This $6.9 Million Villa Comes With Its Own Private Island
Sometime in 2014, French-born, Dubai-based, real estate developer Blaise Carroz decided to buy his own island. “Since I was a kid, I dreamed of owning an island,” he said. “And it was the perfect spot for family vacations.”
The spot, Melody Key, is a small patch of land in the Florida Keys. Over his career, Carroz has been adept at developing high-end properties for the international wealthy, but the island he found needed almost no intervention. It was previously owned by Nick Hexum, lead singer of the band 311. In 2011, Hexum sold it to a British developer, who made extensive updates to the property before selling it to Carroz. By then, the only things it really needed were a few touches to the interior décor.
The island has about three acres of walkable land and an equal amount of submerged land, plus a 3,500-square-foot main villa that comes with three bedrooms and three full baths, kitchen, large living room, and elevator servicing all three floors. The property also has a freshwater pool and an outbuilding that stores the island’s kayaks, sailboats, and snorkel equipment.
In satellite photos, Melody Key seems to be at an almost swimmable distance—it’s not; don’t try—from Summerland Key. It is reachable only by boat. Because the land surrounding the island is so shallow, the maximum size of a boat is 35 feet, Carroz said. “It’s not like you can hire a big yacht in Miami and come down and moor the boat there for a few days.” Travel time from island to shore, where there’s a dedicated parking spot for the island, is about 10 minutes.
When Carroz purchased the property, he lived on the other side of the planet (he has since relocated to Florida), but he wasn’t concerned about maintenance. “It’s totally off the grid,” he said. “We produce our own power with solar panels, and our water is taken from the sea with our desalination system.” There’s a backup generator, and the island is proofed for storms. “When you live there,” he said, “you’re a new-age Robinson Crusoe.”
Yet Melody Key doesn’t quite run itself. “Just like if you own a car, you have to maintain it,” he said. “But it’s not a big deal, as long as you take it seriously.” Taking it seriously, in his case, entailed hiring a full-time caretaker for the island to handle equipment and shuttle guests back and forth. Aside from the caretaker’s salary, Carroz said monthly maintenance costs ran from $2,000 to $3,000 monthly—about $30,000 a year. (Property tax for the island isn’t included.)
Carroz was able to offset the maintenance and caretaker’s salary by renting it out: He charged $1,375 a night for a minimum of six nights. (“It’s a legal restriction,” he explained, “so that we aren’t in competition with local hotels.”) Still, he said, “that’s a very reasonable rate, less than a suite in a five-star hotel.”
Ownership of the island, then, at least in Carroz’s telling, is a seamless, almost dreamy experience where everything is provided and effectively pays for itself. There are, he admitted, a few pitfalls: Melody Key doesn’t have a beach— it’s surrounded by 400 year old mangroves—and the island is “rich in wildlife,” which Carroz considers a plus: We have some iguanas coming there every year to lay eggs, and we have a couple of osprey, who spend all the winter there,” he said.
Still, Carroz has put the island on the market, offering it with Engel and Völkers for $6.9 million. “I now have five children, and it became a bit small for us,” he said. “When I purchased the island, it wasn’t from a professional point of view. Selling it for a profit wasn’t my aim at all.”
Will he buy a larger island to accommodate his family? “I’m not planning to purchase another island,” he said. “But I have a lot of other projects.”