Over Yonder Cay: the Bahamas' exclusive eco-luxe retreat

Part of the Exumas archipelago, Over Yonder Cay offers peerless levels of luxury and an uncommon environmental conscience

by: Claire Wrathall | Full Story

The 365 islands and islets known as the Exumas, 35 miles southeast of Nassau in the Atlantic, form one of the most beautiful archipelagos anywhere. No surprise then that they are sought-after possessions. LVMH chairman and chief executive Bernard Arnault has one, as do the Aga Khan, the former Formula 1 driver Eddie Irvine, the country singers Tim McGraw and Faith Hill… Indeed the German real-estate broker Farhad Vladi has half a dozen Exumas on his books. Cave Cay, for instance, will set you back a cool $110 million, though for that you get 222 acres, a deepwater harbour, an airstrip and planning consent for a marina, hotel with “an unlimited number of rooms” and clubhouse.

Of course there are a few up-and-running hotels too on the main island, Great Exuma, even a Sandals all-inclusive. The smart money, though, tends to be on private-island villa rentals, to which end there are three stand-out options.

The best known is Musha Cay (from £25,000 a day for up to 12 people; four-night minimum booking), one of the 11 islands that belong to the illusionist David Copperfield, where Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem were married in 2010. Alternatively, if less exclusively, there’s 50-acre Fowl Cay, which has six villas, sleeping between two and six apiece, that can be booked individually (the one-bedroom Lindon Villa starts at £900 a night).

Most splendidly, however, there is Over Yonder Cay, just south of Little Hall’s Pond Cay (which belongs to Johnny Depp). Its 72 acres are home to four splendid villas, sleeping a total of 28 (the island is available only on an exclusive-use basis) in lavish, nouveau-rococo style, a nine-hole golf course, a flood-lit tennis court and a 12-seat cinema (with raked seating). There’s even a Steinway piano in the conservatory of the main villa. Its watersports outfit runs well beyond the usual crewed motorboats and jet skis to underwaterSeabob sea scooters. The staff includes a full-time yoga teacher and masseuse.

Of course all this comes at a price: rates start at a cool £45,000 a night (seven-night minimum stay), though that includes food, wine, champagne, watersports, spa treatments and transfers by Cessna Grand Caravan seaplane from Nassau or Great Exuma, a 30-minute flight away.

But then a place like this does not come cheap. The cost of the diesel alone necessary to feed the generators which power and cool an island of this kind could run to $1 million a year.

Those exorbitant prices and his commitment to create a truly eco-friendly island explain the ambition of Over Yonder Cay's proprietor, Dr WE “Ed” Bosarge Jr, a Texan who made a fortune in the technical and financial fields, to make this the first island of its size in the Americas to be powered entirely by renewables. He's about 95 per cent there, hence the three towering wind turbines and discreetly sited “solar field” of 1,400 photovoltaic panels.

Ed Bosarge