For sale: A little piece of paradise

A private island in Plett goes on the market for R27m IN THE heart of South Africa ’s millionaires’ playground lies a tiny private island that is up for sale for R27-million.

Stanley Island is a helicopter or boat ride away from the Plettenberg Bay mainland in the Eastern Cape.

Private Islands Inc, a Canadian real estate agency which sells islands around the world, has been flooded with inquiries about the 27.4ha property close to the mouth of the Keurbooms River.

Director Alexis Pappas said the island had been discreetly marketed since 2006.

Lucy Maher, Forbes magazine’s lifestyle editor, said many of the most expensive homes in South Africa were not advertised because owners in that category tended to sell quietly to “preselected” buyers.

Pappas said inquiries about the property, which boasts its own kilometre-long airstrip, had come from South Africans living here and abroad, British and US entrepreneurs, and investors from Asia. There had also been offers from Johannesburg-based businessmen who wanted the island for weekend and holiday getaways.

Owned by Barbara de Bruijn, the island was the centre of a High Court battle in Cape Town in 2003 when she sought an order to evict tenant Nicholas Mostert, a Plettenberg Bay businessman.

Mostert, who was renting the property at R20 000 a month had apparently made several offers, including a R13.5-million bid, to buy the island which De Bruijn rejected, saying the offers were too low. She claimed his refusal to move jeopardised pending offers of up to R18-million.

In just two months in 2003, the price doubled from R9-million to R18-million as international buyers entered into a bidding war, but De Bruijn refused to budge.

On Friday, De Bruijn’s 30-year old son, Johan, said the property has been “on and off” the market since 2004.

“It’s been in the family since 1984 — we aren’t desperate to sell but if we receive a good enough offer we will consider it,” he said, adding that the island had become too big for him and his mother to handle.

Johan, who was raised on the island, said he had spent most of last year renovating the main house and some of the cottages on the property.

Asked how it felt living on an island, he said: “It’s hard work, but worth it, considering you’re living on your very own piece of paradise without the stress of the outside world.”

Johan said his mother had received a number of offers, mostly from developers.

The family also owns a home in Plettenberg Bay.

Barbara , a former South African water-skier and horse rider, is the ex-wife of flamboyant businessman and Eastern Cape hunting entrepreneur Lud de Bruijn. Lud, owner of a string of private game reserves, sparked an outcry in 1986 with plans to develop the island by building a lodge, game reserve and landing strip.

Conservationists were unable to stop him because the island, then known as Lud’s Island, was privately owned.

His ex-wife changed the name to Stanley Island after the divorce.

In addition to the airstrip, the island has its own ferry to the mainland.

The main residence is a four- bedroom thatched house, with its own study, two bathrooms, and an entertainment bar area. There are also three cottages with four bedrooms.

The island is also home to springbok and plentiful birdlife.

Sales figures provided by The Knowledge Factory, the firm which compiles the SA Property Transfer Guide, puts the average property price in Plettenberg Bay at R1.7-million.

One 1294ha estate near Plettenberg Bay, on the market for R185-million, has a 12-bedroom home and stables.

According to Private Islands Inc, Stanley Island is a bargain compared with other islands on their books.

“The most expensive we have on the market is priced at R2.7-billion and is located in Lisbon, Portugal,” said Pappas.

But for buyers searching for cheaper, ocean-locked real estate, the Canadian company has others priced between R10-million and R150-million.

“In moments of fantasy, or sometimes exasperation, we all daydream about escaping to a private island of our own. We imagine a place where the biggest decisions involve when to have our next nap and what’s for dinner, lobster or mango,” said Pappas.

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