Magician David Copperfield talks about discovering and designing his Bahamian paradise, Musha Cay, finding inspiration there, and how you could do the same.
He is the most commercially successful individual performer in history, having sold millions of tickets equating to billions of dollars in revenue, but to hear him talk, it’s easy to be struck by how completely unassuming, genuine, and kind Copperfield is. His onstage acts are larger-than-life, but his candid conversations seem to focus largely on simple, natural wonders waiting to be discovered and pre-existing magic that waits for us throughout the world.
Just ask him how he stumbled upon his island paradise, Musha Cay, and you’ll get an answer that’s reminiscent of secret coding carved into the Earth’s sands and seas; The island was just there, in an X-marks-the-spot sort of way, waiting to be properly utilized, he says. All he had to do was locate four of the most incredible sites in the world and connect the dots.
“I’ve always had a passion for islands and the magic of islands. I’d been looking for years when I discovered Musha Cay,” says Copperfield. “For fun, initially, I drew a line on a map between Stonehenge and Easter Island in the Pacific, and the Pyramids of Giza to the Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico. That line intersects as Musha Cay.”
Just like that—Copperfield diced up the globe and stumbled upon one of the most beautiful places in the world. “When astronauts are asked what the most beautiful place on the planet is from up in space, they say, not just the Bahamas, but the southern part, the Exumas,” says Copperfield. So, he bought them—Musha Cay and the islands of Copperfield Bay—11 in total, which are just a 90-minute flight from Miami. “It’s the most beautiful, magical place in the world. The colors, the shades. I can go and get away, and it’s very relaxing.”
Copperfield spends around 10 weeks a year on the 700-acre tropical islands to refuel and get away from the noise of Las Vegas and the crazed energy surrounding his act there.
Five guesthouses dot private beaches across Musha Cay, each overlooking turquoise waters and creamy white sands. All have been slowly molded for a different feel, whether whimsical or lush, by items Copperfield has found while traveling around the world. He stays in all the houses and has personally had a hand in choosing their aesthetics.
“It’s a little-by-little thing,” he explains of the decorating process. “I’ll find a column here, a statue there, and want to bring it in. Everything magical from around the world, I brought it there. I was looking for a place to collect all the amazing things [I’ve] discovered from my travels, and this was the most logical place.”
While on the island, Copperfield enters a creative mode. For him, the place is an immersion in inspiration, where he can dream up his next venture. Generally, he will relax and play explorer, but there is no helicopter ride from horizon to horizon, no teleportation to the islands’ innermost hideaways. “I drive around in my golf cart,” he says of his simple process. “I find new nooks and crannies I’ve never seen before. I find caves and cliffs. I’ve even discovered an underground tunnel.”
Once he’s discovered something incredible, he’ll take that inspiration and create a new illusion or marvel. Even Musha Cay falls into that category. When Copperfield isn’t there, the destination is open to visitors who would like the magical experience—whatever that means to them. Maybe it’s a weekend of solitude, hiding away in the quaint and quiet Pier House. Or maybe they’re after adventure: snorkeling, windsurfing, exploring, and a treasure hunt carried out by Copperfield’s creative team. Anything is seemingly possible on the island; it’s just an idea and a phone call away.
Check the Internet, and you’ll find whispers of the celebrities who have stayed on Musha Cay—Johnny Depp, President Clinton—but the magician doesn’t divulge names, or even how many people come to visit each year. Except one: Oprah Winfrey. But that’s just because Winfrey recently featured Copperfield on her OWN show, “The Next Chapter.” “Oprah has been there, and called it the most beautiful place in the world,” Copperfield says before quickly moving on to more about Musha. That’s the thing: Musha Cay is not just for the Oprah Winfreys of the world. It’s available as the adventure of a lifetime for anyone. Copperfield wanted the island to be something travelers couldn’t find anywhere else. It’s an experience, not a resort, and it can be enjoyed at $37,500 a night by up to 24 guests.
“I don’t treat it as a hotel; I treat it as a special place,” Copperfield says. “Where else can you enjoy a treasure hunt while floating above the beach? … If they want round-the-clock massages? We’ll fly in the best masseuse. If they want tennis? We’ll have an instructor. If they want adventures? We’ll create that. Crazy, wonderful experiences.”
While those crazy experiences are certainly there for others to enjoy, Musha Cay and the rest of the islands are more synonymous with serenity for the magician. It’s why he’s always enjoyed the idea of ocean living, pursued it for years before landing in the Exumas, and has now created such an array of forms surrounding it there.
“For me, I love that it’s ever changing,” says Copperfield. “The vistas are always different. The sunsets every night are incredible. You can just walk out into the water and enjoy the view. It’s a place I can relax and exhale, while creating new wonders. It’s the nature of what I do. I get inspired there.”
In a few hours, Copperfield will return to work, suiting up in Vegas at the MGM Grand to share wonders with a new audience. It’s probably safe to say, however, that he’ll be dreaming of the magic of Musha Cay, a world away. mushacay.com.