How the Park Hyatt St. Kitts, Wingfield Estates, and Kittitian Hills Are Changing St. Kitts

At the end of a long day of touring St. Kitts, we went to our favorite smoothie stand. Our guide from St. Kitts Tourism was celebrating her birthday and we all agreed a smoothie was in order. At the stand, we came upon Maurice Widdowson, the proprietor of Romney Manor and Wingfield Estate, who we had met earlier in the day. There’s nothing like living on a small island to make chance meetings at the smoothie stand an everyday occurrence.

All day we had been struggling with how to describe St. Kitts, as we made the loop around the small island. We found ourselves swept up in the excitement of new development, the promise of jobs and new visitors. But we also found ourselves nostalgic and wistful – as much as one can be after a week on the island.

Nostalgic for a time when the vast fields of sugar cane was the backbone of a booming industry, and wistful for the thousands of Kittitians who look out at the sea each day and see multiple enormous cruise ships on the horizon.

Everyone we met were thrilled with the increased profile of St. Kitts. Our mixed feelings about progress and preservation were shared by almost no one.

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When we asked Maurice about his thoughts on the developments sprouting up around the island, he summed it up perfectly:

“I moved here 40 years ago because I fell in love with its charm. And you know what, even after 40 years, the charm is still here.”

And that is what makes St. Kitts so special. In and around the chaos, we found interesting examples of projects that are thoughtfully expanding, embracing all the reasons why expats flocked here to live, and all the reasons why the masses are finding their way here today.

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Luxury on the Southeast Peninsula

Christophe Harbour is ambitious in every sense of the word: a massive development consisting of a variety of commercial, retail, and residential projects, spread throughout the whole southeast peninsula of St. Kitts.

As you descend the steep hill onto the SE peninsula, The Christophe Harbour Marina is immediately visible. The marina is a network of docks designed for mega-yachts, capable of handling vessels up to 300′ in length. What those boat owners get is nothing but the best – top-notch service and first-class facilities, albeit with a local flair. Each slip has its own fuel lines, power stations, and dedicated wifi.

Once you disembark, you enter the Marina Village, which houses a handful of retail shops featuring artwork from local artist Dale Kelley and outdoor gear from local company Ballast Bay Outfitters. The building itself is modeled after the Treasury Building located in the capital, Basseterre.

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And that is just the tip of the iceberg for Christophe Harbour. The biggest addition to this development is the soon-to-open Park Hyatt St. Kitts, the first Caribbean destination for this luxury hotel brand. Its 126 rooms will all be water-facing, tastefully designed and extremely private. Of course, there will be a variety of restaurants, a state of the art spa and wellness center, and an incredible beach, just steps from many of the rooms.

Rendering of the new Park Hyatt St. Kitts

Rendering of the new Park Hyatt St. Kitts

What impressed us about the Park Hyatt St. Kitts (besides the fact that it’s will be a stunner!) is how much the resort will be connected to the local community. In addition to many, many jobs, the retail space in the main building will be entirely rent-free galleries for local artists and businesses.

If luxury resorts and marinas are not your speed, then you still need to check out one of our favorite parts of this development: SALT Plage. The industrial-chic, beachside bar is one of the best spots for a sunset view in St. Kitts, and a ideal locale to sip a few rum punches or speciality cocktails.

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Preserving History at Wingfield Estate and Romney Manor

“Every time we dig a hole, we find something”

Maurice Widdowson has made it his life’s work to hold onto history in St. Kitts, having bought and meticulously restored these two neighboring properties. For a man that should be retired, living the good life on a Caribbean island, he may in fact be the hardest working man on St. Kitts.

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Mr. Widdowson has worked with a team of archeologists for the past 15 years, uncovering what lies beneath the soil at Wingfield Estate, a sugar mill from the 17th century. When he purchased the property, only the aqueduct and the towering chimney stack were visible, as the rainforest had reclaimed most of the land.

Eventually, after cutting back the dense brush, the team discovered kilns, sugar cane presses, and even the remains of a rum distillery. Everything was there, deserted, but intact. All it took was someone who cared enough to uncover the rich history that lay beneath the ground.

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Just up the hill from Wingfield Estate lies Romney Manor, a home originally built in 1627 and eventually sold to the Earl of Romney. Much like Wingfield, Romney Manor was abandoned when Mr. Widdowson took over the land.

He cleared out the grounds and set about restoring this historic site, inspired by the beauty of the cornerstone of the property, the 400 year old Saman Tree.

He quickly established a batik studio, hiring local artists to create the colorful fabrics that are now sold at the home. Visitors can see first hand how batik is made, from the free-hand designs and patterns, to the dying and waxing process.

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What struck us about Wingfield Estate and Romney Manor is how preserving the past can provide for the future. Mr. Widdowson employs a whole team of local artists and workers, some of whom have worked for him for 40 years. On our visit, Wingfield Estate and Romney Manor were crawling with visitors, and Mr. Widdowson and his team were eager to share the story of the island and the properties.

It’s a bargain too, just $3 entrance fee to Romney Manor, and Wingfield Estate is free of charge.

And it doesn’t stop there. Mr. Widdowson has more grand plans to make a visit to these properties a cornerstone for any visitor to the island. The excavations are continuing, and further improvements to the facilities will be made. He even plans to bottle his own rum with the Wingfield Estate name, making it first rum to be commercially produced on St. Kitts for some time.

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Serenity in the Kittitian Hills

On the north end of St. Kitts lies Kittitian Hills. Part hotel, part private homes, this island oasis is unlike anything else on the island. Nestled about 1,000 feet up Mt. Liamuiga and set on almost 400 acres, this new community offers something unique for luxury travelers: a Caribbean hotel that is not on the ocean.

Sounds crazy, right? Well, once you step foot on the grounds, you understand.

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The heart of Kittitian Hills is Belle Mont Farms, a hotel that focuses on sustainable living. Belle Mont Farms has established an organic farm on the mountain, minimizing its footprint by growing many of its own fruits and vegetables (including 100 varieties of mango). They also source their meat and seafood from local farmers and fisherman, helping establish a connection to the locals in the area.

Your car is left at check-in, as navigating the grounds is done by foot or solar-powered golf carts. You would think that not being seaside would be a drawback, but the feeling of serenity and peace you feel as you walk through the manicured gardens, surrounded by rainforest, and spotting the occasional monkey nibbling on some tropical fruit, makes this setting even more special.

The guesthouses are gorgeous, spacious with soaring ceilings, and plenty of sun drenched surfaces for an afternoon nap. Despite that feeling of being outside when you’re in, the landscaping is strategic in that you can’t see any other guesthouses from your own. It’s the ultimate private hideaway. And rather than having the ocean lapping at the foot of your door, you get an amazing view down the forested hill, to the sea below.

You can watch the world go by from the privacy of your infinity plunge pool.

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During our visit, we were treated to lunch at the on site restaurant, the one that sources from private gardens and local farmers and fisherman. The concept of eating locally is taken to new heights here, and you won’t find staples like rice on the menu, as it’s not grown on the island.

We loved the freshness of the menu choices and how the chefs really took care to highlight Caribbean flavors, from the tart punch of a conch ceviche to the richness of a local spiny lobster in a coconut broth.

All of our favorite spices were there, and you can always kick it up a notch with fiery hot sauce.

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The Future

It’s hard to argue with the progress being made in St. Kitts. With new developments come jobs and economic growth and many more visitors who can say they’ve experienced St. Kitts’ charm. From what we can tell, the development that is happening is being executed with a lot of care.

From a self-sustaining property on the mountain to the St. Christophe complex in the south, the people in charge want to showcase St. Kitts, while preserving the best things about the island.

It will be interesting to see how St. Kitts chooses to develop, in the short and long term. There is a definite urgency to up the ante on the luxury travel front, with the new properties we saw. But there is also a booming cruise ship industry, and single day visitors are the biggest source of tourism traffic for St. Kitts.

We just hope that the next time we visit St. Kitts, we can survey this tiny magical island and say to ourselves that we once fell in love with the charm. And the charm is still here.

Thanks to the St. Kitts Tourism Authority for providing us with a full tour of the island and arranging all of our visits. As always our opinions are our own!

Note to readers: We are this close to finalizing our plans for where we are moving next! We will announce it first in our monthly newsletter (which is all the nitty gritty behind the scenes stuff that we usually leave off of the website), that is coming out tomorrow! If you haven’t already signed up for the newsletter, why not do it now? We never spam (nor do we know how), and your email address is safe with us.

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  • March 18, 2017
    Megan Indoe

    St. Kitts looks absolutely beautiful and my kind of place! The photos from the hotel look straight out of a magazine! I am dreaming to be in that room now and swimming in the infinity pool!

  • March 18, 2017

    I think it would be hard to ever leave that beautiful hotel. Love the atmosphere, fixture and the food looks fab. I need to add it to my travel list!

  • March 19, 2017

    Funny story… We were at the Travel and Adventure Show attending a presentation from the Virgin Island Tourist Board and I thought of you guys when they said they drive on the left. Now, here comes this article. How ironic.

    Love your pictures of the island. They are truly magnificent. I hope that when I retire, I am more active than I am today. I love the thought of retiring to a Caribbean island and searching for relics.
    Jenn and Ed Coleman recently posted…ReflectionsMy Profile

    • March 22, 2017
      Jo-an

      Hi I’m a patriot now living in UK, but visit frequently and would just like to point out that St.Kitts & Nevis drives on the right and not left.
      Love my country 💕

      • March 23, 2017

        we meant left side of the road, not the left side of the car. Just like the UK!

      • March 23, 2017
        Allan Player

        No they drive on the left

      • March 24, 2017
        Debra

        you are so wrong, we drive on the left.

      • April 30, 2017
        Michael Martin

        You are wrong!

  • March 19, 2017

    I must say that your pictures are of superior, professional quality. To the extent that I scrolled up and down a few extra times to relook at them! What a wonderful resort. Love the sugar mill too.

  • March 19, 2017

    I love the heritage of the Caribbean. I’ve only been to Antigua, but found so much history. An unexpected thrill for me – I love a good beach, but it’s places like Wingfield Estate and Romney Manor that make it for me.
    Fiona Maclean recently posted…Skrei – Three Recipes To Cook the Finest CodMy Profile

    • March 19, 2017

      We love to see people working hard to preserve the past!

  • March 19, 2017

    I can not imagine St Kitts losing its charm! What a beautiful place. I must relax in that infinite pool!

  • March 20, 2017

    My husband and I visited St. Kitt’s and Nevis a few years ago and had a great time. The islands were much quieter and the visitors a bit older than some other Caribbean islands. But, we loved the charm you describe. I remember a cab driver telling and showing us all the development projects happening on the island. It would be interesting to return and see the changes firsthand.
    Jackie Sills-Dellegrazie recently posted…Why I Always Have the Chase Freedom Credit Card in my WalletMy Profile

  • March 20, 2017

    We haven’t visited St. Kitts since over 20 years ago and I can see that it’s changed a lot. Your photos are gorgeous, though, and make me want to go back. We stayed at The Golden Lemon when we were there. I wonder if it even exists any more.
    Lois Alter Mark recently posted…“beauty and the beast” movie reviewMy Profile

  • March 20, 2017

    I love your perspective on the progress in St Kitts. It’s right that often we consider it to be bad, but for locals who will gain with a broader economy and job I can see the appeal. It’s true though, with this beauty is absolutely never want to leave!

  • March 21, 2017

    Wow, the Park Hyatt St. Kitts looks like it will be amazing, but I would also love to stay at Belle Mont Farms–that pool and bath look wonderful, plus, I love how they focus on local ingredients in their restaurant! St. Kitts would be a great spot to visit, and I’m glad that it sounds like they are putting thought into how they develop and expand–that’s always important!

  • March 21, 2017

    St. Kitts looks very attractive with the beautiful beaches and the landscapes. It’s truly significant that they had thought about the progress and how to keep the charms without losing the historic aspects of the islands. The fact that they are thinking of pushing the developments and progress in a positive ways to benefit the community around along with its visitor is outstanding. I look forward to seeing St. Kitts in the future
    Lieurene Tran recently posted…Welcome to The Pink Hole – wait, the pink what?My Profile

  • March 23, 2017
    Marcella Berridge Grebenc

    Wow St. Kitts!! Time for.a visit home for me.

  • March 26, 2017
    IngRID dore

    My beautiful home where my family was born also Nevis 🌴🌴🌴💥💥💥😊

  • April 8, 2017
    Snipes

    Sweet, Sweet SKB!!!
    Nevis nice!!!