Whether you want a beautiful private house on the beach or a lock-up-and-leave property up in the hills, Barbados provides options
Trends and fads may come and go, but, when it comes to the Caribbean, it is to Barbados that we always seem to return. Ever since sailors first arrived from the shores of the West Country in the 17th century—bequeathing the island’s English with those formidable, long, drawn-out vowels, the sparkling white beaches, agreeable year-round climate and attractive architecture have attracted waves of interested parties wishing to stake a claim on this paradise isle.
That same history has also bequeathed a legacy of Georgian colonial architecture, including a number of Anglican churches, and, today, there are more habitable plantation houses remaining than in the rest of the English-speaking Caribbean combined. Now, after a recent slow period in terms of property sales, a number of keenly anticipated modern developments are breaking ground with the appetite for buyers warming up accordingly. James Burdess of Savills says on-island transactions are up fivefold year-on-year and 2015 was the best sales year for the Royal Westmoreland resort under its current ownership.
Edward de Mallet Morgan concurs: his team at Knight Frank recently sold one of the most expensive houses on Barbados, Four Winds, with its £40 million price tag. ‘From a global perspective, we have witnessed trading in the London and New York property markets that has freed up funds for people who remain very focused on buying in the Caribbean, and on Barbados in particular,’ he explains.
Most property buyers first fall in love with a place while on holiday and Dominique Silvera from Christie’s International Real Estate affiliate One Caribbean Estates says her buyers have indeed often rented first in the past and are keen to explore future income potential. ‘Quite often, these families are looking ahead to retirement. They’re looking for a smart investment, a good rental prospect and, in the long term, a place to come and live in older age.’
However, a slice of paradise doesn’t come cheap: the stretch of beach between the parishes of St Peter and St James is always priced at a premium, but this is because it outperforms everywhere else in terms of rental returns and resales and is most attractive from a lifestyle point of view. In terms of proximity to the Sunday brunches at the Lone Star, or shopping and cocktails at Limegrove, the addresses around Sandy Lane, Gibbes Beach and Cobblers Cove can’t be beaten.
You could easily find yourself paying close to central London prices —about $1,000 (£700) per sq ft for an older private house by the beach, and closer to $2,000 (£1,400) per sq ft for prestigious new-build villas. Apartments can offer better value and often benefit from added amenities. Prices vary from about $850 (£600) per sq ft on the coast and start from $450 (£310) per sq ft in resorts up in the hills. The historic plantation houses inland all come to the market individually and, depending on their state of repair, are usually priced from $1.5 million (£1.1m). Fortunately, Barbados has top-end property to suit every requirement.
If you’re looking for a rental investment, and you’re not going to be there much, apartment complexes such as Port Ferdinand just outside Speightstown or up in the golf communities like Royal Westmoreland are ideal. If you have a larger family, like entertaining and plan to spend a few weeks on the island a year, a number of options exist to buy new or old private houses, either down on the beach or up in the hills overlooking the sea.
Built 20 years ago on an estate of 750 acres of lush grounds, the Royal Westmoreland is the biggest brand on Barbados for both holiday lets and top-end turnkey properties. With farreaching views of the sea and beautifully kept landscapes throughout, the development has perfected a winning formula that appeals to a diverse range of buyers, from young families to sporting legends. A big attraction is the Par 72 golf course, which was designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr.
With a proven track record of converting holidaymakers into property buyers, in more recent years, the Royal Westmoreland has put energy into developing its amenities beyond golf and there is now a good deal to do off the fairway, from the fully equipped gym to the tennis courts and three swimming pools.
The Rum Shack is a charming evening venue with a local flavour that serves good Barbadian food and, of course, a selection of local rums; if you don’t want to dine out, chefs can come to cook for you at home at any time. Properties all come with membership to Mullins Beach Bar, one of the best spots for eating, drinking and splashing around in the sea. The Indulgence Spa across the road offers five multi-purpose treatment suites and a blissfully cool swimming pool. Owners also benefit from the in-house concierge service, which can arrange everything from restaurant reservations to private yacht charters.
The estate has more than 200 properties, from one-bedroom apartments to substantial private houses with pools and mature gardens. The Royal Apartments start at $395,000 (£275,000) for a one-bedroom 830sq ft flat. Private houses available include those in the Sugar Cane Ridge area of semi-detached villas near the clubhouse. With 2,500sq ft of interior space, prices for a three-bedroom villa there start at $1.45 million (£1.1m).
Eight large detached properties nearby in the Sugar Cane Mews area with a garden, pool and patio start at $1.75 million (£1.2m). Situated 1,000ft above sea level with incredible views to the sea, Apes Hill comprises a first-rate private golf and polo community designed to appeal to younger, sporty families. It’s the newest development in this area and is still bedding in with an impressive-looking clubhouse due to open this year. Lots sell from about $460,000 (£320,000) and new villas and resales are both available.
The Sandy Lane estate, meanwhile, is a well-established gated development adjacent to one of the most established hotels in the Caribbean: the Sandy Lane. It offers access to the
hotel facilities, including the three golf courses and some houses come with cabañas on the famous beach. ‘In Sandy Lane, what’s old is new,’ says Dominique. ‘A lot of older houses are being bought and completely rebuilt.’
Down by the beach
An oversupply of apartments is still suppressing the market all along the coast, but, more recently, developers have sensed an appetite for high-end standalone private houses. A perfect example is Beachlands. Set within 4ó acres, these four villas have been designed by local architect Larry Warren to blend West Indian architecture with world-class modern interiors.
First to be built is Tamarindo. With about 13,000sq ft of interior space, these houses are designed to make the most of the outdoor lifestyle people come to the Caribbean for: a generous open-plan living area has a kitchen off to the side and extends out onto the terraces.
These lead down to the swimming pool, which looks out to the jewel-blue sea; outdoor spaces lend themselves to lounging or full-on entertaining $28 million (£19.3m) through Savills (020–7016 3740)).
Another modern house on the beach is Footprints, located on Mount Standfast between Mullins Beach and Sandy Lane. Exceptional build quality has been applied to this former holiday home of Bob Monkhouse, which has 12,000sq ft of incredible beachfront as well as the obligatory infinity pool, Footprints is a new kind of house for Barbados, but one we may be seeing more of in the future ($12 million (£8.2m) through One Caribbean Estates—www.onecaribbeanestates.com).