Early visit

I am one of those entrepreneurs who, have been reasonably successful in some areas, realize only one in three ideas ends up being profitable and historically have seen opportunities and waited too long and saw others take the rewards.

I would like to think of myself as a careful, opportunist if such a creature existed. However perhaps the best opportunities for me are the ones already well researched, where there is clearly scope for a good idea.

I read about the development of the floating kingdom, unfortunately did not get involved at first, but later thought as it started to develop that perhaps I should take a look. I got a place on a conference group going out from Europe, as the airport has not yet been completed the only way to currently get there are by boat from the Azores or Bermuda, and the group I was with flew into Bermuda, had a few days there where we we got to find out quite a bit and then went aboard a cruise ship that took just over a day to get us to the floating kingdom.

As the cruise ship approached we were told we were going to sail right around the floating kingdom and then stop near the airport development. 

The outer wall was now complete and in many ways the first impression you get is of a very, very large ship larger than you could possibly imagine just sitting there in the center of the Atlantic, the outer walls are completely white, and as you get nearer you get to see the shape and detail, and the lines of windows quite high up.

From our cruise ship we could not see over the sea wall, but could see development work going on on two large islands behind that was to become the airport. One for airlines and the second for small planes. 

It doesn't matter how much you read or see about this project the one feature that hits you when you see it is the size, and it is at this point tiny compared with the size it will grow to.

Later we get to go across to the kingdom, which we do by transferring via a smaller boat, which makes you suddenly aware of the waves, which had no effect on the cruise ship and even less on the large wall units that form the outside of the kingdom.

We enter the kingdom and perhaps are a little disappointed at not being able to see the spirals we had heard so much about, we are now in calm water, just rising and falling slightly and we are going between a line of islands being constructed. They vary in size from around the size of the cruise ship up to absolutely huge islands up to a mile or possibly more long. Between some of the islands we see some boats going the opposite way and occasionally we see a boat turn between the islands or go to one of the many landing stages, some on the outside and some within the islands. Many of the islands being constructed are still sitting much higher than they will when completed so you have temporary floating landing stages and steps to the entrances of these.

As we get on a bit the islands are more complete, now being fitted out and we get the chance to land on one of these and look around. It is basically a whole village on a cross between a cruise ship and a land island. On the surface we find buildings that would not look out of place in the countryside and grounds being landscaped and trees planted. There is so little movement that you could believe you were somewhere in the south of France or Florida. We have a chance to go up to the roof of a building at one end of the island and from a viewing platform can see large numbers of islands all around in different stages of completion, and for the first time start to see the hint of one side of the spiral.

Back onto the boat we go further in and land on a completed island towards the center. We find two islands next to each other, one a large hotel and the one next to it an exhibition center and planning center for the developments.

I could tell you all about the exhibition, but you will have read all about the developments before so, I will concentrate on what I saw that is not generally covered well.

In both the hotel and exhibition center being near the center, the sea was basically still, so obviously the effect of the rows of islands is to act like breakwaters and smooth the ocean out as you come inwards. From the viewing platforms we could see over the lower islands in front to the sea wall but behind we could see very little as the building behind were larger, and those under construction further back even higher.

The image you get is one of technological achievements, the architecture, and a romantic Venice like effect of the water transport. We got to see down inside the islands, and had it explained to us why they could not sink or turn over, but I had already read most of this before. 

Within the hotel I managed to sneak off from the party and speak to some of the people who now live within the floating kingdom. They say they no longer really think about it being in the ocean, that they are so used to it now that it has within the last year just become a way of life for them, just perfect weather, and a really luxury place to live.  Most were looking forward to the airport being completed so relations could come and stay, and all had different parts of the kingdom they preferred. They had all made lots of new friends, and I did not meet anyone who had regretted the move out here. Some I was surprised to learn were moving to other islands, apparently they have moved several times already snapping up units when built and then as the islands become complete and values go up they move to another development. Apparently property can increase rapidly in price as all the units are snapped up when fully complete, especially if the gardens are done up and property is personalized. Some had now several homes.

That evening we returned to our cruise ship, and the following morning returned to the floating kingdom. Overnight I read much of the material we had got from the exhibition center.

On my second visit, I was looking out for the different textures and finishes of the different islands, and how each had been personalized as well as for some specific islands that were within the literature I had read. We visited quite a few islands, saw different services, and spoke to developers, and to people who could help with what we thought of doing. Back at the information center some of my party pitched their ideas to the officials of the floating kingdom, and generally had a lot of encouragement, there were a few ideas that were not exactly turned down, but had to be submitted with a full write up, but told that their ideas needed further discussion and study, but most of these could not have been done elsewhere.

I had a couple of ideas when I went out, but talking to the people there and looking at what was happening I had many more ideas. In many ways the largest problem was that there was just too many opportunities, and although I had not got in as early as some, there were still many ideas that had not been even looked at as far as I could see. One of our party was setting up a consultancy and had copies of classifications sections from yellow pages and other directories and was marking off what was already present. However I don't think this was a practical approach as so many of the best opportunities would be specific to this place, rather than just the infrastructure and services you get everywhere. Later we had a meeting with some people interested in packaging, they basically got several people with ideas together and combined them into single islands cutting the costs to each, while cutting themselves in for a part of the island. This appealed to me, in that they were providing a service, and could both help clients at no direct cost, and instead of payment take a part of an island with no capital outlay. I talked to a number of these at length.

The next day, which was our last on this trip we got to talk to a number of companies who specialize in the actual building, putting the islands together in a  number of ways, and were given tips on design, and limitations, where sub assemblies could be produced and the time scale for development. I talked to a number of these and identified several that I could see I would like to work with. Most had their own architects, so we could go to them with a rough sketch or computer design and they would be able to turn it into a structural drawing for an island and cost it up.

By my third day on the floating kingdom, I had completely forgotten about any movement, and realized just how ideal it would be to live and work there. I had a long conversation with the people from the exhibition center so I could understand the arrangements for developing islands in stages. I made loads of contacts and collected very many phone numbers.

Back on the cruise ship on our way back to Bermuda I got contact information from many of the other people on the trip.

I decided to enter the package business, putting together a variety of clients into single islands but rather than working to completed islands I saw the opportunity to work to the shell stage. I quite quickly found property investments people and others as well as direct users who liked the idea of getting shell space they could develop on, and within the next 6 months had 8 different islands all fully committed. With the first island I started with the clients and switching them around like a jigsaw, but since that I have had a simpler approach in that I design up rough shapes and offer people the options, if they want a part of a space, and I have a viable space left I just price it at 1.25 the cost per meter of the larger space. When I get a large commitment that will not easily fit in I start a new island. Overall I get between 15% and 20% of the island space for my efforts, and most of these I am letting out as shell space on a ten year fixed price lease, very attractive to tenants, and of course in ten years when the properties fully fitted out become totally mine. I was originally going to then sell them, but like many I have now completely fallen in love with the floating kingdom and plan to then live there and manage the properties that I will let out, many of course will be let to existing tenants but at the then current rental. My share of the space on two islands I reluctantly sold, this has given me plenty of capital to expand the operation and I now expect to only need to sell the space I get in one in ten islands in order to cover my costs, staff and provide a capital sum as a reserve. The company is based in the floating kingdom and this has no tax, of course when I am fully resident there I likewise will be paying no tax either.

Of course now the floating kingdom is getting far larger, but the number of opportunities continues to grow, as more people and islands are formed you just need to complete adding everything that is there all over again. My only regret was that I didn't get in earlier, some of the central island properties are worth an absolute fortune now, and think, I could have had 15% or 20% of several of them.


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Last updated: May 10, 2002.