St. Kitts’ Game-Changer

New Park Hyatt catapults island onto the luxe scene

BY DON NICHOLS — Winter 2018

n the drive from St. Kitts’ international airport in Basseterre to the new Park Hyatt St. Kitts Christophe Harbour, which opened in November, we first pass through the modern community of Frigate Bay, with many newly built apartments and condos. But from there the scene quickly turns remote, with several miles of rolling hills forming a narrow peninsula leading down to the beachfront hotel on the isle’s southern tip. The drive along the winding road, which delivers scenic views of the Caribbean to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, takes only about 20 minutes, but I feel far removed from the world upon check-in. In three-story buildings that wrap around Banana Bay Beach in a crescent shape, Park Hyatt’s first Caribbean hotel sits all by itself sandwiched between the green hills and turquoise water. I’m immediately entranced by the resort’s tasteful tropical décor, the cool sea breezes, and the quiet.

Call the Park Hyatt a game-changer for this sleepy island relatively new to the tourism game, most especially the luxury market. Other than a Marriott resort in Frigate Bay, you won’t find big-brand hotels here, and the only other upscale property comparable to the Park Hyatt is the 4-year-old Belle Mont Farm on Kittitian Hill built on a mountainside on the island’s far north side. For branded luxury, the only choice until now has been the Four Seasons Resort Nevis on St. Kitts’ sister island of Nevis, 2 nautical miles across the sea from the Park Hyatt.

These tips will help ensure you get the most out of your stay if you decide to book this new property that’s poised to finally give St. Kitts serious cred with luxury travelers.

Splurge on a suite  The Park Hyatt sports 78 rooms and 48 suites, all chic but simply decorated; all with ocean views; and all with balconies or terraces. But with floor-to-ceiling windows spread across the bedroom and living room, the 12 Nevis Peak Suites deliver especially spectacular views of the grounds, the ocean, and Nevis in the distance. Sleep every night with the drapes pulled open, and you’ll awaken to colorful sunrises you’ll want to snap with your smartphone. The spacious sundecks — with a daybed, sofa, chair with ottoman, four-seat dining table, and plunge pool — are perfect for easing into your day with a leisurely breakfast, curling up with a good book, taking a refreshing dip, or sunning.

Leave your diet at home  The culinary program shines here, with three dining outlets that keep guests well fed. I favored the most casual one — Fisherman’s Village, an open-air, ocean-to-table seafood restaurant that borders the water, comes with refreshing sea breezes, and serves up delicious dishes. My two favorites: Chilled Coconut and Corn Veloute soup and a Beet and Vodka Cured Wahoo Fillet Sandwich. Executive chef Pankaj Bisht serves only sustainably resourced seafood — caught wild with no net fishing — most of it from local fishermen who deliver their fresh catches to the resort’s dock.

Hang out in the spa  It’s a Miraval Spa, need I say more? Start your day on a particularly tranquil note with a meditation class in the spa’s replica of a stone sugar mill. Before or after a treatment, keep chilling in the spa’s private courtyard in one of the oversize square hammocks; pull-down flaps provide shade and privacy.

Lounge poolside  The resort has both a lagoon and adult pool, with spacious and cozy cabanas between the two. Each cabana has its own private pool, making renting one for a day especially appealing.

Take some “tots”  If you like rum, belly up to the rum bar and talk shop with the rum sommelier. Sample some of the nearly 60 brands stocked, including premium pours such as Ron Zacapa Centenario XO.

Engage the staff  Kittitians are friendly and the hotel has seemingly recruited some of the isle’s friendliest, with charming names such as Adriel, Delvina, Fernella, Saskia, Teveda, and Yanek. Strike up a conversation, and they’ll happily chat with you, answer your questions, and share island stories. One dinner server noticed I was battling a cough and brought me a pot of hot chamomile tea mixed with honey and other ingredients, a soothing remedy she told me her grandmother made for her when she developed coughs. Her simple gesture of empathy made me smile and made me like the Park Hyatt even more.

 Details  From $450. 869-468-1234; stkitts.park.hyatt.com

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