Business

Striving for Gold

The TCI’s “gold standard” continues to attract investors.

By Kathy Borsuk

Although the Turks & Caicos Islands are not able to participate in the Olympics, the country has earned a gold medal for its superb handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has also broken records in real estate sales since the border’s reopening a little over a year ago. Both efforts go hand in hand—because the TCI is seen as a beautiful, healthy, peaceful place to live, it is attracting people from around the world who are looking for a safe haven in which to retire or have a second home.

Another lovely sunset off Grace Bay Beach in Providenciales reflects the “gold standard” of beauty found throughout the Islands.

Response to COVID is gold standard

Following a four-month shutdown on March 23, 2020, the Turks & Caicos Islands reopened the border on July 22, 2020. Many herald the country’s COVID-19 mitigation plan as among the best in the Caribbean. Initial lockdown restrictions for residents were strict. Over time, local businesses were cautiously reopened with capacity limitations and enforcement of masks and hand-sanitizing. 

When it came time to re-welcome visitors, the TCI Government thoughtfully established entry protocols designed to strike a balance between mitigating risk while not discouraging travellers. The TCI Assured portal, available on (www.turksandcaicostourism.com), handles the issuance of travel authorization certificates with speed and agility. Initial requirements included a negative COVID-19 PCR test result taken within five days of travel along with medical/travel insurance that covers medevac.

As visitor arrivals increased, COVID-19 cases surged at times. The government responded by increasing restrictions internally as needed to help curb local transmission while still allowing tourists to come to the country. 

By the end of March 2021, over 47,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and 300 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines had been shipped to the Islands and disseminated. At press time (late August 2021), it’s estimated that approximately 67% of the adult TCI population is vaccinated, with the goal of vaccinating 75%.

On July 4, 2021, the Turks & Caicos celebrated the milestone of being able to report zero active COVID cases for the first time in about one year. Shortly afterwards, a third wave of cases billowed, with most coming into the territory from international guests. After careful consideration, the TCI Government determined that as of September 1, 2021, all visitors ages 16 and above must be fully vaccinated and provide a negative PCR or antigen COVID-19 test taken within three days of travel. In explaining the rationale behind this decision, Minister of Health Hon. Jamell Robinson states, “90 of the 133 persons tested positive from early July to date (August 12) were tourists, so we know we have to put measures in place to deal with that . . . we can market TCI as a vaccination-only destination, which is a safer choice for holiday makers.”

At the same time, the Royal Turks & Caicos Islands Police Force is operating a special COVID enforcement Task Force team. Its focus is on social events and large gatherings of liquor-licensed premises and other businesses. They also strongly enforce the current curfew period between 1:00 AM and 5:00 AM as well as social distancing and masking rules, issuing tickets for breaches of the regulations.

Real estate sales are breaking all records

Turquoise waters, ivory-toned beaches and sparkling sunlight all make the Turks & Caicos Islands among the most “Beautiful by Nature” places in the world. At the same time, the country is not as developed as most in the Caribbean, still affording purchasers of real estate the space, privacy and ability to realize their own dream.

The Turks & Caicos Real Estate Association (TCREA) is a group of 15 independent real estate agencies who work together under a managed Multiple Listing System (MLS) accessed at www.tcrea.com. The industry compiles and reports detailed statistics and the most recent continue to break all records.

The second quarter of 2021 again soared to never-before-seen levels. In fact, the first half of 2021 closed out with a staggering $328 million in sales volume, a figure that is typically the annual sales volume in a very strong year! Compounding this is an average price increase of 26%, with all segments of the market contributing to this incredible spike in sales.

According to The Agency Turks & Caicos, the single biggest driver in recorded sales in the second quarter of 2021 is land—with beachfront at a premium. TCREA reports for the first half of 2021, 105 parcels sold at an average price of $540,000, a 46% rise in sales volume.

The single-family homes market is hot, as well. Rental revenues are strong and the number of homes coming to market is not close to meeting demand. According to The Agency, “Purchasers retain a strong demand for preconstruction development properties where the certainty of cost and quality are set.” To date in 2021, single-family homes sales volume increased 127%, with 82 sold at an average price of $2.3 million. Among the top sales in this market were Turtle Tail Estate at $20.25 million, Villa Salacia at $16 million and Casa Tremer at nearly $8 million.

The condominium market re-established itself in the second quarter of 2021, driven by the luxury sector. For 2021, a total of 69 condominiums sold at an average price of $1.023 million, a 153% rise in sales volume. Among the top sales was The Estate at Grace Bay Club unit G504 at $5 million.

As 2021 moves forward, the performance is expected to continue as new projects enter the marketplace. The long-anticipated Grand Opening of the Ritz-Carlton Residences—located in the heart of Grace Bay—took place on June 22. Amenities include a Club Lounge, casino, adults-only pool with private cabanas and access to the resort’s private catamaran. There’s also a signature Ritz-Carlton spa and kids program. Dining concepts include Coralli, a locally-inspired eatery and BLT Steak, part of the world-renowned steakhouse chain.

Rock House Resort is on target to open in December 2021. Buyers at the luxurious cliffside development receive an added perk—becoming members of the exclusive Beach Club at Rock House. It will offer owners access to a private beach and its fully serviced jetty, complete with luxurious daybeds and chic parasols; world-class dining at the club’s oceanfront restaurant; private excursions including diving, fishing and snorkeling trips; and access to the white sand beaches at sister properties Grace Bay Club and West Bay Club.

South Bank is a new residential resort and marina community on the south side of Providenciales. Each neighborhood and lot offers a unique relationship with the water, designed for boating enthusiasts and watersports lovers. South Bank has so many villas and the Boathouses foundation work under construction, and so many sales forthcoming, that it has actually halted new sales for a time to “catch up.” In fact, 60% of the Boathouses are now sold, the Lagoon neighborhood is fully sold out and over 60% of the Ocean Estate villas are sold out, with only one or two of each design remaining.

The Strand is TCI’s newest residential resort community overlooking the sapphire waters of Cooper Jack Bay. This property features dramatic vistas with an array of custom oceanfront residences, all with access to shared community amenities. The project is completing its first sales and getting closer to construction start.

Just launched is The Sanctuary, a private collection of estate residences combining a sensitive lakefront architecture with progressive building technology. Its location on the peninsula overlooking Providenciales’ Flamingo Lake is a natural habitat where flamingos can occasionally be found. Community amenities include a pickleball court, yoga pavilion, outdoor workspace, fire-pit amphitheater, electric vehicle charging station and non-motorized watersports.

Frontier Airlines anticipates the launch of weekly Friday service from Orlando to Providenciales. This opens up an important gateway to major US cities and more competitive pricing. Looking to the future, the Turks & Caicos Islands continue to maintain their “gold standard” as a global luxury and tourism brand.



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On the Cover

Agile LeVin—photographer, explorer and chronicler of everything TCI on his website www.visittci.com—took this drone photo of the multi-textured wetlands of West Caicos. He was part of the expedition that investigated the site of the historic pirate attack in the area. For more information and photos, go to page 48.

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