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The Island Brokers Are Overwhelmed

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Calls and emails come in at all times of day and night. They no longer concern fun or prestige. Instead they focus on fresh water and solar panels. These were not the inquiries they had grown used to.

The island brokers are overwhelmed.

As the coronavirus pandemic has devastated countries around the world, it has upended nearly every aspect of life for everyone, including for those most insulated by money. Even the niche, ultrarich world of island commerce has been turned on its head.

“This has been the busiest two months I’ve had in 22 years of selling islands,” Chris Krolow, the chief executive of Private Islands Inc., said in July. The pace has not slowed since then, he said. The only time he has ever had anywhere near this quantity of inquiries was shortly after the disastrous Fyre Festival on Great Exuma, in the Bahamas, in 2017. Mr. Krolow said he was swamped, for some reason, with questions from “kids hoping to start their own country.”

Before the pandemic, an island was typically a vanity purchase that a wealthy client — usually male — would pursue sometime after retirement, brokers said. The island bug would usually strike a few years after the novelty of other luxury purchases had worn thin.

“You have your yacht, your jet — now you want your island,” said John Christie, the president of Christie’s International Real Estate, a firm based in the Bahamas. 

The island brokers knew how to cater to these clients. They sought a place to feel like a “boss from sea to sea,” Mr. Christie said, a little kingdom with no authority except their own. Deals could be sweetened by allusions to billionaire or celebrity neighbors.

But this new wave of island buyers is less driven by ego than a desire to escape the virus, and brokers, like their clients, are newer to pondering survival. So even after a few harried months, brokers are struggling to meet their clients’ new requests, like having agriculture to go with the helicopter landing pad.

Despite the high interest driven by the coronavirus crisis, Mr. Krolow’s firm, based in Canada, has closed only a few sales. Like other brokers, he says that much of his time has been consumed by setting expectations about what it actually takes to set up a self-sufficient island — the logistics of paradise are complicated — and figuring out how to show properties to potential buyers amid travel restrictions.

Dylan Eckardt, an agent for Nest Seekers International, says he gets a lot of calls in the vein of, “Money is no object, put me wherever my family can’t get sick.” He recently tried to deliver on this for one family by renting them a private island in Maine for $250,000 a week.

But renting is not enough for some wealthy people. The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way they’re thinking — long-term — about being around other humans.

“Before, an island was a toy,” said Marcus Gondolo-Gordon, the chief executive of Incognito Property based in England. Now clients describe dreams of a “a bloody long boat ride” to ensure that no one will cruise up and infringe on their isolation, he said. They also want access to fresh water, solar panels and a house that is ready to sleep in, tomorrow.

Quickly setting up an island for self-sufficiency is going to be hard, Mr. Gondolo-Gordon has to tell them. Construction on private islands takes far more time than on the mainland or even on typical, nonprivate islands. And brokers cannot guarantee that islands will be safe havens from civil unrest. For example, just this week he looked at a lovely island in the eastern Mediterranean — a steal at $7.4 million. But there are some tensions in those waters, which are contested by Turkey and Greece.

“You’re going to have to read the news,” he tells clients. And they’ll also have to consider that their shoreline will most likely be affected by climate change. When they cannot handle this, he advises them to rent a superyacht.

Several buyers declined, through their brokers, to be interviewed about their experiences shopping for islands.

Before the pandemic, most agents would sell islands as a boutique fraction of their broader real estate business.

Now that many sellers report seeing a surge in island interest, several brokers said it was taking over more of their business. Still, Mr. Krolow is the rare broker who is all islands, all of the time.

He helped sell his first island in the late ’90s, almost accidentally, after accepting a seller’s offer to put an ad for it on the small website about islands that he had created.

Two decades later, Mr. Krolow’s site features hundreds of islands. Some cost less than $100,000, like the small, rock-strewn strips of land in Canadian lakes. Others reach eight- and nine-digit sums and offer airstrips and prebuilt resorts in turquoise waters in the Caribbean and the South Pacific.

One of the biggest advantages of selling islands amid a pandemic, brokers say, is that clients are more flexible about location. British buyers who were once fixated on Greek islands are now excited about isolating in the Seychelles or the Irish Sea. Americans’ and Canadians’ enthusiasm for the South Pacific has recently been superseded by interest in closer shores in the Bahamas, Belize and Panama.

But transporting clients to show them islands is trickier than ever. At one point, Mr. Krolow had a dozen potential buyers ready to see islands in Belize, but the airports were closed. Over the past six months, there had been only a few weeks when you could easily fly in and out of the Caribbean, said Edward de Mallet Morgan, a partner at Knight Frank, a real estate firm in London.

It’s one thing to buy a house without visiting it first, he said, but “buying an island is a different thing, particularly if you can’t even send your professional advisers to review it for you ahead of time.”

The British Virgin Islands have barred tourists until at least December. And even as flights have resumed to the Bahamas, visitors must commit to installing a phone app and quarantining for two weeks. These measures are too much, some clients tell their brokers.

Some potential buyers have found workarounds. One of Mr. Christie’s American clients had his boat captain sail his yacht to the Bahamas from Florida. The client took a private flight, and then boarded his yacht, where he “quarantined.”

His captain then took him to his two potential pandemic escapes. One was Bonefish Cay, an $8.2 million, 13-acre island already set up with five buildings and the capacity to generate its own electricity. But that was not quite right, the client told Mr. Christie.

The other option was Foot’s Cay, an $8.7 million, 20-acre island featuring a four-bedroom main house and a weatherproof concrete bunker housing a generator. This was more intriguing — but by the time the client stepped onto its shore, it had already gone to another buyer.

By: Heather Murphy
Title: The Island Brokers Are Overwhelmed
Sourced From: www.nytimes.com/2020/10/09/realestate/private-islands-coronavirus.html
Published Date: Fri, 09 Oct 2020 12:57:49 +0000

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Limited time Amex points transfer bonuses ending soon!

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During normal times, points transfer bonuses by Amex or any other issuer gain a lot of traction. However, we live in unusual times. Travel is nowhere close to normal and only a small minority is actively looking to book travel. Amex Membership Rewards points, along with Chase Ultimate Rewards points are two of my favorite transferable points currencies. Amex, in particular, has the edge over Chase when it comes to international airline partners. At the moment, Amex is running two lucrative points transfer bonuses with their Membership Rewards points. However, if you’re looking to travel any time soon then now is a good time to transfer time as these limited time bonuses end on October 31.

Amex Points Transfer Points Bonuses

Amex is currently running points transfer bonuses for Hilton and Marriott. These limited time offers expire on October 31, 2020.

Hilton Honors

The standard points transfer ratio for Hilton Honors is 1:2. With this bonus, you’ll get a ratio of 1:2.8. For example, if you transfer 1,000 Membership Rewards points, you’ll get 2,800 Hilton Honors points.

Marriott Bonvoy

The standard points transfer ratio for Marriott Bonvoy is 1:1. With this, bonus you’ll get a ratio of 1:1.4. For example, if you transfer 1,000 Membership Rewards points, you’ll get 1,400 Marriott Bonvoy points.

Crunching the Numbers

During normal times, many frequent travelers tend to jump on these limited time transfer bonuses. However, how lucrative are these bonuses during the current situation?

For example, let’s say you want to book a top tier Hilton hotel. One night will cost you at least 95,000 points for a standard room. With this bonus, you’ll need 39,000 Membership Rewards points instead of 48,000.

Similarly, let’s say you want to book a top tier Marriott hotel. One night will cost you at least 85,000 points for a standard room. With this bonus, you’ll need 61,000 Membership Rewards points instead of 85,000.

In short, the higher the category of the hotel, the more lucrative these transfer bonuses become for you.

Credit Card Bonuses

If you’re falling short on Marriott or Hilton points, another option is to sign up for co-branded credit cards from Marriott and Hilton. Currently, many of these cards are running limited time offers. Please note that Amex and Chase restrictions may apply to these credit cards.

Card Name Sign-up Bonus Application Link
Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless 30k points
Apply Now
Chase Marriott Bonvoy Bold 5 free nights (up to 50k points each)
Apply Now
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card 125k points + Platinum Status for 2021
Apply Now
Amex Marriott Bonvoy Business Card 100k points + $150 in credits
Apply Now
Hilton Honors Business Card 130k points
Apply Now
Amex Hilton Honors Card 95k points
Apply Now
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card 140k points
Apply Now
Hliton Honors American Express Aspire Card 150k points + 1 free night
Apply Now

The Pundit’s Mantra

In most cases, I don’t recommend transferring points speculatively. However, if you do have a trip on the horizon, then it makes sense to use these Amex points transfer bonuses to your advantage.

In the past, I’ve used transfer bonuses to book some really cool trips. For example, I used a transfer bonus to British Airways in order to book a last minute trip to Colombia. However, given the current scenario, not many of us are planning such trips on the go.

Do you plan to make use of either of these points transfer bonuses before the end of the month? Tell us in the comments section.

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The Chase Sapphire Preferred is currently offering a limited time welcome bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points. You’ll earn a welcome bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months. You’ll also earn 2x points all on all travel and dining spend and 5 x on Lyft rides.

Apply Now

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Disclosure: The Points Pundit receives NO compensation from credit card affiliate partnerships. Support the blog by applying for a card through my personal referral links. This article is meant for information purposes only and doesn’t constitute personal finance, health or investment advice. Please consult a licensed professional for advice pertaining to your situation.

By: The Points Pundit
Title: Limited time Amex points transfer bonuses ending soon!
Sourced From: travelupdate.com/limited-time-amex-points-transfer-bonuses-ending-soon/
Published Date: Tue, 20 Oct 2020 12:10:32 +0000

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Cruise Ship Rescues 24 People From Sinking Boat Off Florida Coast

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The Carnival Sensation was sailing in international waters off the Florida coast on Saturday when crew members spotted a crowded 36-foot boat that appeared to be in distress.

The ship maneuvered alongside the boat and crew members handed over blankets, life jackets, food and water to the 24 people onboard the smaller vessel, including two children, according to the Carnival Cruise Line.

As it floated 37 miles off the coast of Palm Beach, the boat began to take on water. The passengers were quickly ushered aboard the cruise ship through a side hatch that is typically used in port to load supplies via a gangway. The boat sank after the rescue, a Coast Guard spokeswoman said.

The rescued passengers were the first guests to board the cruise ship in months, Carnival said. They were evaluated by the cruise ship’s medical staff and quarantined away from crew members, the cruise line said. They were picked up by the Coast Guard after about six hours, the spokeswoman said.

The rescued boat was coming from Freeport, Bahamas, said Nicole J. Groll, the Coast Guard spokeswoman. It was not clear where the boat was headed, she said, nor was it clear what had happened to the boat that caused it to sink.

“The disabled vessel sank and actions are currently being taken to coordinate the transfer of the individuals ashore,” Ms. Groll said in a statement Monday.

The $45 billion global cruise industry serves 20 million passengers in a typical year. But since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, ships have been roaming the seas for months without guests, staffed by skeleton crews. Operations have been suspended until Oct. 31, and some lines have canceled cruises into next year.

Carnival operates 23 ships. While they are idle, they maintain a “minimum nonoperational manning status,” according to a spokesman. That means they are staffed by 75 to 100 crew members, including marine engineers, technicians and officers, as well as housekeeping, culinary and other staff members.

Occasionally, they perform rescues, the spokesman said. In July, the Carnival Legend responded to a call for help from a boat that had run out of fuel off the coast of the Bahamas. The Legend gave the boaters 25 gallons of gas to help them make their way back to Jacksonville, Fla.

Ships are obligated under maritime law to respond to vessels in distress, said Jim Walker, a Miami-based maritime lawyer.

The duty to rescue a derelict vessel falls to a ship’s captain, who “has both a moral and a legal obligation to help,” he said.

There are typically three or four such rescues every year, some of which involve migrants, Mr. Walker said.

“Often there is no true ‘rescue’ of foreign immigrants at sea because the cruise ship will call the U.S.C.G. who will pick them up and then return them to their home countries,” Mr. Walker said in an email, referring to the Coast Guard. “It is not so much a ‘rescue’ but an ‘interception’ at sea.”

In some cases, he said, a ship’s captain or the captain’s employer could face criminal charges for ignoring a cry for help.

In 2012, Princess Cruises was sued after one of its cruise ships, the Star Princess, failed to help a disabled fishing boat that had been adrift for days when it was spotted by crew members and passengers. Two of the people on the fishing boat died.

The cruise industry has come under fire during the coronavirus pandemic, particularly early in the outbreak as passengers and crew members were trapped aboard ships where the virus spread rapidly.

In February, more than 700 passengers were infected on the Diamond Princess as the ship idled off the coast of Japan. Nine of the infected passengers died.

In August, the cruise industry voluntarily suspended operations until Oct. 31, following the extension of a no-sail order for cruise ships through Sept. 30 issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency noted that from March to July there had been nearly 3,000 suspected and confirmed coronavirus cases and 34 deaths on cruise ships in U.S. waters.

The Carnival Corporation, which operates Carnival, Princess and other brands and serves roughly 50 percent of the global cruise market, has dealt with outbreaks on several of its ships, including Holland America’s Zaandam, which tried to unload sick passengers in Florida in April. Last week, Carnival Cruise Line canceled several cruises that were scheduled for November and January.

By: Marie Fazio
Title: Cruise Ship Rescues 24 People From Sinking Boat Off Florida Coast
Sourced From: www.nytimes.com/2020/10/19/us/carnival-cruise-rescue.html
Published Date: Mon, 19 Oct 2020 22:51:45 +0000

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2,000-Year-Old Cat Etching Found at Nazca Lines Site in Peru

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The image, stretching for 40 yards on a hillside in Peru, shows a creature with pointy ears, orb-like eyes and a long striped tail. It appears to be a cat lounging, as cats often do.

Archaeologists stumbled across the faded etching while remodeling a section of a UNESCO heritage site known as the Nazca Lines, Peru’s Ministry of Culture announced last week.

The catlike geoglyph — which experts say dates to 200 B.C. to 100 B.C. — is the latest discovery among the carvings of larger-than-life animals and plants previously found between the towns of Nazca and Palpa, in a desert plain about 250 miles southeast of the capital, Lima.

“The discovery shows, once again, the rich and varied cultural legacy of this site,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Nazca Lines were first discovered by a Peruvian aerial surveyor in 1927. Images of a hummingbird, a monkey and an orca were unearthed at the site. UNESCO has designated the Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca and Palpa a World Heritage Site since 1994.

The cat etching is believed to be older than any of the prehistoric geoglyphs previously unearthed at Nazca.

“It’s quite striking that we’re still finding new figures, but we also know that there are more to be found,” Johny Isla, Peru’s chief archaeologist for the Nazca lines, told Efe, a Spanish news agency.

The designs were believed to have been created when ancient Peruvians scraped off a dark and rocky layer of earth, which contrasts with lighter-colored sand underneath. Researchers believe that the figures once served as travel markers.

Drone photography has led to several discoveries in recent years, Mr. Isla said. In 2019, researchers from Japan, aided by satellite photography and three-dimensional imaging, unearthed more than 140 new geoglyphs at the site.

Research and conservation work had continued at the site even during the coronavirus pandemic, when most tourist sites have been closed. Archaeologists and employees were working on the Mirador Natural, a lookout point in the protected site, when they began unearthing something intriguing. When they cleaned the mound, clear lines showing the sinuous body of a cat emerged.

“The figure was barely visible and was about to disappear because it is situated on quite a steep slope that’s prone to the effects of natural erosion,” the culture ministry said in a statement.

The authorities said that even a stray footprint could mar the fragile grounds, and have imposed strict rules against trespassing at the site. Before the pandemic shut down tours, visitors were permitted to view the lines and figures only from planes and lookout points.

But disturbances at the Nazca lines have occurred, drawing widespread condemnation.

In 2014, Greenpeace activists left shoe marks near a large hummingbird design when they placed a sign that promoted renewable energy, Peruvian officials said.

“You walk there and the footprint is going to last hundreds or thousands of years,” Luis Jaime Castillo, a Peruvian official and archaeologist, told The Guardian at the time. “And the line that they have destroyed is the most visible and most recognized of all.”

In 2018, a truck driver was arrested after intentionally driving his tractor-trailer across three lines of geoglyphs.

Even as Peru works to preserve its ancient sites, officials reopened Machu Picchu this month for one lucky tourist after he became stranded during the pandemic and waited seven months to see the 16th-century Inca citadel.

By: Tiffany May
Title: 2,000-Year-Old Cat Etching Found at Nazca Lines Site in Peru
Sourced From: www.nytimes.com/2020/10/19/world/americas/peru-cat-nazca-lines-nasca.html
Published Date: Mon, 19 Oct 2020 08:48:43 +0000

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