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Getting Away From It All:

amcayAmbergris Cay

What are the rarest natural treasures in the world? Gems or precious metals may come to mind, but they are abundant compared to tropical islands–especially those not spoiled by generations of habitation or, more recently, over development. Rarest of all are those in private hands.

One of the very last of such jewels, and surely the most pristine, is Ambergris Cay in the Turks & Caicos Islands. Since the departure of the Lucayan Indians nearly five centuries ago, this island remained uninhabited until 1998. Then its population went from zero to one, when the leader of the partnership that purchased Ambergris Cay took up residence there. Now Henry Mensen is looking for a few good neighbors–with the accent on “few.”

“I’ve walked nearly every inch of Ambergris Cay many times over, and it’s just as magical today as the first time I saw it,” declares Mensen, an international businessman and developer originally from Canada. “My partners and I are committed to bringing Ambergris Cay to full bloom slowly and carefully, so that those who eventually live here experience the same magic, and that means a very low density community.”

Mensen does, indeed, envision an exceptionally small number of owner-members. On an island fully 1,060 acres in size, only 80 estates are planned, ranging from one to ten acres. This allows maximum preservation of the island’s exquisite natural beauty, with a high degree of individual privacy for each owner. The island as a whole is equally as private.

“Ambergris Cay is naturally private for two reasons,” explains Mensen, who discovered the island shortly after moving to the Turks & Caicos in 1989. “It’s 12 miles from the nearest inhabited island, South Caicos, and it is protected by reefs and coral heads that discourage passing boaters from closely approaching the shore.”

In addition to this natural protection, plans call for extensive manned and electronic security, including optional monitoring of individual homes when residents are away. Access to Ambergris Cay will be tightly controlled and limited to a deep water marina and a 5,500 foot airfield. The latter is an advantage of which almost no private island can boast. According to Mensen, the marina will be capable of accommodating even “mega-yachts,” and large corporate jets will be able to use the airfield.

“This will be a world-class community designed to appeal to that limited number of people with the means to create their own environments even when traveling,” continues Mensen. “We want them to be able to come directly to their homes here regardless of the size of their vessel or aircraft.”

For that reason, customs and immigration officials will be stationed on Ambergris Cay. And when owners are in residence, they will not have to leave home to obtain whatever they may wish. One of the island’s most enviable amenities will be comprehensive concierge services.
“Owners need only inform us of when they will arrive and what they want waiting for them, and it will happen,” says Mensen. “From opening and stocking their homes with food and beverages to making appointments at the wellness spa or arranging for charter fishing or excursions to the other islands or planning and catering a party, while they are here their every wish will be provided for.”

The wellness spa alluded to by Mensen will be complemented by a small five-star hotel for visitors. Residents and visitors alike also will be able to enjoy the yacht club associated with the full-service marina. Plans for this complex include a restaurant, intimate nightclub, dive shop and boutiques.

The island’s infrastructure also calls for an independent freshwater system and electrical generating capability, so Ambergris Cay will be almost completely self-sufficient. Of course, no matter how badly someone may want to “get away from it all,” there are always reasons for being able to stay in touch with the world beyond the horizon. A fiber-optic communications network with a broadband link to the Internet is planned to meet this need.

Absolute privacy, extraordinary luxury, every modern necessity and convenience imaginable, all hidden on a tropical island whose natural beauty will be jealously preserved–clearly, this will be an offering for a select group with considerable resources. And what might those fortunate few expect to spend to make their homes on Ambergris Cay?
“Well, as the saying goes,” smiles Mensen, “if you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it.”

For more information about Ambergris Cay, visit www.ambergriscay.com or call 649 941 4392.



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Photographer Marta Morton was enjoying another spectacular sunset when she spotted this lovely scene—a picture-perfect clump of Old Man Cacti and the pastel colours of what she later learned were crepuscular rays (see page 18). For more of Marta’s images, turn the pages of this issue and visit www.harbourclubvillas.com.

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