A villa in the sun is many people's dream. Almost too many it's frustratingly un-exclusive these days. To stand out, you want one designed by Norman Foster, nestled in a palm-tree jungle and within a short walk of a white-sand Indian Ocean beach, an 18 hole golf course and a five-star hotel with a spa and top-class restaurants. You want, in other words, Corniche Bay, a development of 115 such villas and a 75-bedroom hotel on the secluded southwestern tip of Mauritius. It's one of a few high-end resorts on the island that, for the first time, allow nonresident foreigners to buy property. Each villa has its own uninterrupted sea view angled toward the sunset, an infinity pool and a lush, landscaped garden. The resort is huge, mostly car-free and backed by spectacular volcanic peaks. Sales open on Jan. 7. The price? From $1 million to $3 million.
That may seem like a hefty chunk of change for a holiday home, until you consider that it also buys you one of the greatest luxuries of all: a tax break. In its bid to become an international financial center, Mauritius secured double taxation-avoidance treaties with 33 countries, and 14 more are pending. Since villa ownership grants Mauritian residency, even if you live and earn in, say, Britain or France or India or China (almost anywhere, in fact, except Japan and the U.S.), you can legally pay income tax in Mauritius at 15%. So anyone who buys a villa in Corniche Bay will, over the course of an average working life, save in tax what they paid in the first place. Effectively, the villa is free, while the owner can even earn extra cash by renting it out. And what did the Mauritian government name its brainwave? The Integrated Resort Scheme or irs. It's enough to make the tax man see green. www.cornichebay. com