St Lucia’s blue skies, lush interior and January heat of up to 26C are just a direct flight away from London. Tourism figures, up 6.6 per cent for the year just ended, reflect the enduring appeal of this 27-mile by 14-mile Caribbean island that caters for affluent couples, families and sailors with some seriously upmarket hotels.
THE PERFECT BEACH
From its west coast location on the edge of the rainforest to its idyllic sandy beach curving between the magical Pitons, 10,000-year-old volcanic mountains that are a Unesco World Heritage Site, Sugar Beach is indeed special.
It opened 30 years ago and today, under Viceroy’s management, the hotel boasts a £64 million makeover and charges from £643 a night in high season. Hollywood stars have stayed, yet Sugar Beach is an unshowy, private hotel with impressive annual occupancy over 80 per cent.
Accommodation is in 78 one- and two-bedroom cottages with private plunge pools. Some have sea views, others look towards the Pitons.
Newly released this month are six freehold rental cottages priced from £764,300. Owners have four weeks personal use each year, two in high season, but otherwise the hotel will rent them. These are priced to generate a five per cent net return.
Nearer the beach, Sugar Beach Residences are two- to four-bedroom detached villas of 1,800 to 2,800 square feet, built to order. Prices start from £1.76 million. Also available are four off-plan Glenconner Residences, larger beachfront villas, from £3.5 million.
Resort facilities include tennis courts, gym, a rainforest spa, scuba diving and watersports, a kids’ club and three restaurants. Property director Penny Strawson says: “Being part of a five-star resort means our owners have effortless access to every amenity and activity.”
BUZZING RODNEY BAY
Cruise ships dock in the north where middle-market hotels line the beaches. This is the busiest, buzziest part of the island with 44 restaurants in Rodney Bay alone. Nearby are cinemas, shops and a golf course.
A former sugar plantation, Cap Estate at St Lucia’s northern tip has 250 homes, mostly detached villas in grounds of at least an acre. Prices range from £191,000 for two-bedroom flats up to £6 million for substantial mansions.
Hibiscus House on the Cap Estate rents from £1,447 a night. Its tropical gardens have direct sea access while inside are six en suite bedrooms. The British family who own it have built a new house nearby and are selling Hibiscus House for £3,152,700 reduced from £3,789,600 through Savills (www.savills.com).
Flats and villas at Allamanda, a gated development overlooking the sea, also on the Cap Estate, start from £379,000 through Sotheby’s (www.stluciasothebysrealty.com)