Spotlight on the U.S. Virgin Islands
Posted by — September 19, 2005
By Jen Schaefer
If you're searching for the ideal place to buy a vacation property or retirement home, cast your eyes to one of the United States’ best-kept secrets: the U.S. Virgin Islands. Combining the natural beauty and laid-back atmosphere of the Caribbean with all of the benefits of being under the U.S. flag, the U.S. Virgin Islands is a real estate hotspot for more reasons than just the year-round perfect weather, according to Greg Hamilton, co-owner of Hamilton Real Estate, which represents many of the finest estates on St. Croix.Following are Greg’s top reasons for buying a piece of this tropical island paradise.
* Strong investment potential. “The U.S. Virgin Islands is a true island paradise, and they’re not making islands anymore,” says Greg.* The U.S. legal, postal, currency and other systems are in place.
* English is the primary language.
* Proximity to the United States; the U.S. Virgin Islands is just a three-hour flight from the East Coast, with air service from most major U.S. cities.
* Tax savings. Since there is no state income tax, the U.S. Virgin Islands offers a huge tax savings when compared to stateside locations.
* It’s a major hub for fiber optics; AT&T and Global Crossing have cables directly onto the islands.
* Amazing natural beauty; the deep blue waters, lush greenery and other scenic wonders rival that of any tropical island in the world.
* World-class recreation. “The crystal clear water is great for sailing, snorkeling and scuba diving,” says Greg. Other popular activities include golf, hiking, sport fishing and biking.
* A unique cuisine with origins in Africa, Puerto Rico, other West Indian islands and Europe, plus top-of-the-line gourmet restaurants.
* An easy pace of life.
* A rich history and incredible architecture in the main towns. “St. Croix was governed by seven different nations. It was a very rich island when cotton and sugar cane were the main products, and as a result has some incredible guest houses,” says Greg.
Where to BuyGreg says the most popular places to buy luxury properties in the U.S Virgin Islands are in select locations on St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. There is an amazing array of upscale properties available. “Luxury homes typically offer large square footage [3,000 or more], a pool, a guest house and great water views or beach access,” says Greg. He continues, “All of the homes are individually built, so there is not really a common architectural style, although most have an open, airy feel and there are typically a lot of archways utilized due to the Danish influence.” Following are Greg's picks of the top places to buy a luxury property on the U.S. Virgin Islands. St. ThomasCurrently St. Thomas has 22 listings over $1 million, with the highest-priced listing being $3.2 million. Recommended areas include:
* Estate Peterborg: An exclusive area on the north shore overlooking Magens Bay, which has been voted one of the 10 Most Beautiful Beaches in the World.
* Mahogany Run: A scenic golf course community. The 6,022-yard course, designed by George and Tom Fazio, is home of the famous “Devil’s Triangle,” a signature trio of holes on the Atlantic Ocean.
* Vessup Bay, Cowpet Bay and Cabrita Point: Neighboring areas near the Ritz Carlton and several other hotels with world-class amenities, plus the St. Thomas Yacht Club.
* Flag Hill: An area above the Marriot and cruise ship docks on Charlotte Amalie Harbor, one of the finest natural harbors in the Caribbean. Charlotte Amalie, the capital of St. Thomas, is just 10 minutes away.
St. CroixThe price range for luxury homes on St. Croix is generally between $800,000 and $6 million. Currently there are 36 homes listed at over $1 million. Recommended areas include:
* The Buccaneer/Estate Shoys: The Beverly Hills of St. Croix, where celebrities stay when they visit. The gated community adjacent to the famed Buccaneer Hotel boasts golf courses, a tennis center and three beaches.
* Teague Bay: Next to the St. Croix Yacht Club, with world-class windsurfing.
* Turner Hole: An area on the island's east-end south shore next to the Divi Carina Bay Hotel & Casino, which was named one of the best large hotels in the Caribbean by Caribbean Travel & Life Magazine.
* Judith’s Fancy: A gated community west of Christiansted and next to the Salt River National Park.
* Carambola: A gated community surrounding the Carambola Golf Course, a Robert Trent Jones, Sr.-designed course built by Lawrence Rockefeller in 1966.
St. JohnSt. John is home to many of the highest-priced luxury listings in the U.S. Virgin Islands, with some priced over $6 million and many more priced in the $4-6 million range. Recommended areas include:
* Peter Bay: This very exclusive gated community is located within a national park.
* Chocolate Hole, Rendevous Bay and Fish Bay: Neighboring areas south of the main town of Cruz Bay. Cruz Bay is a small, colorful West Indian village where the ferry from St. Thomas arrives and departs. For a list of Luxury Real Estate listings in the U.S. Virgin Islands, go to the LuxuryRealEstate.com home page, select “Virgin Islands” from the Country pull-down menu and then click “Submit.”