Lord Andrew Hay is Global Head of Residential at Knight Frank, the international real estate consultancy, and has built up property portfolios for some of the wealthiest people in the world. In this regular column, he is handed a theoretical sum of money by LUX and asked how he would invest it. This month, we asked Lord Hay where he would buy if he had £50m to spend on a single home
“If you had £50m to spend and could buy a property anywhere in the world – where would you choose?” It sounds like a question you’d ask your friends at a dinner party and actually is something I get asked quite regularly. My answer often changes as there are so many places around the world where I’d love to live, but having just returned from my summer holiday and with the thought of sunshine and the Mediterranean fresh in my mind along with this healthy budget, I would have to choose Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat on the French Riviera.
Cap Ferrat is glamorous yet unspoilt. It has been a firm favourite of aristocracy and Hollywood celebrities over the years and is arguably one of the most exclusive addresses in Europe. It is easily located between Monaco and Nice, accessible both by car and helicopter making it a huge draw for wealthy clients looking for a second or third home and is somewhere they go to escape.
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As we describe in the latest Knight Frank Prime France Report, the 1.3km forested peninsula is home to around 500 spacious villas on large plots and has one of the strongest international buyer profiles on the French Riviera. The Eastern side is home to the best beaches, the Port and the old town, it offers the widest array of amenities, whilst the west has a steeper coastline and good views. There are two Michelin-starred restaurants – La Voile d’Or and Le Cap and the small marina has around 560 berths.
When a client arrives on Cap Ferrat, they always ask for homes with direct access to the sea and that’s what I would look for. And, with Knight Frank recently opening its sixth office along the Cote d’Azur in Cap Ferrat, and its 22nd office in France, my team would be primed to help me.
Two properties in particular stand out to me. The first being Grevillia, on the market for €56m. This is an exceptional, waterfront residence on the port of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. It is a beautiful modern estate, comprising a principal villa, a secondary villa and a guest house – ideal for someone like me with a large family and friends who regularly join us on holiday.
The second is Villa Neo, on the market at €15m. Significantly under my €50m budget but it is a perfectly presented villa, built into the steep hillside above the bay of Villefranche-sur-Mer and provides idyllic Riviera scenery. The villa’s wide terrace, infinity pool and principal rooms face the Mediterranean Sea so by day the small sail boats moored in the azure water provide a languid but ever-changing picture while after dark, the lights of the peninsula gently sparkle against the night sky.
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Property prices on Cap-Ferrat range from €2,000,000 to over €200,000,000 with the most active band between €5,000,000 and €10,000,000. Prime property prices have increased by 4 per cent in the year to 2018 but this is a most extraordinary market, one that resonates far and wide with international buyers and also those based in Monaco looking for a nearby escape with a slower pace of life. The unique homes on glorious Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat make the market anything but predictable.
Cap Ferrat not only has a timeless quality which my wife Claire, being half-French, would adore, but it also has one of the broadest international buyer profiles of all the markets on the French Riviera. This helps protect owners’ exit strategies by ensuring the market isn’t dependent on the economic fortunes or currency shifts of one particular buyer nationality.
Find out more: knightfrank.co.uk