Barbados is the most established property market in the Caribbean, a small island with a big, worldwide profile. Known as "Little England", it's where the old, colonial past and inherited wealth meets the new money on the beach.
So after last year's economic turmoil, how is Barbados facing 2010 - and what does it have to offer?
The pricey west coast
Property prices across the island have fallen by an average of 22 per cent from the peaks of summer 2007, while the mix of homes on offer has become more colourful, says Dereck Foster, of Bajan Services. Five minutes' stroll from the beach in St Peter, the district of Heywoods has a mix of expat and Bajan residents.
A three-bedroom bungalow built four years ago is for sale at £365,600 through Bajan Services. It has a garden and garage and is a fraction of the price of flats and town houses in the marina at nearby Port St Charles - an established, gated coastline development and a favourite with the sailing community.
At the other end of the scale on the exclusive west coast, a six-bedroom beachfront house in prestigious St James is on the market for £4.2 million. "The west coast is the most desirable part of the most established island in the Caribbean," says Foster.
For those looking for lock-up-and-leave value for money in a smart, new development, Beachlands is a freshly launched off-plan project on a prime beachfront site north of the famous Sandy Lane. It will be a five-storey building with 55 two- to four-bedroom flats featuring contemporary design and traditional Bajan, pale coral stone. Prices, through Knight Frank, start from £1.2 million and six have been reserved by European buyers. The developer is UK-based Lewis Trust Group.
The lively south coast
"People think Barbados is all about west coast glitz but that's only a part of the story," says Kathy-Dawn Burke of Terra Caribbean. "On the family-friendly south coast, property is half the price, there's more of a year-round buzz and restaurants are far better value."
Terra is selling Sapphire Beach, a newly completed resort of 54 apartments close to bustling St Lawrence Gap with prices from £362,600. The flats all front on to beautiful Dover Beach and share a gym and pool. Twenty-one of the two- and three-bedroom units have been sold to a mix of Irish, British and Canadian buyers. This area appeals to younger buyers, says Burke, and rents are strong, with 15 weeks easy to achieve each year.
What do you do if you own 470 acres of a 17th-century sugar plantation that's no longer economically viable? If you are Sir Charles Williams you create one of Barbados's finest sporting estates. The polo-playing entrepreneur established one of the island's largest building firms and in 1981 bought Apes Hill plantation where he lives with his family.
Apes Hill Club is 1,000 feet above sea level with views to both the Caribbean and the rugged Atlantic from its dramatic championship golf course - complete with green monkeys hiding in the wooded gullies.
There's a polo pitch, equestrian centre and, coming soon, a west coast beach club. Property includes well-built semi-detached villas for £670,300 to off-plan detached homes in acre plots at Moonshine Ridge for £2.25 million upwards. Plots start from £243,700 for a third of an acre.
"Once you get away from the beach you find a different, quieter Barbados," says James Price of Knight Frank. "Apes Hill is one of the highest points on the island with cooling breezes, yet it's only 10 minutes from the beach. To date, 133 of the 300 properties have sold."
Bajan Services through Knight Frank, www.knightfrank.com; 020 7629 8171.
Beachlands: www.beachlandsbarbados.com; 020 7629 8171.
Apes Hill Club: www.apeshillclub.com.
Terra Caribbean: www.terracaribbean.com, 001 246 419 3600.
A home away from home
In 2005 after several years of happy family holidays in Barbados, Karen and Robert Dolemore, farmers from Bedfordshire, bought some land to build their own holiday home.
They now own a three-bedroom, single-storey house in Heywoods, a small estate in popular St Peter on the west coast. Similar houses cost from £365,600. "We didn't want to live on a gated development," says Karen, 46, (left). "We feel more at home living with local people. I feel safer here than I do in the UK."
Building the house was relatively straightforward and though the prestigious west coast beaches are close, the Dolemores and their four children aged 19 to 16 find the life affordable. "I try to buy local food. A girl in the market gives me recipes for okra and other Bajan produce."