Can’t afford to buy an island? Rent one!

Can’t afford to buy an island? Rent one!

Owning a piece of paradise has long been seen as the ultimate status symbol of the rich and famous – but perhaps not for much longer, as a growing number of wealthy individuals opt to rent private islands instead of splashing out.

This rise of private island tourism is a relatively new development, according to Farhad Vladi, a private island broker with decades of experience in the industry.

“More and more people are turning to islands as a holiday destination, instead of simply something to own,” Vladi, who owns Vladi Private Islands, told CNBC. “It seems that the younger generation in particular is more interested in experiencing than acquiring,”

The statistics, he said, speak for themselves. In 40 years of business, Vladi Private Islands has been involved in the sale of 2,400 islands. By contrast, in just the last decade, the company has booked around 26,000 island rentals.

Chris Krolow, the CEO of Private Islands Inc which owns real estate website Private Islands Online, agreed. “We’re definitely seeing a growing interest in rentals. These are people who want to holiday somewhere a bit different – sometimes for a couple of weeks; sometimes for a couple of months at a time,” he told CNBC.

(Read more: Luxury round-the-world tours on private jets take off)

The most popular rentals are whole islands that can be hired for the exclusive use of a client, he added. In response to this growing demand, island owners ranging from families to celebrities – like business magnate Richard Branson and magician David Copperfield – have put their whole island resorts up for rent.

Both Vladi Private Islands and Private Islands Online have around 200 islands available to rent around the world. Interested jetsetters can choose from landmasses including the Caribbean island of Bonefish Cay, which has a weekly rental value of 50,000 euros ($ 66,350) for up to 14 people, or Amalfi Island, off the coast of Italy, which costs 130,000 euros ($ 172,600) per week for up to 12 guests.

At the top end of the market, though, there’s Calivigny in the Caribbean. This island’s luxury retreat sleeps up to 50 people, but comes at a cost… of a whopping $ 140,000 per night.

Full-service or rustic?

Chris Krolow, the CEO of Private Islands Inc which owns real estate website Private Islands Online, said the sheer range of islands available for rent – all with different facilities and offerings – meant there was something for everyone – if funds allow.

(Slideshow: Billionaire Private Islands)

“Some private islands come ‘full-service’, complete with a chef, boat captain, caretaker and other staff,” he said. “While others are completely rustic.”

But while these rental values might not seem cheap, they are colossally lower than the cost of buying – and upkeeping – your own private island.

Private Islands Online, for instance, has over 40 islands for sale that cost more than $ 10 million – and that’s before factoring in the cost of maintaining an island’s properties, infrastructure and staff.

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