START A NEW LIFE OVERSEAS www.livingabroadmagazine.com
DEPP Hot and steamy in Puerto Rico
Levi Roots Whack-Me-Bottom! The Jamaican chef talks spice
A Brit and a Blonde Escaping the life of Mad Men in the city to find la pura vida in Costa Rica
LUXURY ISLAND PROPERTIES
Gordon Campbell Gray One Aldwych’s owner fell in love with Antigua and created Carlisle Bay Hotel
12 9 771745 555018 SPECIAL ISSUE VOLUME 1 £3.70
PROPERTY GOLF SPAS INTERIORS RECIPES DIVING FINANCE
Amber Heard and Johnny Depp star in The Rum Diary
Hollywood glam I
t’s not every day that you get to hang out with one of the world’s biggest film stars, and it’s even less often that you get to do it in one of the most beautiful parts of the planet, the Caribbean, but that’s just what British director Bruce Robinson did when he was working with Johnny Depp in Puerto Rico. We were lucky enough to grab an interview with the writer and director of The Rum Diary, and he couldn’t praise Depp enough, not only for his professionalism, but also for his excellent home-grown wine! Turn to page 12 to find out more.
And it’s not just Puerto Rico that we visit in this exciting first issue of Living Abroad Caribbean – we’ve been all over the Caribbean in search of the most interesting stories and the best activities for you to enjoy. Whether you follow in the footsteps of hotelier Gordon Campbell Grey on Antigua, Elly Hails on Grand Cayman or even Kim Sivyer on Barbados, you won’t miss out on the most up-to-date information on each island. And even if you’re whiling away the time in the UK, wishing you were in your Caribbean second home, we have top tips for a calypso Christmas from Barbadian
Cynthia Nelson and recipes from Jamaican chef Levi Roots to make sure your festive season goes with a swing. Speaking of swings, we have favourite courses from golf expert Roderick Easdale to test yours on, and the very best dive spots in the British Virgin Islands. And of course we have all the latest property news, including rental villas on St Lucia, homes to buy on Trinidad & Tobago, and a comprehensive how-to guide to purchasing on St Lucia, St Kitts & Nevis and The Bahamas. Sue Hitchen, Editor
IN THIS ISSUE
Editor Sue Hitchen Design Nicola Flynn Production Editor Caroline Whitham Picture Enhancement Malcolm Irving Production Oliver Chandler
Jessica & Jason Hill Escaping a Mad life for Costa Rican pura vida P20
Gordon Campbell Gray On founding his luxury Antigua hotel P26
Elly Hails From London’s grey skies to Cayman sun P30
Levi Roots The loveable chef on his Jamaican childhood P54
Sales Manager Bill Mackay Business Development Matthew Magee, Liam Johnston, Nathan Downs
Livingabroad Caribbean, Vol 1 Published by The Media Company Publications Ltd 21 Royal Circus, Edinburgh EH3 6TL Tel: 0131 226 7766 Fax: 0131 225 4567 www.livingabroadmagazine.com
Livingabroad Caribbean Volume 1 3
WEâ€™VE DONE IT
Bruce Robinson The director of The Rum Diary on working with Johnny Depp and his love for Puerto Rico
Costa Rica From living like Mad Men to Pure Life and a new wedding photography business
Gordon Campbell Inside the mind of the man who created the award-winning Carlisle Bay Hotel, Antigua
The Cayman Islands From a London investment bank to interior design and blogging on Grand Cayman
Barbados We catch up with Kim Syvver, the founder of Pure Source beauty stores, to find out more about the opening of her second shop
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Ben Miller The Death in Paradise star on filming on Guadaloupe
Caribbean golf The best courses on Barbados, Nevis and Bermuda
Rudolf Nureyev The St Barths home of the legendary dancer
Levi Roots Recipes and memories from a happy Jamaican childhood
Eat and Drink Barbados Experiencing the very best of the islandâ€™s street food and fine dining
Royal Westmoreland Owner John Morphet shows us around his Barbados home
Property news All the latest on Cuba, St Lucia, Grand Cayman and The Bahamas
Buying in the Caribbean St Lucia, Barbados, St Kitts & Nevis and The Bahamas
Trinidad & Tobago One island is brash and bold, the other sleepy and idyllic
British Virgin Islands diving An in-depth look at all the best SCUBA spots around the BVI
STAR PROPERTIES 92
Barbados & The Windward Isles
Livingabroad Caribbean Volume 1 7
Necker Island reopens
Richard Branson’s privately owned island is once again welcoming visitors. Although the rebuilding of the Great House after the dramatic fire earlier this year is still a work in progress, guests can stay in one of the six newly-refurbished Bali Houses as well as Branson’s home, Temple House, and his 105ft luxury catamaran to substitute for the rooms lost in the Great House. Call the reservations team on 0800 716 919 or +44 (0) 208 600 0430.
OF THE BEST
WEDDING ISLANDS IN THE BAHAMAS
Nassau The Bahamian capital is a fabulous mixture of stunning beaches, gorgeous tropical gardens and glamorous nightlife. The island’s Cable Beach is known as the Riviera of The Bahamas and boasts a range of luxurious accommodation.
Andros Escape modern stresses and focus on your big day; Andros is the largest but least explored island of The Bahamas. Take the plunge with a scuba dive into one of the island’s underwater sink holes.
The Berry Islands This cluster of 30 islands and 100 cays will have you constantly reaching for your camera. Take a romantic stroll through the sandy coves and tall cliffs of Sugar Beach Caves or along the 10 km of beautiful beaches on Great Harbour Cay.
Cat Island Beach bonfires, local music and a laid-back attitude are the order of the day on this remote island. Declare your love while admiring panoramic views of paradise from The Hermitage, a medievalstyle chapel located at the island summit.
Harbour Island Follow in the footsteps of chilled-out A-lister Elle Macpherson, who has a home on this island. The famous pink-sand beaches and crystal clear waters offer a haven for sun-worshipping, superb snorkelling and romantic boat trips.
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Caribbean Twenty 20 This tournament continues to go from strength to strength and 2012 looks to be no different. Held at the Kensington Oval in the Bajan capital of Bridgetown, the competition will run for 2 weeks and features teams from Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, as well as invitational teams including Britain’s Hampshire Royals and Somerset. The event promises to be a fantastic sporting day out at a time of year when wickets are still buried under snow in Britain. 17-23 January 2012
Diving for love The luxurious Jade Mountain resort recently featured on the finale of TV series The Bachelor UK, following rugby star Gavin Henson in his search for love. You too can experience love and luxury with the introduction of private scuba diving instruction in the infinity pool of your own private sanctuary suite. If that sounds a little strenuous, try one of the new spa packages, including ‘The Alchemy Of Two’, a romantic ritual designed for couples. www.jademountain.com
BOOKS The World’s Best Tax Havens, Lee Hadnum, Taxcafe UK, £24.95 Offering advice on how to best protect your money from the taxman, Hadnum picks out the best worldwide destinations, with the Caribbean islands of Barbados, Bermuda and St. Kitts and Nevis amongst them. Succinct and easy to understand.
The Lonely Planet Guide to US & British Virgin Islands, Lonely Planet, £14.99 This new edition to the Lonely Planet family includes a dedicated chapter on the British Virgin ‘Out Islands’ and new features to help you plan your trip, including beaches, outdoor activities and family-friendly sites.
Spanish Gold: Captain Woodes Rogers and the Pirates of the Caribbean, David Cordingly, Bloomsbury, £20 Delve into the history of the real pirates of the Caribbean. Set against the backdrop of fierce colonial rivalry between Britain, France and Spain, the slave trade and sugar plantations to discover the truth behind the legends.
Let the sunshine in with this Newgate Pluto Starburst Clock, £85 from Heal’s, heals.co.uk
This Little Lacey Table Lamp in yellow is stunningly designed. The shade is made from laser-cut metal in a pretty lace design. £140 from the French Bedroom Company, www.frenchbedroomcompany.co.uk
These stylish Coloured Glass Lanterns look effective grouped together or dotted around any outdoor space to create colourful pockets of intimate light. From £30, Heal’s, as above.
Bright solids and zany prints vye for your interiors vote
Gorgeous to behold and to sit in, the Mr Bright Chair is upholstered in plush yellow York Velvet. £899 from John Lewis, www.johnlewis.com
Incredibly fine applique work and embroidery brings this Tropical Delights Floral Cushion to life. £60 from Plum Chutney, www.plumchutney.com
This Grace Pink Sideboard is manufactured in solid cherry wood. Price on request, Oficina Inglesa, www.oficinainglesa.com
Livingabroad Caribbean Volume 1 11
A rum do Bruce Robinson, who directed Johnny Depp in The Rum Diary, talks work, Withnail and falling off the wagon on Puerto Rico. Words James Mottram
t’s a typically misty English November day, and Bruce Robinson is clearly longing for the balmy temperatures of Puerto Rico. “It was fantastic,” he enthuses, dreamily. “A fantastic country.” On and off, he spent nine months there preparing and shooting his new film, The Rum Diary, a comic odyssey starring Johnny Depp as a boozy journalist who arrives in the Caribbean island’s capital San Juan in 1960 to land himself a job on a crumbling English language newspaper. Adapted by Robinson from the Hunter S. Thompson novel, it marks the 65-year-old British director’s first film in almost twenty years. His last effort, the 1992 thriller Jennifer 8, was mangled so badly by the studio that Robinson swore he’d never direct again. And he didn’t, until Depp – a huge fan of cult comedy Withnail and I, Robinson’s 1987 debut about two outof-work actors – came calling. First asking him to write the screenplay, he then lured him into going behind the camera. “He’s very persuasive. The very fact that he is who he is, I just thought ‘Why not? What have I got to lose?’” A former actor himself, Robinson’s respect and admiration for his star is genuine. “He’s a total, true artist is Mr Depp. And sometimes he takes your breath away. He’s a fabulous painter. He can play rock on a guitar as well as anyone in any band I’ve ever known. He’s a terrific actor. He can write. Christ, when everyone was standing in
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Robinson was persuaded by Rum
Diary star Johhny Depp to direct the film
line in front of God, he was called forward. He really is an incredibly talented man – it just oozes out of the bastard. He’s been given a multiplicity of gifts. And when he said, ‘Will you have a go at directing it?’ It was ‘For you, yes.’ I like him enormously.” So how did the locals react to see the Pirates of the Caribbean star? Were they amazed? “Everyone’s amazed to see Johnny Depp! You don’t need to go
“Johnny always waited as long as necessary to talk to the fans”
abroad to get people going nuts when he’s about. I’m not a superstar, so I don’t pay much cognisance to all of that. But wherever Johnny is, there’s always a big crowd of people wanting the photographs, the handshakes and autographs, the whole thing. He’s got an enormous fanbase. But while everybody else couldn’t wait to go home for the day, Johnny – very graciously – always waited around as long as was necessary to talk to the fans.” While Thompson’s book is set in Puerto Rico, it didn’t make the island an automatic choice to shoot on.
“We scouted places in Mexico that were very beautiful,” Robinson remembers. “It’s not my call this, but you have to weigh up security issues as far as Johnny is concerned. And is Mexico as safe as Puerto Rico? I don’t know… but probably not.” This, plus the fact that shooting there would add a level of authenticity – “if you’re in the right place, the extras are going to look right” – meant that Robinson had little choice but to leave his farmhouse in Herefordshire for the Caribbean. Unsurprisingly, he loved living and working there. “It’s a very friendly place on all levels. The people, the weather, which is usually very, very good there…it’s like California in the summer, with salty breezes around it. It rains a bit but it’s pretty good. It’s a delicious place to be, I think. I wouldn’t mind going there again.” Did he not find the heat unbearable? “Not for me, I didn’t. I really love hot places. I never found it really unbearable. At night sometimes, it would be very, very hot. And if you’re shooting all night, that does get a bit stiff.” Still, it was a “tough shoot”, if only because Robinson was on the go from 5am until 11pm, six days a week for almost two months. “But because it was Johnny’s shoot, Johnny’s film, and he
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was very happy with everything we were doing, it meant that it was a bit of a joy,” he adds. “There were a few days when I sat in the trailer and went ‘Oh, my God, what am I doing?’. But very few out of fifty days – maybe two or three – would I think ‘I’ve been sucked back in this and I don’t want to do this.’”
“Puerto Rico is delicious. I wouldn’t mind going again”
Robinson and Depp wanted an authentic backdrop for the film, so they knew they had to shoot in Puerto Rico. Above right: Depp with Amber Heard, who plays love interest Chenault
The only problem, it seems, was the wine. “I have to say one of the things about Puerto Rico, because it is hot and it’s an island so everything is imported, is that the wine doesn’t travel too well there,” laments Robinson. And as the man who created that great drunk, Withnail, demanding “the finest wines known to humanity”, this was an issue. Luckily, his drinking partner came with provisions. “Johnny’s always got firstrate wine. He’s very interested in highquality French wine. So very often, when we were going out to dinner, he’d bring his own.” Prior to starting The Rum Diary, Robinson had been sober for six-and-ahalf years, but making a comedy about booze-loving newspaper hacks, he just
couldn’t help himself. “The sober side of my head was saying ‘Don’t go there’ and the creative side of my head was saying ‘You can’t write it if you don’t.’ So I drank medicinal quantities of wine while I was writing it.” He’s making no apologies, though. “If you listen to Beethoven or Tchaikovsky with your ears, and you look at Goya and Leonardo DaVinci with your eyes, why can’t you have art in your mouth? Some of those wines that I’m extremely fond of are like an art form, so therefore I’m not going to necessarily cut them out of my life.” Revitalised by The Rum Diary, Robinson is now readying himself to shoot his 1998 semi-autobiographical novel The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman next year, in the slightly less glamorous locales of London and Kent. But would he work in Puerto Rico again? “I think the likelihood of going there to work on another film is zero,” he says, if only because the chances of setting another movie there are slim. “But if I was going to the Caribbean, Puerto Rico would certainly be around the top of the list of places to re-visit.” ■ The Rum Diary is in cinemas now.
Death in Paradise
Picture BBC/Red Planet
Ben Miller shares his memories of filming on the islands of Guadeloupe. “So many amazing things happened when we were filming Death in Paradise. I've never really lived abroad for any length of time and Guadeloupe was very, very different. There were so many moments that stood out, some of them bizarre, some of them beautiful. “One day I drove in a car all the way to the top of a volcano, up through the rainforest and looking out from the very top and seeing the whole island was just amazing. I remember another time we were filming on one side of the island, and you could see the volcano on Montserrat erupting – absolutely incredible! Another day we were filming at a big plantation house over on one of the other sides of the islands where there was a huge iguana in one of the trees, an enormous great thing, probably two and a half feet long!” ■
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A room with a view
ST BARTHS At the end of his life, dancer Rudolf Nureyev owned a house perched on the rocks on the eastern coast of St Barths, originally built for an American admiral in 1962. Today it is owned by a Frenchwoman, Jeanne AudyRowland, who maintains it as an homage to the late star’s memory. She has inscribed some of his quotes on the walls and built a datcha. The main feature, however, remains the huge teak deck on which he used to dance. He also carved a platform into the rock, where he would often sleep. Jackie Kennedy would visit two or three times a year, but otherwise he remained quite solitary. “He lived very soberly,” remarks Audy-Rowland, “almost like an ascetic.” He never really finished off the decoration. Audy-Rowland has done that, but still firmly believes: “it’s his house, not mine.” ■
From New Seaside Interiors, ed. Angelika Taschen, Taschen Books, £24
Livingabroad December 2011 19
WE’VE DONE IT
A million times yes Jason and Jessica Hill gave up a million-dollar future and the life of Mad Men to move to Costa Rica, become wedding photographers and live “la pura vida”, as Jessica explains
was born in Toronto, Canada and grew up in Montreal, moving back to Toronto after university for work. Jason was born and raised in Yorkshire, England. He moved to Canada about 8 years ago and we met in Toronto. We worked at rival advertising agencies, and we had both climbed the corporate ladder for close to a decade. Jason was the Associate Creative Director at Crispin Porter Bogusky’s newly opened Toronto office, a very well regarded ad agency, and he had won numerous international awards for his creative work. I was an Account Director at Zulu Alpha Kilo, a new firecracker of an ad agency. We had just married and our jobs were certainly not 9-5pm. We were always at work – breakfast, lunch and dinner and sometimes on weekends too. There always seemed to be a new campaign coming up or crisis that needed to be solved. I was attached to my iPhone 24/7, answering emails at stupid hours of the day and night. We never got to see each other. We had planned an amazing 3-week honeymoon to India. We were so excited to go, but due to a “scheduling error” someone more senior had booked the same time off as me.
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Jessica and Jason left high-powered
They got to go on their trip and I had no choice but to stay and man the fort during the Christmas holidays. We knew then that we needed to make a drastic change. So we started planning. Photography had always been a hobby of ours and we thought we could do this for a living, what with Jase’s art direction background and my organisational skills. We were going to become wedding photographers in Costa Rica. We rented out our house, put all our belongings in storage, sold our car, and quit our very cushy well-paid jobs, to the complete shock of many of our co-workers and friends. We were making pretty crazy money, more than a quarter of million dollars a year, and we were going to throw it all away for love (or at least shooting people in love on their wedding day). It was a huge change. But we were so excited, we didn’t care that we would be going from a very comfortable life to making no money until we got the new business up and running. We wanted to be happy and we wanted to actually be together as opposed to never seeing each other. Thus our company A Brit & A Blonde was born. We wanted a name that really was us,
advertising jobs to move to Costa Rica
“We were making £250,000 a year, and we threw it away for love” and that was memorable and fun. Jason plays the role of the Brit and I am very happy to play the part of the Blonde - a super savvy, smart blonde, that is! We had been to Costa Rica five years before on an adventure holiday and had an incredible time. So we knew a bit of what to expect, but certainly coming on holiday compared to coming to live here is completely different. We decided the best thing would be to go straight to Spanish school. It was wonderful; we each had our own teacher and would spend about five hours every morning at school. It was intense but we learned lots in 4 weeks.
We had to also find a place to live, which was a bit of a challenge. But we enlisted the help of a real estate agent and she was wonderful, even though we were just looking to rent, not buy. She helped us find the perfect place and walked us through getting a bank account and all that bureaucratic stuff. What we did learn afterwards was that we really lucked out, since here in Costa Rica, you actually don’t need any sort of certificate to become a real estate agent. With so many expats looking to move down here, there’s a big demand for real estate but you need to be careful who you hire to help you. If you go to the local hairdressers for a haircut and they hear you’re looking for a place to live, they’ll provide you with their makeshift business card that says they’re a real estate agent – no joke! We live in a town called Santa Ana. It’s about 20 minutes or so from San Jose, the
Livingabroad Caribbean Volume 1 21
WE’VE DONE IT
Jessica finds the roads to be the most hair-raising aspect of her new life
main city in Costa Rica. Santa Ana is very picturesque, the weather is fantastic and the people are beyond friendly. With the help of our agent we managed to find a stunning bungalow. It belongs to an artist who is originally from Buenos Aires and he has incredible art all over the house, an industrialstyle gas oven in the kitchen, fantastic furniture, a wonderful CD collection and a killer sound system. We could not have dreamed of a better place for us to live. Funnily enough there are some interesting similarities between life in the UK and life in Costa Rica – it also rains quite a bit here, although most mornings start off beautifully sunny. The sense of humour and playful banter that goes on between the guys is very similar to Britain. Just translate any conversation between some of the local lads here and you would swear you were back in the UK. Costa Rica also is fascinated by football. Whenever there is a game on, you can hear all the cheers and boos in the streets as the whole country watches. They know all the British players as well - they are avid fans of the sport. Shockingly they also do amazing fish and chips here! Who would have thought? We don’t miss much, mostly the TV: there are not too many channels here in Costa Rica that are in English. Most are Spanish, and the programming is not the best. Thank goodness for the Internet, though, because we are able to watch and catch up on most shows. So if Jason chats with his sister in Yorkshire who mentions a fab new TV show that just started,
“The sense of humour and playful banter is very similar to Britain” he is able to stream it here. He also really misses Gregg’s pasties and keeps saying he wants to open an outlet down here just to be able to eat some! The one thing we don’t like here is the state of the roads. Some are difficult to even describe as roads, they’re more like a collection of rocks and mud in a sort of clearing that happens to link to another town. The craziest road we’ve driven is en route to Monteverde, which is a cloud forest. You’re going up, up and up around a mountain, but it’s a sheer cliff with no boundary on the other
side, just a drop to your death. The “road” is extremely rocky for about 2 hours or so. The government wanted to pay to have it paved, but the residents of Monteverde were against it – part of the charm of Monteverde is in the travelling to get there, apparently. It is all part of the adventure! We have also gone across some pretty frightening bridges, where the truck has made all the passengers get off and walk across first before they drive over it. The bridge looks so precarious, like it’s about to give way at any moment. As you run across it, you’re just crossing your fingers and toes hoping you make it across. Again, it’s all part of the great adventure! The Costa Rican attitude is “pura vida”. It has a deeper meaning that is difficult to explain in English, but the essence is pure life, and Ticos (the local name for Costa Ricans) live by it daily. They have a very relaxed and stress-free approach to everything, something we’re still learning. It seems so strange but knowing how to unwind and relax really is an art form. On a typical day we wake up bright and early to our stunning view and have a delicious breakfast outside on our big outdoor patio. We chat and read our Kindles (it’s difficult to find English books here). Then we pack up our camera bags and travel to the area of our next wedding. Since the roads not the greatest, you never know when you might be detoured for a mudslide, a fallen tree or rock or something else – we always travel to
Livingabroad Caribbean Volume 1 23
WE’VE DONE IT GETTING THERE There are no direct flights from the UK to Costa Rica, so to travel there you will need to go via another country. The quickest journeys tend to be via Madrid, New York Newark and Houstan, Texas, however this will vary depending on the time of year. Visit www.skyscanner.com to compare flight times and prices for your trip.
the wedding destination the day before the actual day. There’s no need for any undue stress! We’ll arrive and scout out the location to find some amazing areas to take our bride and groom to the next day. Then we’ll have an early dinner in a great local restaurant and get prepped for the wedding. It’s so fantastic that our job essentially allows us to see so many different parts of this amazing country. One day we could be shooting a wedding in Arenal, where there is still a massive active volcano. It’s incredible to see at night if it’s erupting. The next week we could be shooting a wedding in Santa Teresa – which is a super laidback hippie surfing town on a great beach. Then we might find ourselves in Manuel Antonio – which is the home of Costa Rica’s biggest National Park. The animals and birds that you can see just strolling through the park are beyond incredible. The inspiration for gorgeous wedding photos is absolutely endless. We don’t have to contend with any low-ceiling, nowindow drab reception hall with tacky chair
“Pura vida; knowing how to unwind and relax is an artform ” covers. Costa Rica is our backdrop and it doesn’t get more stunning than that! People here are some of the friendliest we have ever met – they truly bend over backwards to help you out any way they can. We’re still learning Spanish – that will be an ongoing process for a very long time. As I am writing this, we just got a call from one of our good local friends Oscar, letting us know to put on channel 7 to catch one of the big football games of the year. He didn’t want us to miss out on what everyone will no doubt be talking about tomorrow. We have also met many, many expats who have similar stories to ours, in that they used to do something completely different in their former lives and packed it in to live a simpler life here in Costa Rica. It’s so wonderful to
hear all the different stories of what brought people here and to be around people who have the same interests that we do. Many of the wedding planners here in Costa Rica are also expats, so we have become great friends with them as well, which is really nice. We love our neighbourhood. Every Sunday we head to “la feria”, which is the weekly farmer’s market just down the road from us, and we buy locally-grown fruits and vegetables, the freshest produce we’ve ever seen. After you’ve tasted a pineapple in Costa Rica, I think you’re ruined for life. There’s no way you could ever have a pineapple again back in England or Canada, since it’s so fresh here, literally right from the farmer. We’re still learning to adhere to the “pura vida” mentality but since we are still a new business there is a lot to do – I joke that we are the biggest workaholics in all of Costa Rica. But we will be happy to lose that title over the next year as our business becomes more established. ■ www.abritandablonde.com
Jessica and Jason delight in finding new locations to take wedding photos
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Staying on Hotelier Gordon Campbell Gray was sure that the Caribbean was one big cliché – until, that is, he fell in love with the beautiful island of Antigua
ordon Campbell Gray fell truly, madly, deeply in love the moment he first stepped off a plane on to Caribbean soil. “I was quite young at the time,” recalls the charismatic founder and creative force behind the luxury Campbell Gray Hotels group, which owns and runs a portfolio of boutique properties in the Caribbean and the battle-scarred Middle East. “Of course one knew all the cliches about how blue the sea is, how cloudless the skies, how white the beaches, how glorious the sunshine. But I’d never seen anything like that turquoise-blue. I think I fell in love with the sea, then with the people, who are so happy. “I’m a proud Scot, born-and-bred in Glasgow and I love my country, but it’s grey. We grow up with greyness not bold colour,” says the globetrotting hotelier, who has just flown in from Beirut, where he opened a luxury hotel in 2009 and which he describes as “incredibly sexy.” Campbell Gray, who is in his late fifties, created and launched One Aldwych, the elegant, multiple awardwinning, five-star London hotel, in 1998, where you might bump into, say, Brad Pitt in the hip, art-filled lobby. Despite his urban background in Glasgow and London, he was completely seduced by the Caribbean. “I was totally beguiled,” he confesses. “I determined to open a hotel, but it had
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Campbell Gray grew up in Glasgow, and worked for InterContinental Hotels before founding his own hotel group
to be different, the ultimate chilled-out experience, not glitzy. I detest glitz,��� he says. In 2003 he opened Carlisle Bay in Antigua, which, with its backdrop of lush rainforest-covered hills, is now recognised as a world-class resort. The hotel has 82 spacious suites and is: “a masterpiece of chic design and understated luxury,” according to Piers Morgan, who is such a fan of Campbell Gray Hotels that he once lived in One Aldwych for three months while his London flat was undergoing repairs. The ubiquitous Morgan is not the only celebrity to have luxuriated in Campbell Gray’s stylish Caribbean hospitality. The Duchess of Cornwall has graced Carlisle Bay, while American actor Michael J Fox and British TV star Robson Green and his
“I’d never seem anything like that Caribbean turquoise-blue”
family are also known to have checked in. “We are almost pathologically discreet about maintaining guests’ privacy,” says Campbell Gray, adding that many royals and glamorous A-list celebrities, including high-profile North American politicians, holiday regularly at the hotel. “I never name names. I can mention the Duchess because a London journalist happened to be staying, so it was all over the papers,” he says, adding that unlike other Caribbean hotels, Carlisle Bay does not employ a “celebrity manager,” someone whose entire job it is to ensure that paparazzi pictures of bikinied B-list celebs appear in the redtops. “We offer the antithesis of that,” he says. Carlisle Bay opened later than planned, says Campbell Gray. “It wasn’t a big deal – new hotels rarely open on time anywhere in the world. But the laid-back attitude can sometimes drive me crazy, because I’m so hands-on; I demand perfection. He recommends the classic Herman Wouk novel, Don’t Stop the Carnival (1965), about a man opening a hotel in the Caribbean, to anyone planning to do business in the islands. “Everything that goes wrong in that book went wrong!” he exclaims. “But it’s not necessarily just hotels: the book could be about any business venture in the Caribbean.” The maintenance of property in the
region is relentless, sighs Campbell Gray. “The heat, the humidity, the October storms all take their toll, so there’s a lot of work involved.” Nonetheless, he’s rapidly expanding his Caribbean hotel business empire. His group has just announced plans to build 24 private villas at Carlisle Bay, in 2012. He’s also creating a new 60bedroom resort hotel on the Caribbean island of Grenada, “the isle of spice.” In addition, he’s rolling out more Le Grays in the Middle East. And he’s come up with an unusual new hotel project, still under wraps. “I’ve had it with five-star luxury!” he sighs. “One place offered to clean my sunglasses while I lay on the beach. How disturbing is that?” He shudders, adding that it’s also his ambition to bring his trademark “stealth-wealth” and snob-free style to Scotland, as well as opening another hotel in London. Underlying his rigorous business ethos is the belief that you have to give back. “We have local farmers who grow nothing but spinach for us. There’s a village women’s co-operative producing all our jams and marmalades. But if one story sums up how we make a difference, it’s that of Gwendolyn, an enormous, ever-smiling
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lady who would arrive with a suitcase of her own beautiful, handmade jewellery on her head every day. “We built a little shack for her on our beach so that she could have somewhere to sell and display her work. She told me, with tears in her eyes, that it was the loveliest thing
“It’s magical. I always return to the UK feeling so re-energised”
The Campbell Gray style is all about understated luxury, an ethos he applied when planning Carlisle Bay
anyone had ever done for her. ‘Now,’ she said, ‘I can buy school-books for my children’.” Campbell Gray is constantly jetting around the world. Within days of this interview he was making pit stops Edinburgh, Dubai, Mumbai, Bahrain and Lagos. He is also a vice president of Save the Children, a charity for which, as a young man, he gave up a high-flying job and instead worked with famine victims in Bangladesh for four years. Thanks to his dizzying travel schedule he stepped down as MD at One Aldwych last year, concentrating on Le Gray, his beloved Beirut hotel, and Carlisle Bay, where he zips in for long weekends to recharge. “It’s quite magical. I return feeling so
re-energised that it’s better than a month-long holiday. The Caribbean is THE place to relax, which can, of course, be extremely frustrating when you are doing business there,” he says, clearly the kind of man who finds switching off tricky. “Doing business in the Caribbean is definitely not a walk on the beach. There’s very much a mañana attitude – and I’m not good at mañana. So that’s difficult. It’s hard work. For instance, when we were about to open, our imported stuff would arrive on the island then lie in the port and you couldn’t get it out. Eventually you wanted to kill somebody! But it’s fine now. “Everything is slow in the Caribbean, but we have managed to inspire our staff – we employ 250 people from the nearby village – to be a little faster and since we encourage the guests to be a little slower, they meet somewhere in the middle. “I always tell our staff to think of each guest as a crumpled shirt. It’s our job to iron them out very slowly, then send them home in an immaculate state.” ■ www.campbellgrayhotels.com/carlislebay-antigua
WE’VE DONE IT
Our blue heaven When Elly Hails’ fiancé was offered a job in the tax haven of Cayman, the couple jumped at the chance of a new life in the sun, as Elly explains
couple of years ago, if you’d met me on the Tube and asked me what I thought the chances were that I’d be getting married on a Caribbean beach in 2012, after having retrained as an interior designer and writing my own blog, Caribbean Living, I imagine I would have either laughed out loud or decided you were mad. Things certainly do have a funny way of turning out! I spent four years slogging away as an international tax consultant in central London before moving to the Cayman Islands in February 2010. My fiancé, Alistair, had the opportunity to transfer over here with the hedge fund he works for and we decided we’d be crazy not to snap it up!
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The entire island seems to be devoted to having fun in the sunshine My first geographically-challenged thought upon hearing the idea was ‘huh, I don’t think I want to move to Norway’, but a reassuring number of our friends and family also had no idea where Cayman is. It actually sits just south of Cuba’s graceful curves, slap bang in the middle of the Caribbean Sea. However after finding out that it was a rum-soaked, funloving island we packed our bags and headed for Heathrow. When we first arrived we discovered that
everything we’d heard was correct. The entire island seems to be dedicated to two things: having fun in the sunshine and enjoying water sports. Making friends was never going to be hard when so many expats were in the same position as we were when we first arrived, and the fact that the local community here is so small and welcoming really helps you to get to know people quickly. Only in Cayman do we know half the people we bump into every Friday night in bars and restaurants around the island! Over time we discovered that there are two main sides to Cayman: the tourist and expat centre focused around Seven Mile Beach with its high-end bars, restaurants and hotels; and the true Caribbean side to the island with cute pink and blue gingerbread cottages, gorgeous
WE’VE DONE IT
areas of tropical greenery, chickens and iguanas sprinting around all over the place, and friendly Caymanians sitting out on their porches watching the world go by. We spent our first year here living with the expats but then moved to a more genuine Caribbean area, and have to say we love both! We now live right on the coast in the residential area of South Sound. Three or four enormous American cruise ships loiter around in front of our house every weekday, but the evenings and weekends are pure bliss – it’s a total cliché but getting to sit out on our terrace watching the sun set, then lying back and hunting for shooting stars really is a dream come true. Without a doubt, the thing we love most about life here is the weather and all that it allows you to do. Life is lived outdoors on this island: meals on our terrace or barbecues on the beach, entire weekends spent sunbathing
We’re getting married on the beach, with family coming over from the UK
Elly and her fiancé have fallen in love with the various watersports that you can learn on Grand Cayman
up at Starfish Point or sailing to Rum Point, evenings after work kite surfing or night diving. We’re delighted that we’re able to get married on the beach next February – we have a huge group of friends and family coming over from the UK for the occasion and can’t wait to show everyone around! The only downside is the occasional hurricane warning, but so far we’ve been lucky. We quickly realised that the true essence of the island lies in its coastlines and the love that everyone shares, whether tourist or local, for the ocean and everything you can do to enjoy yourself in it. It’s one of the world’s top spots for SCUBA diving, with breathtaking coral reefs and plentiful opportunities to swim with turtles, rays and sharks. It has an ever-growing group of fanatical kite surfers (a hobby I’m just about to take up myself) and also provides surfing, wakeboarding, jet skiing and plain old-fashioned swimming. Land-based fitness is also hugely important here, with numerous popular sports clubs from running to rugby, a yoga studio that any city would be proud to boast and various fitness classes such as beach boot camp. Another highlight of living here are the fantastic opportunities for travel, whether it’s a short hop over to Miami for a jet set city fix one weekend to prevent the onset of ‘island fever’, or a longer trip to Honduras or another
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WE’VE DONE IT
I’ve had the time to get to grips with my interior design course Caribbean island. Grand Cayman has two smaller sister islands, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, which together form the Cayman Islands. Catching the 10-seater prop plane over to either on a Friday after work really does feel like glam Caribbean living! Cayman Brac is an isolated, rugged and beautiful place with enough sea cliffs to make it a rock climber’s paradise; while all avid divers should dive Bloody Bay Wall off Little Cayman at least once in their lifetime: it’s a sheer coral cliff dropping off to 6,000ft. Swimming off the edge into the deep blue abyss is mind-blowing. I’m also pretty much obsessed with Latin America and we’ve had a few incredible trips there, holidays that simply wouldn’t be an option back home. Lastly, one part of our life here in Cayman that I’m very grateful for is being able to retrain as an interior designer. I’ve had the time to really get to grips with my course, have been exposed to countless incredible Caribbean design inspirations and have also been able to develop my signature style via my blog. It’s worth noting though that living here without a job (or working spouse) is extremely difficult and I’ve been fortunate to be able to do so. If you are looking for a job over here, it’s best to speak to headhunters before you come, as you aren’t technically allowed to job hunt here if you come on holiday. We definitely do miss city life. Aside from the inevitable distance from friends and family, I do get the occasional pang thinking of that city buzz, the new restaurants and bars opening constantly, the architecture and the shopping – whenever we have visitors over from the UK we always have a long list of
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Elly recommends undertaking further study or using headhunters to find a job if your partner is moving to Cayman
GETTING THERE There are no direct flights from the UK to the Cayman Islands. British Airways offers flights to Grand Cayman four times a week with one stop in The Bahamas. Elly flew from Heathrow, where you can also travel to Miami then journey on from there with national carrier Cayman Airways or any of the main American airlines.
things we simply can’t source here. But all this is, without a doubt, compensated for by the quality of life here. A typical day would be an early start with coffee on our terrace, followed by writing my daily blog post. I’ll then get a couple of hours of study in before a yoga class, followed by lunch with my friends. The afternoon will be dedicated to more study, then we’ll go for an evening swim or hit the waterfront for happy hour drinks with friends in the sunshine, followed by a low key dinner in West Bay. I certainly have on rose-tinted specs when I think back to our time in London, but even so the quality of life you have in the city simply does not compare to Cayman. Overall, I would recommend Cayman to anyone looking for a change of pace from the UK, great weather and fantastic quality of life. It also helps if you’re partial to a spot of rum! We won’t be here forever – I imagine the island fever will eventually get to us for good – but for a few years it truly is paradise.” ■ www.caribbeanlivingblog.com
Insider John Morphet, the owner of Royal Westmoreland on Barbados, shows us around his elegant island home
John Morphet’s home is situated at the head of the 13th fairway of Royal Westmoreland’s 7,045 yard, par-72 championship golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones Jr. The property’s elevated location offers outstanding sea views, as well as capturing the refreshing breeze yearround from the cooling trade winds. A porch entrance leads you on to an exotic bridge passing over a peaceful Koi pond, which creates an island ambiance in this grand home. The front doors open to the welcoming foyer and through to the living room. The large patio on the south-west side of the living room faces the pool deck, golf course and the Caribbean Sea, while the patio on the opposite side of the room opens to a sunlit garden courtyard.
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A powder room and media room are also accessed from the living room, together with an elegant outdoor dining room, which has seating for 12 guests. The first floor includes a quiet study, two guest suites with en-suite bathrooms and a shared ocean view balcony. The master bedroom includes a private balcony with commanding views of the golf course and Caribbean Sea, a spacious walk in closet and double master bathroom. Outside the main building there is a seperate twobedroom holiday cottage, as well as servantsâ€™ quarters and a two-car garage. The grounds have been landscaped in a tropical style, including several banana trees.
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WE’VE DONE IT
The eye of the beholder Living Abroad catches up with Kim Sivyer, who opened her own health and beauty store on Barbados, and now owns two shops on the island
Kim imports and sells high-end beauty products on Barbados
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hen Living Abroad last spoke to Kim Sivyer, she was just gearing up to open her second store in an upmarket new retail development, Limegrove. So has it all been plain sailing for the founder and owner of Pure Source? “It has certainly been very challenging,” Kim admits. “We practically had to build the interior from scratch, as we were handed over a completely empty shell. Not even the walls were finished. It took a lot longer than expected and went well over budget, as there were complications and delays with installing many of the fixtures and fittings, and practically everything had to be shipped in. I love how the store has turned out, though. The Wellness Rooms, which are our treatment rooms, are exactly how I wanted them – relaxed, stylishly simple, clean and private, and the size of the main store has provided more scope for new brands. Our customers are pleased and love the store, which is the most important thing. From the word go, I have looked on the treatment rooms as an additional business that compliments our retail store, and was adamant that it was in tune with what Pure Source represents – quality service, quality products and quality treatments. We have spent a lot of time training the staff, not only
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Kim hopes to have more time to enjoy Bajan life soon
in techniques but also understanding the products they use: the benefits, the ingredients and so on. Since we have opened we have become more affiliated with the natural skincare brand REN and have recently tweaked our menu to reflect this. REN treatments are available in some very exclusive spas in the UK and we are quite proud that we are the first in the Caribbean to offer them. More people are inclined to indulge in a treatment whilst they are on holiday, whether a massage or facial. However, they are still very particular (and rightly so) about where they have it, what products are used and how much it costs. We also offer alternative therapies conducted by specialists including osteopathy and reflexology, and we have found that these treatments are very popular, particularly with overseas visitors that regularly require them, even when they are away. Our local and expat customers tend to go more for facials (which incorporate Japanese and Shiatsu massage) and body massage such as hot stone and lymphatic drainage. Yes, considering the size of Barbados, the market is relatively large for beauty treatments. It must have something to do with the climate and setting! Our original shop in Sunset Crest has been turned into a home/soft furnishings store. I wouldnâ€™t want to be an interior designer, but I
Considering the size of Barbados, the market is large for treatments
love searching for unique pieces that represent good design and quality. We have been retailing cushions for the last few years from a French company called Iosis, and every time I visit France I see so many fabulous things we could retail in Barbados. I have always been an admirer of Terence Conran and the Conran stores, and how everything is hand picked for its design, purpose and functionality, I would love to replicate this concept in Barbados, albeit on a smaller scale. We will be retailing cotton and linen bedlinen and bedspreads from France and Portugal, beautiful printed cushions and pure silk bedlinen from Gingerlily, a brand we introduced last year with their silk travel pillows. Iâ€™m also looking at big, glass vases, which are hard to find here. Everything will be unique. I would say the majority of the businesses at Limegrove are currently run by Barbadians or other Caribbeans, and there are only a few run by expats. There is a lovely store selling French designer clothes and there is also a branch of Agent Provacateur, and the Juice Bar on the ground floor is run by a hardworking Liverpudlian-Bajan guy. Of course, Michael Kors and Louis Vuitton, who also have stores here, are not from this neck of the woods either! There is definitely a lot of caution at the moment with where the economy is heading,
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WE’VE DONE IT GETTING THERE There are direct flights to Barbados’ Bridgetown Airport from Gatwick, Manchester and Sheffield. British Airways and VIrgin Atlantic both operate regular flights to Barbados from Gatwick. Prices vary, but generally hover around the £300 mark per person one way, depending on the time of year and how far in advance you book your seat.
and for us it’s a matter of sitting tight and concentrating on the fundamental areas of business that you know will work. The concept of Pure Source is what has made the company so successful. I still get a lot of people enquiring whether we would open a store on another island and I know that the concept would probably work well elsewhere, it’s all a matter of knowing when the right time is to do it. I own 100% of the company and I’m now reaching a point where I would consider taking on a partner and further outside interests. If this happens then we would have more opportunity to expand. I was in New York last year and I was amazed that there was nothing like my store there. New York is only four hours away from Barbados: how exciting would that be? It’s been a hard year in terms of stress, work and financial outlay and for many weeks I have been working seven days without a break, so I have missed quite a few Sundays on the beach. Quite a lot of my friends left the island this year, and that has been a hard blow, but Barbados can be a transient place and you have to remember that. I still stick with my belief that I could end up somewhere else. At this moment in time I haven’t got a clue where, but my priority is building the business, and until I can take a few steps back from that, I won’t know what’s next. I received another three-year work
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Just eating dinner in the open air with friends helps you to wind down
permit this year at a cost that was more than double that of the last one. It would still be nice to have the flexibility of residency, as I have invested a lot in this country and having just a work permit does create limitations. I feel it’s important to exercise, so I swim as much as I can. Here on Barbados we are blessed with some fantastic yoga teachers, so I do yoga once a week and play tennis regularly. We also have some great places to eat here that are not too expensive, so just going out for a bite to eat after work with friends and having dinner in the open air with a rum and coke helps you to wind down. Barbados is more developed and forward thinking than most other islands in the region but it is still a difficult place to operate a business compared to the UK or US. I do sit and wonder how much I would achieve if I was doing what I am doing elsewhere. However, whenever I make a visit to London I can still see the reasons why I left. Here I don’t wake up every day dreading the commute or going into work. I think that is important and despite the challenges I have faced in the past year, I haven’t lost my mind. That’s all credit to Barbados and the way of life here – the fact that you can go and dive in the sea when you’ve had a hard day.” ■
When Kim gets the chance to relax she likes to hit the beach
Pure Source Ltd, Limegrove tel 001 246 271 8211, Sunset Crest tel 001 246 432 5190, www.puresourcebarbados.com
Ocean views The beautiful island of St Lucia is the setting for these delightful rental villas, many of which overlook the breathtaking turquoise and blue Caribbean Sea
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VILLA ALBATROSS NEST, CAP ESTATE Homes donâ€™t get much more luxurious than this. This villa was designed by architect Robertson Ward and the property is perfect for enjoying a tropical, outdoor lifestyle. Sip sunset drinks with views of Rodney Bay, Pigeon Island National Park and Martinique. The villa has four bedrooms, all with sea views, air-conditioning and en-suite facilities. Itâ€™s located in the north-west corner of the Cap Estate, which boasts several good beaches as well as the St. Lucia Golf and Country Club. www.HomeAway.co.uk/p449548
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AKASHA, CAP ESTATE
LA TOC VILLA, CASTRIES
Designed by an award-winning UK architect, the finishing and facilities within this villa wouldnâ€™t look out of place in Miami or New York. Stunning views and sunsets are just one of the many attractions of this modern villa. The property has four bedrooms,sleeps 8-9, and has an on-site manager and live-in chef. There are three beaches, a golf course, shops, a casino and top-class restaurants all within a 5-minute drive. www.ownersdirect.co.uk/caribbean/CB560.htm
La Toc is a 3-bedroom holiday villa in a stunning location at Castries, with fantastic views of the Caribbean sea. The villa offers spacious and modern accommodation for up to six people, and is a 5-minute walk from the beach. Golfers will also love the nearby course at Sandals La Toc. The property has an infinity edge pool and the master bedroom has its own private curved terrace. www.holidaylettings.co.uk /rentals/la-toc/163180
HARBOUR VILLAS, RODNEY BAY Fancy sailing right up to your doorstep? Ten homes on this quiet development with its own private marina are available to rent. The grounds and pool are never crowded and there are always plenty of moorings available. There are 1-, 2- and 3-bedroom waterfront villas for rent, sharing a communal swimming pool and two heated jacuzzis, and all just a short walk from St Luciaâ€™s beautiful beaches. www.ownersdirect.co.uk/caribbean/ CB405.htm
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PROPERTY GOLF VILLA, RODNEY BAY Golf isn’t the only attraction of this lovely villa with its own plunge pool, roof terrace and barbecue, although it does overlook the 7th hole of St Lucia's Golf and Country Club. Located in a gated community, there are three spectacular beaches within 15 minutes’ drive of the villa, and guests have access to the facilities of Cotton Bay Beach Club and the club house at the golf course. The nearest town is Rodney Bay, ten minutes’ drive away, with a good selection of bars and restaurants. Hewanorra International Airport is around 45 minutes’ drive. www.HomeAway.co.uk/p431545
SEA BREEZE, EXUMA
MODAS COTTAGE, CAP ESTATE
Remember those gorgeous turquoise seas from the Pirates of the Caribbean films? They could be your daily view if you rent this luxury villa. Sea Breeze is right next to the white sandy beach from whence Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley found themselves sailing the ocean waves. The property has two spacious decked patios with wonderful sea views, an open plan living area upstairs and en-suite bedrooms. There is also a games room with pool table. www.HomeAway.co.uk/p406481
To take advantage of its amazing view, one-bedroom Modas Cottage was designed with an open plan living space, opening out on to a patio area complete with al fresco dining. A large infinity pool, 42 feet in length and overlooking the sea, completes this tropical paradise built for two. The refreshing Atlantic breeze can be felt throughout the cottage, but air-conditioning is provided in the bedroom for additional comfort. www.holidaylettings .co.uk/rentals/sea-breeze-hills/178478
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Jamaican roots Levi Roots shot to fame on Dragon’s Den, impressing the dragons with his Reggae Reggae Sauce, based on the traditional recipes he learned growing up on Jamaica
hen I visit my family, or they come round to my place, cooking goes on all day. My sister Jean is a regular visitor, with her husband Clint and their daughters Yvonne and Michelle. They like it spicy! And it warms my heart to cook with them, having them help to prepare a chicken curry and some rum punch. Laid-back and relaxed people always end up together in the kitchen, and I like that. There are never any problems, apart from the pots taking too long to boil! When I was growing up in Jamaica, my grandmother taught me so much about cooking… and not just how to chop and stir. Gran loved to cook for a lot of people, often ten or more. People would come round to our neighbour’s house and Gran would cook for the evening. She’d be repaid for her work by her joy at people saying the food was wonderful. Everyone was really poor back then, so what we ate would depend on who had something to cook. If my grandfather had harvested that day – dug some yams, or got some callalloo and cabbages – we’d know we had food in abundance. And if you had too much, you’d give it away. People didn’t have money to buy local food, it was just given. You’d put out what you couldn’t eat and people would take it. If it was a day with lots of food, then my grandmother would cook and the visitors would bring down their work.
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From Spice It Up! by Levi Roots, Mitchell Beazley, £18.99
If a family was tying tobacco leaves, they’d bring a bag of that. If someone had coffee to grind, they’d bring along the mortar and pestle. If you had some corn to shell from the husk, you’d bring four or five bagfuls. We would all share the work and talk and eat together. When the night was over, everyone went home with their work finished – all done and dusted – having had a great time and lots of good food. The Caribbean is famous for its spices. Island food is full of fragrant flavours, markets are piled high with vibrant chillies and warm breezes and trade winds bear the scent of nutmeg and allspice. Back in the day, spices used to be as expensive as gold, kept under lock and key, and you can see why. Food can be so bland and normal. The big ingredients – the yams and potatoes – make up the bulk of what goes into the pot, but it’s the small ones – the nutmeg, the pepper, the cinnamon – that create the flavours. They’re the ones that do the tricks. Look how small cardamom and mustard seeds are, and yet how vivid. The wonder of Caribbean food is that it’s so varied. The motto of
“In those days there wasn’t such a thing as a fridge everything was used fresh”
Jamaica is ‘Out of many, one people’ because there are so many races together on the island, and all these people bring their own regional cuisine with them. There are lots of Indian people, for example, and they cook traditional Indian food. When I was growing up on Jamaica we had the hot spices – the ginger and chillies – and the flavoursome herb thyme growing wild in our garden. Nutmeg was grown locally, and someone around our village of Content would give us some in exchange for vegetables that we had grown. Then we would go and get other spices from the spice lady in the market. We didn’t have a spice rack, we would use what we needed and wrap up the rest to put away and use soon. In those days there wasn’t such a thing as a fridge. Everything was pretty fresh – bought or gathered and used straightaway. And it’s still best not to keep spices for too long, as they lose some of their power. Back home in London, Mum wants to do everything – and we do the washing up! But as she gets older she’s got to have a bit of a rest and I take over more with the food. The family comes around, we cook loads, then before the meal is eaten there’s always giving thanks. The last word, before tucking in, goes to Mum or the elder at the table. It’s to bless the meal and say thanks for the gathering. You have to give thanks for the little that you get, or for the lot that you get. ■ www.livingabroadmagazine.com
WAKE-UP FISHCAKES In Jamaica you eat ackee (the national fruit) and saltfish for breakfast. This recipe doesn’t have ackee, but these zingy fishcakes will still give you a boost at any time of day SERVES 4 200g floury potatoes (such as King Edwards), peeled and cut into large chunks 500g skinless white fillet, such as cod, haddock or pollock 50g dry breadcrumbs 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander 3 spring onions, green parts only, finely chopped 2.5cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and grated 1 ⁄2 garlic clove, finely chopped (optional) Finely grated rind of 11⁄2 limes Salt 1 large egg, beaten 2 tbsp lime juice 1-2 tbsp olive oil ■ Put the potato chunks into a saucepan of water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes or until tender. Drain well. ■ If you have a steamer, steam the fish in it above the simmering water of the potatoes – the fish is cooked when the flesh just flakes when tested with the tip of a knife. Otherwise, while the potatoes are cooking, poach the fish in a saucepan of gently simmering water or milk for about 5 minutes (or cook in a microwave). Leave the fish to cool slightly, and when cool enough to handle, check it for bones and break into rough flakes. Put the breadcrumbs on a plate. ■ Mash the potatoes and then mix with the chilli, coriander, spring onion greens, ginger, garlic (if using), lime rind and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the beaten egg to the mixture to bind it. ■ Pour the lime juice over the flaked fish, then sprinkle on a little salt and gently stir it around with your fingers to season the fish well. ■ Gently stir the flaked fish into the potato mixture. Form into 4 fishcakes, about 4-5cm thick. Pat them on both sides with breadcrumbs, then put on a clean plate, cover loosely and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes. ■ Heat the oil in a frying pan over a mediumlow heat. Add the fishcakes and cook for about 3 minutes on each side until the outside is nicely brown. Serve with lime wedges and, if having them for lunch or supper, a salad.
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CHICKEN, CITRUS AND POMEGRANATE SALAD WITH CHILLI-HONEY DRESSING SERVES 8 1 tbsp olive oil 4 skinless chicken breast fillets, 150g each Salt and black pepper 4 small oranges 2 ruby grapefruit 1 yellow grapefruit 1 small red onion Leaves from a generous bunch of mint 1 pomegranate, halved For the dressing 4 tsp white wine vinegar, or to taste 4 tsp clear honey, or to taste Salt and black pepper 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, or to taste 1 small red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
WHACK-ME-BOTTOM COCKTAIL Get ready – this is going to blast your head off! You don’t need to go to the ends of the earth for any unusual ingredients; if you can’t find curaçao, use Cointreau instead. 1 part dark rum 1 part vodka 1 ⁄2 part curaçao 1 part mango juice 1 part orange juice 1 part pineapple juice 1 part freshly-squeezed lime juice 1 cinnamon stick, broken in half Ice cubes; Caster sugar, to taste Mint sprigs ■ Shake everything together, except the
sugar and mint, over ice cubes in a shaker. ■ Add sugar to taste and stir vigorously until
the sugar has dissolved, then add the mint sprigs. Pour into glasses filled with ice cubes to serve.
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■ First make the dressing. Mix the vinegar, honey, and salt and pepper to taste, together in a shallow serving bowl. Whisk in the extra virgin olive oil with a fork and then add the chilli. Taste for the balance of flavours and adjust. ■ Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, add to the pan and cook on each side so that they get a good colour. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 3 minutes on each side until they are done all the way through – cut into the thickest part of the chicken to check that it is white rather than pink in the middle. Set the chicken aside while you make the rest of the dish. ■ Treat all the citrus fruit in the same way. Cut a small slice off the top and bottom and set the fruit on a chopping board. Using a very sharp knife, cut off the rind and as much of the white pith as possible, working from top to bottom and slicing around each fruit. Now you can either cut out each segment of fruit by slicing down between the flesh and the membrane, or, if this seems like too much work, cutting each fruit crosswise into slices. Flick out any seeds as you go along. Put into a wide, shallow bowl. ■ Cut the red onion into very fine slices. Cut the chicken into long, fairly thick slices. Add the dressing to the fruit. Add the chicken and onion to the citrus fruit, then roughly chop the mint and add to the bowl. Flick out the seeds from the pomegranate halves with a fork over the top of the salad just before you bring it to the table.
PETER ISLAND RESORT & SPA Where do you escape to when you've already escaped to one of the most exclusive private islands in the world? On Peter Island, a luxurious retreat in the British Virgin Islands, you can retreat even further to the island's tranquil spa complex. On arrival you'll be invited to put on cactus fibre clothes, which offer gentle exfoliation while you move around.You can then choose to start your day with a private yoga class, a brisk walk on the beach at Big Reef Bay, a relaxing Jacuzzi or a consultation with one of the spa's Ayurvedic physicians. These natural health experts can help with any number of issues, such as aging, nutrition and wellbeing. After your morning activities, why not spend the afternoon being pampered? The complex's treatment rooms offer a range of decadent treatments including the signature organic scrub, indigenous hibiscus and sea salt treatments, Ingrid Millet Paris caviar facials, diamond peel facials, acupuncture and reiki. Peter Island Resort & Spa, P.O. Box 211, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands, Tel: 001 800 346 4451, www.peterisland.com
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Take a dive Escape from the pressures of day-to-day life to the enchanting marine world surrounding the British Virgin Islands. Words Lawson Wood
he jewel-like British Virgin Islands are located just a few kilometres from their US neighbours across The Narrows, and can be reached by ferry from St Thomas or St John in as little as twenty minutes. Stretching in a southwest/north-easterly direction, this British dependency comprises some 50 islands and cays clustered around a wide, shallow channel. Largely volcanic in origin, they were once connected to what are now Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. They include the remains of a huge volcanic mountain which exploded while the Caribbean was still a land-locked sea â€“ the caldera is actually at Road Town on Tortola, with outlying islands forming the remains of the rim. On the southern side of Tortola runs the Sir Francis Drake Channel, a wide, shallow waterway that serves as the main thoroughfare for sailors navigating these islands in search of deserted coves and interesting dive sites. Across the channel and ranging north-west lie the Little Sisters, including Norman, Pelican, Peter, Salt, Cooper and Ginger Islands, as well as Dead Chest, Round Rock and Fallen Jerusalem. The majority of the diving in the BVI takes place around this string of islands, as, no matter what the weather, there is always a lee shore for safe diving to take place. The RMS Rhone, possibly the most famous wreck in the Caribbean, is found here, to the north-west of Salt Island.
Tortola There is comparatively little diving done immediately around Tortola, and dive boats tend mostly to travel north to Jost Van Dyke, Guana Island and Great Camanoe Island, or the short distance across Sir Francis Drake Channel to the Little Sisters. Nonetheless, the north coast of Tortola has some fabulous bays, such as Cane Garden Bay or Brewers Bay, which are protected by boulderstrewn barrier reefs. Some of the more exposed headlands are cut by huge tunnels and canyons, which become difficult to dive whenever there is a strong northerly gale. It only takes a few hours by hire car to explore Tortola, but as itâ€™s virtually impossible to traverse the island without
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ascending the lofty mountain range, extra time may be needed to take in the breathtaking views. Topped by the incredibly scenic Ridge Road, the dizzying heights make you stop at every turn just to gaze out or to snap another picture. Accommodation on Tortola and Virgin Gorda is varied, with something to suit all tastes. There are small, quiet guesthouses, large resort hotels, allinclusive luxury condos and even converted plantation estate houses. Although diving operators are usually situated within the grounds of a particular hotel, they often have special arrangements with other guesthouses or small hotels and can arrange pick-up and transfer for a day’s diving. All the dive operators offer all-inclusive packages that are regularly advertised in the scuba diving press. Now known as the ‘party island’ because of the large proportion of bars and eateries along Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke has become very popular, with great food, lively entertainment and a terrific atmosphere. There are only 140 residents on the island, all of whom are engaged in catering to the various visitors in one form or another. Power is supplied by generators, and the whole island gives you the feeling
Endangered hawksbill sea turtles are one of the creatures you
of having stepped back in time. Much of the diving is in water of under 25m, with the reefs generally being in excellent condition.
can see when you dive in the BVI
Virgin Gorda The feeling, pace of life and overall ambience on Virgin Gorda is slower than on Tortola. The main attraction is The Baths near the southern tip of the island, where huge boulders have created grottos, caves and pools. In addition there are twenty beaches on the island, all open to the public. The unhurried way of life is
Virgin Gorda has some of the best diving in the Caribbean
complemented by some of the best diving to be found in the eastern Caribbean. Among the top diving locations is The Invisibles, near Necker Island which is owned by tycoon Richard Branson. Coming close to the surface, these offshore granite rocks offer superb diving, although they are dived only in the best of conditions.
Anegada Located 19km north of Virgin Gorda, Anegada is one of the largest coral islands in the eastern Caribbean and rises only 8.5m above sea level. The island has just 160 inhabitants, most of whom are clustered around The Settlement. Anegada’s one hotel lies futher west, towards Setting Point; nearby is an extensive salt pond where flamingos can be seen. Anegada is famous for the huge number of ships that have foundered around its shores. Horseshoe Reef, to the south-east of the island is the main resting place for many of these wrecks – some 250 are recorded as having sunk here. Some of them lie stacked on top of each other, having sunk in exactly the same position centuries apart. Unfortunately, until recently this massive reef system was off-limits to divers due to pressure by local Livingabroad Caribbean Volume 1 65
DIVING GETTING THERE The quickest way to get to the British Virgin Islands is flying via either Antigua or Barbados to Beef Island, where the international airport is located. Beef Island is connected to the main island of Tortola by Queen Elizabeth II Bridge. If you are traveling on to another island check to make sure that onward charter flights or ferry service will be available.
fishermen, who had convinced the government that the divers were chasing away the fish and reducing their catches. However, it has become apparent that the reverse is the case, overfishing being the main culprit for the decline in fish stocks, and some dive sites have been opened up again. From Dive The
The Little Sisters
The Little Sisters are much smaller and lower in stature than their northern and western neighbours, resulting in a more arid profile with cactus growing. The most southerly island is Norman Island, reputed to be the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Treasure Point Caves on the island are three water-level caves that yielded a treasure trove to some local islanders many years ago, and there are still tales of lost treasure buried on the island. The highest point, known as Spyglass Hill, once gave privateers an almost uninterrupted view of all the water passages around the nearby islands, while the fabulous natural harbour known as The Bight was said to have been capable of concealing an entire armada. Pelican Island, to the north of Norman Island, is little visited apart from a small group of rocks known as
Lawson Wood, New
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the Indians, which attract scores of boaters, snorkellers and divers whenever the conditions are suitable. These dramatic rocks are peppered with guano and are said to resemble a Native American’s headdress from a distance. The largest of the Little Sisters is Peter Island, with its picture-perfect bay and superb clear water at Little Harbour, always popular as an anchorage. The island is home to the
Salt Island is known the world over for the wreck RMS Rhone
Finding Nemo won’t be hard on the BVI’s extensive coral reefs
biggest resort in the Little Sisters, the Peter Island Yacht Club Resort at Spratt Bay Point. The resort is serviced by Dive BVI, who have a full service shop on the island. Cooper Island has two resorts, one around the superb Manchioneel Bay and the other just north of Carval Bay. The Cooper Island Beach Club is popular with yachting enthusiasts who enjoy the topside scenery as well as safe and easy snorkelling. Underwater Safaris also have a dive operation here and pick up at the resort each day. Between Cooper Island and Salt
Island lie three wrecks, the newest being the Inganess Bay, which was sunk in 1997, just out from Haulover Bay, on to a flat, sandy seabed where the current sweeps over the wreck, bringing nutrients and plankton to colonise the ship. Uninhabited Ginger Island in the northeast is particularly rocky, with steep, dry scree slopes and very little beach. South Bay is a popular anchorage for dive boats as this shallow, flat sand bay has numerous isolated coral heads, making it ideal for night diving. Salt Island is known the world over for the remains of the RMS Rhone, which foundered and sank here in 1867. The bodies that were recovered were interred in a small cemetery on the island, near the ancient salt pond (the custodian of which presents a barrel of sea salt to the Queen each year in lieu of rent). Now the entire area around the wreckage of the Rhone is a Marine National Park, extending west to include the island of Dead Chest, as well as a small area north of Great Harbour where her snagged anchor was located. A dive site to the south of the island, known as Painted Walls, is also very popular. ■ www.livingabroadmagazine.com
Time for tee Golf expert Roderick Easdale shares his favourite courses on Jamaica, Nevis and Bermuda
White Witch, Rose Hall, Jamaica Arnie Palmer may be a leading figure in the golf world, but in this part of the Caribbean it is Annie Palmer who is commemorated. This cruel mistress of the 19th-century Rose Hall plantation was famed for her voodoo powers and for murdering many people, including three husbands. She is said to haunt the site to this day. The White Witch course on the estate of the 427bedrooom Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall now inhabits this plot of land and is named after her. Like its namesake, this course is a renowned beauty with ocean views from 16 of its holes. Robert von Hagge laid it out with tumbling fairways and intimidating carries. The 10th hole may play 621 yards from the tips, but the total length is only a touch over 6,700 yards. The unpredictable winds can make this layout a daunting challenge – but it will never be as fearsome as the real White Witch. And, unlike Annie, the course is sympathetic to family members – after 10am a child playing with an adult plays for free. ■ Tel: 001 876 684 0174, whitewitchgolf.com
Robert Trent Jones II, Four Seasons Resort, Nevis This was Robert Trent Jones Jr’s first foray into course design in the Caribbean – he has since designed five more tracks. The layout climbs through lush rainforest in the foothills of a volcano, reaching its highest point on the 15th tee, before plunging down to the seashore, with the 18th green overlooking Pinney’s Beach. On the 15th tee you get an uninterrupted view across to Nevis’s sister island of St Kitts. Take time to enjoy this, for that’s the high point, both literally and figuratively, of your experience on this hole. Some lusty blows are required to make the hole in regulation – it is more than 663 yards off the championship tees, although a range of teeing options gives you the chance of tackling it at 603 or 576 yards instead. Oh yes, and a ravine has to be carried on this hole, too. ■ Tel: 001 869 469 1111, fourseasons.com/nevis/golf
Clockwise from above left: the beautiful and tricky White Witch, the championship course at Port Royal, Robert Trent Jones II’s first Caribbean golf course
Port Royal is one of the best public courses in the world
Port Royal, Southampton, Bermuda How about this for the ultimate fourball – all four of that season’s Major champions? Well, that is what happens every year at Port Royal when the Grand Slam of Golf is contested. Built in 1970, the late Robert Trent Jones Sr reckoned this course was his finest creation outside the United States. This public course underwent a $14.5m redesign, completed in 2009, in readiness for that year’s Grand Slam event. This lengthened the par-71 layout by 281 yards to 6,842 yards and added, and deepened, bunkers, introduced artificial lakes and stripped away some of the trees to open up the sea views. A new irrigation system was also installed. Regarded as one of the best public courses in the world, it twists through woodland and meadow and along seashore and cliff-top, offering some spectacular vistas along its route. Nowhere is the view more dramatic than on the crescent-shaped 238-yard 16th, which is played across the rocky edge of the sea. ■ Tel: 001 441 234 0974 portroyalgolf.bm
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FOOD & DRINK
Tropical tastes With its rich local culture and sophisticated visitors, it’s no wonder Barbados has developed a cosmopolitan approach to food. Words Sue Hitchen
rom the beginning of time, people have been searching for the elixir of youth. Barbados may not have a potion for eternal life but it has all the ingredients for a long and healthy one, as a significant number of Barbadians live to be well over 100 years old. Eating yams and sweet potato, known as ‘ground provisions’, is given by locals as the reason for this longevity, but who can beat a diet of fresh fish caught daily - flying fish, barracuda, mahi mahi and king fish are all caught in the seas around the island. Citrus fruit is delicious here, starting with gloriously juicy limes and enormous local lemons used to make the infamous Barbados rum punch. On our drive from the airport we saw refreshing coconuts sold by the roadside and banana plants in abundance. Friday and Saturday nights are barbecue nights at Oistins Fish Fry. An avenue of street food vendors grill fish while live reggae music plays from a central stage. Situated right next to the large fish market, there is no doubting that this is ‘sea to plate’ cuisine. Locals throng to the place and we joined them on long wooden benches in the open air, choosing from a range of menu options chalked on the blackboard. My freshly grilled and succulent lobster was delicious served with the
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Rum punches are the lifeblood of the island, above. Opposite: fine dining at Mullins and Lone Star
homemade local favourites rice and peas (chickpeas, surprisingly) and macaroni cheese. No prices are displayed on the menu board as the waiter judges what he thinks you can afford to pay and charges accordingly! Fine dining is a must on Barbados, with a great range of options offering very sophisticated cuisine. Nestled on a cliff with magnificent views of the sea from any table, the setting at The
“My grilled lobster was delicious served with rice and peas”
Cliff is breathtakingly stunning. Dramatic plumes of flame rise from metal conches and light up the beach and the ocean. Chef Paul Owens and his team of twelve chefs produce amazing dishes and we were recommended to try the seven-course tasting menu. This included such delights as spicy tuna tartare with a wasabi yogurt sauce, local Caribbean shrimp in a coconut sauce and pan-roasted salmon with grilled shrimp and saffron mash. Gressingham duck breast flown in from Suffolk followed by prime Argentinian beef tenderloin were both exquisitely cooked, and the pastry chef
excelled himself with a selection of wonderful desserts. The following day we were invited to the Lonestar restaurant, which was formerly a garage built in the 1940’s. Not knowing quite what to expect, we were greeted by waiters dressed as garage mechanics in homage to the original owner, mechanic Jeremy Reid, a great fan of Hollywood movies and nicknamed “Lone Star of the West” A favourite for lunch, you need to book well in advance in high season. The restaurant extends onto the beach and the enticing water is metres away. I enjoyed grilled fish of the day, which was sautéed flying fish with christophine, tomato, black olives and capers – the fish was light and a good choice, the dish summery and fresh but I couldn’t help keeping my eye on my companion’s tuna tartare with mango salsa, which was declared the best he had ever tasted. Impromptu entertainment was provided by a family of turtles who
were swimming about in the surf. They were quite happily partaking of a simpler but rather similar lunch to ours: local fish. With a couple of hours to spare we decided to head to the hills of Barbados in search of an awardwinning rum that had been highly recommended to us. Described by expert David Broom as: “a rum with absolute classic Bajan balance and finesse,” we were determined to taste it. A twenty-minute drive from the coast sits St Nicholas Abbey, an original 17th-century sugar plantation, bought in 2006 by the Warren family who are on a mission to develop the Abbey as self-supporting and to produce rum using traditional methods. At the heart of it is the original Jacobean house, beautifully decorated and furnished in traditional style so that you feel as though you’re stepping back in time to a Gone With the Wind era. The rum is distilled in the
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FOOD & DRINK CONTACT DETAILS Daphne’s Restaurant Payne Bay, St James, Barbados Tel: 001 (246) 432 2731 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.daphnesbarbados.com The Cliff, Derricks St. James, Barbados Tel: 001 (246) 432 1922 email: email@example.com www.thecliffbarbados.com Lone Star Restaurant & Hotel St. James, Barbados Tel: (246) 419 0599 email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.thelonestar.com Mullins Gibbs, St. Peter, Barbados Tel: 1 (246) 422-2044 www.mullinsbarbados.com
traditional way favoured 350 years ago, using a pot still brought over from Germany, and part of the self-guided tour includes a rum tasting room where you can buy 10-year-old in beautifully hand-etched bottles. We were determined to sample the rum and were thrilled by its elegant smoothness, sweet spice, juicy tropical fruits and just a hint of crème brûlée. As part of our stay at Royal Westmoreland, we had access to the beach facilities at Mullins Beach Bar and Restaurant, apparently favoured by pop star Rihanna. Nestled on a beautiful palm-fringed, crescent-shaped beach, the setting is perfect and we enjoyed the sunset while dining on local deepfried crab cakes with tomato salsa followed by fillet of dolphin fish (a local name for mahi mahi, not the popular mammal!) on a summer vegetable ratatouille. The rum punches at Mullins Beach are potent, the best we had tasted on the island. What better way to finish a trip to one of the most beautiful foodie havens on the planet, than following in Rihanna’s footsteps, settling back, sipping punch and gazing out over the sun sinking into the Caribbean sea? ■ 72 December 2011 Livingabroad
“We were thrilled by the elegant smoothness of the rum ”
Above: the terrace
• Barbados celebrates food at the Celtic Festival (June 4 –14 2012), and throughout November at the Food, Wine and Rum Festival and the Caribbean Rum and Beer Festival.
and food at The Cliff. Above right: fresh coconuts are
• St Nicholas Abbey rum can be ordered online in the UK from www.thewhiskyexchange.com
available for sale all over the island, even by the
• Royal Westmoreland villas and apartments are available for rent from £230 per night. Tel: 01524 782503, www.royalwestmoreland.com
Property news Keep up to date with the latest information about buying your new home in the Caribbean Bowled over England captain Andrew Strauss is setting up his own cricket academy as part of the Freedom Bay development on St Lucia, and has been so impressed with the properties there he’s bought himself a two-bed villa. The cricketer says: “I was looking for somewhere to unwind, relax and enjoy the sun, but I do also think of this as an investment, which I believe stacks up well. St Lucia is popular with the Brits and I believe from my travels that this location is simply one of the best in the world – it is definitely unique.” www.freedombaystlucia.com
Little Cayman offer Quieter but equally stunning, the junior sibling of Grand Cayman is home to some bargain plots on an exclusive villa development. Plot L42, for example, is selling 25% (£80,000 reduced to £60,000) below market value and comes with an interest-free payment plan because of its distressed status, reports TheMoveChannel.com. Contact www.themovechannel.com for more details.
Cuban law change Holiday alternative
A change in the law last month means that the 11 million inhabitants of Cuba will be allowed to buy and sell property for the first time since Fidel Castro took power in 1959. It will mean the creation of a housing market and an end to illegal back-street bartering and home swapping. Although foreigners will require Permanent Resident’s status on the island to enable to buy, they are expected to play a major role as investors, with more relaxation of laws expected in the future.
Not ready to buy but want to try? The Hideaways Club property company offers the ideal solution and with record figures just announced, shows no signs of being affected by the global downturn. More members have joined this year than ever before, contributing to the exclusive club's best year to date. To view the properties available to members, go to www.thehideawaysclub.com
Shaking up the property market Colombian singer Shakira is hoping to become a Caribbean property tycoon, thanks to her part in a $16million investment on Bonds Cay, north of the Bahamas. The South American diva is part of an investment group with Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, and the plan is to develop the private island into a playground for the super-rich. www.bahamas.co.uk
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Plain sailing Richard Way, editor of the Overseas Guides Company, this month looks at buying property on St Lucia, St Kitts & Nevis and the Bahamas
Above: the approach to the island of Nevis is spectacular by sea
ST LUCIA Over the centuries, control of lush St Lucia switched between Britain and France. Today it is an independent state of the Commonwealth of Nations and has a legal system based on British common law. English is the official language. The St Lucian Government is especially eager to attract more foreign buyers to the island – BA flies there daily direct from Gatwick. There’s talk of an economic citizenship programme being introduced, which would give property investors full residency status if they invest around $350K or more. Some developments, including The Landings and Sugar Beach, already
offer perks, such as 10-year exemptions from income tax. There are four main steps to buying on St Lucia. Once you have agreed to buy a property, the first thing your lawyer must do is organise the preparation and signing of the Agreement for Sale. After that, you will need to apply for an Alien landholding licence, a document required by all non-citizens wanting to own in St Lucia. The preparation and signing of the Deed of Sale is the next step and once this is done, the registration of the Deed of Sale can be done. Legal fees for conveyancing are worked out according to the Legal Practitioners’ Tariff as issued by the
Bar Association of St Lucia and are calculated on a sliding scale of a percentage of the purchase price. Historically, most British people have bought in the north of the island, around Rodney Bay and the island’s golf course. Villas or apartments in gated communities, which can be locked up and left when the owners return to the UK, are popular, although watch out for hefty management fees. That said, anyone looking for a classical plantation-style villa away from a resort won’t be disappointed either. BARBADOS Still the favourite Caribbean destination of British holidaymakers, Barbados’s reputation as a celebrity hang-out means property prices can be extremely high. Most property-buyers on the island want to be on, or near, the west coast, with its typical palm-fringed beaches and interesting mix of multi-milion-
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dollar houses and traditional wooden chattel houses. Itâ€™s here, in the parish of St James that you can find five-star luxury and where celebs mingle. On the south coast, especially in the Christ Church parish, things are a lot more affordable and geared towards a younger crowd, while the protected east coast, with its wild Atlantic beaches, has little to offer propertyhunters although some development is taking shape in the south-east. There are no restrictions on nonresidents or non-citizens buying property in Barbados but often, to help reduce costs and simplify the process when selling, international buyers will purchase property through a company that has been incorporated outside but registered to do business within Barbados. Otherwise, buyers must obtain permission to purchase property from the Barbados Exchange Control Authority, regardless of whether they are a Barbadian citizen or not - this is a standard procedure under the Exchange Control Act Buyers. Legal fees are around 1.5-2 per cent in Barbados and the vendor pays any sales commissions and survey costs. Buyers consider annual community fees when choosing a resort as these can be high - ÂŁ3,000-plus not unusual on a quality resort on the west coast.
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Top left: a marina development for sale on the Bahamas. Right: the south-east peninsula of St Kitts
ST KITTS AND NEVIS Limited air access has kept St Kitts and Nevis, two islands separated by a twomile strip of sea, tantalisingly unspoilt and more affordable than other Caribbean destinations. The latter is especially serene, with just 11,000 residents, but the former, with its international airport, still has a population of just 35,000. Classed as an independent Commonwealth realm, the islands have a predominatly British past and English is the official language. In recent times the government there has introduced incentives to attract foreign buyers.
Anyone who invests more than $350,000 can become a citizen of St Kitts and Nevis
While non-citizens require an Alien Holding Licence to own property, which costs 10 per cent of the purchase price and takes around four months to obtain, most resorts and new developments are exempt of this rule. St Kitts and Nevis also offers an Economic Citizenship Programme. This entitles anyone who invests more than $350,000 to become a citizen, for a fee of $35,000. Foreigners and eligible family members donâ€™t need to be resident on the island to have dual citizenship and enjoy a tax-free status on foreign income, capital gains, gift, wealth and inheritance tax, as well as the right to work there. The buying process in St Kitts and Nevis is relatively simple. Legal services generally cost from one to two per cent of the purchase price and transfer taxes are paid by the vendor. THE BAHAMAS Part of the British Commonwealth, the Bahamas consists of 16 islands but those that attract the most attention from British buyers are New Providence, Grand Bahama, Eleuthera, Exuma and Long Island. As part of an initiative to attract foreign residents, the Bahamian Government now allows visitors, renters or homeowners to stay in the Bahamas for up to eight months of the
year, provided they can indicate means of financial support for this period and have a return ticket home. To stay there year-round, foreigners would need to show proof of property and net worth of over $500,000 and purchase a Resident’s Permit, which costs approximately £500. Also, residents of the Bahamas can use their residency status for tax relief from any income made outside of the Bahamas, where there’s no income, capital gains or inheritance tax. Costs for buying in the Bahamas include half of the stamp duty (between 4 and 12 per cent, depending on the value of the property), legal fees and payment of the permit under the International Persons Landholding Act (if applicable). Often classed as an over-priced tax haven, in reality the Bahamas has property to suit all budgets. One development geared towards British people is Hideaway Bahamas on Grand Bahama. It’s a semi-gated beachfront community, and properties available include apartments, villas and beachfront homes, with prices ranging from $170,000 to $950,000. Permanent residents as well as second homeowners are encouraged there. Look out for the neext issue, in which I will be looking at buying property in Antigua, Grenada, Bermuda and Trinidad & Tobago. ■
Above: Cottage at Hermitage, Nevis. Right, from top: the town of Anse La Raye, St Lucia; the Pink Plantation House, St Lucia; Tropical Resort, Barbados
Residents of the Bahamas qualify for income tax relief
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Deborah Benn looks at ways to finance your new Caribbean dream home - it’s the purchase of a lifetime, after all
Funding island property O
ften described as heaven on earth, the Caribbean is on the A-list of places to buy property. Attracted by pristine sands and the azure blue water of islands such as St Lucia, Barbados and the Bahamas, the Caribbean is the preferred property location for celebrities worldwide and attracts continued interest from buyers in Canada and the US. All reasons why property prices have generally held up well in the region. Having decided to dip your toes into the warm waters of the Caribbean property market, assessing your finance options early is advisable. Overseas property and finance specialist, Simon Conn, warns that mortgage limits in the Caribbean can be tough. Maximum loans of 60 to 70 per cent of the property price operate on most islands. The exception is the Dominican Republic, where loans of up to 80 per cent of the property’s value can be obtained. “The minimum loan available is generally $250,000, so properties of smaller values will require a cash purchase,” explains Conn. Again, there are exceptions such as the Dominican
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uk.linkedin.com/in /simonconn and www.freedombay stlucia.com Deborah Benn is managing editor of
Expatmoney channel.com, the personal finance website for British expats.
Republic, where the minimum loan available is a much lower $50,000. International banks operating in the region include Royal Bank of Canada, Barclays, CIBC and Bank of Nova Scotia as well as numerous local banks such as First Caribbean International Bank and National Bank of St Lucia. Mortgage rates are currently around 5 to 6 per cent. To buy in the region foreign nationals also need an Alien Land Holding license or register as a local company. A popular way to buy property in the Caribbean is through a planned or existing development. Many of these developments offer bespoke luxury properties with bolt-on services geared up explicitly for the second home rental market. Koprinka Aksaray, UKbased International Sales Manager of Freedom Bay in St Lucia is currently offering a 25 per cent discount on early
Having decided to dip your toes into the Caribbean, assessing your finances early is advisable
buyers of off plan luxury villas, which are based in a designer eco-luxury spa hotel and private residential complex in St Lucia. Work on the hotel villas is due to start in 2012. Outright ownership of Freedom Bay luxury villas starts at £660,000. Aksaray says buyers have a number of finance options, which include borrowing 50% of the purchase price over a five year term at a rate of 7%. Aksaray explains that buyers then have an exit option after five years or can refinance locally. There is also a fractional ownership option, which effectively gives the buyer shared ownership rights of a villa, starting at £17,500. Once you have decided on a finance option, don’t overlook any additional costs of buying property. These can include legal fees plus applicable sales fees, finance arrangement costs and any Government taxes. An Alien Land Holding license costs 12.5% of the purchase price and property sales commissions can be as high as 10 per cent, so it’s important to make sure these costs are accounted for when budgeting. ■ www.livingabroadmagazine.com
Sibling rivalry Stunning little Tobago and her big brother Trinidad have a lot going on to draw the sensible investor, says Isobel Palmer
efore considering a country as a potential home, it’s advisable to get an idea of its character. And for the Caribbean archipelago of Trinidad & Tobago it’s all about Carnival with a capital C. These tiny islands south of Grenada are known for holding the most spectacular shows in the region. If any further proof were needed of a people’s love of partying, they also boast of inventing calypso and soca music, the steel drum as an instrument and the ice-breaking dance of dances – the limbo. But this cultural connection is largely where the similarity ends, for the two islands are very different propositions for the property buyer. Trinidad is the larger of the two, dwarfing pretty little Tobago. It’s a thriving industrial centre – densely populated and one of the wealthiest in the Caribbean – exporting oil and more recently LPG to the US. However, an islander who now works in the UK as an estate agent and knows his home turf well says there is much more on Tobago to attract the UK investor. Christian de Meillac oversees international sales at Knight Frank and worked in real estate in Trinidad for five years before coming to the UK. “Trinidad is not really a holiday getaway island – we see far more interest in Tobago. There are, however, some nice little islands off its coast, such as Monos and Gasparee, where there are some million-dollar vacation homes,” he explains. “Trinidad is very mountainous and
Trinidad is the larger island, a thriving industrial centre, one of the wealthiest in the Caribbean A seaview villa with infinity pool at Bacolet Point, reduced to US$850,000. All pictured properties from Caribbean Estates, Lands & Villas
boasts many different species of birds, nature sanctuaries and reserves, so I can see it attracting eco-tourists. And although the beaches are mainly rocky, there is some good swimming.” The economy’s booming, but what’s happening property-wise? Most of the growth is in the northwest, around the capital, Port of Spain. Here, a massive new waterfront development with a Hyatt hotel has been completed. New, gated communities are popping up to cater for the influx of foreign workers, such as the Chinese – expect to pay from $500,000-$2million. Christian says: “There’s the chance of a good return on gated properties on the ocean – around 6-8%.” He
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adds: “Tobago is tiny and they haven’t really allowed it to develop, so it remains unspoiled – you can still find some nice plots of land around the southern tip.” Tobago has been a popular holiday destination for decades and has a more established market. It has a cosmopolitan population of Indians, Chinese, Syrians, Lebanese and Europeans, and its excellent restaurant scene reflects this. Nature lovers will be bowled over by the bird life and scenery, and divers can discover some challenging experiences. Natalie Mahabir, owner of Caribbean Estates, Lands & Villas, offers a comprehensive service and has a direct line to the best new properties – her husband is an architect. She has some good news for investors. “It’s a buyers’ market here – prices are down, as much as 25% on a £400,000 villa. A big plus for us is having wealthy Trinidad as a neighbour. Investors from there kept the local market alive when the international market died. Now the UK buyers are slowly coming back and they are buying in the middle market – £200,000-£400,000. For that you can get a good, rentable villa with a pool
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Above: modern villa on Samaan Grove, US$615,000. Below: a modern bungalow at Bon Accord
and nice amenities.” Helping the bounceback is the completion of a new system of licenses for foreign buyers, which the island assembly brought in four years ago. “Foreign investors have to buy in licensed areas. The new system is finally in place and in theory can be done in 20 working days,” adds Natalie. “We did one of the first applications and it seems to be working.” The good news is that many of the
“Tobago is tiny and they haven’t really allowed it to develop, so it remains unspoiled”
most popular areas are licensed – including the beautiful golf resort at Mt Irvine. Natalie says: “People are investing here again because they have seen their money grow in the past. For example, a house bought in the Bon Accord area for T&T$1m 10 years ago is now worth T&T$2.5m.” Other recommended places to look are Samaan Grove, in the south-west – Tobago’s newest gated community, where land has gone up in value from T&T$35-40 per sq ft to T&T$95, and in the north-east, Englishman’s Bay – a beautiful beach in a more ecological type area. Slightly more expensive are Grafton and Mt Irvine. Natalie is recommended by Feona Gray, of that most informative and trustworthy website Definitive Caribbean, and an agent in her own right via Caribbean Property International, a specialist agent who partners with island agents to help UK buyers. She says: “We struggle to get information on Tobago for our clients, but it’s getting better. ” Feona believes that most other agents just aren’t interested unless you are on the island. “You have to get out there – then they couldn’t be more helpful. Their view
appears to be that if you’re not on the island, you’re not serious.” If you can clear this hurdle, Tobago has much to recommend it. Feona adds: “It’s one of the prettiest islands in the Caribbean; they are a really gentle, friendly people and the food is exceptional.” Check out Definitive Caribbean’s website for an excellent guide. Prices are cheaper than Barbados and more in line with St Lucia, she says, and there are bargains to be found. This is an island known for its good stock of villas. MotMot house in Arnos Vale is set in 22,000 square feet, high up on the mountainside, with breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea from a wrap-around verandah and pool and is on the market for $850,000. Hibiscus House is situated on Gleneagles Drive, within walking distance of Mount Irvine Beach and the nearvy golf course. Set in a beautiful tropical garden, the villa is built for modern open plan living and entertaining and is on the market for $650,000. Tobago has a few top-notch hotels, and the restaurant scene is thriving, offering the self-catering holidaymaker enviable choice. Feona is particularly drawn to the simpler eateries, which are full of character. Anyone considering a purchase on
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Above: luxury villa at Mt Irvine, US$$900,000. Right: A cliff-top villa at Amos Vale, US$2.5m. Below: plantation-style villa, US$750,000
“Tobago is one of the prettiest islands in the Caribbean”
Tobago must make themselves aware of recent crime problems. Full information is available online at www.fco.gov.uk. In an article on safety, Steve Wooler from the very helpful independent tourism website myTobago says: “The vital thing to remember is that most incidents of crime against tourists could have been avoided if the visitor had applied some commonsense precautions.” ■ email@example.com Natalie Mahabir, Caribbean Estates, Lands & Villa, Tel: 001 868 639 5263 www.realestatetobago.com www.definitivecaribbean.com www.caribbeanproperty.co.uk www.mytobago.info
BARBADOS & THE WINDWARD ISLES 1. Apes Hill, Barbados This magnificent new villa sits on an elevated lot overlooking the second hole of the exclusive Apes Hill Golf Club in Barbados. Linger Longer was designed by renowned architect Ian Morrison. • Spacious rooms • Stunning sea views • Great room with vaulted ceiling • Four bedrooms • One-bed cottage
2. Sandy Lane, Barbados Nestled within a beautiful tropical garden, this villa stands as a model of old world charm. Enjoy the views of the fourth green of the famous Sandy Lane Golf Course or the charming waterfall in the garden. • Four en-suite bedrooms • Covered terrace • Poolside gazebo • Two en-suite bedroom cottage
3. Cap Estate, St Lucia These breezy two-bed and three-bed townhouses boast a prestigious Cap Estate address, overlook the St. Lucia Golf Course, and are a short walk to the sea. • Good value homes • Walking distance to beach • Optional furniture package • Plunge pool • Gated development
US$5,750,000 Alleyne Real Estate, tel: 001 (246) 432 1159, www.jalbarbados.com
US$3,900,000 Alleyne Real Estate, tel: 001 (246) 432 1159, www.jalbarbados.com
From US$290,000 St. Lucia Homes, tel: 758 4500877, www.stlucia-homes.com
4. Bon Terre, St Lucia Villa recently reduced in price to sell! Three bedroom secure family home . Good sized gardens, terraces and pool. Near to Rodney Bay beaches and nightlife. • Secure family home • Over 15,000 sq ft • Good views • Pool and patios • Large rooms
5. St Philip, Barbados This exclusive development, the Merricks Hotel, Spa and Residence, comprises studios, 1 and 2 bedroom apartments, clifftop villas and cabañas. Located where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea and close to the equator Barbados enjoys a warm and sunny climate all year.
USD$590,000 St. Lucia Homes, tel: 758 4500877, www.stlucia-homes.com
From £245,000 Charles Thomas Property Ltd, tel: 01543 254200, www.charlesthomas property.com
5 To advertise here contact Living Abroad on +44 (0)131 226 7766
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THE LEEWARD ISLES 1. Frigate Bay, St Kitts Tradewinds is located in the heart of Frigate Bay, within walking distance of the beach. The property overlooks the golf course and has clear views of both oceans. Not immediately overlooked the property offers space for a growing family as well as the flexibility of rental income. It has 3 beds, 2 en-suite,and a separate 1bed flat.
2. Jolly Harbour, Antigua The Palms in Antigua is a new development of five luxury villas with panoramic views of the Caribbean and the island of Montserrat in the distance. The peaceful hillside setting is a short distance from Darkwood Beach. Three designs of 3-, 4- or 5 bed homes are highly specified and fitted throughout, each with a large swimming pool.
3. Kittitian Hill, St Kitts Kittitian Hill is a planned community comprising a 5-Star boutique hotel, 18hole championship golf course and spa and villa residences.All properties qualify for Economic Citizenship. • With Investment Option, guaranteed annual return of 2% on all funds in escrow • Guaranteed annual return of 4% for the 3 years after handover
US$675,000 B Kassab & Associates, tel: 001 869 466 6341, www.bkassab.com
Prices on request Jolly Villas, tel: 0845 112 1661, www.palmsantigua.com
Prices on request Kittitian Hill, tel: 001 869 466 1712 www.kittitianhill.com
4. Caribreezes, St Kitts Located in an upscale villa development overlooking the golf course and Atlantic Ocean. Caribreezes is a two-bed, two bath, luxury 195m2 villa with pool on the main level and a large 133m2 one bed apartment below (two living units). Owner could use or let either unit. Qualifies for St. Kitts Economic Citizenship. £550,000 Tel: 001 869 762 5978 firstname.lastname@example.org www.caribreezes.com
5. Half Moon Bay,St Kitts Hillside villa: 3 beds, 3 baths, LR, DR, granite top Italian kitchen, laundry, office or fourth bedroom, 20' pool, large covered verandas, 2 car carport, hurricane shutters, emergency generator, appliances and partial furniture. Panoramic views of the Atlantic, Caribbean Sea, golf course, and mountains. Refurbished with new lighting, plumbing, fans, marble top vanities. Citizenship. USD$995,000 email@example.com
5 To advertise here contact Living Abroad on +44 (0)131 226 7766
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THE BAHAMAS & BEYOND 1. Nassau, Bahamas New Spanish style 4 bed 4 baths and 2 half baths. Hand painted tiled entry with vaulted ceiling. Attention to every detail puts this property in a class by itself. • Hand painted tiled entry • Wood beam ceilings in living and dining rooms • Fireplace in living room • Quality Finishes • Gated community with club house and marina
2. Grand Bahama Completed in 2010. Magnificent ocean views over the landscaped lawns and palms. The master suite has large bath and walk in closet. The 2 guest beds share a second large bath. Gorgeous kitchen with granite tops and stainless steel appliances with additional butler’s kitchen. Large open-plan living and dining area. For sale turnkey.
US$2,800,000 Damianos Sotheby's, tel: 011 242 362 4211 SIRbahamas.com
US$775,950 Hideaway Bahamas, Tel: 001 242 374 4483 hideawaybahamas.com
3. Planencia, Belize Fabulous tropical home with two levels and third level viewing deck. Upper - 3BDR/2BATHS/ living room. Lower floor 2BDR/1BATH, kitchen, living room, dining room. Swimming pool, outdoor cooking area. Back has private waterfront canal with Caribbean Sea on the front. Very nice home.
4. Habaneros, Belize Brightwaters Beach Resort is the latest offering from one of the finest builders on the island! This quality project is located in one of the most beautiful and untouched areas of Ambergris Caye. This area is only about 4 miles from Rocky Point, where the reef touches the shore.
US$900,000 Belize Shores Realty, tel: 001 713 893 8023, www.belizeshores realty.com
Price on request Belize Shores Realty, tel: 001 713 893 8023, www.belizeshores realty.com
5. Paradise Is., Bahamas Extraordinary 3 bedroom 3.5 bath 3,584 sq. ft. condominium enjoys dramatic sea views at an elevation of over 100 feet. Two swimming pools, gym and beach access. • Dramatic sea views at a 100-foot-plus elevation • Spacious, open floorplan • 60-foot dock available for purchase • Gated complex with pools and beach access US$2,495,000 Damianos Sotheby's, tel: 011 242 362 4211 SIRbahamas.com
5 To advertise here contact Living Abroad on +44 (0)131 226 7766
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Calypso Christmas Barbadian blogger and passionate cook Cynthia Nelson shares her tips for celebrating an authentic Caribbean Christmas
From Tastes Like
arning! Don’t eat and drive! Yeah, I know that it’s different from the familiar ‘don’t drink and drive’, but I tell you, this should be a label attached to all black cakes. This is a deep, dark and dangerously intoxicating Christmas cake that can make you wobbly at the knees just by smelling it. Black cake, dark cake, rum cake, Christmas cake, call it what you will, the holidays would not be the same without it. Throughout the Caribbean, we each have our own versions of black cake. What makes it “our” black cake is defined by the rum used: in other words, it is Barbadian black cake because it is made with Barbadian rum or Jamaica’s because it is made with their rum. All human lives revolve around rituals, especially in the Caribbean, and one of our most important is the ritual of the black cake. We start by “setting” the fruits. By that we mean blending or chopping the fruits and soaking the mixture in various alcoholic beverages so that they can absorb the flavours of the alcohol and be cured. The dried fruits, raisins, currants, prunes, dates, cherries, and mixed peel are all ground together and soaked with one or a combination of these alcoholic beverages – rum, port wine, cherry brandy and, for Barbadians, Falernum. When to set the fruits and for how long? Some of us follow the tradition of our parents and grandparents and others do whatever is convenient for
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Home by Cynthia
them. I follow the tradition of my mother by soaking fruits a year in advance. I always buy more fruit than I need and by the time I’m finished blending, soaking and baking, I have an extra bottle of alcohol infused fruits. Every year, I make a new batch to replace the one I’m going to use. Setting fruits for cake is only one of the many rituals when it comes to preparing for Christmas. We are known for “breaking up” the house. All the curtains are taken down, every stick of furniture is pushed far to the corners and covered, and rugs are rolled away, all in preparation for the biggest, deepest clean of the year. Each and every child resentfully learns what hard work means for two weeks as walls are
Nelson, Ian Randle Publishers, £16.95
“Life revolves around rituals, especially in the Caribbean”
wiped, cupboards scrubbed, silver cleaned, china washed, cushions and chairs re-upholstered. For that period it looks like the house has been hit by a bomb. But, in the end, when everything looks clean and new and all the Christmas decorations are up, you can sit back and enjoy the beauty of your home as you munch on your black cake. I enjoy Christmas Eve more than Christmas day itself; there is something electrifying about the day, something magical as the hours and minutes climb to the midnight hour. When I was younger, early in the evening Mommy would always make a large pot of cook-up rice. That was dinner and also to feed the 2 a.m. hunger we and some of our friends would have coming home from Midnight Mass. My most enjoyable meal at Christmas used to be breakfast – well, actually brunch given that we never sat down to the table before 10.30 a.m. My Auntie Betty and her family would join us for this meal. I enjoyed the chatter, the laughter, the teasing, and the togetherness. Equally important and significant in this merrymaking was being able to drink coffee: it was the only time we were allowed it. Oh, and everyone at the table was also served a glass of sherry with their meal. Oh yeah! As I sit here, there’s a pain in my heart, now everyone’s grown up and flung far and wide across the globe with their own families making new traditions and maintaining some rituals. It makes me treasure the memories even more. This year, we’re blessed to have a new member in our family, my nephew, Ethan. I look forward to the days when I can share our Christmas rituals with him. Yeah, he looks like he’s going to be a strong little boy; he’ll be a good lil’ worker when it comes to breaking up the house. ■ www.livingabroadmagazine.com