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 I experienced the luxury of the YU Lounge, an exclusive lounge adjacent to the airport. After I got off the plane, I was received by an assiduous host and shuttled to the destination within minutes. 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’s welcoming atmosphere, I almost forgot I was completing the usually tedious immigration check in process.
Formally known as St. Christopher, the island of St. Kitts has a fascinating terrain, consisting of volcanic peaks and rainforests, which cover a quarter of the 65 sq mile region and continue to expand.
The best aerial views of the island’s peaks and valleys can be seen from Sky Safari’s zip line tours. I quickly forgot about my fear of stepping off the platform for the first quarter mile zipline as I was suddenly gliding over lush green treetops and surrounded by breathtaking views of the distant volcanic peaks and the sparkling ocean. It was the first of four zips, offering pure scenic adventure and thrill.
Sky Safari is located on the Wingfield Estate, which offers a rich historical heritage. A developer purchased the abandoned property in 1988, after it had been overtaken by dense vegetation. It was at one time a working estate, dating back to the 1600s, providing tobacco and indigo crops. The land was later converted to a sugar cane refinery and rum distillery, boosting the local economy. Visitors will be impressed by the massive machinery and well preserved aqueducts, which were used to produce rum and process sugar. An on site distillery is under renovation and will offer visitors rum samples and tours. A 400-year-old tree, a saman mark, adds to the character of the land. The monumental tree has withstood disasters both manmade and natural, military invasions and hurricanes.
Another stop on the estate is Caribelle Batik, where artisans demonstrate the ancient Indonesian craft of batik printing using dye resistant wax upon cloth. I enjoyed browsing the gallery filled with colorful prints, shirts, dresses, scarves, handbags and more, available for purchase.
Travelers looking for an aquatic adventure can set sail to the island of Nevis, St. Kitt’s sister island (together they form 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 sail and invigorating snorkel adventure, I was ready for some island-style bbq which was provided at Nevis. The lunch did not disappoint, consisting of chicken, fresh fruits and tantalizing coconut coleslaw. With a full stomach, I was prepared to head 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 I asked what is in a Killer Bee, all I was told was, “Well there’s some rum, some passion fruit juice, other ingredients and then more rum.” The bar has hosted an all-star cast of musicians, actors and entertainers including Beyonce, Jay Z, and Oprah.
Another St. Kitts must-see is the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, situated 800 feet above the ocean. The fort was designed by the British military as a defense against the French. African slaves constructed the fortress, carrying massive volcanic and limestone rocks on their backs while withstanding the heat and tumultuous climb. Soldiers had panoramic views of land and sea as they fired heavy artillery and canons against invaders. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the largest fortress ever built in the Eastern Caribbean.
The St. Kitts Marriott Resort & the Royal Beach Casino offers beachside comfort and luxury, along with the special treatment 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. I embraced taking 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 distinctive 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/