As the dollar and the pound edge closer to the magic 2:1 ratio in sterling?s favour, property in even the most expensive Caribbean islands starts to tug at the purse-strings of British buyers. In booming Barbados, however, anyone looking for a beachfront villa on the island?s West Coast, may?as happened recently?need to buy a hotel, knock it down and build a new house on the site.

The late Robert Sangster?s many friends in Barbados must be hoping that the reverse does not happen to Jane?s Harbour at Sandy Lane (Fig 1 and 2)?the Sangster family?s much-loved beachfront holiday home since 1978, and by far the hottest property currently for sale on the island. Clearly, the US$37 million guide price quoted by selling agents Savills (020?7824 9030) restricts the number of potential purchasers to a handful of international property billionaires, 18 of whom are reputed to own houses along the West Coast. Perhaps one of these will snap up Jane?s Harbour, to keep it ?in the family??

The discreet, elegantly understated, colonial-style house stands in two acres of beautifully kept tropical gardens in the lee of the Sandy Lane hotel complex, with access either by right of way through the hotel?s main entrance or through a security gate from the main road at the rear of the estate. The main house has a large, airy salon which opens onto the terrace and swimming pool, a formal drawing room,

a bar room, a master bedroom and two fur- ther bedrooms. The larger of two detached wings houses the dining room, the kitchen and another bedroom; the smaller, a luxurious suite of guest rooms. There is also a two-bedroom ?chattel-house?, currently occupied by the Sangsters? housekeeper.

Back in the world of the mere millionaire, US$4.5m will buy the freehold of the newly built Jamoon on the nearby Sandy Lane Estate, through Hamptons International (00 1 246 422 5550). By Barbadian standards, this is quite a grand house, built round a 16m-long swimming pool, with seven double bedrooms, six bathrooms, a splendid reception room/dining room with 20ft high ceilings, an open-air dining terrace, extensive staff facilities and landscaped tropical gardens.

David Lloyd?s Sugar Hill resort at Mount Standfast, St James, is one of the West Coast?s most successful new developments, created on 50 acres of gently sloping land overlooking the Caribbean. Hamptons is selling 22 Wild Cane at Sugar Hill at US$2.85m?a split-level house with three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a guest

cottage, a large pool, tropical garden, and wonderful sea views.

Property prices on the ?simply beautiful? island of St Lucia, where the cricket World Cup takes place in 2007, are relatively low compared with those of Barbados. But with direct flights now available through British Midland, demand for property on St Lucia is growing. In addition, property ownership on the island offers financial advantages such as tax-free rental income for the first 10 years, and no capital gains tax on re-sales.

Picturesque Marigot Bay (Fig 3) on the western side of the island is one of the safest yacht harbours in the Caribbean, and the site of a new small development of four luxury villas set into the surrounding hillside. Each villa will have more than 4,000sq ft of living space, with a sunset-facing terrace, an infinity swimming pool, open-plan kitchen, dining and living areas, and three or four air-conditioned bedrooms. Prices range from £617,000 to £735,000 through Surrey-based Premier Resorts (020?8940 9406).

Premier Resorts is also handling sales of St Lucia?s biggest-ever capital project,.

The Landings at Rodney Bay, a 19-acre marina development with 730ft of ocean frontage next to the Sandals? Le Sport resort. Based on Barbados?s successful Port St Charles concept, The Landings will offer 220 properties of different sizes and types, but at half the price, the agents say.

Finally, the tranquil island of Anguilla, the most northerly of the Leeward Islands, is still free of cruise ships, casinos, or commercial shopping centres. Knight Frank (020?7629 8171) is handling sales of the American-backed St Regis Retreat

of Temenos Anguilla (Fig 4), where 39 luxurious estate and beachfront houses

are being built at prices ranging from US$2.95m to US$8.5m.