The Caribbean Club Set

By on April 8, 2013
Freedom Bay Resort sits at the foot of the Piton's with stunning views over the Caribbean Sea which resort guests can enjoy from luxury infinity swimming pools

A tropical climate is no longer the only temptation luring investors to the West Indies. Restyled as lifestyle boltholes, big name islands are increasingly targeting niche interest groups

Lifestyle resorts’ are rapidly acquiring a share of the international property market wallet, with industry gurus predicting rich pickings for savvy niche developers. While the archetypal golf villa remains the acknowledged ‘recro-niche’ for European buyers, an exotic mix of long-haul leisure locations are now drawing investor interest away from the tees and greens, towards a range of specialist second home options. “Niche resorts are a rapidly growing sector,” says property consultant, James Simpson, “with the baby boomer generation in particular looking increasingly towards second home ownership within a community environment that offers high quality leisure pursuits as part of the package.”

St Lucia

One destination living the ‘recro’ mantra is St Lucia, voted the fourth most beautiful island in the world by Condé Nast magazine and attracting high-wattage celebrities such as Mary J Blige and model Christy Turlington. A cluster of award winning spa developments on this high green island has already given St Lucia global brand recognition with a strong global investor base now following suit. A new premier resort and a ‘new direction’ for St Lucia with shared ownership is the just launched landmark resort of Freedom Bay.

Located at the foot of the iconic Twin Pitons on the south west coast and set in 77 acres of tropical rainforest (part of a UNESCO listed World Heritage site), this low density development managed by the award winning Six Senses Resorts and Spa Group will comprise 29 one and two-bedroom hotel villas each with their own pool, together with 50 three and four-bedroom detached luxury villas and a further 90 turnkey apartments; all with hotel concierge service. On-site leisure amenities in the mix include fine-dining restaurants, a marine jetty, diving school, tennis courts, in addition to a ‘focal point’ Sixth Senses wellness centre built around a natural waterfall and rain-forest spa.

Residences “high on design-style and a luxury fit” are billed to offer all the pleasures of a private home combined with five star hotel service including 24-hour concierge drawing from a pool of dedicated staff: be it a butler, housekeeper, chef or gardener.

The fractional ownership model is structured to suit both investment and lifestyle buyers, split into weekly fractions for personal usage or a rental option that carries an 8% rental guarantee for up to 3 years followed by 50% of hotel villa occupancy income. “For those choosing to rent there won’t be any maintenance fees to pay on top as this is covered in the rental premium,” explains property consultant Karen Griffin of asset investment consultancy AJP Worldwide (www.ajpworldwide.com). “Whole villa ownership is also available from £660,000.”

Early-bird investors in Phase One can also take advantage of special pre-launch fractional ownership pricing, which represents a 25% discount on current list prices starting from £17,500 for a one-bed hotel villa, rising to £35,000 for a three-bed villa, with a sponsored exit strategy. “Clients who wish to use another property at the resort for a holiday or to visit at a different time of the year also have the option of exchanging their weeks,” adds Griffin. “The resort has an agreement with RCI (the world’s largest holiday exchange organisation) – with access to over 4,000 resorts across the globe.”

Antigua

An island that has shunned the holistic temptations on terra firma and set its sights on carving out a niche among the buy-to-sail fraternity, Antigua boasts a rich nautical heritage, and is already a home-from-home for highbrow boats of all shapes, sizes and nationalities, with English Harbour the venue for one of the world’s foremost maritime events, Antigua Sailing Week, as well as the annual Charter Yacht Show in December. Just 14 miles long, the largest of the English-speaking Leeward Islands, also offers year-round sailing opportunities. A recession–averse change in tack by government has seen a further release of state-owned land, once rich in sugar and now primed for residential development, but the sailing theme is never far from the property developer drawing board. In a sheltered Atlantic cove on the east of the island, NonSuch Bay, a 40-acre undulating development of beachside apartments, villas and townhouses is taking shape. The designs mix the colonial with the Caribbean, using natural building materials and featuring vast wrap-around decked verandas. Facilities include a restaurant, marina, tennis courts and communal pools. Two-bedroom apartments are selling for £355,000. Jumby Bay by contrast, is a fully inclusive resort set on a 300-acre island two miles off the coast of Antigua, but nearly a third of the island is home to the 50 privately owned suites and villas of Jumby Bay Resort. Put on the property map by tycoon owner Robin Leach, presenter of the US TV show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, the place has become a celeb magnet with a beachfront pad setting you back upwards of £12m.