Winters in New England can be brutal, so Ernie Boch Jr., heir to a billion-dollar car dealership fortune and proud Boston resident, came up with a fairly straightforward solution: When it snows, he leaves.
A decade ago, after a drawn-out search for a winter house in the sun (Florida, the Texas panhandle, and a few Caribbean islands were nixed), Boch purchased a property on the tiny island of Nevis, which is about a 45-minute ferry ride from the larger St. Kitts. “The second I stepped off the boat, I realized it was the place to be,” he said, noting that it’s “off the beaten path— a very mellow island.”
After a recent divorce, though, Boch is looking for a change and has duly listed his five-bedroom, six-and-a-half-bath house for $7.2 million. “My girlfriend and I, we’re going to start new,” he said. “We might buy somewhere else on the island.”
The current house, though, has the privileged position of being part of the “Four Seasons Resorts Estates” compound, which entails paying an annual fee of what Boch said is around $40,000. In return, Boch has access to the island’s Four Seasons Hotel’s amenities, including an optional, in-home private chef, access to the hotel beach, and year-round property maintenance.
The house, which has 4,240 square feet spread across two floors (there’s also a small guest cottage), is set into the hillside and oriented toward a sea view. There are massive verandas, onto which every room in the house opens, and a large, open-plan entertaining room on the upper level. Boch decorated the house with the help of the Boston-based interior designer Anthony Catalfano in what he called a “traditional British West Indies style, with a bit of an Asian flair,” and oversaw the installation of a Crestron “total home control system,” which allows Boch to access his lighting, climate control, and sound system remotely with his iPhone. “If I burn a CD in Boston, it’s immediately populated into my system in Nevis,” he said. “The features are very modern.”
Outside are a massive pool (“it’s twice as big as normal,” Boch said), a hot tub, an outdoor kitchen, and a grassy lawn. The house is about a 10-minute drive into Charlestown, the main town on the island, and a 5-minute golf-car ride to the beach.
Boch says that he can get from his house in South Boston to his house in Nevis in less than four and a half hours, a trip eased, somewhat, by his private jet. For potential buyers stuck flying commercial, the trip takes a bit longer— travelers have to fly into St. Kitts, then take one of six ferries.
The hassle might be worth it: Anyone who owns a home on Nevis automatically qualifies for citizenship, which, along with visa-free travel to 120 countries, entails no direct personal taxes. Permanent residency might have its drawbacks, though: “Nevis is on the hurricane belt, so they hit the island quite often,” Boch said, noting that his house is rarely affected because it’s nested in the mountains.