Let’s Move To… The Caribbean
Back in the glamorous days of Concorde travel, British Airways’ Saturday morning flight to Barbados made perfect sense: the Caribbean was the holiday destination of choice for Britain’s wealthiest business travellers.
‘Since Winston Churchill and Jackie Onassis put Sandy Lane Hotel on the map in the Sixties, the Caribbean became a home from home for many high-profile families, many of whom have handed their beachfront estates down to the next generations,’ explains Chris Parra of One Caribbean Estates (onecaribbeanestates.com). Post-Covid, the appetite for Caribbean property is seeing a resurgence, he continues, with people discovering that the Caribbean is an idyllic place to work from home as well as to spend a holiday. ‘What was once a two or three week holiday has become a two or three month stay,’ agrees Edward de Mallet Morgan of Knight Frank (knightfrank.com).
The Caribbean Property Boom
The return of ‘wintering in the Caribbean’ has prompted a flurry of high value property sales, not only in Barbados but on Mustique, where Knight Frank is currently selling the Caribbean’s most expensive property for US $200 million, as well as Antigua and St Lucia.
‘Those working from home in a flat with limited outside space in London have realised that for the same money they can have a large house on a 50-acre beachfront estate in Barbados,’ Parra says. Living and working for stretches of the year in the Caribbean is not just a lifestyle choice, he continues, but can make financial sense for those concerned about wealth preservation, as there are business incentives, visa programmes and favourable tax regimes.
‘Younger buyers are seeing the benefits as well as those in their fifties and sixties – I recently sold a property on Sandy Lane Estate for more than $20 million,’ Parra continues.
Perfect For Family Life
Beachfront estates, specifically on white sand beaches, are most coveted by UK buyers, according to Nick Vanassche of Christie’s International Real Estate Caribbean Affiliates (christiesrealestate.com). For those looking to relocate from London to the Caribbean, Barbados is an obvious choice: the infrastructure and property market are sophisticated and there are world class restaurants and golf courses along with leading hospitals and schools.
‘There’s no compromise at all; there are top independent schools, Providence and Codrington, exceptional health care, a low crime rate and plenty to do,’ Parra says. While the most expensive properties now cost more than $40 million, buyers are still surprised by the value; even in today’s more competitive market it’s possible to find a four-bedroom family house on the beach for less than $3 million. ‘Wealth whispers on Barbados: it’s not showy,’ Parra explains. ‘It doesn’t matter if you live in a three-bedroom villa on Royal Westmoreland or a mansion on Sandy Lane. It’s all about the community.’
The Best of Luxury Living
Other Caribbean islands are also witnessing a hotter market; Christie’s Estates is seeing demand for beachfront estates in the British Virgin Islands, St Kitts and Nevis, and St Maarten, while Parra has noted increasing interest in Canouan in the Grenadines, which has attracted luxury brands including Mandarin Oriental and Soho House.
Robert Green of Sphere Estates (sphereestates.com) believes those looking for the buzz and sophistication of Barbados with more affordable house prices should look to St Lucia, which has direct flights to London, a vibrant culture and beautiful scenery plus a golden visa programme – residents pay no wealth or inheritance tax or tax on income from abroad. ‘It’s accessible and safe with stunning rainforest and the Pitons, a UNESCO World Heritage site,’ Green says.
At the new Cas en Bas Beach Resort, which borders a championship golf course and a spectacular one kilometre beach, freehold apartments start at $330,000 (casenbasbeachresort.com), while at Cabot Saint
Lucia, a new golf club and residential community on a wild 375-acre peninsula, they start at
$2.8 million (cabotsaintlucia.com).
While branded residences such as those at Cas en Bas Beach Resort (managed by Dream Hotel Group) are dominating the Caribbean’s luxury property market, buyers are also queuing for hideaway-style properties on private islands; Jumby Bay in Antigua, for example, Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos and Mustique in the Grenadines and St Vincent.
‘Mustique is a place where doors are not locked and no one bats an eyelid when you arrive at dinner barefoot, an island whose visitors both host wild and glamorous parties while also being one of the most family safe and friendly environments in the world,’ says de Mallet Morgan. ‘It’s a place where high profile people have low profile holidays.’ According to Roger Pritchard, of the Mustique Company, the island is experiencing a major uplift in property sales from the UK. ‘In an increasingly unpredictable global climate, a house on Mustique is the ultimate property legacy – security, enjoyment as well as a rock-solid asset for generations to come,’ he says.
The Final World
With so few properties available in these locations and prices higher than ever, James Burdess, of Savills Caribbean recommends buyers consider private estates such as Pearns Point on the west coast of Antigua (antiguapearnspoint.com), where there are a small number of plots still available; similarly Parra points buyers towards The Liming on the tiny island of Bequia in the Grenadines, an undulating 137-acre estate with seven deserted beaches and beachfront cottages costing from $8 million. ‘The equivalent would be worth more than $20 million on Mustique,’ he says.
Experts predict that prices in the Caribbean will keep rising due to a lack of resale homes available and the growing trend for working from home in paradise. ‘My clients get up early for work and finish by 2pm to spend the rest of the day on the golf course and beach,’ Parra says. ‘There’s no better place to raise a family – children here surf the ocean rather than the internet.’