- September 21, 2021
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At the southern end of the Caribbean, barely 100 miles from Venezuela, the tiny tear-shaped island of Grenada is finally ready for its global real estate close-up. Having long escaped the ravages of mass tourism, Grenada’s sheer under-the-radarness has become one of its most important selling points. There are almost no cookie-cutter resorts, few multinational businesses and—most crucially— for the majority of the pandemic, very little Covid-19 outbreaks.
Indeed, since the pandemic began Grenada—like other members of the Commonwealth—has taken an extreme “no Covid-19” approach to the crisis. That has meant strict testing for travelers before departure, a second test upon arrival, and mandatory in-resort quarantine until those second results are revealed. Full vaccination is also a must.
St. George’s, the quaint, colonial-inspired capital of Grenada.
While certainly stringent, the impact of these measures was apparent—for most of the pandemic, Grenada was a place of no masks, no curfews, no sick people. "Sadly, like the rest of the world, the Delta variant has since changed our reality,” explains Kandace Douglas, real estate sales and marketing director of Silversands villas. And as a result the island, though still less impacted than the rest of the world, is grappling with the pandemic.
Nonetheless, the country has implemented a range of strict containment policies — and right on time. Because these efforts comes as the island is finally waking up to its luxury real estate potential. And a large part of this is due to Silversands, a 43-room resort that opened in 2018 on a prime slice of Grand Anse Beach—Grenada’s finest sandy stretch and one of the best beaches in the Caribbean.
Developed by Egyptian telecom mogul Naguib Sawiris through his firm Ora Developers, Silversands’ ultra-contemporary, white-washed aesthetic is the antithesis of Caribbean cliché. Forget thatched-roof huts or “chic shacks” perched over the seashore on stilts. Rather, Silversands’ rooms—spread over a pair of three-story wings—feature clean lines, subtle patterns, and constant Caribbean views. The vibe—especially in its light-filled spa—feels akin to a sleek branch of, say, Soho House—only dropped in the southern Caribbean. And Silversands’ pool, all 328 feet of it, is the longest in the entire Caribbean.
A Sea View villa at Silversands.
This same feeling extends to Silversands’ eight private villas, which have recently hit the market priced from $7 million to $14.5 million, depending on location (though first-mover incentives mean early buyers can secure discounts). Hidden from the main resort behind a subtle yet substantial wall, the villas are nothing if not spectacular. Four are perched on a low hill just above the main resort with prime Caribbean views. Four others are set directly on the sand just feet from the sea, as close as you can get to the waves without going for a swim.
No matter the location, the villas are substantial: 22,000-square-foot plots, 2,200+ square-feet of outdoor space, four primary bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms, and massive private swimming pools and bijoux plunge pools. Designed by Paris-based architecture firm AW2—responsible for a wide range of Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, and Six-Senses resorts worldwide—the villas come fully furnished with Molteni, B&B Italia, and Bruno Moinard pieces. Kitchen appliances are courtesy of Gaggenau and Miele, while the outdoor and indoor showers are from Hansgrohe. Villa buyers have access to all main resort amenities: spa, two restaurants, concierge and house-cleaning services. Owners also benefit from expedited immigration upon arrival and transport to and from the resort via Tesla, a nice and unexpected touch. “It’s a natural and elegant design aesthetic that honors the surrounding landscape and beachfront location,” Douglas explains.
Silversands’ Beach Front villas pour right on to Grand Anse beach, which has been voted one of the best in the entire Caribbean.
The villas’ serious pricing—in line with better-known (and far better trod) islands like Barbados or St. Barts—reflects their serious amenities. But part of each sale supports the West Indies School of Hospitality Foundation, Douglas says, which offers free hospitality courses to 6,000 Grenadians in partnership with e-Cornell, the online certification arm of Cornell University. “Barry Collymore, chairman of the Grenada Tourism Authority, founded the WISH Foundation with the support of Naguib Sawiris,” Douglas continues. “Barry started the program in an effort to effect positive change in the lives of Grenadians and maximize the tourism industry, which was devastated by Covid-19.”
Warm weather and sandy shorelines are not the only reason ultra-high-net-worth buyers (UHNW) are setting their sites on Grenada. The island also participates in the type of citizenship programs increasingly popular from the Caribbean to Europe to the South Pacific. In Grenada’s case, its Citizen by Investment program offers Grenadian passports to folks who invest a minimum of $200,000 into the island. “This is the icing on the cake,” Douglas notes. “Over the past year and a half, citizenship diversification has become more important than ever. According to a recent Douglas Elliman–Knight Frank Wealth Report, 24 percent of UHNW are interested in second types of citizenships.”
While countries such as Malta have been rocked by citizenship-related corruption and even murder, Grenada’s version is fairly stringent. “The program’s uniqueness stems from its in-depth, rigorous, and thorough due diligence process that acts as a filter in seeking worthy investors,” explains Afi Ventour de Vega, a prominent Grenadian lawyer and founder of Afi Ventour & Co.
And Grenada’s citizenship offering is not only secure but expansive. “The program leads as the only state in the Caribbean whereby successful applicants are eligible to apply to live and work in the United States of America through the E2 Visa Investor Treaty that Grenada enjoys with the USA,” Ventour continues. “Successful applicants enjoy visa-free travel to over 140 countries worldwide, including the United Kingdom, China, Russia, Schengen, and the UAE.”
The citizenship program is available to most top-tier properties in Grenada that meet the financial requirements. This includes villa projects such as the handful of estates still available at Laluna, a 30-acre resort completed over 20 years ago and popular with fashion types such as model Kate Moss and Vogue editor in-chief Anna Wintour and the crew from Sports Illustrated, who shot its iconic swimsuit issue at Laluna back in 2003.
A private villa at Laluna.
In 2009, Laluna founder and former Giorgio Armani executive Bernardo Bertucci developed seven villas, of which four are still available. Priced between $3.9 million and $7.4 million, the villas (or Estates) are perched on a hillside and offer serious panoramic sea views along with a host of financial incentives (including no sales tax, most citizenship fees waived, and a generous revenue-sharing arrangement if owners opt to place their villas in the resort’s rental pool). The villas also offer families an opportunity to enjoy Laluna, whereas the main resort is adults only.
“Why the villas?” Bertucci asks. “The idea came to me in 2009 just after the financial crisis when so many companies working on new hotels left Grenada. I saw an opportunity and received great help from the local government because I was the only one doing something like this at the time.”
Since then Bertucci has been joined by Silversands on Grenada, along with additional high-profile hotel brands including Sandal’s, which opened a resort-only property in 2014, and Kimpton, which is building a resort and real estate project at the opposite side of Grand Anse Bay from Silversands that is slated to debut in 2022.
Back at Silversands, which looks to be booked solid for the upcoming holiday season, plans are already in motion to expand the company’s island footprint. First up are a pair of distinctive projects, the 30-room Beach House by Silversands and the 72-room Silversands Legacy, which will be anchored by a 100-meter (328 foot) pool. The Beach House is scheduled for completion in 2022, while the latter (which features real estate) will participate in Grenada’s citizenship program. Longer term, the large-scale Port Louis Maritime Village and Marina development and more intimate Riviera resort project will further solidify Ora Caribbean’s commanding presence on the island.
Nearly 40 years after U.S. forces invaded Grenada and ended its nascent New Jewel revolutionary movement, the island’s spirit of activism and self-reliance remains strong. With new resort and real estate developments—coupled with the island’s ambitious citizenship program—Grenada is focusing its future on hospitality’s highest end. And the Grenadian people are clearly the island’s key to success, propelling their nation far beyond its traditional cash generators, such as chocolate and spices.
“The Grenadian people and the country's raw, authentic beauty are what makes it stand out from the rest of the Caribbean,” Douglas says. “Our developer really understands how important it is to preserve the authenticity of the island while still ensuring the locals are supported through the thriving hospitality and real estate movement.”