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What is the price of privacy? At Musha Cay, an island 85 miles southeast of Nassau in the Exuma chain of the Bahamas, it starts at $325,000 a week. That's a lofty figure, admittedly, about double the price of the Caribbean's most famous private isle, Richard Branson's Necker in the British Virgin Islands. So is it worth it? Based on an early look just after the island opened in December, it's pretty terrific.
For one thing, privacy here really is ensured. This stretch of the Exumas is sparsely settled anyway—the nearest populated island is Farmers Cay (population 30), about ten miles away. And to guarantee privacy, owner John Melk, a Chicago entrepreneur and cofounder of Blockbuster, bought the three surrounding islands, including Rudder Cut Cay, with its 2,000-foot airstrip (enabling private access for guests' planes or the Cessna hired to ferry in from Nassau or Miami). Except for the occasional two-person fishing boat, absolutely nothing goes by.
Privacy aside, the tone of the island is relaxed and unselfconsciously luxe. There are five designer Bahamian colonial-style houses, ranging from the 10,000-square-foot Highview, the owner's mansion on the top of a hill, to the romantic one-bedroom thatched Beach House, located on a remote cove on one of seven beaches. Outside, they're painted the tropical colors of bright green, yellow, pink, and blue, and have mahogany decks and outdoor Jacuzzis (the Pier House, a particular favorite, also has its own dock across an intimate, perfect beach). Inside, the cottages are a sophisticated but comfortable mix of vivid colors, a blend of Asian, Caribbean, and American living-room furniture, subdued Mexican tiles, and stylish accessories such as Indonesian woven-palm-leaf tables. The houses are discreetly separated by lush, imported landscaping—palm trees, clusters of hibiscus and oleander—dotted along the southern part of the island's 150 acres.
Days here are spent snorkeling the postcard-caliber, several-shades-of-aqua water, fishing for snapper, triggerfish, and parrotfish (gratifyingly easy to do—even novices pulled out ten to 15 fish in an afternoon on this visit), and sampling the exquisitely prepared meals, including a panoply of seafood salads composed of local fish. There are the usual activities provided—Sunfish, jet skis, a tennis court, masseuse—and an efficient, solicitous couple, Tom and Susan Lawson, managing the island and all requests. $ All mail goes to: 455 East Illinois Street, Suite 480, Chicago, IL 60611; 877-889-1100; www.mushacay.com.