Fancy owning a slice of paradise? The Maldives is set to auction 16 private islands

·4-min read
This could be you! (Getty Images)
This could be you! (Getty Images)

What better way to practice the ultimate in social distancing than on your own private island in the Maldives?

It may soon be possible to make this dream a reality, as the Maldives government plans to auction off 16 of its 1,190 islands on 24 June, in a bid to attract foreign investors to boost the economy that has been seriously impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. 

But before you head online to check your bank balance or badger the bank of mum and dad for a loan, there is a catch.

While there's no reserve prices for the islands, each of which comes with a 50-year lease, according to the Telegraph the winning bidder must pay a Lease Acquisition Cost, ranging from a minimum of $210K (approx. £144k) for the 1.2-hectare Kudafarufasgan’du island, to a whopping $1.575m (approx. £1,111m) for 10.4-hectare Maausfushi island in the Meemu atoll.

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The Maldives are aiming to attract foreign investment by auctioning off some of their islands. (Getty Images)
The Maldives are aiming to attract foreign investment by auctioning off some of their islands. (Getty Images)

Oh, and there's also the fact that snapping up your own piece of paradise will involve you having to build your own resort. 

"While many might be excited by having their own private island, it’s important to remember that the basis of the auction is a requirement in the terms and conditions that you must setup a resort for visitors," explains Tom Bourlet, travel blogger and marketing manager for The Stag Company

"This will stop some billionaires from bidding, who are looking for a private summer resort purely for themselves, as the aim would be to increase tourism to the Maldives."

Although there could be a loophole that may allow you to enjoy some temporary crowd-free solitude.

"Construction of the resort must be started within three years of the auction, meaning any buyer will have a temporary period where it could be purely theirs," explains Bourlet.

"They will also get a five year resident visa for this period, which should seemingly be possible to extend."

Watch: Underwater restaurant lets customers dine with exotic sea life in the Maldives. 

Bourlet says the push to auction off the islands comes off the back of the pandemic causing a huge drop in tourism, which makes up a significant portion of the economic activity.

Edward de Mallet Morgan, from Knight Frank estate agents, describes the move to attract foreign investment as “fantastic and smart”.

“It provides jobs for the local population and helps maintain their ecosystem by giving owners responsibility for the island’s environmental stewardship," he tells the Telegraph. 

"I’d open it up to as many buyers as possible - maybe crowd-funded purchasers or buyers with Bitcoin - and then you turbo-charge the Maldives as a resort destination.”

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Fancy owning a slice of paradise? (Getty Images)
Fancy owning a slice of paradise? (Getty Images)

But buyers could be put off by the short lease, which Bourlet says could have been specifically chosen for environmental reasons.  

"The Maldives has long been considered one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change in the world," he explains. 

"The lease being auctioned is 50 years, at which point the islands could be significantly lower in the water, depending on the rate of sea level rise, with some predicting all the islands to be submerged by 2100."

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Social distancing measures at their very best. (Getty Images)
Social distancing measures at their very best. (Getty Images)

If you can't quite scrape together the pounds in the next few weeks to snap up your own portion of paradise, don't fear as there may well be another opportunity another time. 

"This is very much an experiment by the Maldives government," explains Bourlet. "They have a selection of islands that could also be auctioned off on a second stage in the future."

If owning your own island is likely to remain something of a distant dream, maybe you could just plan a future visit instead?

Watch: Tourist plays with a group of stingrays on Maldives beach.