that? Hipsters meet old money here. Ranked among the top 20 for entrepreneurs, the city has a growing tech industry and one of the best foodie scenes in the Northeast. Look for more new construction. Prices will continue to ease upward as more people discover this hidden gem.
Santa Barbara, California
Opportunities for buyers in many California locales continue to increase as markets shift. Median prices in Santa Barbara in November were down more than 25 percent, which is good news for buyers. The area remains a prized luxury refuge and lower prices open the door for newcomers to enjoy one of the most unique locations in the U.S.
The city’s iconic waterfront is being reimagined with a vision to increase cultural programming and urban amenities. Median prices have been increasing steadily, up 25 percent since 2014. New construction means more inventory with more on the horizon. Agents report steady and growing interest in individuals from high tax states.
Happier times are ahead for buyers in Seattle with active listings up by 41 percent. Even though inventories are still slim, it’s a good indication the frenzy is over. Closed sales in November were down 28 percent. Homes continue to appreciate but the increase has slowed to 5 percent. For buyers and sellers this is definitely a market to watch. The city still is in top groups in many rankings, but the frenzy is over.
Wikimedia Commons / Jeff Gunn
Canadian Baby Boomers and Millennials came together and turned up the heat on the luxury condos in 2018; single-family home sales decreased by as much as 44 percent. While the foreign buyers tax has reduced sales to overseas buyers, it’s also opening new opportunities for locals. Local buyers will continue to drive demand for condos here.
Luxury’s top performers in 2018. Not only are residences in demand, but new resorts are raising the bar for luxury and reinvigorating current markets. New developments in Turks and Caicos, including the ultra-indulgent Gansevoort Villas, turn up the heat on interest in the Caribbean. Easy reach from the U.S. and private enclaves generate new interest in the Bahamas. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico is seeing new resorts and other regions along the Sea of Cortez are seeing new development. Mandarina in Nyarit is the site of One & Only’s first collection of private homes. Owning a private island continues to be an ultimate purchase and the Bahamas is ground zero.
Austin Board of Realtors
Michael Saunders, Founder and CEO Michael Saunders & Company
Anthony Hitt, President and CEO, Engel & Völkers Americas
Aleksandra Scepanovic, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Ideal Properties Group
National Association of Realtors
Northwest Multiple Listing Service, Kirkland, Washington
This story originally appeared in the Winter 2019 issue of Unique Homes Magazine.
Grace Bay Resorts developer Mark Durliat introduces his new vision for luxury island living in Turks and Caicos with the launch of Rock House, a residential resort tucked into the rugged, untouched limestone cliffs of Providenciales’ north shore, the first of its kind. The first phase of Rock House is slated to be finished in 2020, with a second phase of homes to follow.
Rock House is designed to emulate a seaside town found in the South of France, Capri or elsewhere on the Mediterranean coast. 41 studio suites are on the property, with one and two-bedroom cottages ranging from 631 to 1,907 square feet and priced from $600,000 to $1.625 million. Four additional four and five-bedroom single-family estates at the hillside resort will be offered for sale in the second phase.
“We are re-imaging what it means to escape to the islands, and buyers are responding. Fifty percent of the homes have already been sold,” said Mark Durliat, CEO and co-founder of Grace Bay Resorts. “With an exclusive location in the upscale residential neighborhood of International Drive, Rock House will deliver an elegant property with timeless appeal that cannot be found in a traditional oceanfront condominium.
The free-standing one- and two-bedroom cottages will include private pools and outdoor terraces, bathrooms with outdoor private shower gardens, 13-foot vaulted ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass windows and doors to maximize the views of the island’s turquoise waters. Envisioned by Architectural Digest’s AD100 interior designer Shawn Henderson, each residence’s interiors will feature an eclectic mix of contemporary and traditional design with Scandinavian and custom-made furnishings, porcelain and terrazzo flooring, oversized soaking tubs and Waterworks fixtures in their kitchens and bathrooms.
Rock House’s signature restaurant will offer dazzling 180-degree views of the archipelago’s barrier reef and Atlantic Ocean. A spa and fitness center, tennis courts and jogging trails will enhance the sense of well-being for residents of Rock House.
One of eight inhabited islands out of the 40 Turks and Caicos Islands, Providenciales is world-renowned for its pristine, white-sand beaches and turquoise waters. It has become one of the most sought-after destinations for luxury second-home owners. Selected as one of the World’s Best Islands by TripAdvisor, the destination features diving and snorkeling in the island’s miles of spectacular coral reefs; water sports including world-renowned kite surfing, horseback riding, golfing, and notable sites including the world’s only conch farm and relics from the island’s plantation history.
Photos courtesy of Rock House
Grace Bay Resorts has launched sales for Rock House, a Mediterranean-inspired collection of cottages, homes and suites with unparalleled views.
By Alyssa Gautieri
The Rock House, the first residential resort in the untouched limestone cliffs of Providenciales’ north shore, is introduced by developer Mark Durliat. With hope to elevate island living in Turks and Caicos, Rock House will feature 41 studio suites, one- and two-bedroom cottages ranging from 600 to 1,750 square feet and priced from $600,000 to $1.4 million.
The first phase of Rock House is slated to be complete in 2020, with a second phase of homes to follow. The second phase will include four additional four- and five-bedroom single-family estates.
“We are re-imaging what it means to escape to the islands, and buyers are responding. Twenty-five percent of the homes have already been reserved,” said Mark Durliat, CEO and co-founder of Grace Bay Resorts. “With an exclusive location in the upscale residential neighborhood of International Drive, Rock House will deliver an elegant property with timeless appeal that cannot be found in a traditional oceanfront condominium.”
The property will include personal plunge pools, private outdoor terraces, bathrooms with outdoor private shower gardens, and floor-to-ceiling glass windows and doors to maximize the views of the island’s turquoise waters.
Set upon a hilltop, Rock House’s signature restaurant will blend into the site’s natural beauty while offering dazzling views of the archipelago’s barrier reef and Atlantic Ocean. Other amenities will include a relaxing spa, energizing fitness center, tennis courts and winding jogging trails.
Photos courtesy of Rock House