Every Caribbean island claims its own virtues. Barbados has old-school elegance, the Bahamas boasts a sophisticated infrastructure and St Lucia has its steep and beautiful rainforest.
Top of the tick list for the Leeward Island of Antigua is a reputation for some of the finest sailing in the Caribbean. Then there are the 365 soft sand beaches, a friendly, shabby-chic vibe - admittedly sometimes rather more shabby than chic - and direct flights from London. These charms brought 249,000 visitors last year, 71,000 of them from the UK, a figure the Antiguan government is keen to increase.
New hotels and residential resorts are on the way, with buyers encouraged by a Citizenship for Investment Programme, or CIP. Introduced in 2013, CIP offers residency to anyone spending £258,300 or more on an approved residential scheme. With residency comes visa-free access to 130 countries, including the UK and Canada. Chinese and Russians, in particular, have invested in huge numbers.
“From the Med and the US, we know that branded properties have a 20 to 30 per cent uplift, so the tie-up with The Setai is incredibly good news for owners,” says James Burdess of selling agents Savills. “Pearns Point will be a five-star resort with top service on an exceptionally beautiful, private site close to the airport. This is what international buyers want and so far all the buyers have purchased through CIP.”
Interest in Antigua has picked up significantly in the past year, says Nadia Dyson of sales and rental company Luxury Locations. The west coast is where most buyers want to be. One of the most established west coast resorts is Jolly Harbour, where facilities include a marina, an 18-hole golf course, shops and restaurants.
Jolly Harbour has about 600 completed homes, costing from £1.29 million to £3.8 million. Luxury Locations has an older two-bedroom terrace house, in need of updating but with a sun deck and 30ft boat berth, for £161,500 with a monthly service charge of £200. It rents for 20 to 25 weeks a year, at about £645 a week.
Orange Limited owns the infrastructure, services and all common land at Jolly Harbour. Over the next few years it plans to upgrade the marina, introducing a Serena Williams Tennis Academy and building 32 one- and two-bedroom waterfront Marina Residences priced from £387,300.