The billionaire's playground of Barbados is already hotting up this winter
Palazzate (above) is an ocean-front palatial residence with 20 bedrooms, 24 baths and five swimming pools. $125m.
Although the island is still viewed as a stable and secure market compared to many of its neighbours, it’s actually just emerging from a hiatus following the financial crisis. As a wave of überprime properties hits the market— and with prices still off their 2008 peak—it seems a good time to buy.
The feeling of renewed confidence can be seen in the ongoing influx of captains of industry and so-called ‘flip-flop millionaires’ that has been building a new generation of super-prime properties, including the Canadian Chamandy family (founders of the Gildan T-shirt company), Simon Nixon of moneysupermarket.com and Dragon’s Den’s Peter Jones. According to global research company Wealth-X’s Caribbean Wealth & Investment Report 2015, of the Caribbean’s 1,155 ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) individuals—as defined by those with at least $30 million in assets—66 live in Barbados.
However, despite the first-class amenities that include golf, polo and excellent beachfront restaurants, many UHNWs are unlikely to reside there full-time, but ever-improving airlift is also part of Barbados’s appeal. JetBlue’s Mint all business-class service is, this month, starting flights from New York to Barbados (US tourism has surpassed UK tourism for the first time this year), following the new Abu Dhabi-owned Royal Jet privatejet service, which started flying from Heathrow to Barbados last year. Also likely to appeal to this strata is a new beach club at the island’s finest restaurant, The Cliff, and Fusion, a new rooftop restaurant atop the Limegrove luxury-shopping mall in Holetown.
This year has seen the launch of Palazzate, at $125m (£82.2m), the most expensive property brought to the (open) market in Barbados. Located at the north of the west coast near Speightstown, on 1ó acres of beachfront, Palazzate is a huge six-storey ‘sky mansion’, fashioned from the island’s creamy coral stone and designed by Larry Warren in an ‘Italian/Mediterranean/ Barbados-colonial’ style, which took more than four years to build. From the front entrance, it offers a rather foreboding façade, but from the sea, it looks much more inviting, with its layers of terraces and infinity pools cascading elegantly down to the turquoise Caribbean sea.
The two lower floors are devoted to communal service or an entertainment/ spa complex and the four storeys above are self-contained residences, each with five bedrooms, a family kitchen, Italian-marble bathrooms and exquisite detailing, from bespoke joinery to handcarved stonework. Nine elevators, underground parking for 18 cars, a colossal 4,500-gallon fish tank and a biometric security system headline an extensive list of features. It’s also the only development on the island to have traffic lights in its 7,000sq ft granite driveway. Who will buy it?
‘They need to be worth b$2-and-a-half billion to $3 billion,’ says Alistair Brown, the man behind UNNA resorts (adjacent St Peter’s Bay and nearby Port Ferdinand) and Palazzate. ‘It will suit the multi-generational family—many people have been married twice and this estate Palazzate: this four-houses-in-one oceanfront palatial residence offers a total of 75,000sq ft of living space, with 20 bedrooms, 24 baths, five pools and a whole lot more. $125 million (£82.2m) (00 246 262 8112) can be enjoyed by the various elements of the modern family,’ adds Alistair.
If you’re worth (only) $100m, you could, in theory, afford to buy an elegant apartment in One Sandy Lane, the upscale condo complex attached to the famous Sandy Lane Hotel. The eight apartments were priced at $35m when they were first marketed, five years ago, but the seven remaining have dropped to $19m. ‘I give the market five years to return to its 2008 level, when prices were 20–25% higher,’ says Jason Applewhite, agent for One Sandy Lane. ‘Prices are now more realistic and interest is from British, US and Russian buyers.’
Indeed, elsewhere, the 17,000sq ft six-bedroom beachfront property on Gibbes Beach, Four Winds, just sold for ‘less than $40m’ on an asking price of $55m and a Guinness family 23-acre property at Porters sold for $5m instead of $12m— a figure that would have been $16m in a ‘good market’, according to Paul Altman of Savills’s associates Altman Real Estate.
He says he has about a dozen off-the-market properties in the Four Winds price range, but adds that ‘the best buy in Barbados right now is Sunwatch, a six-bedroom, pavilion-style villa on the Sugar Hill Resort that has been reduced from $9.9m to $5.25m for a quick sale’. Barbados, concludes Alistair, ‘is still undervalued for UHNWs when compared with Miami or Saint-Tropez’.