The original post ran 8 April, 2012. Before that time I had made two unsuccessful attempts at contacting the owner. The following is the original post; the update is below, and relates what the owner had to say after he contacted me.
There is a collection of about 18 beautiful islands off the Caribbean coast called the Pearl Cays. Some are populated with only a few palm trees, others have houses with caretakers and not much else. Wild Cane Cay, one of the larger islands, was home to one of the most luxurious getaways in all of Nicaragua.
The owners from New Zealand renamed the island Little Eden Cay and spared no expense building their Caribbean paradise, complete with a caretaker’s house, guest house, pool, gardens and helipad. They pushed the local fisherman off and invited visitors that could pay the $14,000/week bill. Rumor has it that there was a dispute over $900 owed to the guard who was staying on the island.
The guard walked off the job.
What wasn’t hauled off was smashed and what wasn’t smashed has rusted or rotted. I haven’t spoken to the owner but I did speak to a fisherman in Pearl Lagoon who grew up catching his livelihood around the island. He said when they ran him off he begrudgingly accepted and now considers the situation has come full circle.
Little Eden Cay is now once again known as Wild Cane Cay and the fisherman have returned.
Update 8 October, 2012
Martin Thomas, the man who purchased Wild Cane Cay, recently sent me an email addressing some concerns with what I had written and the photos included in the screenshots of his website that I had posted. The images were to show the contrast between what the island looks like now and what it looked like in its former glory. I agreed to remove the then photos since they were his property, though my now photos are included below. The Little Eden Cay website has since been removed.
I welcomed Mr. Thomas’ point of view regarding the house and the hardships they faced after it was built. Regarding the dispute in payment owed to the guard who was staying on the island, he said that several payments were sent to the caretaker but were intercepted by intermediaries. The guard left and Mr. Thomas knew nothing about it. To top it off, he says that the house suffered damage from two hurricanes.
Mr. Thomas then went on to explain to me a bit of his financial situation his point of view on how he felt he was portrayed by my blog post:
I am not a wealthy man and yet I have poured everything I have into developing the Island over a period of many years. I have poured money into the local infrastructure and provided jobs for many locals. Several high end rentals of the Island and two documentaries have shown the area in a good light after the war years and promoted the area for tourism. I have paid my dues in every sense and I resent being portrayed as an unfeeling foreigner who’s only interest is to exploit the locals and make an easy dollar…
Regarding the fisherman’s claim to me that he was pushed off his traditional fishing grounds after the island was sold, Mr. Martin said:
I never ‘booted’ anyone off the Island either. I merely provided jobs for locals who lived harmoniously on the Island for many years.
Mr. Martin had a few things to say to me that I will keep private, though he was obviously very upset about the blog post and felt like it was a personal attack. One thing that I will share is his plans for the future of Wild Cane Cay:
Before the end of this year I plan to rebuild the Island house in hurricane proof materials with the help of an investor. This sort of internet content is misleading and will discourage any likely investor or tourists.
Well, since this is an informational travel blog, the last thing I want to do is mislead people, tourists or investors. I will let the tourists and investors make up their own minds. If you would like more information about island life from Martin Thomas, check out the book he wrote about his family’s adventure called Slice of Heaven: A Family on the Move.
I wish I could show the photos from the way it looked in its glory days, but since they have been removed, I leave you with a short documentary done by NZ House & Garden, a kiwi tv show about…houses and gardens. And below are the photos I took in April, 2012.