It’s a mistake to look at the Caribbean as one homogeneous group of palm tree-ringed islands blessed with long white-sand beaches. Topographically, geographically and culturally they vary widely, and the islands have different temperaments.
The market for homes on the islands is similarly mixed. Generally, the northern Caribbean – the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) – is driven by buyers from North America, for obvious geographical reasons. However, while the Turks and Caicos and the BVI will be lifestyle choices for those looking for picture-perfect beaches and houses with wide-angle lens sea views, the Bahamas and Cayman Islands are full-time options for families in search of good schools and excellent healthcare.
The south invites more varied interest: there are the French in St Barths, the English in Barbados and, due to its sailing fraternity, a mix of nationalities in Antigua. The new story is the Italians in Canouan. When the Swiss-Italian businessman Antonio Saladino opened the Raffles resort and a Tom Fazio-designed golf course, a touch of Portofino glamour arrived with them.
Barbados – and, in particular, the world-famous stretch of coastline from Sandy Lane to Speightstown – is always popular with British buyers. Here lies the greatest concentration of fun and wealth on the island, and it’s where all the finest restaurants and the best shopping haunts are to be found. Houses on this stretch, such as the four new villas at Beachlands, command the highest prices on the island. Not only can you walk up the beach for supper, but you can head to Holders for the festival or Apes Hill for the polo and return home to watch hawksbill turtles nesting (in season) on the beach outside your sitting room.
Finally, one to watch is Grenada. There is a medical university on the island and that helps to lend it a unique atmosphere; there’s a young vibe and everyone looks like they’re having fun. It’s less sophisticated than Barbados, but for anyone who’s in the market for something at once authentically Caribbean with all the creature comforts of a spectacular resort on standby, this is certainly an exciting prospect.