Keep it real in the Caribbean, just the place for sun, sand and security
THE appeal of white sand, turquoise sea and a developed infrastructure all in one is too strong to be destroyed by an economic downturn, even this one. While prices sank by 20-25 per cent in two of the British Caribbean’s hottest spots, Barbados and St Lucia, the market has far from stalled.
In fact, buyers have begun to see the Caribbean’s more established islands as a safe-haven for their money and they remain a great choice while the economy remains fragile. “In 2004 and 2005, people were being more adventurous about where they’d look to buy,” says Julian Cunningham, of Knight Frank. “They were looking for the next Barbados, St Lucia or Antigua, at the lesser-known islands off the coast of Venezuela and in the Grenadines. But as the global market fell into downturn, interest remained but contracted considerably, and demand withdrew to the more tried-and-tested islands.”
Now, says Cunningham, people are looking for flexibility and security above all. “Buyers are looking at the liquidity of the purchase: how hard or easy to sell it will be within a reasonably short time frame if you need to. It’s not about whether you’re rich or poor, it’s about you and your life – things happen, you could lose an income, or have a divorce, and it’s important to know you could shift your property.”
Unlike many less-developed islands, Barbados has a strongly established property market
and all the structure and infrastructure to support it. With newer hotspots, the holiday
home market is less mature, so everyone’s a first-time buyer, which can reduce stability. On Barbados, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to established developments. As Cunningham says, nobody’s buying brown fields in this economic climate. Buyers want to see the promised golf course in front of them.
Such an established reputation comes at a premium. That said, prices have dropped by 25 per cent from the highs of 2007. And for those willing to look a little outside the highly developed areas near St James on the central coast – a “lock up and leave” condominium environment where property costs from $1,000 per square foot – there are rewards.
Barbados still lays claim to being the “real Caribbean” and has a vibrant local Bajan community. Architecture-wise there are some colonial gems, and many of these are to be found in the northern part of the island, around Maynards and Port St Charles. “There are lots of traditional homes here, with nice land and decent security. If you’re willing to sacrifice a sea view for gorgeous vistas of gullies and ravines in this more rugged part of the island, you can get a lot more for your money.” Think $7-15m for a mansion on 10-15 acres.
St Lucia is also a great spot to look at now. Sacha Cole, of Savills, says: “St Lucia is recovering more slowly than Barbados. It is a good time to buy – we haven’t had that huge adjustment people are waiting for, but on the other hand, people are much more willing to negotiate.” And, as Cole says, investing in the Caribbean is always a fairly good idea. It’s that sun, white beaches and year-round warmth – it’s hard to beat.
ARC EN CIEL, SOUFRIERE
Immaculately designed, this spectacular home on a World Heritage Site has breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea and St Lucia’s iconic Pitons. Located in Soufriere, a sleepy fishing village, Arc En Ciel is close to hot waterfalls, beautiful beaches for diving and snorkelling, exotic tropical gardens and mineral baths.
This traditionally Caribbean-style property features handmade furniture from Honduras.
Contact: Savills, tel: 020 7016 3740, www.savills.com/abroad
TORTUGA, ST JAMES
A beautiful three-bedroom home situated in the ever popular Turtleback Ridge, this home sits on over 31,000 sq ft of cliff front land with spectacular views of the west coast, and is handily right in the path of cooling breezes. A large patio with panoramic views out to the ocean, a pool, jacuzzi and one-bedroom cottage add appeal to this magisterial property. Two offices make this a good refuge for a businessperson, too.
Contact: Aylesford International, tel: 020 7349 5100, www.aylesford.com
SUNDECK, ROYAL WESTMORELAND
A five-bedroom, six-bathroom pile with 360-degree views of the sea. A study, pool, gym and superbly elegant, sprawling outdoor terracing combine with the finest finishes to create a dream home. The bathrooms are finished with tiles imported from Portugal, while the kitchen represents the finest of Scandinavian design.
Contact: Knight Frank, tel: 0207 629 8179,
OCEAN VIEW, MERLIN BAY, ST JAMES
This exclusive townhouse complex enjoys a wonderful beachfront location along the renowned West Coast of Barbados, conveniently located between the historic towns of Holetown and Speightstown, with championship golf courses within a 10-minute drive. One of eight houses surrounding a central swimming pool with a spacious sun-deck, the three-bed, split level property has fabulous ocean views.
Contact: Knight Frank, tel: 0207 629 8179, www.knightfrank.co.uk