Widi Reserve: These uninhabited Indonesian islands are up for auction

Widi Reserve: These uninhabited Indonesian islands are up for auction

Widi Reserve: These uninhabited Indonesian islands are up for auction

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(CNN) — A group of Indonesian islands known as the Widi Reserve is about to go up for auction in what could be one of the most eye-catching property sales ever to take place in Asia.

The more than 100 islands in eastern Indonesia’s “Coral Triangle” are spread over 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres), roughly the size of Bora Bora.

Indonesian law states that non-Indonesians cannot officially buy islands in the country. Widi Reserve gets around that by allowing the eventual owner to acquire an interest in PT. Leadership Islands Indonesia (LII), a holding company.

From there, the owner will be free to develop the island as they wish.

The Widi Reserve is located in the Coral Triangle in eastern Indonesia.

The Widi Reserve is located in the Coral Triangle in eastern Indonesia.

Courtesy of Sotheby’s Concierge Auctions

But should they feel a little overwhelmed by the prospect, several experts – chosen by LII – are already waiting in the wings to support the construction of a resort in the Widi Reserve. The line-up includes Bill Bensley, the star designer behind some of Asia’s most exclusive hotels and resorts.

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

“Any billionaire can own a private island, but only one can own this exclusive opportunity spread over 100-plus islands,” he said in a press release.

The Widi reserve consists of several coral atolls like this one.

The Widi reserve consists of several coral atolls like this one.

Courtesy of Sotheby’s Concierge Auctions

While the eventual buyer of Widi Reserve is not committed to working with Bensley, the Thailand-based designer has already worked on some design concepts for a hypothetical island resort, and a Sotheby’s representative tells CNN that the architect is “an advocate for responsible development of the reserve.”

Whatever ends up with the Widi reserve, it contains some of Indonesia’s most beautiful landscapes, including coral reefs, mangroves and around 150 kilometers (93 miles) of beach.

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

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 $100,000 deposit to prove they are serious.

The Widi Reserve offers dramatic Indonesian landscapes.

The Widi Reserve offers dramatic Indonesian landscapes.

Courtesy of Sotheby’s Concierge Auctions

Sales of private islands have boomed in recent years.

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

However, some islands 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 do not have existing structures, and some owners must not only build houses, but have plumbing, electricity and other infrastructure installed if they want to live there.

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

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