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It took Lisa R. Atkins 15 years to agree to her husband’s proposal to move their family to his homeland of Barbados. She finally consented in 2005 and, pregnant with her fourth child, moved with her husband and three children, eventually taking a job as a sales consultant for developers Cinnamon 88 (www.cinnamon88.com). Atkins, 40, and originally from Philadelphia, manages a property portfolio that now includes The Four Seasons-36 luxury private _residences (priced at $5 million to $20 million) on the Caribbean island’s “Platinum Coast.” A member of the Commonwealth and governed by a British-style parliamentary democracy, Barbados has 280,946 residents, a stable currency exchange rate at $1=BDS$2, and direct air routes from Atlanta, Miami, New York, and Charlotte, North Carolina.
Sugar is the island’s principal agricultural product, generating about $40 million every year, but it’s tourism that drives the economy: Barbados raked in more than $1 billion from visitors in 2007.
Government-supported tax holidays, duty-free import exemptions, and a maximum tax rate of 2.5% have attracted about 5,000 offshore companies. Barbados exports electronic components, rum, and a growing crop of chart-topping Bajan recording talents such as Rihanna.
Expats gravitate to careers in banking and finance, real estate, insurance, construction, and hospitality. CitiGroup, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers are among the global corporations that have a presence in Barbados. The low tax rates and double-taxation agreements, as well as having one of the Caribbean’s three stock exchanges, aids Barbados’ ambition to be recognized as the financial capital of the region.
A golf destination in the making, Barbados hosted Tiger Woods’ wedding and later a PGA World Golf Champion-
ships in 2006. The island boasts two courses designed by architect Tom Fazio, a supreme par-three golf experience at The Royal Westmoreland (www.royalwestmoreland.com), and the links-style Barbados Golf Club (www.barbados
golfclub.com). The Barbadian sports calendar includes a polo open, cricket tournaments, The Waterman _Festival for surfers, and the Sandy Lane Gold Cup-a thoroughbred horse race. Check out www.visitbarbados.org for a list
Little Arches (246-420-4689, www.littlearches.com) has “a fantastic rooftop restaurant-Cafe Luna-for alfresco dining under the stars and excellent sushi,” according to Atkins. The hotel is near the Barbados Golf Club and has a 44-foot luxury yacht for its guests.
Atkins recommends Hilton Barbados (246-426-0200, www.hiltoncaribbean.com/barbados) for business travelers. “There are many restaurants right there; every major conference that comes through here is hosted at the Hilton.”
Tamarind Cove (246-432-1332, www.tamarindcove hotel.com) boasts a Platinum Coast location with price points from $571 to $945. This lush, family-friendly hotel is also near the island’s finest restaurant, The Cliff (246-432-1922, www.thecliffbarbados.com).
Barbados is the only Caribbean country with Zagat-rated restaurants. The faultless service, white Peking duckling, and decadent Perfect Storm dessert at The Restaurant at Southsea (246-420-7423, www.therestaurantatsouth sea.com) are all a part of the fine dining experience.
For a girlfriends’ night out, Atkins recommends Aqua Restaurant & Lounge (246-420-2995, www.aquabarba
dos.com) because it’s “very trendy, right on the water, and a little bit more upscale with fancier appetizers.” And Scarlet (246-432-3663) “is a tiny, chic red house that is vibrant [and artsy].”