For many Brits the Maldives are the ultimate honeymoon destination, its 26 atolls the perfect place to relax in luxury after the nuptials are over.
But a new law passed by the Indian Ocean state's government may challenge this long-held view. Because the Maldives, where A-list celebrities such as Sir Paul McCartney, Madonna, Russell Brand, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Jay-Z, Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow like to snorkel and scuba-dive, has been off-limits until now to foreign home buyers due to painfully short leases.
But thanks to new laws introduced by President Mohamed Nasheed, leaseholds have been extended to 50 years - with plans to extend them to 99 over the next few years.
This means these luxury isles will no longer be a playground just for honeymooners and the billionaires.
Savills International and Cluttons Resorts are selling Six Senses Private Residences, one of the first to take advantage of the new legislation, with two schemes in Laamu (pictured, left) and Soneva Fushi.
You still need to be earning a pretty penny to access either resort; prices start at $3 million at Laamu and $4 million at Soneva Fushi (pictured, below).
The 12 Blues Resort & Spa on Lundufushi Island has 40 off-plan villas due for completion next year.
Starting from a more affordable $1.1 million, owners can holiday in their homes for six weeks a year. When absent, their property goes into the rentals pool and at an anticipated 40% occupancy, investors can pick up an 8% return.
Robert Green from Cluttons Resorts believes the Maldives is the ideal spot for foreign investment. “It’s always going to appeal to honeymooners and holidaymakers, and it’s easier to get to than Thailand or the Caribbean.”
"Also, it’s a good market to buy into now, as it’s young and holds great promise. When a new market opens up, prices rise as it becomes more established,” says Green. “Other developers will come to the Maldives with a number of empty isles crying out to be built on – a good thing for investors.”