This summer marked the 60th year of continuous British Airways flights from London to Barbados. Three centuries after the first English settlers created a base on the west coast, this 21-mile long, sand-edged island remains our favourite in the West Indies, attracting 180,000 Britons each year.
Its popularity shows no sign of waning. Barbados is one of the safest and wealthiest of the Caribbean islands, and a favourite with stars such as Beyoncé. Tourism for April was up 11 per cent year on year, while this winter BA will increase the number of weekly flights from 10 to 12.
Known as “Little England”, Barbados shares our educational, legal and judicial systems — and our Queen. It is one of the safest and certainly the wealthiest of Caribbean islands and its roll call of famous visitors runs from Winston Churchill to Beyoncé.
Barbados, it seems, covers all the bases. “It is so much more than just a beach destination,” says Kieran Kelly of Chestertons Barbados. “We have international polo, an opera season, culture, cricket, and great golf courses. There is always something going on. It is the island other islands see as a benchmark.”
In property, too, the choices are wide from south coast flats for £105,000 up to a 10-bedroom beachfront mansion sold by Chesterton this year for £30 million. Apartments remain 15 to 20 per cent below their 2007 prices with plenty for sale, but at all price points, sales numbers have increased — by up to 250 per cent year on year.
The best known hotel in Barbados: Sandy Lane hotel is still a favourite with celebrities, millionaire entrepreneurs and captains of industry
The Platinum Coast
The west coast, often called the Platinum Coast, is home to Sandy Lane, the best known hotel in Barbados — and possibly in the Caribbean. Created by a British MP in 1945, it is still a favourite with celebrities, millionaire entrepreneurs and captains of industry. The former Sandy Lane sugar plantation is also home to Sandy Lane Estate, a collection of 200 large plots and 70 impressive mansions in manicured gardens. There are three world-class golf resorts on the estate where villas sell for up to £60 million.
Bask in blue: the interior of Moondance has been refurbished to a high standard
Moondance is a seven-bedroom house half a mile from the beach, on the market with Chestertons for £3,581,000. This classic colonial home, understated yet comfortable, was fully refurbished in 2012, and wide mahogany trees provide shade in the two-acre gardens. It rents well from £1,200 a night.
“Sandy Lane Estate provides an exclusivity and privacy you just don’t get in many places,” says Kelly. Directly on the beach, Settlers Barbados is a development by the O’Hara and Capaldi families who own the luxury Coral Reef Club and Sandpiper Hotel. Twelve new four- and five-bedroom villas in communal gardens are priced from £3,912,000 Interiors will be by English designer Helen Green and the management company will run an optional rental pool.
From £240,750: apartments at the Royal Westmoreland golf resort and spa
Sales are also strong at Royal Westmoreland, the first resort to entice upmarket buyers inland. The 750-acre golf resort and spa five minutes from Mullins Beach started selling property 20 years ago and has completed 205 homes, from flats through to substantial detached villas, with 150 more to build. Most owners are British, including golfer Ian Woosnam and England football captain Wayne Rooney.
“Royal Westmoreland is the sweet spot of Barbados,” claims Kim Goddard from the resort. “Holidaymakers might want the beach but homeowners care about lifestyle and activities. We have good completed facilities — tennis, golf and restaurants — in a beautifully landscaped and secure setting.”
Prices at Royal Westmoreland start from £240,750 for one- to three-bedroom apartments. Townhouses are £600,000 and detached villas in private gardens start from £1,143,000. Goddard says that a rental period of 12 to 16 weeks is achievable, and annual service charges for apartments start from £5,600.
Royal Westmoreland: 01524 889341 (www.royalwestmoreland.com)
Chestertons International: 020 7201 2071 (www.chestertons-international.com)