Why the British Turks & Caicos Islands are the “Next Big Thing” (Part One)

 

The Turks & Caicos Islands, <1hr from Miami

Conch Developments is evangelical in its belief that the British Turks & Caicos Islands (TCI) – located in the eastern Caribbean about an hour from Miami – represents the ‘next big thing’ for all our clients.

As such, it has pioneered a range of high profile, high impact, luxury land products that offer both a compelling investment opportunity to sophisticated clients and a remarkable lifestyle purchase that is simply not available anywhere else on the market like-for-like. 

We’d like to justify this by providing you with a pragmatic analysis of the comparable benefits across all the key areas and investment indicators: 

  1. The location – What makes the Turks & Caicos Islands stand out?
  2. The product – Why Conch Developments land products are so appealing
  3. The company – How Conch provides such tremendous added value
  4. The big picture – Why now is exactly the right time to invest in TCI land

Given the size of the argument – and it really is a BIG argument, we’re going to split the blog into the 4 component parts shown above starting with The Location.  We’ll release further blogs on each of the remaining points over the next week so keep posted for updates: 

(1) The Location – What Makes The Turks & Caicos Islands Stand Out? 

Turks & Caicos - Location, Location, Location

First of all, there are a plethora of aesthetic benefits of the Turks & Caicos Islands: 

  • The TCI is composed of over 40 different yet closely linked islands, six of which are fully inhabited, several that are privately developed already and several more currently being developed to accommodate ever rising demand. Each island offers different experiences for the investor, visitor and resident and Conch Developments has secured premium land inventory on all of the most sought after islands and locations. Thanks to their unique atoll like geography and close proximity of the islands – travel between them is simple and economical
  • The islands are situated about 600 miles southeast of Miami and 50 miles southeast of Mayaguana in the Bahamas. They have a total land area of 238 square miles
  • The TCI benefit from a fabulous tropical climate with over 350 days of sunshine each year, cooling trade winds, over 230 miles of white sandy beaches, alluring warms waters, clean air and beautiful star filled skies (thanks to the absence of light pollution or indeed any other type of pollution)
  • Turks & Caicos are located on the world’s 3rd largest coral reef system which is just one of the reasons why the islands are globally renowned as one of the top few dive destinations on the planet. You simply cannot find better wall dives and wreck dives anywhere else on planet Earth
  • Home to the world’s best beach – Grace Bay on Providenciales (known locally as Provo and just a couple of minutes from our Blue Water Villas development).  The TCI have won countless awards and accolades for having the number one beach on the planet from the likes of Conde Nast, The Times and many other prestigious bodies.  For a list of just some of the awards that the Turks & Caicos Islands have been given – not just for beaches – please click here.  One of the most recent accolades was from Trip Advisor who – based on millions of reviews – named the Turks and Caicos as “The World’s Top Beach and Sun Destination 2010” (click here for the full story) .  TripAdvisor also placed Provo 3rd in the Top 10 Family Destinations in the Caribbean & Mexico, 8th in the Top 10 Relaxation & Spa Destinations in the World and 3rd in the Top 10 Romance Destinations in the Caribbean & Mexico.  4 Turks & Caicos resorts have also just been chosen by The Expedia Insiders’ Select list as Expedia’s top-ranked properties (click here for the full story)
  • Locally, Hollywood Beach on North Caicos is widely regarded as the most pristine and beautiful beach in the Caribbean (home to our Serendipity beachfront development and just five minutes from the World’s most exclusive resort – Parrot Cay)
  •  The Turks & Caicos Islands offer one of the most spectacular nature products on the world including turtles, humpback whales, dolphins, turtles, manta rays, iguanas, flamingos, dozens of unique bird species and countless other fabulous fish and mammals.  The ecological gravitas of the Turks & Caicos is so critical on the world stage that the government has set aside 33 specific protected areas totalling more than 325 square miles

It’s always important to put the head above the heart.  While the heart will naturally ensure Turks & Caicos jumps off the map as a stunning location to live, visit, work etc., what ticks the boxes from a more pragmatic viewpoint? 

  • Thanks to a stable British backed government (the islands are a Sovereign British Territory with a British Governor); there is virtually no crime, poverty or unemployment.  The islands are the safest place to live, visit and work in the entire Caribbean.  The socio-political situation is therefore outstanding and this is something that should always be a key consideration for buyers
  • The TCI has both the fastest growing economy and the highest standard of living in the entire Caribbean
  • English is the first language and the currency is the US Dollar – a compatible currency for most people in the world
  • The TCI have the most sophisticated infrastructure in the Caribbean:
    • Over US$5billion of inward investment has been made by the government in the last five years alone (including a recent investment of over $120m in building a causeway and 2 lane highway that now connects North Caicos with Middle Caicos)
    • Electricity is stable and reliable and is of the North American standard providing a service of up to 120/240 volts at 60hz cycle suitable for all US appliances. It is not the ‘dirty’ electricity found in most Caribbean islands and installed generating capacity is 55 megawatts which is comfortably able to support a current peak demand of approximately 20 megawatts
    • Thanks to modern reverse osmosis plants on Provo and Grand Turk and piped city water is available in most areas
    • Communications are state of the art with high speed broadband internet, cable, worldwide dialling and mobile telephony available across the islands; all on a digital network
    • A comprehensive waste-management programme is in place for the islands including state-of-the-art landfill, recycling facilities and waste collection services on all inhabited islands
    • The Turks and Caicos Islands are quite literally one of the healthiest places on the planet. A near-perfect climate, no malarial, tropical or endemic diseases, no insect carried infections or rabies, safe clean water, a complete absence of pollution, safe clean oceans and a proactive Public Health Department all converge to make the islands a highly sought-after destination.  Thanks to a continued investment in infrastructure and complementing the substantial existing medical facilities – two brand new hospitals opened in April 2010, one on Provo and one on Grand Turk
    • Education sets the Turks & Caicos Islands apart from many of its regional peers and the investment by the government in education has been substantial. The level of education across the islands is superb with student to teacher ratios of 1:15 at primary level. As a British territory; the educational system of Turks and Caicos is based closely on the British model and the primary language of instruction at all levels is English. Education is free and mandatory for children aged five to fifteen.  There are numerous Private and state schools across all the inhabited islands
    • The TCI enjoy one of the best airlifts in the region:
      • There are an unprecedented 7 airports in the Turks & Caicos including international airports on Providenciales and Grand Turk and the Caribbean’s longest private runway on Ambergris Cay
      • The islands are about one hour’s flight from Miami
      • There are direct flights to Turks & Caicos from London with British Airways, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Charlotte, JFK, Orlando, Toronto, Nassau  & many other major US and Caribbean hubs.  Grand Turk has a sleek new airport that is already attracting new routes and the runway  on Providenciales international airport is currently being expanded to accommodate larger jets and new connections (for example, Virgin should soon be connecting to Provo from Manchester and it’s worth noting that airlines service demand – they don’t create it)
      • The TCI are enjoying (and have enjoyed for a very long time) double digit growth in air arrivals
      • On any given day, there are over 50 private jets in Provo’s private air terminal
    • Tourism remains exceptionally strong in the TCI which helps underscore a strong economy and a strong real estate market
      • The TCI is a major upmarket cruise ship destination rapidly starting to dominate the market. Grand Turk has a stunning new $40m cruise centre and the TCI enjoyed a 25% growth in cruise visitors during 2009 while most other countries in the region saw decline.  The TCI welcomed over 500,000 cruise visitors alone and this is expected to double during 2010. Download your free Carnival Cruise Brochure from here (we recommend the 8 Day Exotic – Eastern Caribbean which features Grand Turk)
      • The TCI is also a major destination for the boating set and as such, world class infrastructure is already in place with multiple marinas, moorings, Yacht Clubs, facilities and marine services
      • Prior to the credit crunch, tourist arrivals between 2002 and 2007 grew by 71%. Against the grain of the subsequent credit crunch, these figures have since doubled and the Tourist Board has actually had to open offices in New York, London and Toronto to account for annual double digit growth and a phenomenal repeat visitor ratio of over 60%.  Visitor surveys show that 96.1% of all visitors plan to return to the islands
    • The TCI offer a staggering superfluity of luxury services and amenities
      • With 5 star luxury and service as standard; the TCI is famed for providing a high end, family tourist product that is primarily aimed at the more well heeled and discerning traveller
      • The TCI is home to countless A-List celebrities with Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Oprah Winfrey, Keith Richards, Christie Brinkley, Bill Cosby, Michael Douglas, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Gary Neville and countless other stars owning real estate there
      • One could lose count of the sheer number of luxury hotels, casinos, spas, restaurants, malls, boutique shopping locations and upmarket nightclub and entertainment venues, each of which outdoes the last in terms of splendour and quality. You can go to the cinema. You can go off-roading. You can play a round of golf at a championship course owned by the Emir of Qatar. You can purchase everything your heart desires from the finest Cuban cigars to Gucci ballgowns and Bvlgari jewellery
      • Just as dining choices are varied and international on the islands ranging from haute cuisine to simple snacks (there are close to 100 restaurants just on Providenciales with scores more on the other islands); there are numerous major supermarkets, gourmet speciality shops, bakeries, ‘bulk size’ outlet stores and much more who are able to supply you with everything you could ever need . Thankfully, in keeping with the classy and upmarket nature of the islands, there are no McDonalds, Burger Kings, KFC’s or other fast food chains
      • Outside of the obvious water and beach based activities; there are a fabulous range of other attractions on the islands.  For a comprehensive list, please see here
      • Numerous new high profile resorts are either due to be opened, under construction or planned and this includes a brand new Ritz Carlton managed Molasses Reef and possibly the completion of a Mandarin Oriental project penned for Dellis Cay
  • The real estate market in the TCI – which did dip in 2008 and 2009 – has stabilised and shown encouraging growth.  The islands currently boast occupancy of up to 95% and annual rental yields of around 10%. Land and property values are predicted to now escalate by at least 20% per annum moving forward (according to ReMax). Combined with ongoing gentrification of all the islands, there is certainly a scarcity factor in many of the key locations which continues to underpin a buoyant real estate market.  This is especially apparent in locations like Grand Turk and North Caicos.

The reason all of this is important when looking at an investment should be blatantly clear.  Infrastructure, strong tourism, airlift etc. all helps push up prices, provide high rental returns, ensure investment growth and so on.  The TCI is not a risky emerging market, it is a mature (yet underpriced) location and this helps safeguard and supercharge your investment.  The country is definitely on the up and up all the time and you thus have the opportunity to get leverage growth and profit. 

Beautiful Grand Turk

Finally, there are a number of unique nuances in the Turks & Caicos Islands that add significant value to savvy investors by mitigating risk and enabling clients to ‘do more’: 

  • Unlike a number of regional peers, the financial situation in the Turks & Caicos is very healthy thanks to a stable, sustainable, diversified and flourishing economy
    • Banking and financial services represents just 7% of their economy and it is largely involved in private banking and wealth management.  Therefore, even though the Turks & Caicos is ranked in world’s Top 5 tax havens (along with Jersey, Lichtenstein, Panama & Monaco, see here) it has not really suffered during the global financial crisis unlike several other equivalent tax havens
  • The Turks & Caicos is recognised as one of the world’s best offshore locations because there are no exchange controls, no personal or corporate taxation, a US dollar currency, modern offshore legislation, sophisticated financial and tax planning products, advantageous domicile benefits and tremendous jurisdictional advantages for virtually all types of financial service.  Most importantly for many savvy investors; there are no exchange controls and no tax treaties with any other jurisdiction. The Turks & Caicos Islands have strict professional and banking confidentiality laws and the disclosure of confidential information is a criminal offence. Tax matters are specifically excluded from the ambits of any treaties that are in place. Exempted companies or international business corporations (IBCs) incorporated in The Turks & Caicos Islands are automatically granted an undertaking by the Governor exempting them from future taxation (if any) for a period of twenty years.  Offshore hybrid companies are also becoming increasingly popular.
  • The Turks & Caicos has the friendliest and most straightforward immigration / domicile requirements in the developed Caribbean with temporary and permanent residence very straightforward (and is actually something Conch Developments can help all clients with) and most countries do not require a visa to visit.  Even for Tourists, the TCI is remarkably flexible and they have just relaxed their rules by trebling the amount of time tourists can stay in the country up to 3 months (see here).  For a full overview of the rules regarding temporary and permanent residency and how Conch Developments can help, see here)
  • Planning rules in the TCI definitely favour the investor – both those who wish to build and those who wish to sit on the land and realise explosive capital growth:
    • Aside from obvious planning requirements such as setbacks from beaches, roads etc., there is no maximum footprint that clients have to adhere to on their plots of land.  In many countries, the maximum is 25% to 50% but not in the TCI.  This allows clients to build the size of home they want without having to purchase an oversize plot.  Furthermore, there are no onerous conditions placed on clients such as them having to landscape certain percentages of their land etc.  The TCI actively encourages individuality in design
    • Clients can build up to 3 storeys (plus any roof terrace and subterranean  levels)
    • All developers in the TCI are able to transfer title immediately as unlike many other locations; the TCI planning authority provides title for individual plots on a subdivision without the developer first having to complete infrastructure.  As long as the developer legally commits to complete the infrastructure on the development within a reasonable timeframe (as we do) then this a huge benefit to clients as without title, clients are typically unable to build themselves or sell their plot
    • Building regulations are robust, planning is based on the English model, absolute title is guaranteed by the British Government (making title insurance irrelevant) and building standards are to Miami Dade codes.  This protects all investors by creating a world class platform to plan, develop and construct high quality real estate in the Turks & Caicos
    • The government and planning system is transparent, pretty quick to turnaround applications etc. and most importantly – it is entirely free of corruption (which is unfortunately not the case in many less developed and less wealthy islands in the Caribbean)
    • For a high finish – build costs range from about $140 – $250 per square foot.  This is quite competitive for an upmarket island location and contractors prices have fallen in the last couple of years as have the cost of construction materials.  There are a fabulous range of top class contractors, architects, landscapers, interior designers, surveyors etc. in the islands and Conch are also able to offer clients a complete turnkey solution for design, construction and even resale.
  • Stamp duty has just been halved across the board – and more than halved in many circumstances.  It can also now be paid over 4 years (which fits in nicely with the 4 years interest free payment terms we offer all our clients). We understand this to be unique in the Caribbean.  For more information see here

Stay tuned for our forthcoming blogs continuing the argument for why the Turks & Caicos Islands are the next big thing.

Turks & Caicos - Paradise Found

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~ by Conch Developments on May 17, 2010.

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