There is little doubt that the world-class quality of the golf courses, coupled with the sea, fine cuisine, quality international schools, friendly people and the safe openness of Barbados, has been a key driver in attracting some very wealthy people and FDI to Barbados in recent years.
By Roddy Carr
October 28, 2020
Of the four continents that I have lived in around the world, the lilt in the Bajan accent is the closest thing to a soft West Cork accent that I have ever heard. Perhaps that is no great surprise, given that so many Irish people were shipped to Barbados by Oliver Cromwell in the mid- 1600s to serve as indentured servants. Over the centuries their descendants made their mark on society, so much so that the main pillars of Barbadian life today – the church, the family, the ‘craic’ (doing something for the pure fun of it) horses and ‘liming’ (hanging out over a few drinks) – are not dissimilar to Ireland. That is probably why the Irish feel so comfortable here, and why this connection has led to over US$1 billion of FDI by the Irish into Barbados over the years.
The crown jewel of these investments is the iconic Sandy Lane Resort, with its two Tom Fazio golf courses and a stunning six-star hotel. The exclusive Green Monkey golf course carved out of an old coral stone quarry, is quite spectacular and qualifies as one of the few ‘trophy’ golf courses in the Caribbean. The Sandy Lane Country Club, which hosted the 2007 World Cup of Golf, is a pure five-star experience.
Just up the road on the ‘platinum’ west coast as it’s known, is Royal Westmoreland, the most successful high- end real estate golf development on the island. It’s a Robert Trent Jones Jnr. designed golf course and probably the best he has designed. The challenging course is surrounded by impressive villas that are home to the rich and famous, many of whom call Barbados their second home.
Directly up the hill, just 10 minutes away and close to the island’s highest point, lies the hidden gem of Apes Hill, nestled among hillsides and deep winding gullies that are populated by families of monkeys, birds, and an abundance of tropical foliage. This beautiful natural environment, together with the dramatic vistas over the wild east coast and Atlantic Ocean, make it arguably the most spectacular golf experience in the Caribbean. Several holes on the course are bordered by open pastures, home to some of the horses that belong to the Sir Charles ‘Cow’ Williams polo dynasty. Polo Matches are played regularly on the Apes Hill Polo field, adjacent to the golf course. The Apes Hill Golf Course is currently being renovated by its new owner and will reopen in 2020. A new short course, with state of the art practice, training, and wellness facilities, along with other new outdoor pursuits such as cycling, hiking, gully walking, and tennis, will make Apes Hill one of the most sought after places to live on the island.
On the final approach over the sea as you fly into Barbados, the Barbados Golf Club sits on the left side of the plane, just up from the famous ‘Friday Fish Fry’ village of Oistins, five minutes away from the airport. Fully open to the public, it is the only 18-hole championship golf course on the south coast, with a catchment area of over 2,000 hotel rooms. The links-style layout, with fresh prevailing winds, was first opened in the early seventies but closed in 1975. In 1998 I moved to Barbados for five years and was involved with a group of local golfers, the Government, businessmen, and hoteliers, in rebuilding the golf course which had reverted to 30 feet of wild bush with a derelict clubhouse. The Barbados Golf Club is now proudly the Home of Golf in Barbados for the majority of the 1,000 or so local golfers. It is also the most popular and affordable golf course in Barbados for tourists and the many snowbirds that frequent the island in the winter months. Golf for All is the slogan of the club, which is completely inclusive and the main teaching centre for the growing number of young Barbadians learning the game. It is also by far the most social golf club on the island.
Two years ago, when asked to address the Antiguan Cabinet about renovating Cedar Valley GC, I told them that Antigua, famous for its sailing heritage, had probably lost over US$500 million in FDI by not having a championship golf course. There is little doubt that the world-class quality of the golf courses, coupled with the sea, fine cuisine, quality international schools, friendly people, and the safe openness of Barbados, has been a key driver in attracting some very wealthy people and FDI to Barbados in recent years.
There are a number of physically more beautiful islands in the Caribbean, that is for sure, but none of them can deliver the same quality of life as Barbados. As I say to many of my international friends, there is a life in Barbados, with lots going on and plenty to do. And its biggest asset of all is the friendliness of its well-educated people.