Even Hugh Hefner would be impressed
If you are looking for an eight-bedroom estate on 250 feet of Caribbean beachfront, then perhaps the Castillo Caribe fits the bill.
This 48,000 square foot Cayman Islands mansion was built only in 2008 when the 35-year-old software billionaire Jerry Beck decided to retire to the islands. It is situated on Grand Cayman, just south of George Town, and listed for US$59.5 million (Dh218.5m) with Sotheby's International Realty.
It is the most expensive home for sale in the Cayman Islands. The next dearest residential property available is the Twin Coves Estate, another eight-bedroom, ocean-front property on Grand Cayman, which is up for grabs for a mere $17.8m.
So what do you get for almost $60? The Castillo Caribe has a 5,000-sq-ft great room with two grand staircases and floor-to-ceiling windows looking out to sea. Then there's the banquet hall, wine cellar, spa, gymnasium, rooftop helipad, swimming pool and grotto that would surely meet the approval of the magazine publisher Hugh Hefner, tennis court, indoor golf and a cinema. Fortunately, since it is right on the beach, the house also meets the top hurricane resistance specifications.
Still, it has been on the market for almost a year, which is no surprise considering last year was a terrible time to try to sell property in the Cayman Islands, much worse than 2009. Residential prices fell between 10 per cent and 25 per cent compared with 2009 and land transfers declined 23 per cent.
That was because many financial institutions based in the Cayman Islands laid off expatriates during the recession, which reduced the resident population, and with it, demand for property. After the islands posted a budget deficit, there were also fears the UK government would impose direct taxation on the UK Overseas Territory. This made would-be investors wary and few properties changed hands, even along the popular Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman, which attracts many foreign buyers.
However, if you buy the Castillo Caribe, you do not just get the house and grounds. To sweeten the price tag, the owners are also throwing in all the furnishings, from the grand piano in the great room to the bouncy castle and ball pool in the kids' playroom.
The Quote: "Last year, there was the recession, the budget deficit and murmurings of a property tax, which led property investors to be nervous. But this year is a very different story." Jeremy Hurst, the president of the Cayman Islands Real Estate Brokers Association