The kindness of strangers by Gemma Handy
Old-fashioned Antiguan hospitality proved pivotal when Italians Amos Pradelli and Susanna Miglioli were looking for a second home – and a prime spot for a multi-million dollar development
If there’s one thing worse than finding oneself in a bit of a pickle, it’s perhaps when it occurs in a foreign land thousands of miles from home.
So when Amos Pradelli and Susanna Miglioli’s beach jaunt – by car – culminated with four wheels stuck firmly in the soft sand, they may have been forgiven for panicking.
In fact, what happened next was one of many spontaneous acts of altruism at the hands of kindly locals which would ignite the couple’s enduring affinity for the island and cement their dream of making it their home.
“I didn’t even have time to consider asking for help,” Amos recalls. “Within seconds a car pulled up and someone got out to help us push.”
Another such occasion was during a seemingly elusive Christmas Eve search for an open pharmacy. St John’s was almost at a standstill with last minute shoppers when a Good Samaritan pulled up kerbside to ask if they were lost before insisting on driving them to the nearest facility.
The couple – from northern Italy – wouldn’t be the first to be bewitched by the dual islands’ tropical beauty or its big-hearted citizens. Those are just two of the reasons why, when planning to build a residential development, Antigua was the obvious choice.
They are currently ploughing a major investment into the first phase of their Passion Village scheme soon to start construction in the heart of breathtakingly beautiful Valley Church.
Two decades have now passed since developer Susanna’s first cherished trip to the country. She introduced Amos, a lawyer by profession, to the islands 13 years ago when they met.
“I fell in love with it immediately,” he says. “It’s so wild, completely different from other Caribbean islands. The sea is wonderful; you have the Atlantic Ocean side with the rocks and the Caribbean Sea side with the white sands – they are both different and both beautiful.
“We have a lot of friends here now, and because there’s little crime we always feel safe.” With an eight-year-old son the latter was vital.
Located just 250 meters from the incandescent waters of the Caribbean Sea, Passion Village will fill something of a niche, being both high quality homes but at more affordable rates than many of their deluxe counterparts.
Phase one will comprise 10 villas with a takeaway restaurant and communal pool, while the second phase will consist of a further 16 to 18 villas. Both will be low density, gated with 24-hour security, and have back-up electricity generators.
For Susanna it’s the culmination of a 20-year dream to build her own on-island home. And, unlike many developers, the pair will be occupying one of the properties themselves in order to supervise the construction process and the high quality and ensure the area is scrupulously maintained now and in the future.
Valley Church was chosen for the project as its renowned beach has long been a favourite haunt for the couple.
“There are restaurants nearby, it’s one of the few beaches with trees for shade, and you have that very clear turquoise water,” Susanna says.
Intriguingly, buyers will be able to choose from two different interior layouts – Italian-style or American. The difference, Susanna explains, is due to a cultural difference.
“For Italians, the most important part of a house is the dining and kitchen area,” she smiles. “So that’s what they like to see first when they enter. For Americans they like the bedrooms to be at the front of the house and the main living space towards the back.”
Sale prices for both are largely the same. The chic contemporary interiors will be fully kitted out with furniture, appliances and tiles imported especially from style-conscious Italy.
Homes can be bought completed or off-plan. In the latter case, modifications can be made according to individual preference or to make the property disability-friendly. Optional extras include a plunge pool and sundeck.
“A lot of people want a private pool; others such as Italians use the swimming pool area to socialise, especially if they have children,” Susanna says.
The takeaway restaurant will be open to the wider community, with a daily changing menu featuring Italian and international fare.
Passion Village offers another major incentive to investors in that it falls within the government’s Citizenship by Investment Program. Buyers will have the option to apply for an Antiguan passport – without sacrificing their current citizenship – enabling them to spend as much time as they want each year in their new home. They will also be exempt from a number of local taxes, including personal income, net worth, gift tax and estate duty.
The couple, who moved to the island full-time in June 2013, plan to personalize each property with an inspirational mantra inscribed on an interior wall.
“It might say something like ‘carpe diem’ – ‘catch the moment’,” Amos says.
It seems a suiting accolade for a pair whose drive, energy and enthusiasm to pursue their vision is on the cusp of becoming an auspicious reality.
“We chose the name Passion Village because of our passion for the island and our passion for our work,” Susanna adds. “And that passion translates into our houses.”