Thursday 18 March 2010 8:48 pm

Caribbean is back on investors’ hot list

IF you’re considering a spot in the Caribbean that will be both beautiful and a savvy place for your cash, the island of St Lucia is as good as it gets. Its natural beauty is considered by many to be the most intense in the Caribbean – and it also has a strong local culture that meshes well with foreign residents and the investor community. The southern part of the island has a rainforest and a huge diversity of species on land and water. Then, of course, there is the tax-free aspect: no VAT, no capital gains and no inheritance or estate taxes. So non-doms who are being warned off the UK by punitive new taxation are looking to such havens to invest. And now one of the island’s most innovative developments, Sugar Beach in beautiful Pitons, is coming to market after a $100m redevelopment from a hotel into 85 fully-furnished freehold villas. Each have ocean and rainforest views, and everything from private butler service to iPod docks. Sugar Beach buyers enter a rental pool, giving owners four weeks of free usage and a revenue split of the rental return, guaranteed at a minimum 5 per cent net ROI from now until the end of the first year of operation of Sugar Beach. With built villas available for immediate purchase, this could be for up to three years. Prices start at $610,000 rising to $2,100,000. For those who want more access to their property, most other developments provide management schemes with varying rental structures, though letting out your property as a holiday villa is unsurprisingly the preferred way to increase returns. BURGEONING DEVELOPMENT Walter Zephirin, managing director of 7th Heaven Properties, a Caribbean property specialist, says 5 per cent return is the minimum he would expect for a good property investment in St Lucia – that figure could reach 10-12 per cent. He says many developments planned a few years ago in the height of the property bubble didn’t go ahead – the ones that have are sound, well-financed properties run by good management companies. “You’re not getting any of those off-plan properties now,” says Zephirin. “These are all very good, proper developments that are really happening.” He describes Sugar Beach as “absolutely incredible, a spectacular place”. Increased direct flights, burgeoning development (new port and extended airport, for example) and the influx of ex-UK based non-doms looking for a new spot have all fuelled activity and investment in the St Lucia property market. It’s becoming the Caribbean’s hottest spot, and – if you act fast – still offers great value for money. For general Sugar Beach inquiries, call 0844 921 0124 or go to TIDES SUGAR BEACH, VAL DES PITONS £792,470 This two-bedroom superior deluxe villa is a taster of the beauty and style of this development. Buyers enter a rental pool with access to the villa four weeks per year. Contact: LANDINGS, CAP ESTATE £366,100-£1,398,900 228 luxury waterfront residences in one, two and three-bedroom configurations with an exclusive yacht harbour, four pools, health spa, fitness club, and tennis courts. Contact: CASTLES IN PARADISE, SAVANNES BAY £244,000-£566,823 Close to stunning beach, with manicured gardens, communal and private pools, and a restaurant. Five minutes from the international airport. Contact: