Oil Nut Bay: Exclusive Feature

The British Virgin Islands are known as “Nature’s Little Secret”. To anyone who makes the trip to her shores, the islands reveal unparalleled beaches, pristine waters and incredible experiences that leave a lasting impression. When real estate developer David V. Johnson tapped into the secret of Virgin Gorda, he knew he had found the perfect place for not just a new community he would create, but a place to call home.

More than a decade of searching the globe led David Johnson to Virgin Gorda. After developing more than 40 communities and earning prestigious awards and accolades, he wanted to find somewhere he could not only create a lifestyle, but one in which he too wanted to live, work and enjoy for many years to come. In addition to enjoying the Caribbean lifestyle, Johnson was determined to foster a sense of legacy in what would become his “grand finale”. Oil Nut Bay is Johnson’s capstone community where homes, nestled into “Nature’s Little Secret,” are crafted to bring joy and lasting memories to families for generations.

A Visionary Outlook

A three-decade career of developing high-end communities that push boundaries of luxury, sustainability and attention to detail, Johnson’s Oil Nut Bay is a truly incredible place to build a home. Working with the BVI government to develop a master deed for the property (the first ever in the BVI), Johnson paved the way for 90-day automatic transfers of title, making investing in the Virgin Gorda community more accessible and attractive.

“Everyone in real estate talks about market value. Market value doesn’t mean anything unless you can sell your property when you want to,” said Johnson.

A major goal of Oil Nut Bay was to create a sense of place with all of the amenities of a luxury resort, but doing so in a boutique manner, so that owners feel truly at home. There is plenty of open space, lots of room to build a dream home, yet still feel like part of a community. The neighbourhood design assists in accomplishing this goal, and just after celebrating its 10th anniversary, Oil Nut Bay has just released 10 spectacular new beach lots known as the Peninsula neighbourhood. With incredible ocean views and a private island feel, it’s no wonder that four of the lots have already sold.

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A Different Kind of Community

If there’s one thing that Johnson didn’t want to develop, it’s a cookie-cutter golf course community. The Caribbean isn’t an easy place to develop, and plenty of other projects have fallen short of their promises. Oil Nut Bay isn’t the typical development project, and that is evident in everything from the $100 million of resort amenities infrastructure that was put in place first, to the materials used to build the elegant homes.

The Peninsula lots that were just released include miles of beaches that were shored up with 2000 tons of sand barged in from Barbuda. Johnson spent six months and travelled to 13 countries to find the exact sand colour and granular size to match the BVI sand. This attention to detail flows throughout the 400-acre property like an ocean breeze. It’s subtle, yet makes everything more comfortable.

Oil Nut Bay is a place that offers all the benefits of freehold home ownership without the typical hassles. The community prides itself on allowing guests both quiet privacy and top of the line connectivity.

“I wanted a place that generations of families can come and enjoy, and continue to bring their families for years to come,” said Johnson.

When you’re in the “fantasy fulfilment business” as Johnson and his team say, watching people visit the different spec homes and understand what a unique living opportunity is available at Oil Nut Bay is part of the joy of their work.

Every time a spec home was built, it sold nearly instantly. This trend showed the team that it was time to invest more deeply in these homes to show visitors and potential investors what Oil Nut Bay could be for their own personal island life. The homes offer instant gratification for investors looking for a turn-key, move in ready, high-quality villa. It also provides an opportunity for renters wanting a luxurious holiday to be able to experience the Oil Nut Bay lifestyle. If a home is partially finished, a buyer can even step in with minimal effort and choose the cabinets, the flooring or other finishes to personalize their property.

Three more of these homes will be finished by November 2019, and the team just broke ground on a new $20 million property that will be finished in approximately another 18 months.

Sustainability and Value

The team is the “secret sauce” of Oil Nut Bay, according to Johnson, and this is even more evident in the spec home building process. The Oil Nut Bay team is capable of high quality, custom construction and the property has more than 300 contractors on site each day.

While members have the freedom to use any architect they choose, a set of guidelines ensures each home to fit cohesively into the community and stay harmoniously part of the Virgin Gorda landscape. With access to shared shipping containers and the ability to source materials from around the world, homeowners get great value and reduced costs on high-quality building products.

“We are constantly committed to developing value and the highest quality possible,” Johnson says.

With a long-term goal of becoming carbon neutral, Johnson worked with the BVI government to make solar power more easily accessible and it’s used throughout the resort’s infrastructure. This commitment to sustainability is a hallmark of Johnson’s development projects.

The ocean cools the air and the breezes are fantastic nearly all year round. The resort offers a diverse global ownership base and world-class infrastructure that now includes two helipads. After a home is completed, owners have the option to put the property in the care of Oil Nut Bay’s rental management team (with profits 60/40 in favour of the owner) and have everything taken care of for them. The value of home ownership in the community is an incredible return on the investment.

Moving Forward

If the last 10 years are any indication of the potential of Oil Nut Bay, the next decade will bring even more amenities and value to owners and visitors. In addition to a top-notch beach club, restaurant, bar, three pools and any watersports you could imagine, a wellness studio, tennis and pickleball courts, Nut House Kids Club and two beaches, some really fantastic things are on tap for 2019.

The new Marina Village is nearing completion and will include numerous conveniences that will support and enhance the island lifestyle. A brand new restaurant, Nova, will create global cuisine for residents and guests. No need for major branded shops, but a boutique will feature the work and wares of local and international artisans and wearables. A coffee shop will be the perfect gathering spot for a morning cup of joe to go with breakfast at the pastry shop. Need a bottle of wine for dinner? Check out the fully-stocked market. Want to borrow a great beach read? Head to the library. A suspended pool and overwater daybeds and nets will provide the “cool” factor and a lounge will feature games and space to relax.

At the end of the day, an expanded beach provides what many people see as the quintessential Caribbean element. You now know why Johnson chose “Nature’s Little Secret” as his finale development, and why creating a home here is more than worth it. With soft sand, gently lapping blue waves and incredible sunsets just steps outside your door, why would anyone want to leave Oil Nut Bay?

Sara Sherman
Sara Sherman is a former St. Thomas resident and the editor of Virgin Islands Property & Yacht.
Sara Sherman

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