Pristine views of unspoiled landscape blanket the island of St. Kitts. From the rainforest to vast stretches of beach, visitors will enjoy exploration and relaxation on the island situated between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. I highly recommend the VIP Experience Package offered by the St. Kitts Marriott Resort & the Royal Beach Casino, where I was treated like royalty as I experienced the essence of the island.
I never thought landing at an airport and going through immigration would be something to write about, until now. After a seven hour flight, I was driven to a private luxury lounge, known as the YU Lounge, next to the airport. As I stepped into the Caribbean cabana, I felt like I entered paradise as I was handed a refreshing warm washcloth and escorted to the sitting area. An attendant served champagne, a refreshing glass of lemongrass basil iced tea and hors d’oeuvres including crab cakes and spinach quiche. This unique service – there is only one other YU Lounge in existence, located on the island of Mauritius in southeast Africa – is just one of the many benefits of the Marriott’s VIP Experience Package. As I relaxed in the lounge, I almost forgot I was waiting for immigration check in, which proved to be a smooth and easy process.
Formally known as St. Christopher, the island of St. Kitts consists of mountains formed by volcanoes and rainforests, which cover a quarter of the region and continue to expand.
The best aerial views of the peaks and valleys can be found through Sky Safari’s zip line tours. The fear and apprehension of stepping off and gliding hundreds of feet above ground are quickly forgotten by the views of bold volcanic peaks off to a distance, the sparkling ocean to one side and lush green hills and treetops below. The first line is a quarter mile of pure scenic adventure and thrill.
Sky Safari is located on the Wingfield Estate, which offers a rich historical heritage. Maurice Widdowson – savior, preserver, and developer of Wingfield Estate – purchased the property in 1988, when it had been almost completely overgrown by dense vegetation. A visit by a team of archaeologists from Bristol University in 2001 brought to light that the estate was possibly the beginning of the English settlement of the Americas after many excavations. Wingfield was the first land grant made in the West Indies in 1625 to Samuel Jefferson, antecedent of American president Thomas Jefferson. It was the first working estate (beginning with tobacco and indigo crops and later producing sugar cane and rum) and is the oldest standing rum distillery.
In addition to the zip line tours, visitors to Wingfield Estate can view an old rum distillery and sugar cane refinery, which were a boost for the local economy. Another stop on the estate is Caribelle Batik, where artisans demonstrate the ancient Indonesian craft of batik printing using dye resistant wax upon cloth. The end result is colorful prints upon shirts, dresses, scarves, handbags and more, available for purchase. Lush green forests cover the Wingfield property, including a 400-year-old tree, a saman mark, which has withstood military invasions and hurricanes.
Another St. Kitts must-see is the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, situated 800 feet above the ocean. The magnificent structure was designed by British military engineers in defense of trading and built by African slaves. The uphill plight the slaves endured, carrying massive stone blocks, demands reflection after guests climb to the top of the fortification. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is the largest fortress ever built in the Eastern Caribbean and offering breathtaking views along with a fascinating historical perspective.
Travelers looking for an aquatic adventure can set sail to the island of Nevis, St. Kitt’s sister island (together theyform the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis) on a catamaran tour with Leeward Islands Charters, which includes snorkeling along the way. I recommend holding off on the unlimited drinks on the cruise until after the underwater viewing. After a relaxing cruise and invigorating snorkel adventure, I was ready for some island-style bbq awaiting us at Nevis. The lunch did not disappoint, consisting of chicken, fresh fruits and tantalizing coconut coleslaw. After a full stomach, our group went to Sunshine’s Beach Bar and Grill, where the infamous Killer Bee is served. This signature drink was created by the bar’s owner, Sunshine, who is quite secretive about its exact ingredients. When asked what is in it, this is all that would be shared. “There’s some rum, some passion fruit juice, and then more rum.” The bar has hosted an all-star cast of musicians, actors and entertainers including Beyonce, Jay Z, and Oprah.
The St. Kitts Marriott Resort & the Royal Beach Casino offers beachside comfort and luxury, along with many of the experiences described above when you select the VIP Experience Package. The tropical resort has open air verandas on each floor, inviting in the ocean air on one side and framing distant rainforests on the other.
I enjoyed the outdoor pool which offered a convenient swim-up bar. The vast pool area is located adjacent to the private beach, where lounge chairs, tables and umbrellas are provided. Take time for some oceanic contemplation while viewing the rolling waves and distant volcanic peaks. For some indoor play, check out the Royal Beach Casino which offers 19 table games including Blackjack, Craps, Roulette, as well as 300 slot machines.
The Emerald Mist Spa, part of the resort complex, is a great place to unwind and detox with its whirlpool, sauna and steam room. I went for the bamboo massage, in which a skilled masseuse gently rolled heated bamboo sticks with the perfect amount of pressure. This distinct technique alleviates tension and stress, incorporating natural elements indigenous to the island.
For a quaint island getaway with a diverse ecosystem, historical interest, and adventurous activities for everyone, consider a visit to the island of St. Kitts.
Places to dine
Ballahoo Restaurant – http://www.stkittstourism.kn/explore-st-kitts-dining-display.php?business=42
Carambola Beach Club – http://www.carambolabeachclub.com/
Spice Mill – http://www.spicemillrestaurant.com
Brimstone Hill Fortress – http://brimstonehillfortress.org/
Sunshine’s Beach Bar and Grill – Nevis – http://www.sunshinesnevis.com/
Romney Manor/Wingfield Estate/Caribelle Batik – http://www.caribellebatikstkitts.com/
Ziplining – http://www.skysafaristkitts.com/
Catamaran Sail to Nevis – http://www.leewardislandschartersstkitts.com/