Over Yonder Cay, The Bahamas
The Ultimate Tropical Playground, Powered By Nature
Words by Natasha Were. Photography by Wilkins & Rock Ltd (UK).
In the Exuma Cays, a string of 365 idyllic islands where footprint-free sands and gin-clear seas are the norm, privately owned, ultra-exclusive hideaways are not uncommon. But even among such exalted neighbours, there is one that stands out from the crowd. Only Over Yonder Cay can claim to offer world-class glamour, luxury and entertainment, all powered by the wind and sun.
A 72-acre island of undulating hills and sparkling beaches, Over Yonder Cay was acquired by the Bosarge Family Office in 2008. At the time a remote fishing outpost, it was initially developed for the family’s private use, although it has since been made available for exclusive rentals. With four sumptuous villas accommodating up to 28 guests and every conceivable land- and water-based amenity on offer, it is the ultimate tropical playground.
The genius behind the island’s development is Dr ‘Ed’ Bosarge, an entrepreneur, financial whizz and avid sailor. It was while cruising through The Bahamas aboard his own yacht, SY Tenacious, that he happened upon this slice of paradise. Inspired by his experience on superyachts, he saw potential to take the total privacy, luxurious amenities and water-based fun that are the essence of the yachting experience, and recreate them on land.
The four villas, designed by Houston-based architect Mihai Angelescu, and positioned at different points on the island for maximum seclusion, each have a distinct style. The largest and most impressive is without doubt Meridian House, perched on the island’s highest point, taking full advantage of the commanding 360-degree views.
The exterior columns and courtyards are reminiscent of ancient Minoan architecture, but Angelescu has given it a contemporary interpretation with sleek lines, acres of glass, and a vast wrap-around infinity pool. Interior designer Rodica Mirea balanced the sparseness of the exterior with a more ornate Rococo interior.
The focal point for social gatherings, Meridian Villa boasts ample indoor and outdoor dining and lounging areas, a 12-seat movie theatre and a spectacular glass-sided conservatory, where silk rugs, porcelain vases, crystal chandeliers and a grand piano all add timeless elegance to the light-filled space.
The four bedroom suites all have private gardens and sumptuous bathrooms, but it is the master suite that is truly
swoon-worthy: a huge bedroom and living area are complemented with his and hers sea-view bathrooms, treatment rooms, sauna, steam room, gym and a dressing room, from which a spiral staircase leads up to a private viewing tower.
The other three villas are located closer to the shore, ensuring ocean vistas and private beach access for each. Designed and decorated for different tastes – one is inspired by traditional French elegance, another leans towards a bold, modern aesthetic, and the last is the quintessential bright and breezy beach house – each has different but equally appealing features, be it a multi-tiered pool, a games room, or a shady pavilion in which to while away a lazy afternoon.
On land, entertainment options run the gamut from a nine hole, par three golf course and a floodlit tennis court to a beach volleyball court and nature trails, while for those who feel the call of the sapphire seas, there are dive, fishing and sail boats all berthed at the island’s private marina, and full complement of water toys for guests’ use.
But what sets Over Yonder Cay apart from other privately owned islands in the region is that amongst this extravagance of facilities stand three 140-foot wind turbines, a one-and-a-half-acre solar field and a state-of-the-art energy mission control room.
A man with a penchant for finding solutions to the seemingly impossible, Dr Bosarge was determined to make the island a living laboratory for green energy. Ninety five per cent of the island’s energy needs are currently generated by wind and sun, and the potential for harnessing tidal energy is being investigated.
Lighting, air-conditioning and refrigeration systems are powered by renewable energy and any surplus is diverted to a desalination plant. The fresh water it produces is not only used for drinking and to irrigate the manicured gardens, but also feeds a hydroponic farm where fresh vegetables for the kitchen are grown.
Turning a remote, uninhabited island into the lavish, sustainable destination it is today did not come without its fair share of challenges. There were, of course, planning permits and work permits to obtain, and local building codes the US-based project managers had to adapt to. But aside from administrative challenges, it was the logistics of building on a tiny island in the middle of the ocean that proved to be the greatest hurdle: materials and machinery all had to be transported to the island by barge, with the ever-present threat of weather-related delays, and a 200-strong workforce had to be accommodated on-island for the duration of the three-year construction phase.
To have achieved this transformation in just five years is a remarkable achievement; to have done so whilst incorporating cutting-edge green technologies is nothing short of exemplary. If Over Yonder Cay can offer luxury, sophistication and unparalleled amenities, whilst generating its own clean energy and water, so can other small off-the-grid islands throughout the Caribbean and beyond.
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