New Development

Redefining Civilization:

ambergris-planeTurks & Caicos Sporting Club, Ambergris Cay
By Kathy Borsuk

Ambergris Cay Turks and Caicos Islands

Have you ever dreamed of having an island all your own . . . a magical place where life blends seamlessly with nature and the term “civilization” is redefined?

Such a place exists on the tiny island of Ambergris Cay, a coda on the southeast end of the Caicos Banks. Here, the Turks & Caicos Sporting Club offers its members a private paradise, where luxury, natural beauty, security and privacy exist in harmony.

Ambergris Cay, Turks & Caicos Islands

Ambergris Cay is an 1,100 acre private residential island with eight miles of waterfront surrounding its shimmering shores. Unoccupied since the British Loyalists left in the late 1700s, TCI resident Henry Mensen and a group of fellow adventurers purchased the cay in 1995. Here, Mensen envisioned a small community of exquisite homes, enhanced by the ultimate in luxuries and sporting amenities. A fortunate partnership several years later turned dream into reality.

Mensen teamed up with developers Dolan, Pollak & Schram (DP&S) to create and market the Turks & Caicos Sporting Club. DP&S is renowned for developing sporting communities on historic properties, with a commitment to preserving their distinct character and environment. With this in mind, more than 30% of Ambergris Cay will be untouched, to protect archaeological ruins and its unique natural landscape, containing flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world.

Managing the Sporting Club is the Greenbrier Resort & Club Management Company, a leader in managing premier sporting clubs and best known for its namesake world-class luxury resort in West Virginia, with experience in the Caribbean at the Deep Water Cay Club on Grand Bahama island.

Accessible only to members, the T & C Sporting Club will include about 425 single-family homes, all with expansive water vistas. According to the Club’s Managing Director Peter Pollak, “These will be true ‘homes’ — not condos, not time-shares, but houses built under strict architectural controls. Because this is an equity club, the homeowners actually do own the land.” Areas are divided into various communities, their names reflecting local flavor.

At the T & C Sporting Club, every activity is designed to highlight an active lifestyle made possible by the island’s natural features and year-round warm climate. Pollak explains, “Our members can swim, snorkel, scuba dive, kayak, kite board, windsurf and sail. The fishing here is superb — reef, deep water and bonefishing alike. We’ll have hiking and biking trails by which they can explore historic sites. The marina will be the hub of boating activities and there will be an equestrian center for riding. Best of all, our experienced guides and naturalist will help residents get the most out of every new experience. Our air taxi service can fly golfers to nearby courses and take members on side trips to other islands.”

But make no mistake, there’s plenty of room for relaxation. Also planned for the cay are a number of member venues, including a lodge, dining facilities (with meals prepared to world-class standards by the in-house chefs), entertainment centers, guest accommodations, concierge service, a European spa, health and fitness center with tennis and squash courts, a swimming pool and an exercise room. The Marina Village will have a general store and shops.

In keeping with the Club’s commitment to privacy and convenience, transportation will center around the Hawkes Nest Marina, with fuel stations, access to club boats, mechanical and maintenance service and a deep water marina that will accommodate 200 foot vessels. The Osprey Airfield will have a 5,700 foot paved jet strip, with customs and immigration office and a welcome center. On-island travel will be by motorized cart.

Peter Pollak says that extensive planning preceded initial marketing and construction of the $110 million project, which he sees as a study in sustainable town planning. “We reviewed developments on other islands to get perspective and see what should be done differently. Both Henry Mensen and Harold Charles provided local knowledge that streamlined our work. We believe that if the base starts correctly, it will generate confidence and success in the long term.”

Guided by Mensen’s initial vision and an approved master plan, the developers commissioned design and building professionals from around the world to execute the various amenities buildings, cottage neighborhoods, landscaped areas and infrastructure. Consistently high standards of building and aesthetic quality are foremost to each phase.

Homesites are being released in stages, by area. The initial offering in January, 2004 was 22 premium seaview homesites in the Le Grand Cottages neighborhood. Located along the northeastern shore with high elevations, these range in price from $525,000 to $795,000. Designed by architect Cooper Johnson Smith with input from renowned fashion designer Adrienne Vittadini, the homes were created to appeal to a cosmopolitan collection of buyers and sold out immediately.

The next release was 30 Calico Jack seaside cottage sites, priced from $595,000 to $950,000. The centerpiece of this area is a beachfront pavilion including casual indoor/outdoor dining, outdoor spa treatment rooms with ocean views, a natural wading pool with waterfall and swimming lagoons. With predesigned 3 and 4 bedroom/3 bathroom cottages featuring panoramic western vistas from every room, the sites are nearly all sold.

Recent releases include the Columbus Beach Cottages and homesites in the Columbus Beach South community (sited atop a high dune with superb oceanfront sunrise and sunset views); the exclusive Hawkins Ridge area (running along the central spine at 93 feet above sea level) and Bonny Cove, hosting five oceanfront, estate-sized sites of seven to eight acres for expanded family compounds with unobstructed views and direct beach access.

As an equity membership club, homeowners purchase the land, plus pay a one-time equity fee, with annual dues. Pollak sees ownership in the T & C Sporting Club as a legacy, to be passed along to a family’s generations. To date, there are over 100 Club members from around the world. Members’ events regularly held off and on-island encourage a sense of community.

Concurrent with land sales, construction commenced on Ambergris Cay in 2004. Malphrus Construction, one of the largest site contractors in the southern U.S., is building the roads, marina and airstrip. In charge of “vertical construction” is JACA TCI Ltd., a construction management company with 100 years of hotel and resort experience, much focused in the Caribbean. As one of the largest undertakings to date in the TCI, all amenities are expected to be in place by the end of 2008, with ongoing home construction.

The LeGrand and Calico Jack villages are expected to be the first to rise. The LeGrand neighborhood features homes designed in the masonry-based “Caicos style.” The Calico Jack village was conceived by local architect Simon Wood in the complementary “Turks style” derived from the techniques of traditional ship building. Together, they establish a broad range of design possibilities available to each member as they design their own homes.

Dan Paquette is DP&S’s VP of Planning and Development. He emphasizes the company’s commitment to sustainable development on the cay’s fragile ecosystem. “We’ve approached the project with respect and sensitivity for the natural environment. Prior to any planning, we commissioned wind/wave studies, botanical surveys and consulted land planners and architects from around the world. We carefully identified, one at a time, each area to be used for development — in fact it took us six months and much debate just to choose a site for the spa! We’ll be producing water using a state of the art reverse osmosis desalination plant, with electricity generated by energy efficient generators backed by wind and solar power. We’ll be reusing ‘gray’ water for landscaping, composting organic waste and incinerating trash using the latest in waste management technology. We want to discover ‘where things belong’ (and where they don’t) and keep them that way.”

For more information or to arrange a visit, stop by the sales office in The Saltmills, Providenciales, call (649) 941-4392 or visit http://tc-sportingclub.com



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Hobbyist photographer and Assistant Director for Research & Development at the TCI Department of Environment & Coastal Resources Dr. Eric F. Salamanca took this rare photo of a Bahama Woodstar hummingbird enjoying the nectar of Moringa flowers.

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