Celebrating 50 years of independence and boasting a unique history, diverse landscapes and stunning new marinas, Barbados is drawing back the celebrities and superyacht owners from high-profile neighbours such as St Barths and Antigua.
The site of Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen’s imposing 126-metre (413ft 3in) OCTOPUS docked at Bridgetown Port no longer draws looks of surprise, but is instead quite commonplace, frequently surrounded by other superyachts.
Barbados’s west coast, known as the Platinum Coast, with its fabulous beaches, is a particular hot spot for celebrities, royalty and politicians. Winston Churchill, Aristotle Onassis and Princess Margaret were regulars of old and more recently Simon Cowell, Lewis Hamilton, Wayne Rooney, Roman Abramovich and Bajan pop icon Rihanna have been spotted sunning themselves. A popular hangout is The Tides restaurant, situated steps from the sea and which offers rare, local dishes, such as yellowfin tuna with Tobico caviar, and situated just minutes from Holetown’s lively nightclubs and bars.
“Barbados has regrown to become a leading megayacht location in the Caribbean and is the reason two major luxury marina resorts have been built on the West Coast. Port St. Charles and Port Ferdinand offer yacht owners the finest amenities in the Caribbean,” says Kieran Kelly, Chairman of luxury travel company Caribbean Collection.
Port Ferdinand Marina and Luxury Residences is a stunning new 16-acre enclave, offering 82 luxury residences and 120 berths. With 2.74 metres (8ft 9in) of draft it can take boats of every category and up to a maximum length of 30.38 metres (99ft 6in), which is unusual for a closed marina.
“In addition we have built a bridge that allows yachts in and out,” explains Alistair Brown, Sales and Marketing Director, UNNA Luxury Resorts & Residences, who are the owners of Port Ferdinand. “We offer the ability to clear customs and the experience is safe, secure and with full services.”
The extensive range of facilities include world-class fine dining at the newly opened 13°/59° restaurant, which combines Bajan ingredients with modern cookery techniques, holistic treatments at the Sandbox Tree Spa, and a golf simulator.
“The homes are 14ft [4.26 metres] above dockside, which means neither they, nor people on the yachts, are overlooked, ensuring complete privacy,” says Brown. “It is a very exciting place to be.”
He adds that Port Ferdinand is proud to have recently won the award for Best Residential Development in The Americas stage of The International Property Awards 2015-16.
CULTURE AND HISTORY
Luxury amenities and activities such as these combined with the wild, untamed beauty of the east coast, battered by the Atlantic, make the island a popular destination. Its history is also fascinating. The most easterly in the Caribbean chain, Barbados was colonized by the British in 1625. As Bridgetown established itself as one of the most important British ports in the world, English laws, customs and political systems were so commonplace the island became known as ‘Little England’. The statue of Nelson in Bridgetown was placed there 27 years before the one in London’s Trafalgar Square.
These days it is sailors of a different kind who enjoy the sunshine all year round. There are three championship golf courses, including Royal Westmoreland, which has ocean views from every hole plus its own beach club at Mullins Bay, as well as fine dining restaurants such as the world-renowned The Cliff, set atop a dramatic cliff overlooking the sea just north of capital Bridgetown, and Cin Cin By The Sea, the island’s premier seafood hotspot. Those in the know head to the unspoilt hidden gem Gibbes Beach, with its desirable beachfront villas, or the tranquil Paynes Bay Beach. Shopping is all duty free for visitors, who can stock up on designer goods in stores such as Louis Vuitton and Ralph Lauren in Holetown and luxury jewellers in Bridgetown.
There is an abundance of outdoor activities, including swimming with sea turtles, deep-sea fishing and scuba diving to explore shipwrecks in four key locations around the island, most situated around Bridgetown’s Carlisle Bay. For culture, there’s Holders Season in March, an annual performing arts festival in the gardens of 17th-Century Holders Plantation House that includes opera, jazz and comedy.
Polo clubs such as the exclusive Apes Hill attract celebrities and royalty, including Princes William and Harry, while the racecourse at the historic Garrison Savannah, close to Bridgetown, has been the home of racing in Barbados since 1845 and holds regular meets where thousands of exuberant spectators enjoy not just the racing, but an array of entertainment and festivities.
The Barbados Yacht Club, originally opened by Sir Charles O’Brien in 1924, also sponsors an annual boat racing programme, and offers dining and recreational facilities, including bar and restaurant, boatshed and tennis courts.
Barbados is also noted for its nightlife. In Holetown, there’s the popular Limegrove Lifestyle Centre – the Lime Bar here is always busy on a Friday night. The sprawling outdoor shopping centre also has many bars and restaurants and is a great place for slipping between designer boutiques, such as Ralph Lauren, Burberry and Cartier, and plenty of gourmet restaurants and bars. Over in Bridgetown, there’s the Harbour Lights beachfront hotspot with live music and dancers.
And for those who wish to take their yachts for a little cruise, there’s the benefit of nearby Grenada, and a host of smaller private islands accessible to superyacht owners, such as the Palm Island Resort in the Grenadines, home to the elegant Royal Palm restaurant.
An increasing number of yacht owners who have sampled and enjoyed the highlights of Barbados are captivated enough to want to buy a slice of island life.
“Demand for property has increased considerably,” says Jeanie Mahon of Knight Frank’s Barbados office. “The US$10m-plus [€8.9m] market continues to prove steady and there are no signs of this abating.”
For those who wish to take their yacht for a cruise, there’s the benefit of nearby Grenada, and a host of smaller private islands accessible to superyacht owners
Barbados has kept its reputation as one of the best island destinations during and post-recession. “We have an established infrastructure, daily direct flights to and from the UK, USA and Canada and a low crime rate. People say they feel safe here, which is an increasingly important factor these days,” adds Mahon.
Aside from safe home ownership, the other advantage is no capital gains or inheritance tax and, if owners wish to rent their properties, the yield ranges from 5% to 8%. Ownership is based on UK law and all properties are sold on a freehold basis. Prices on the west coast of Barbados range from US$300,000 (€269,600) to US$150m (€134.8m) for a home.
The Barbados Government has also introduced Special Entry and Reside Permits (SERPs) for qualifying high-net-worth individuals – with assets of at least US$5m (€4.4m) – and their dependents, allowing them to be residents in the country with little or no restrictions.
“St. Peter’s on the west coast is quickly becoming the place to be. There have been recent developments of luxury resort properties, marinas, beachfront resorts, and there are further prime pockets along the west coast,” says Brown from UNNA Luxury Resorts & Residences. New developments include the luxury gated Battaleys Mews in Mullins, unveiled in late 2015, with its colonial style properties each offering a spa pool and private terrace.
“Many yacht owners find that the combined factors of having a high-end lifestyle, convenience of Grantley Adams International Airport with flights from all over the world, and excellent healthcare for locals and visitors make it the ideal destination for a second home in the Caribbean,” says Kim Goddard, Director of Sales at fivestar resort Royal Westmoreland.
With amenities such as these, Barbados boasts an abundance of reasons for superyacht charterers and owners to consider the Platinum Coast a destination of choice again.
This article was first published in the issue 2 of YPI printed magazine "360° Magazine"