Winds of Change in Cape Verde

Basking in the sun just off the north western coast of Africa, Cape Verde is a glorious archipelago of nine inhabited islands boasting a colourful creole of African and European cultures, today bringing a fresh surge of tourism and investment to its shores.

With developments going up fast, particularly on the busy island of Sal and around Praia on Santiago Island, the Cape Verde Islands are witnessing rapid change both in appearance and economic status. In fact they are currently tipped to undergo a similar kind of metamorphosis experienced in the Canary Islands some thirty years ago.

Nevertheless the past six to eight months do seem to have seen a relative calm on the Islands in terms of investment opportunities in quality new developments on prime locations. Fortunately this situation is about to change as investors await the launch of four superb new projects to be released on the islands of Sal and Sao Vicente over the next few months. One such project, now at launch stage, is Dunas Beach Resort, offering front line beach or golf properties and all the luxury on-site facilities to be expected of any modern golf and leisure resort today, including a spectacular commercial centre, luxury spa, communal pools and gymnasium.

As most savvy investors are aware, Cape Verde is the nearest Tropical destination for Northern Europeans and, at mere 5.5 hours budget flight from London, it sits on the brink of a heyday both as a tourist destination and as a property investment hotspot. According to official figures, visitors to Cape Verde are growing at a rate of 22% per annum, with over one million per year expected by 2015. Euromonitor global travel and tourism manager Caroline Bremner told TravelMole: “Tourism has become one of the world’s biggest and fastest growing industries, with global visitor numbers growing by 16% over 2004 and 2005 to reach 118.6 million. As a result, towns, cities and regions are welcoming a huge new influx of tourists and have begun to aggressively market their natural and historical attributes in order to encourage visitors.” Many other new facilities are also being established; for example a Macau businessman, David Chow, is investing over $100m in a casino and hotel complex in the capital city of Praia.

Increased tourism investment into Cape Verde’s economy has brought with it a new wave of businesses, all seeking top quality commercial and residential accommodation. With new investment projects worth over £150 million currently underway and more overseas property investors than ever before, flights to Cape Verde are constantly on the increase. These extra services have prompted savvy investors to look at the Islands’ great potential for wise moves into property and tourism in Cape Verde. Those investors who bought only 24 months ago have already seen price increases of some 70% in some locations, a fact which, in itself, is a great indicator of what is still to come while economic development is by no means over.

Due to increased economic activity, Cape Verde now celebrates a matching decline in unemployment along with far higher standards of living than ever experienced on the Islands. Recent improvements to the infrastructure and utilities are key areas which Cape Verde has been developing, bringing about vast improvements to islanders’ daily lives. For example, in 2000 only 68% of households had electricity while today over 90% are connected to mains power. Other services such as running water, waste and sewage disposal are now widely available as the country swiftly moves on with modern times to become one of the world’s top tourist and investment locations.

So the winds of change are still blowing strong in Cape Verde and its sails are filled towards its final destination of success. Many investors are eagerly jumping aboard in order to reap the rewards that emerging Cape Verde offers today.

The Best Portfolio Of Overseas Property You Will Find

Choose Brooksfeller International Property and you have the peace of mind of an established overseas real estate agent helping you find your new home in more than ten countries, including: Barbados, Cape Verde, Dominican Republic, and St Vincent.

They are committed to customer care and client satisfaction always aiming to ensure you have a relaxed and enjoyable experience from purchase onwards, including support from our comprehensive after sales team.

Most important of all, they can offer you the best portfolio of overseas property you will find. Beautiful new and resale homes in a stunning range of locations around the world. Villas, penthouses, townhouses, apartments, terraced houses, traditional dwellings and plots, for your holiday home, retirement or purely for investment.

Barbados

The Merricks development is perfect for any investors looking for blue-chip property offering very good yields and considerable capital gains. Also, in addition, you will have the chance to holiday on one of the most beautiful and desirable islands of the world.

1. Guaranteed 10% rental return for two years

2. 100% funding is available for this exclusive development

3. 2 year 10% rental guarantee

4. Followed by 5 year 50% room rate share on pooled hotel income, resort only

To learn more about Brooksfeller’s developments in Barbados www.barbados-real-estate.co.uk

Cape Verde

With stunning views, crystal clear waters, breathtaking tropical landscape and velvety, white sandy beaches it is not hard to see why Cape Verde has just come 2nd in the top 20 locations in the world, judged on its beauty and exclusivity. We at Brooksfeller International have a wide range of property throughout the islands, and here is just a small selection of the property available.

1. The Cape Verde Islands are very attractive for holiday makers, property investors and businesses alike, here a just some of the reasons why.

2. Excellent rental income – the perfect all year climate with virtually no rainfall will allow for year long holiday rentals.

3. Fiscal Incentives – Exemption from corporate and complementary taxes on profits for 10 years, starting from the date operation begins, afterwards the maximum tax rate imposed will be 15%; Tax holiday on dividends and profits paid to shareholders for 10 years from the date operation begins; Life exemption from indirect taxes.

4. Europe’s closest tropical islands – known as Europe’s Caribbean

5. Excellent property prices – Cape Verde beach apartments from €40,000.

6. Over 50% increase in property value over the next 24 months expected.

7. Exchange rate value of local currency is fixed to the Euro.

8. Tourist development – The government has earmarked 4 islands for tourist development – Sal, Boa Vista, Santiago and Maio, and major developments such as the new Vila Verde, Sambala Village, Djedsal Moradias and Santiago Golf Resort are all proving extremely popular with British property investors.

To learn more about Brooksfeller’s developments in Cape Verde www.property-cape-verde.co.uk [http://www.property-cape-verde.co.uk]

Dominican Republic

Situated between the North Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, the Dominican Republic borders east Haiti and occupies the eastern two-thirds of the island Hispaniola. Santo Domingo is its capital and contains many colonial buildings (it is the new world’s oldest capital) which have been carefully restored to their former beauty, to retain their charm. Many intriguing structures have survived for over 500 years from the 16th century and the Spanish architecture that resided there.

Huge reform processes have taken place in the Dominican Republic in recent times and is currently undergoing large government investment in infrastructure which has created a fantastic climate for investment. Tourist numbers have risen greatly in recent times and to such an extent that the country is now one of the major tourist attractions in the Caribbean; so great in fact that it actually accounts for over 1 billion US $ in its annual earnings.

1. Guaranteed 10% rental return for two years

2. 100% funding is available for this exclusive development

3. 2 year 10% rental guarantee

4. Followed by 5 year 50% room rate share on pooled hotel income, resort only

To learn more about Brooksfeller’s developments in the Dominican Republic www.dominican-republic-real-estate.co.uk [http://www.dominican-republic-real-estate.co.uk]

St Vincent

The Caribbean Island of St Vincent is stunningly beautiful with most of the island remaining untouched through tourism. This magnificent island is off the beaten track and is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the benefits of living in a Caribbean paradise. It is also an incredible investment opportunity with great short-term returns guaranteed and incredible long-term returns predicted.

1. Guaranteed 10% rental return for two years

2. 100% funding is available for this exclusive development

3. 2 year 10% rental guarantee

4. Followed by 5 year 50% room rate share on pooled hotel income, resort only

5. Construction in progress, project Due to complete in 2008

6. Capital growth of 30% per annum is predicted for the next four years

To learn more about Brooksfeller’s developments in the St Vincent www.st-vincent-real-estate.co.uk [http://www.dominican-republic-real-estate.co.uk]

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The Joys of a Hard-Tail 29er Mountain Bike Ride With 8000 Foot Elevation Gain on Catalina Island

I’ve been a road cyclist all of my adult life. In fact, it was the love of those same road bikes that caused my career change from the world of music to bike shop owner. During my 20 some (but who’s counting) years of riding, I’ve done centuries, double-centuries, multi-day rides, long flat rides, long hilly rides, just about anything you an think of that doesn’t involve structured racing. I can count on both hands the number of times I’ve done a mountain bike ride of more than a short distance. My total time off road was about to double, and then some.

I reestablished contact with an old friend recently, someone I’d shared many long, arduous road rides with. He is just as passionate about mountain biking, and told many tales about his experiences on Catalina Island, where he vacations three or four times a year, riding a mountain bike deep into the interior of the island. For those of you unfamiliar with Catalina Island, it’s 24 miles off the coast of Southern California, one of the largest of a chain of barrier islands known as the Channel Islands. Catalina is the only one of the Channel Islands with a permanent population. The entire island was owned at one time by William Wrigley, of chewing gum fame and fortune. He established the town of Avalon and made it a prime resort destination for Southern California. A famous casino, still the major architectural highlight of Catalina, hosted the popular big bands of the 30’s and 40’s. Today, most of the island, with the exception of Avalon, the small village of Twin Harbors and the airport, is a nature conservancy.

You can ride a bike across the island, but you must have a mountain bike as the roads are mostly poorly maintained dirt, and you must also buy an annual pass. My friend invited me to take the ferry over to Catalina on a Sunday, and said he’d give me a bike tour of the island. He said it would be really hilly but thought I could manage it. This presented me with a dilemma: I had been road riding a lot and was in pretty good shape, but I was concerned about my mountain bike skills and the endurance that would be required. Shawn Charlton, the service manager of my shop, is a serious and highly skilled mountain biker. He suggested I take a hard-tail 29er for the trip. This is a bike that has front suspension but none in the rear. Since we would mainly be on fire roads I wouldn’t need the extra control a rear shock would give, and I would gain some efficiency and lose some bike weight without the rear suspension mechanism. Mountain bikes with 29″ wheels are a relatively new breed. The larger wheel allows you to climb faster and roll more easily over small obstacles. Maneuverability is better with a standard 26″ wheel mountain bike, but since we’d be mostly on fire roads and not technical single track I wouldn’t miss the smaller wheels.

For my adventure, I selected a Specialized Stumpjumper Hardtail Comp 29er. The Stumpjumper is the high end of Specialized’s three models of hardtail mountain bikes, which also includes the Rockhopper and the Hardrock. The Comp is the entry-level 29er in the Stumpjumper series. It has a RockShox Reba front fork with 90 mm of travel (29ers have less travel than the equivalent 26″ models since the front end of the 29er sits up pretty high.) A SRAM 10 x 3 speed drivetrain and Avid Elixer SL hydraulic disc brakes round out the package. Fortunately for me, this bike climbs really well due to the ultra-light alloy frame and large wheels. I say fortunately, because nothing on Catalina Island is flat! It’s either steep uphill or steep downhill.

This was one of the most breathtaking rides I’ve ever done, both because of the great amount of difficult climbing and the unbelievably beautiful scenery. Of course, I was familiar with beautiful scenery since my business is located in the very scenic community of Palos Verdes and I’ve done more than my share of riding there. We started out by climbing out of the town of Avalon, where the ferries dock and the tourists lay out on the smallest beach in the world. That first climb was about 1500′ of elevation gain in two miles! I was able to lock out the front shock on the fly with the flip of a dial, which gave me a little more efficiency on the steep climbs. After heading down a couple of miles of paved road, we turned off onto a rutted dirt road and hit our first big downhill. I unlocked the front shock and let it rip. The bike handled all the unevenness and loose dirt easily and I was able to just fly down the hill. We passed an old abandoned hunting lodge, saw a rare Catalina Island Fox and stopped to check out a bald eagle sanctuary where that species was saved from extinction after DDT pollution had almost wiped it out.

We next encountered another steep climb, and at the top we caught our first glimpse of the open Pacific Ocean on the windward side of the island. Another steep downhill took us towards the water, and we passed through Little Harbor, a mostly uninhabited cove where boats can tie up. Next came another extended steep climb, and at the crest we looked down on the Isthmus, a flat area that connects the two mountainous halves of the island and also bridges the windward and leeward sides of Catalina with a strip of land less than mile wide. We had seen a few of the island’s herd of Buffaloes (Bison) from a distance, but there was a huge one on the isthmus munching on the grass. I was able to get within about 15 feet and snap some pictures.

We went through the little village of Twin Harbors located at the isthmus and rode on for about another half-hour looking down at some of the secluded coves on the rarely visited northern half of the island. By now we were pretty hungry, so we turned around and got some lunch in Twin Harbors. A hamburger never tasted so good! After lunch we started back the way we came, which unfortunately meant another huge climb to get back over the mountain, then a steep downhill back into Little Harbor. So far we had climbed almost 6,000 feet and my legs were beginning to feel every one. Luckily the Stumpjumper performed beautifully with the big wheels churning over anything in its path and the hydraulic brakes giving me great control and confidence on the lightning fast downhills. If I though the hardest part was over, I was in for a rude shock.

At Little Harbor we turned left on another dirt road that would take us all the way up to the Catalina Airport, which is located at one of the highest points on the island. After a couple of excruciating miles, my riding companion stopped and directed me to a mountain peak high in the distance. He pointed out what looked like a flat saddle just down from the peak and said it was the airport runway. I watched that spot for what seemed like hours as I pointed the Stumpjumper skyward and crept slowly towards that spot. When it seemed like we were almost at the top, the road suddenly veered right and downward, taking us away from the airport. We rode through El Rancho Escondido, a working horse ranch founded by the Wrigleys, where champion Arabian horses are bred. We passed the ranch started climbing yet again, and ended up winding around to the far side of the mountain next to the airport before finally coming down into the airport. That was one of the toughest climbs I have ever done.

From Little Harbor to the airport it was seven miles and about 2,000 feet of elevation gain over rutted, loose dirt. I had to stop a couple of times on the way up to catch my breath, but I was able to make it all the way without walking, as the big 29″ wheels giving me every mechanical advantage. We stopped in at the airport snack shop and got a cold drink and a big cookie to fortify ourselves for the last part of the ride. We left the airport at 4:00, which gave us just an hour to get back to Avalon before the sun set. The road from the airport back was, mercifully, paved so we made pretty good time getting back. I had thought the return trip would be all down hill, but unfortunately for my tired legs, we stayed up on a high plateau with undulating ups and downs until the final half mile screaming descent into Avalon. We hit town just 3 minutes before 5:00 and by 5:15 it was dark. In all, I had hauled my body and the Stumpjumper 51 miles and over 8,000 feet of elevation gain. As promised, a fantastic day and one of the hardest rides of my life. I never could have done it without the Stumpjumper 29er, and what a way to test a bike!