The History of Barbados’ Platinum Coast

Barbados has played host to celebrities and famous politicians since the 60’s, but the island wasn’t ready to attract the A list until a well known Tony Award winning Broadway set designer (Oliver Messel) and a British MP (Ronald Tree) saw the potential of the West Coast. Its status as the Gold Coast of the island, due to the fact that the waters are at their calmest and bluest here, has now been upgraded to the Platinum Coast, and with good reason. Here’s a short potted history of how the West Coast became the Caribbean destination, with world famous mansions, hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and shopping, all sprinkling stardust on a stunning backdrop of sun, sea and sand.

sunset in Barbados

Humble beginnings

The West Coast road wasn’t a popular journey for those wanting to reach the country’s capital city Bridgetown in the early part of last century. Barbados’ busy rum industry meant large trucks piled with sugar cane dominated the road and while some braved a bumpy bus journey on the dusty path in good weather, most travelled by boats which would pick up their passengers from jetties along the way.   


Fustic house in Barbados


Villas were developed along the coast by Messel (who designed houses all over the Caribbean including one commissioned by Princess Margaret) who found his trade perfectly matched the desired aesthetics of the rich and famous. However, it wasn’t until MP Ronald Tree struck luck with the government’s permission to develop villas on a larger scale that the coast boomed. Sandy Lane’s developments continue to be the blueprint of Barbados’ renowned waterside villas and the luxury resort is still popular today. In the early 60’s, before his death, Sir Winston Churchill visited his predecessor at Sandy Lane. From then on Barbados became the most exclusive of destinations.

Destination Barbados

It is often said that along with its balmy climate and (mostly) hurricane free status, it is the attentiveness of local staff that sets Barbados apart from other areas of the Caribbean. With privacy, laid back hospitality and a fun-loving atmosphere, celebrities like Sir Cliff Richard and Simon Cowell like to think of the island as a second home. In the early 70’s a world famous nightclub – Alexandra’s nightclub attracted rock stars like Mick Jagger and David Bowie and movie stars like Oliver Reed. By day Ronald Reagan could be seen swimming in Cobblers Cove with full secret service protection. 

Sandy Lane still plays host to Oprah, Sir Elton John, Justin Bieber, Gwyneth Paltrow and even the Queen (when she was last there) to name but a few. Barbados’ West Coast is also a very popular place for weary athletes to soak their aching muscles in the healing waters of the Caribbean Sea – Lewis Hamilton and the Beckhams are often seen here. Wayne Rooney enjoyed his time on the island hugely, and his £5million mansion sits just back from the beach. You can even rent it when he isn’t there and wave hello to Rio Ferdinand, Joe Calzaghe and Carl Fogarty, his neighbours. Meanwhile Supermodel and entrepreneur Jodie Kidd actually grew up in Holder’s House on Holder’s Hill which hosts the main Polo grounds in Barbados – another celebrity spotting affair on game days.


Prince Harry and Rihanna in Barbados
Prince Harry and Rihanna in Barbados


Your ‘Muse’ in the Caribbean

Barbados is associated with relaxation, but some come for work, if you can call it that in a place like heaven on earth. After squabbles and a considerable hiatus by their standards, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards patched up their differences on the West Coast and got back to making beautiful music. While Richards put up with Jagger’s insatiable appetites for the high life, they recorded the critically acclaimed Steel Wheels on the island. The music world owes lots to Barbados. While recording at Eddy Grant’s house, Jagger bumped into The Happy Mondays who were recording their sadly ill fated last album. In more recent times though, poster girl for the island, Rihanna became one of the highest grossing digital downloads of the year in 2012, beating Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift. She still returns home regularly to strut her stuff at the Crop Over Festival.

Today the day and nightlife for the rich and famous is still very vibrant and a testament to the historical development of Barbados’ platinum coast. One Caribbean Estates is headquartered here and our must-have villas, townhouses and condos are beautiful embellishments to this timeless coastline. Get in touch with us to make an appointment

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