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If it’s sand rather than snow that you crave, stake your claim on these distant shores.

by Zoe Dare Hall
Come the winter months, some people barely shiver. Instead of cosying up around the fire, they lock up and leave Britain, head for a totally tropical winter, then stay there for as long as they can afford.

Top of the wish list for these seasonal migrants is the Caribbean. And by the Caribbean, we mean Barbados, with its sophistication and familiar Britishness, exotic beauty and laid-back charm, all within an easy eight-hour direct flight. While our spending power may be down on last summer’s high — a B$300,000, or US$150,000, property would have cost £87,000 back then, but is now £98,000, says Moneycorp’s commercial director, Marianne Gilmore — prices have fallen by 25% since the crash. “People have started to buy again,” says Christian de Meillac, of Knight Frank’s Caribbean desk. “Some of the best stock on the island is available.”

Most people want to be near Holetown, and the beautiful beaches and restaurants of the west coast. But you’ll see a big drop-off in prices simply by looking on the other side of the main coast road, and every now and again an affordable option springs up in a prime location. Mullins Grove is just that — 200yd from Mullins beach and spa, with 12 off-plan apartments due for completion in mid-2016. Prices start at US$249,000 (020 7993 4883,

Families in search of a holiday home with five-star luxury and concierge services should look further up the west coast, near Speightstown. At the beachfront St Peter’s Bay, huge three-bedroom flats start at US$1.95m (0800 097 0847, Buyers can apply for residency, which has attractive tax implications.

For a development with a different kind of rarity value, consider Beach Houses, on the wild and wonderful east coast. It’s a new project of 62 beachfront villas by the developers behind the nearby Crane Resort, built on the 1% of land on this shoreline that is not protected as part of a national park. You’ll need at least US$2.9m to buy a beach house with private pool outright, but for US$62,380, you can buy a fractional share offering four weeks’ usage a year (00 1 246 416 6560,

If you’re looking for something further off the beaten track, de Meillac tips the British Virgin Islands. “They’re a bit bohemian, very private, and no one wonders who you are there. There’s a local feel, so you’re not treated as a tourist, and there are no designer brands. It’s all sea, sand and sailing.” Sound good? It takes two planes to get there from the UK, via Antigua, but if the BVIs still appeal, two-bedroom villas at Oil Nut Bay, on lush, pristine Virgin Gorda, start at $1.95m (020 7861 1097,

Or you could forget that second flight and stop in Antigua. Its sociable sailing hub, Jolly Harbour, is having an overhaul that will include new properties from the $500,000 mark, says James Burdess, who runs Savills estate agency’s Caribbean desk. “There’s a wonderful beach nearby, you can have your boat at the end of your dock, and it’s affordable. Since Antigua launched its Citizenship by Investment programme last year, it has seen a wave of foreign, particularly Asian, investment, with developers targeting the $400,000-plus market. It has brought new energy to the island.”

If the Indian Ocean’s tropical climate and relaxed lifestyle is more your idea of paradise, Mauritius — where about 10% of buyers are British, according to Savills — has plenty of new properties on IRS (Integrated Resort Scheme) developments, which offer the chance to apply for residency. That means low income tax and no capital gains or inheritance tax.

Le Parc de Mont Choisy Golf & Beach Estate is the latest luxury arrival in Grand Baie, set on a former sugar plantation on the beachfront, with the only golf resort in the north of the island. Two-bedroom flats start at £335,000 (020 7016 3740,

Other IRS resorts with property available to foreign buyers are the beachfront Anahita, on the east coast, with an Ernie Els-designed golf course and apartments from £365,000 (, and Azuri, an oceanfront five-star “lifestyle village” in the north of the island, which offers a guaranteed net annual rental yield of 5%. Flats there start at £330,000 (

Mauritius is a popular escape for South African buyers, but they have plenty of mesmerising beach spots of their own on the “Platinum Riviera” near Cape Town. Camps Bay, a beach resort with Table Mountain as its backdrop and the young, relaxed vibe of a mini Malibu, commands some of the highest prices on the coast.

The modern, minimalist Camps Bay Beach villas, which have rooftop infinity pools and sit a few yards from the golden sands, start at £2.1m (00 27 21 590 3916, Head down the peninsula to Hout Bay, however, and a two-bedroom flat in a secure lock-up-and-leave complex on one of the world’s most scenic coastal routes, Chapman’s Peak Drive, can be yours for £383,000 (

Finally, here’s one for wine and food lovers: the fast-selling Nooitgedacht Village, a Mediterranean-style project in Stellenbosch, a 40-minute drive from Cape Town. It’s taking shape on one of the town’s oldest wine estates, and its developer, Gerhardt Jooste, director of Prosperito, says prices have risen by 43% in 12 months. Two-bedroom garden apartments start at £88,000 (00 27 861 000202,


Originally published on 25 February, 2015 in Sunday Times HOME.