Barbados and Beyond

By on March 25, 2013
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Finding that perfect vacation home in Barbados requires some ‘out of the box’ thinking. Laura Henderson gleans some nuggets of wisdom from Stephen Grant of Worldwide Dream Villas.

The old adage “you can’t please all of the people all of the time” has more than a hint of truth to it, but one property expert who refuses to live by this restrictive mantra is Stephen Grant, owner and Managing Director of Worldwide Dream Villas based in Holetown. Originally an hotelier, Grant, a seasoned connoisseur of the Caribbean, has built up a knowledge of the islands, including Barbados, over many years. “I rented my first villa on the west coast in St James to those seeking sun, sea, and tranquilly back in the 90s,” he explains. “As villa rentals increased, other owners expressed an interest in me sourcing additional luxury rentals on their behalf and I began to explore the opportunity – business took off and Barbados Dream Villas was born.”

With a burgeoning repeat clientele, Grant soon found increasing numbers of rental enquiries filtering in for other locations both in the Caribbean and further afield, which led to the launch of Worldwide Dream Villas in 2005. Today the agency has over 750 (continuously updated) luxury listings across the globe from hot spot havens such as South Africa, Malaysia and the Seychelles to European classics such as Portugal, Italy and Spain. Property owning clients in Barbados don’t miss out on the getaway experience either. For those who fancy a ‘quick trip’ away, Grant’s team can pull together a tailored shortlist of rental options from exclusive villa retreats such the Eden Rock in St Barths, to golf and sailing packages in St Lucia, Antigua, Grenada, even yacht charters in the Grenadines or BVI’s. He adds: “All properties are visited by either a member of staff or one of our local agents. If the property in question doesn’t meet our rigorous standards, we simply don’t include it in our portfolio. Individual bookings also take care of everything from bespoke itineraries to special occasion requests. All clients have to do is pack their case.”

Having established a portfolio of luxury villas and private islands for rental, the natural transition into specialist property search and sales has proven an “enriching experience.” Grant adds: “Not all properties come onto the market by conventional means, even more so when one is dealing with high-end stock. Instead vendors tend to forgo a public listing and go direct to validated purchasers, a process, which we facilitate, working closely with both buyer and seller.” Providing a personal service also applies to more conventional sales undertaken by the agency from new build villas and condos to beachfront homes and gated community re-sales. “WDV can help buyers through the sales negotiation process, as well as advising them on the nitty-gritty of the purchase process from appointing a solicitor and opening a local bank account to securing best spot foreign exchange rates and sourcing furnishings and staff.”

As to tracking down the hottest property prospects on the market – “Real estate in Barbados continues to attract serious investment with deluxe beachfront offerings such as St Peter’s Bay and golf and polo communities such as Apes Hill vying for investor attention. Further afield, Christophe Harbour in St Kitts looks to be a quality development with a mega marina and Tom Fazio championship Golf Course. Reservations are being taken now for 100 and 240 feet berths and home sites. Choosing a property is such a personal journey with so many factors to take into account. I always apply a liberal dose of logic and emotion – without both; a house is never truly a home.”

BOX OUT – TOP RENTAL TIPS

Start looking early – a year in advance isn’t too soon, particularly if you’re interested in peak season rentals over Xmas and New Year. Holidaymakers will often book the same house for the following year, so if you have your eye on a particular property, get your pitch in early.

Consider agents versus owners – going through a reputable agency gives you an assurance of quality that the property has been vetted. Local agencies invariably have ‘hands on’ knowledge of homes on their books, enabling you to compare and contrast a variety of options in one fell swoop.

Check service levels – rent direct and you run the risk of not having a responsive owner during your stay. If a problem develops, they may be thousands of miles away and not equipped to help. Agents, by contrast, are primed and ready to handle most rental misdemeanours from faulty plumbing to leaky roofs.

 Get online – review rental websites and get a feel for location choices, price points and property styles. The most helpful listings will not only provide ‘in depth’ details of the property, but additional information on the surrounding area, places of interest, recommended restaurants etc. Take time to view interior and exterior shots and scrutinise property descriptions to see what is provided by way of ‘extras’ – satellite TV, Jacuzzi bath, beach/sports equipment.

Choose your location wisely – consider the full implications of where you plan to stay. Beachfront locations tend to command a higher price and can be considerably hotter peak season than a less expensive hillside retreat with cooling breezes. Draw up a list of what’s important to you and flag up priorities when you talk to the agent or owner.

Photo credit: gusdiaz / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA