Grab a Windies windfall

With cricket fans ready to descend for the World Cup, West Indies property is a great catch, says Chris Partridge

The Cricket World Cup goes to the West Indies in 2007 - and the desperate need for rooms for the legions of fans makes now the best time ever to invest in the area. According to some estimates, the host countries expect to benefit to the tune of £300m over the next three years from the event. To ensure there are enough rooms to cope with the crowds, island governments are offering tax breaks to developers to encourage them to complete their schemes before the competition starts, and owners of rental properties can expect to get top dollar when the time comes. Or, of course, they can stay there themselves and gloat about the money they save.

The Cricket World Cup goes to the West Indies in 2007 - and the desperate need for rooms for the legions of fans makes now the best time ever to invest in the area. According to some estimates, the host countries expect to benefit to the tune of £300m over the next three years from the event. To ensure there are enough rooms to cope with the crowds, island governments are offering tax breaks to developers to encourage them to complete their schemes before the competition starts, and owners of rental properties can expect to get top dollar when the time comes. Or, of course, they can stay there themselves and gloat about the money they save.

The competition will start with an opening match in Jamaica, which is also hosting the Windies side. India will be based in Trinidad and Tobago, and Australia in St Kitts and Nevis. St Lucia has pulled out the plum booking, however: hosting the England team. This means the island is likely to be overrun with the Barmy Army, the 15,000 fans who have made bar-owners round the world rich overnight.

"It will bring tremendous benefits to the island," says Ernest Hilaire of the St Lucia government team that put together the proposal to host the tournament. "There will be direct benefits in the form of new developments, roads and so on, and we are offering special incentives to developers to increase the number of beds."

These include a tax holiday on rental income for a period and duty-free import of construction materials, Hilaire explains. These benefits make now the best time to invest in the West Indies for the foreseeable future.

One of the most unusual new developments under construction on St Lucia is Calabash Cove, a place designed to relax in after the stress of the match. Built on the side of a steep hill covered with exotic trees such as flamboyants and calabashes, 23 villas are dotted around a hotel and spa.

Everything is designed to relax. The villas are made of local hardwoods by local craftsmen, featuring ornate carving and a Roman pool.The hotel will have a top-class restaurant and a range of facilities designed to iron out the stresses of modern life, including treatment rooms and a Watsu pool, a library and music room. But the one thing that will really relax the residents is the total ban on children.

Ownership in Calabash Cove is by "fractions", which differs from timeshare in that a fraction is a tenth of the property, not a licence to use the place for a specified time. The owners agree which five weeks each will have, rotating so each has a crack at the high-season slots. One fraction costs from about £60,000 for a semi-detached cottage, with a 75-year government lease which may be renewable.

Cricket fans who like sailing might prefer The Landings, a marina resort on Rodney Bay. The low-rise apartment blocks employ a Mexican/Caribbean style of architecture, with arcades on the ground floor and big verandas above. All will have a mooring on a new lagoon dredged out of the sand.

Prices at The Landings start at about £250,000 for a one-bed apartment, rising to £600,000 for a three-bed unit overlooking the bay. A major inducement is a temporary waiving of the import duty on yachts, currently standing at 50 per cent, so a buyer who brings in a £500,000 boat will save £250,000 in tax - effectively getting the flat free. For details about The Landings telephone 0800 0835560. For Calabash Cove ring 0800 0835056.

Not all the Barmy Army will be looking for accommodation at that sort of level, of course. For fans whose priorities read: 1 tickets, 2 beer - with a bed for the night a long way down the list - a group of St Lucia entrepreneurs is planning a tent village close to the new ground at Beausejour.

These will be no ordinary tents, however. They will be proper rooms, with twin beds, storage unit and electric light. A palapa roof and a veranda with swinging hammock will give a lazy tropical ambience. The main square of the village will have bars, food stalls and a carnival tent with steel bands, limbo dancing and all-night partying. The group is looking for investors, especially as they hope to take the concept to all the World Cup islands. Their contact is Oliver Gobat (001 758 450 8847).

The final will take place in Barbados, possibly the most expensive Caribbean destination, and here The Village, in St James, is under construction. The extraordinary building rises up the hill in a way that is supposed to recall a Greek hillside village, with terraces pointing in all directions to maximise privacy. All the usual luxuries are provided, including infinity-edge pool, bar, cinema room and fitness centre. A one-bed flat costs about £200,000 and a four-bed unit £735,000. The agent is Savills (020-7022 0055).

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