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Why Demand Is Rising for Golf Course Living in the Caribbean

When it comes to real estate and golf, Anders Bogebjerg is an expert in both.

Bogebjerg is not only the owner and founding partner of real estate company Group Palmera in the Dominican Republic, but he is also a former Professional Golf Association (PGA) player and former European Junior Champion.

In 2007, Bogebjerg successfully opened Palmera Realty, a real estate agency, specializing in selling luxury real estate located on golf courses and beachfront. In 2008, the company did more than $15 million in sales. In 2013, Bogebjerg changed the main focus of the Palmera Realty from sales to management and rental of luxury villas, merging Palmera Travel & Palmera Realty into Group Palmera.

Caribbean Journal Invest (CJI) recently spoke with Bogebjerg and other top Caribbean developers about the growing interest by buyers and investors in properties located near a golf course in the region.

“Generally speaking, golf resorts are the most exclusive resorts in the Caribbean,” said Bogebjerg. “If you want to be in a high-end, gated community, most likely they will have a golf course also.”

Oriana Juvelier, vice president of Puerto Rico Sotheby’s International Realty said the same goes in Puerto Rico.

Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve hotel in Puerto Rico offers solid luxury and impressive courses.

puerto rico hotel industry
Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve in Puerto Rico.

She told CJI that as a member of the club at Dorado Beach, owners have full access to two, 18-hole championship golf courses, as well as tee times and professional service.

Owners at the Ritz-Carlton procure the golf membership through branded ownership at the Reserve, she said. Preferred tee times are available.

“Golf course living is resort living in Puerto Rico,” said Juvelier. “Resort living affords a higher level of lifestyle in Puerto Rico, inclusive of five-star amenities, services and typically waterfront luxury.”

For instance, said Juvelier, both the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort and Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve center their luxury lifestyle brands around beach and golf.

She told CJI these are the two hotels “command the highest price per square foot [at] anywhere from $1,300 to $2,000 a square foot.”

“There’s a strong correlation between the people who want to own an island home and golf,” said David Southworth, CEO of Southworth Development, whose portfolio includes The Abaco Club on Winding Bay in the Bahamas. “A majority of our members and residents are avid golfers, and the quality of the golf course we have at The Abaco Club is one of the main reasons they choose to become a member or have an island home here.”

Mack Altidor, a sales agent for Replay Destinations in Nassau, the Bahamas, said location is also a major advantage for Caribbean golf courses.

Currently, the hottest residential property represented by Replay and located near an impressive course is One Ocean, which Altidor said is the tallest residential building on Paradise Island, Bahamas, thus offering impressive views of the entire island.

“We could not be better located [for golf],” he said. “We are on Nassau Harbour, next door to the [Tom Weiskopf-designed] Ocean Club Golf Course [at Atlantis Paradise Island], across the street from the [The Ocean Club, a Four Seasons Resort] and within walking distance of the water parks at the world-renowned Cabbage Beach.”

So, what advantages do golf lovers have at One Ocean?

“Buyers at One Ocean are owners seeking a true Caribbean golf experience, breathtaking scenery, luxurious taste and a tremendous respect for the game of golf,” he said. “This 18-hole, Par-72 championship course stretches over 7,100 yards and is recognized as one of the finest courses in the Caribbean.”

And what is the main advantage of investing in the Bahamas in general?

“Buying a house also provides a route to obtaining residency in the Bahamas,” said Altidor.  “Individuals investing over $750,000 in Bahamas real estate are eligible to apply for permanent residency while those investing over $1,500,000 qualify for Accelerated Consideration for a Permanent Residence certificate.”

But One Ocean isn’t the only attractive option for hotel investors looking for properties near a golf course in the Bahamas.

As mentioned, Southworth Development represents The Abaco Club on Winding Bay, a private, international sporting club with “members from all over the world who want to escape to a quiet Bahamian paradise to relax, recreate and rejuvenate,” said Southworth. Many members, like 2011 Open Champion Darren Clarke, have homes there, said Southworth.

bahamas abaco golf
The Abaco Club.

He said other members fly in for vacations with family and friends or for club events and stay in the luxury cottages that are in the club’s rental pool.

Club members have access to all of the club’s amenities. At the top of the list for many is the golf course, which is ranked No. 1 in The Bahamas and annually hosts the Korn Ferry Tour’s Bahamas Great Abaco Classic each January, said Southworth.

“It’s a challenging links-style course—not your basic resort-style course at all. It will give good players all they can handle, but it’s also a ton of fun for your average golfer,” said Southworth. “When we took over the club, we created a massive practice facility, too—with design help from Darren.”

Southworth also said it includes a double-ended practice range and a short-game practice area where players can “recreate any chip, pitch or bunker shot you might encounter out on the course.”

COVID’s Effect on Golf

George Punoose, principal at Cabot Bay in Saint Lucia, told CJI the sport has actually seen a steady decline overall in the 15 last years, but interest in the activity always remained high amongst vacationers and second-home owners in tropical destinations.

But now, because of the pandemic, interest in the sport is picking up amongst everyone.

“First, I want to make it clear that we are not tone deaf to peoples’ struggles out there when we talk about golf,” he said. “We know it’s very hard times out there.

“But COVID has certainly increased interest in golf mainly because it’s safe and it’s outdoors, and there’s only such much Netflix one person can watch,” he continued. “Golf is a place to escape.”

So, how can that trend motivate someone to invest in Caribbean residential resorts like Cabot Saint Lucia?

“The people who live the lifestyle where they can afford a second home in a luxury destination might come and play golf here and say, ‘this is where I want to be the next time something like [COVID]comes around, somewhere outdoors, somewhere near the ocean, somewhere with a golf course,” he said.

caribbean golf saint lucia
The Cabot Saint Lucia site. All photos by Jacob Sjoman.

Punoose said the golf course at Cabot Saint Lucia, Cabot Point, is expected to be fully ready by 2022.

Cabot Point will represent the first Caribbean golf course designed by esteemed golf course architectural firm, Coore & Crenshaw. Punoose said Cabot will have 320 residential units, 200 of which will be townhouses and flats. He also said there 100 in actual lots.

Southworth said a peaked interest in golf is one of the few positive sports stories to come out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The skyrocketing interest in golf is probably the one good thing that has come out of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Southworth. “At a time when physical distancing is so important, golf’s a game that allows people to get out of the house, get some fresh air, and safely have fun together. We’ve seen this increased interest in golf play out at all of our clubs. Membership inquiries and sales have been brisk—not just with golfers, but also people who want to play tennis or have a safe situation for swimming or outdoor dining or other club events.”

Southworth said COVID-19 also served as another reason for owning Caribbean property near a golf course.

“At The Abaco Club, March and April saw many members from the U.S. and other countries come to shelter in place at the club for weeks and, in some instances, months on end,” said Southworth. “There were no cases of the coronavirus on the island, so our members were able to bring their families here and enjoy what amounted to an extended vacation.”

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