Luxurious and blissfully remote: The best holiday home locations
By Zoe Dare Hall
From Barbados to the Greek islands, exclusive holiday homes are offering a more secluded piece of paradise in fresh locations without sacrificing the luxury
Drive along Barbados’s Highway 1, the coast road that skims the west coast’s most expensive mansions, and it feels like there is a race to build on every last piece of land. New five-star hotels, luxury resorts and multi-million-pound villas are springing up, while the rare remaining one-acre beachfront plots come with eight-figure price tags. Add to that the cacophony from the road, including the high-decibel reggae that blares out from buses that hurtle past like tilting trains and all you want is a shady palm and a bit of peace.
Well, head to the eastern side of the island and it feels like a different world. Most of the coastline is protected parkland and only a few clapperboard cottages, well-weathered from the Atlantic spray, dot the sands. The background noise is of crashing waves and there is a sense of endless space as you gaze from the hilltops across the green and golden coastline. It’s still considered out on a limb for most of the big-spending visitors who come to Barbados for the high life and there is just one luxury resort — The Crane, the oldest hotel in the Caribbean, which sits alone on a clifftop overlooking one of the world’s best beaches.
There is a new taste of secluded luxury coming to the east coast, however, in the shape of Beach Houses, a new development by the team behind The Crane, with 67 villas that sit on a gently sloping 50-acre site overlooking the raw wilderness of Skeete’s Bay. It’s just on the edge of the protected park, which is why this rare new development can exist at all and its modern villas are designed for people who want the beauty of Barbados without the west coast hustle.
You still need some serious money to buy one — the villas cost US$1.9m-$2.9m (although you can also buy fractions from US$185,000), but Beach Houses will appeal to the discreetly wealthy. The villas are cocooned in palms and lush vegetation, so you can luxuriate in your bath tub with the wall wide open to the elements, or take an outdoor shower without fear of prying eyes. From the front, beside your private infinity pool, there is nothing to interrupt your views across the waves. “This is really getting away from everything, for people who want nothing around them,” says Paul Doyle, owner of The Crane resort, although he will be providing the necessary luxuries in the form of a wellness centre, spa, restaurants and a panoramic waterfront bar where the derelict Skeete’s Bay fish market currently stands.
That holiday — and holiday home — herd mentality still undoubtedly exists among the ultra-rich: Mykonos is the new Ibiza; winters mean skipping between Courchevel and St Barts, bumping into the same people from ski slope to beach. But Anthony Lassman, co-founder of Nota Bene, which “curates” bespoke travel itineraries and sources super-prime properties for its private clients, is noticing a shift among the ultra-rich towards “the quiet enjoyment of money”, he says. “In this post-status era, anything too cookie-cutter, brand-centric and generic is out. They want a more intelligent experience. They seek individuality, design integrity and a point of difference.”
That may mean venturing into unexplored territory; Lassman is seeing “green shoots” interest in Iceland’s Troll peninsula, where he is talking to investors about building a luxury boutique hotel with villas. “It will appeal to Americans — it’s five hours from New York — as discretionary homes and to Northern Europeans who love salmon fishing in summer and heli-skiing in winter,” he says.
Yet the wild side, as in Barbados, can often be found simply by veering off the beaten track in the best-known jet-set playgrounds, even on the smallest islands. Take Ibiza, where you are never more than a half-hour’s drive from a beach club serving ice buckets of Moët, but it’s possible to find solitude and a sense of rural wilderness.
The island’s west coast, where there’s little available land for any more big projects, is the place to be for the latest in off-the-beaten track luxury. The White Angel Cala Comte offers 15 “limited-edition” villas here (from €2.75m through Savills). The L-shaped villas, designed to give maximum privacy, each come with two private pools, concierge services and top security, as well as panoramic views across craggy coves, turquoise sea and outlying islands.
As Ibiza becomes more of a year-round destination, with many overseas buyers looking to move to the island, these areas that were once seen as remote are now becoming liveable,” says Cathy Ouwehand, Savills’ Ibiza agent. “At Cala Comte, a gourmet supermarket is only a five-minute drive away and the town of San José is reachable within 10 minutes, but you feel you are in the middle of nowhere,” she adds.
Sometimes a spot of island-hopping is called for to escape the crowds. For those who find Bali too touristy these days, the neighbouring island on Gili Meno is the new kid on the block. BASK Gili Meno is its first major development with 87 fully furnished, luxury beachfront villas, sitting between the Bali Sea and a natural salt lake, costing US$200,000-US$1m.
One of the first buyers is the global TV star David Hasselhoff. “The moment I set foot on the sand, I said this is where my condo will be,” says The Hoff of his first trip to the tiny, car-free Indonesian island. “It will be a hideaway for me, my family and my fiancée, Hayley. I love the fact you can walk everywhere and talk to the local people without them asking for selfies. I love to scuba dive there in the warmest water I’ve ever known and just relax and breathe. It’s a piece of heaven.”
Meanwhile, in Greece’s Cyclades islands, those who feel worn out by Mykonos’s high-octane party scene or Santorini’s Instagram masses can enjoy the neighbouring wilderness of Ios, suggests Robert Green of Sphere Estates, who is marketing two five/six-bed villas built into the rock faces from €2m. Green reports a rise in such “remote yet accessible” destinations. “Ios doesn’t yet have its own airport, so you either have to catch a ferry from Santorini or charter a helicopter from Athens. This is starting to have great appeal among the wealthy elite, who want privacy, exclusivity, the wow factor and safety, both personal and financial,” he comments. And how do you find it? Just watch the masses, then turn the other way.