Want to stay at Prince’s island mansion? This NC family will let you

Clients who’ve rented the Turks and Caicos house mostly have been celebrities

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte family is offering stays at their two mansions in the tropical Turks and Caicos islands, including one formerly owned by musical legend Prince.

The price of a night’s stay?

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It’s $12,000 to $36,000, depending on the season and whether you lease one or both mansions, which overlook the turquoise waters of a private bay in the warm Atlantic, 575 miles southeast of Miami.

Tom Barnes, who owns a Charlotte-based private-equity firm, made headlines in the Wall Street Journal and other media in 2019 when he bought Prince’s former mansion on Providenciales, the third-largest island in Turks and Caicos, for $10.8 million.

Barnes idolized Prince as a teen growing up poor in Gastonia in the early 1980s, the 54-year-old told The Charlotte Observer. He said he never imagined one day owning one of the star’s mansions.

Prince died at age 57 in 2016 in his home state of Minnesota of an accidental overdose of the opioid fentanyl.

In 2021, Barnes and his wife, Sharon, also bought the mansion next door to Prince’s for more than $8 million, he said.

In all, the couple put $30 million into the properties, including millions of dollars in refurbishments and upgrades. Damage from Hurricane Irma in 2017 required extensive repairs, Barnes said. The couple preserved special features that marked Prince’s time in the mansion, including the purple driveway, his large dining room mirrors and various memorabilia, Barnes said.

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Barnes painted the tennis courts purple.

In 2017, Prince’s half-sister, Sharon Nelson, told the Associated Press that “contrary to what has been said, purple was and is Prince’s color.” While Prince “was fond of many colors in the rainbow, he especially loved the color purple because it represented royalty,” and “the color purple always made him feel Princely,” Nelson said.

Barnes and his wife began leasing stays at the mansions last month, the Charlotte Ledger first reported.

Clients have mostly been entertainers, Barnes told the Observer this week. He said he’d risk losing other people considering leasing the site if he disclosed the entertainers’ names.

The mansions have a combined 17 bedrooms. Seven of the eight bedrooms in Prince’s former mansion have ocean views, the other bedroom a marina view.

Celebrity chef Adrian Forte and a chef who cooked for Prince prepare your meals, Barnes said. Three butlers tend to you and your guests, and the eight-acre resort has security guards 24/7, though it’s in a secluded, extremely safe area, he said.

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The mansions grace a peninsula. On one side, waves crash against a cliff. On the other side, people snorkel and paddleboard in a calm bay and enjoy a private beach.

Barnes, who was born in Mexico City, named the resort Emara, which includes “mar,” the Spanish word for sea. The “E” stands for the first letter of the first name of one of the couple’s sons, 22-year-old Ethan. Their other son, Thomas, is 24.

The family has loved vacationing in Turks & Caicos for many years, including on their sons’ spring breaks, Barnes said. They never owned a home there until they bought the former Prince mansion, he said.

Barnes, who has lived most of his life in the Charlotte area, graduated from East Gaston High School in 1986. In 1990, he graduated from the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, with degrees in economics and management science.

Although Barnes considered sports medicine at first, “I decided to study economics because I was tired of being poor,” he said. He credits the business school with providing the foundation for his future success, and in 2018, he and his wife established the Barnes Family Business Scholarship Endowment Fund at the school to help students in financial need.

He also has served on the board of the school’s Folks Center for International Business. The school honored Barnes with its 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Barnes started out working for Electronic Data Systems, the multinational international technology company founded by Ross Perot. By 2002, Barnes had founded Charlotte-based Integration Point, a global trade management software company. He sold the firm in 2018 to Thomson Reuters, the multinational mass media and information conglomerate.

Barnes also is CEO of 319 Capital Partners, a Charlotte-based private equity firm.

Emara is his family’s peaceful getaway, where “you can’t beat the views of the water,” the climate and hospitality of everyone there, he said.