Widi Reserve: these uninhabited Indonesian islands are auctioned off

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(CNN) — A group of Indonesian islands known as the Widi Reserve is set to be auctioned off in what could be one of the most spectacular real estate sales ever in Asia.

The more than 100 islands of eastern Indonesia’s “coral triangle” span 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres), roughly the same size as Bora Bora.

Indonesian law states that non-Indonesians cannot officially buy islands in the country. Widi’s reserve circumvents this by having the prospective owner acquire a stake in PT. Leadership Islands Indonesia (LII), a holding company.

From there, the owner will be free to develop the island as he sees fit.

However, if they feel a little overwhelmed by the prospect, several experts – chosen by Sotheby’s, the auction house overseeing the sale – are already waiting in the wings to support the construction of a complex in the Widi reserve. . The range includes Bill Bensley, the star designer behind some of Asia’s most exclusive hotels and resorts.

Charlie Smith, executive vice-president for EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) at Sotheby’s Concierge Auctions, clearly expects the auctions on this archipelago to be important.

“Every billionaire can own a private island, but only one can own this exclusive opportunity spread across more than 100 islands,” he said in a press release.

The Widi reserve includes several coral atolls like this one.

Courtesy of Sotheby’s Concierge Auctions

Although the prospective buyer of the Widi Reserve is under no obligation to work with Bensley, the Thailand-based designer has previously worked on some design concepts for a hypothetical island resort, and a Sotheby’s representative told CNN that the architect is “an advocate for the responsible development of the reserve.

No matter what ends up happening to the Widi Reserve, it contains some of the most beautiful scenery in Indonesia, including coral reefs, mangroves and some 150 kilometers (93 miles) of beachfront.

The Reserve is only accessible by private plane. Bali’s Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport is a 2.5 hour flight.

The auction starts on December 8 and will last until December 14. There is no reserve price, but bidders are asked to put down a deposit of $100,000 to prove they are serious.

Sales of private islands have exploded in recent years.

Already a popular option for ultra-wealthy individuals (Shakira and Leonardo DiCaprio each reportedly own one), the desire for privacy and safe distance has made it an even more coveted asset during the pandemic.

Some islands, however, are deceptively cheap.

As Stacy Fischer Rosenthal, president of high-end travel company Fischer Travel Enterprises, explained to CNN, it’s the cost of maintenance and infrastructure that really makes owning an island expensive.

Many islands have no existing structures, and some homeowners not only have to build houses, but also install plumbing, electricity, and other infrastructure if they want to live there.

Add to that the transportation, airfare cost of food and staff, and owning an island can get very expensive very quickly.


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