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Private Kingdoms

An Island Paradise May Sound Romantic, But Be Real About Your Dreams Before You Buy
Edward Kiersh
From the Print Edition:
Ron Perelman, Spring 95

(continued from page 3)

"Canadian islands offer everything the buyer wants: solitude, beauty and far better access to infrastructure than in the tropics," Vladi concedes. "But buying here does demand a radical reeducation. Before consummating a sale, I typically spend six to nine months traveling around the world with clients. Most people ultimately see the drawbacks of their particular island fantasies. Yet it's still a long process before they start adjusting to reality--that owning an island is much more than sitting naked on a beach all the time." The broker of islands repairs to his own, Sleepy Cove, to "rediscover" himself after traveling about 250 days each year.

Once drawn to the Caribbean but now sharing Vladi's excitement about Canada, island owner David Hays, artistic director of the National Theatre of the Deaf, says, "I love the tropics for vacations, the sailing and swimming. Yet our 55-acre Canadian island sits in a dramatic part of the world where the swift changes in the weather are thrilling. It is surrounded by crystal-clear blue water and cliffs. Our property would cost millions in the Caribbean."

Vladi's Japanese clients still cling to typical notions of tropical havens, demanding to be in Polynesia, Hawaii or off New Zealand. The French prefer to luxuriate in sun-kissed Indian Ocean locales. And as for his newest clientele, American and European corporations, they are adding to the current buying frenzy in the Caribbean by acquiring islands for conference centers and executive think tanks.

Vladi, however, favors climates where "the magic of changing seasons is keenly felt" and so continues to play the detective, snooping around Brittany and Scottish seaside towns for enticing properties. His voice filled with excitement, he recounts talking with French fishermen to find Costa Eres, a granitic, pink-cliffed island off Brittany, complete with a 12-room medieval castle. "What an incredible spot. It was simply a terrific bargain."

That jewel sold for only $1.5 million. True to his dream-merchant calling, Vladi has numerous other gems.

"Rion Island off Brittany, 50 acres with two working farms, at $750,000, is charming, a fantastic buy," he says, falling into one of his habitual island reveries. "The Brittany coast has very few islands for sale, yet this is a superb property, accessible to Paris, with a distinctive lighthouse.

"The Isle de Gaby, near Marseille, also has a 200-year-old castle that towers over this five-acre rock in the sea. This is a unique place, a different cup of tea with no beaches, but still ideal for lovers [priced at $600,000].

"Also $2 million Buel del Lovo in the Venetian lagoon, about 30 minutes from San Marco Square, has an inviting palace on it. This villa needs work, but what privacy and potential! Just a fantastic location."

The bewitching list goes on and on. As long as buyers have the money to settle a transaction within weeks (mortgages are not typical, because sellers are generally in desperate need of cash), Vladi will balance fantasy with the realities of an island's housing costs and energy sources and provide properties that make sense.

This is often a long process , as Vladi is the insatiable wanderer, secretly swimming onto islands to survey shorelines, shrubbery and other topographical features that determine a property's true value.

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