For people and workplaces all over the world, the pandemic provided the perfect chance for permanent change and a way to forge new lifestyles. For Barbados, it turned out to be an opportunity for island-wide reinvention.
Luxury Vacation and Relocation to Barbados
22nd November 2023
Breathtaking scenery, an enviable climate, and world-class properties and facilities make beautiful Barbados a magnet for people looking for vacation or relocation — for business and for pleasure.
Presented by One Caribbean Estates
In the hands of its much-admired prime minister Mia Mottley — who, last year, won re-election by a landslide and was named one of Time magazine’s most influential 100 people — Barbados has seen 2,655 people granted Welcome Stamp visas, launched during lockdown in 2020 to encourage remote workers to relocate to the island. In 2021, it waved goodbye to the monarchy and became the world’s newest republic. It is “now playing on the world stage as a fully independent country,” says Chris Parra, Barbados-born-and-bred founder of the independent estate agency One Caribbean Estates, established in 2014.
While Barbados has, for several decades, been a luxury bolthole for old-money British families and entertainment stars, it offers more than just a luxurious winter escape.
“Our prime minister has been on a roll, forging trade deals and making connections,” says Parra, mentioning Dubai’s £122 million investment in Barbados’s airport expansion, and Saudi Arabia’s talks with Mottley on spearheading joint green-energy initiatives.
“Barbados has made leaps and bounds in establishing itself as a business and financial hub for the Caribbean, inspired by Dubai’s model of doing business quickly and seamlessly, but without being showy or blingy,” he adds. Parra launched his career 23 years ago, selling golf and beachfront properties on the prestigious Sandy Lane Estate, and has now expanded to 25 Caribbean islands, with more than 100 affiliate agents worldwide, as CEO and founder of One Caribbean Estates. He will soon come full circle when he launches a new project at Sandy Lane. Although it is still under wraps, he says “it is the first of its kind, and will elevate the super-prime residential offering in Barbados.”
There are financial incentives too. Mortgage rates through local banks are currently around 3.5% and, though not a tax-free haven, Barbados’s tax rates for offshore companies are 0-5.5%. Those who have been granted Welcome Stamp visas pay no local income tax or capital gains tax as they must work remotely for companies outside of Barbados.
The island “has bounced back 10 times stronger post-pandemic, and change is happening at warp speed,” Parra says. “It will be a very different place still in five years’ time — but without losing its charm. Demand for property is stronger than ever, particularly among British buyers. Most are semi-retired, often from finance or property-developer backgrounds, but we’re also seeing affluent, younger investors in their 30s or 40s who are more interested in how they spend their money and enjoy the lifestyle that comes with it, rather than have it sitting in a bank.”
Most international buyers (70%) are from the UK. Canada is next at 10%, and the rest are a global smattering. They come for year-round warm weather “without threat of hurricanes or earthquakes,” Parra says, as well as world-class golf resorts, such as Sandy Lane and Royal Westmoreland, and a vibrant culinary scene, with beachfront stalwart The Cliff, for example, recently reopening with Michelin-starred executive chef Matt Worswick.
“Now foreign buyers have realised they can work here too,” says Parra. The island ranks sixth in the Savills Executive Nomad Index of destinations that attract globetrotting CEOs and business owners seeking great air connectivity, fast wifi speeds, enviable climate, a family-friendly lifestyle and a good range of prime rental properties. “They can finish work at 1pm, play golf, then have dinner in a beautiful beachfront restaurant,” says Parra. “It’s all about health, wellness and lifestyle now".
“The island has always done a really good job of making sure that international visitors and locals integrate well and work well together. People here welcome foreign investment as it creates jobs — there is currently a lot of work for private chefs, as people enjoy having a fine-dining experience at home, and there are always lots of jobs for butlers and housekeepers.”
For the wealthiest buyers, there are properties available off-market for $100 million (around £80 million), says Parra, who recently handled one of the island’s biggest sales: Beachlands, a $32 million (£26 million) beachfront villa. He is currently promoting One Beachlands, a 12,000-sq-ft beachfront mansion designed by renowned architect Doug Luke, with interiors by Terri Archer of Archer’s Hall. Completed in August 2023, this stunning residence features a 75-ft pool, private gym and cinema. Situated just north of Sandy Lane Hotel, in the heart of Holetown and near top-notch amenities such as Sandy Lane Country Club and Limegrove Lifestyle Center, and The Tides and The Cliff restaurants, it epitomises luxurious west-coast beachfront living (price on application).
While Barbados may be changing, however, the property wishlist for ultra-wealthy buyers remains unaltered. “If money’s no object, it’s Sandy Lane or west-coast beachfront,” says Parra. “People want to be within walking distance of the beach and close to Holetown’s restaurants. And they want something that says they’re in Barbados, not just in a glass box that you could have anywhere in the world. They want layouts that work, multiple kitchens including inside and outside barbecue areas, a home office, cinema, spa and gym. Increasingly there’s demand for first-world standards — which means high-tech houses that offer a great experience and no hassle, and someone to manage their rentals when they aren’t there.”
For those who want resort living with sea views, Royal Westmoreland remains high on the list for Parra. He is marketing Tatters, a six-bed, 6,500-sq-ft house currently under construction and available for $12.5 million (£10 million), fully furnished, on one of the best ridge plots to come up in 25 years, he says. A multi-million-dollar budget isn’t a prerequisite to enjoy Bajan luxury, however. With $80,000 (£65,000), you can buy a fractional-ownership apartment on the Royal Westmoreland Estate, 2km inland from Holetown, allowing two weeks’ usage a year. “You get the luxury lifestyle without the big outlay,” says Parra.
For around $400,000 (£330,000), he’d recommend Alora, a west-coast resort, where that budget will stretch to a “stylish, modern, two-bed apartment within walking distance of the beach.” For $1 million (£800,000), he suggests Mullins Bay, a gated development close to the beach. Or for $2 million (£1.6 million) the sweet spot for most of Parra’s buyers as that’s the entry point for permanent residency with a Special Entry and Reside Permit (SERP), he’d suggest a three-bed beachfront condo in the newly revamped Saint Peter’s Bay, or a penthouse in Schooner Bay.
Environmentally minded buyers are branching out to the wilder, less developed east coast, where Parra is marketing an eco-lifestyle lodge set among palms and gullies near Bathsheba for $2 million (£1.6 million). Those looking for a business opportunity may be interested in the Atlantic Hotel. The famous 1800s east coast stalwart in the fishing village of Tent Bay is renowned for its Sunday lunches on its seafront terrace and is currently on sale for $3 million (£2.5 million).
Barbados offers trophy properties of every sort and is increasingly attracting ultra-high-net-worth individuals. But even as it shifts up a gear in its super-prime offering, the island will never be ostentatious, says Parra. “Even the mega-mansions are hidden behind huge walls and foliage,” he explains. “Barbados has prestige without the show-off glitz.”