Sarah Sleeps Around: Park Hyatt St. Kitts
There’s big news on St. Kitts: The Park Hyatt St. Kitts, the island’s first luxury resort, on the Southeast Peninsula. Doors opened on November 1, and I was lucky enough to be the first journalist to stay at the 126-room Banana Bay cloister. Here’s what I loved about it (and you will, too).
The Location A scenic 25-minute drive from Robert L. Bradshaw Airport (SKB), the beachfront resort occupies an enviable Southeast Peninsula spot, three miles across the sea from St. Kitts’ smaller sister island of Nevis. Wherever you are on property you can’t help but swivel your head toward the sight of Nevis Peak, which majestically dominates the ocean view (and will likely do the same to your Instagram feed). And if you can tear yourself away, you’re only about 40 minutes’ drive from St. Kitts’ most popular attraction, the historic fort at Brimstone Hill.
The Rooms If I had a penny for every Caribbean hotel room I’ve stayed in that’s been decorated in British Colonial style with heavy swagged drapes, dark mahogany furniture and pastoral prints on the wall, I’d be independently wealthy by now. The Park Hyatt, however, breaks the mold, eschewing the hackneyed and lazy plantation-driven aesthetic STILL so popular at island resorts in favor of a contemporary Caribbean look that’s light, bright and uncluttered.
No mahogany four-poster beds here!
I loved the clean-lined Scandi-style furniture; the white wood-panelled walls; and neutral color scheme punctuated with small pops of color in throw cushions, chairs and wooden hanging pegs. The understated décor is common to all 78 Park rooms and 48 Park suites, allowing the beauty of the exteriors to assume the spotlight. And nowhere is that more evident than in a dozen Nevis Peak Park Suites, which have a-ma-zing views of Nevis Peak right from the bedroom, living room and rooftop infinity pool. Take a look at my Facebook Live tour of my Nevis Peak suite here, and then tell me you don’t want to book one!
The Sense of Place Given the choice, I usually pick an independent boutique hotel over a chain because I like to feel immersed in the destination rather than insulated in some anonymous, generic roost. So I really appreciate the all too rare occasions when hotel chains attempt to incorporate a sense of place into their product. To me it’s not only a gesture of respect to the destination in which they’re making money, but also a huge cultural bonus to their guests.
The PHSK pays much more than lip service to this goal in a number of ways. At the adults-only pool, stone arches recall those at the nearby colonial-era fort, Brimstone Hill, and are constructed of local stone mined in the hills that back the property.
In the Miraval Life In Balance spa (the only one in the Caribbean, thank you very much), there’s a replica of a sugar mill, also crafted of local stone and used as a meditation and yoga space. And treatments incorporate local ingredients such as Kittitian salt, volcanic stone, black sand and brown sugar.
Executive chef Pankaj Bisht has gone out of his way to incorporate local ingredients and techniques into menus, even becoming the catalyst – through his demand for cage-free local eggs – for establishment of St. Kitts’ first free-range poultry farm.
And those lobsters served at Fisherman’s Village restaurant? They’re not flown-in frozen crustaceans. They come from right there in St. Kitts, straight from the popular waterfront restaurant, Sprat Net.
The Staff No matter how great the hotel hardware, no matter how many blingy bells and high-tech whistles, a resort can’t be great unless its staff is. How many times have you checked into a place that was high on style but dismally low on service? Happily, the Park Hyatt isn’t one of them. Even though it had been open less than a month when I visited, I found the people on the front line to be welcoming, warm, and professional. Where there hiccups? Yes. But that’s to be expected at a brand-new resort where many staff members are new to hospitality and to the luxury sector. Once brought to their attention, however, any small lapses (there was no room service menu in my suite for example) were quickly, apologetically and effectively corrected. I have no doubt that in a couple of months service will run like a well-oiled machine.
In the meantime, special shout out to Vance, a beam of light and professionalism every morning at breakfast in the Great House restaurant.
And to Minesh, the master mixologist at Fleming’s Bar, who can whip up the perfect customized cocktail faster than you can say “make mine a double.” (Ask him to make you something with saffron-infused vodka; you won’t regret it.)
Just One Caveat … Of course, no resort is perfect for everyone, and if you’re a beach snob, Park Hyatt St. Kitts might not be for you. Which is not to say that the beach isn’t decent; it’s about a half-mile-long stretch with captivating front-row views of Nevis, three miles across the sapphire strait known as The Narrows. But it’s not talcum-soft white-sand sweep the likes of which you’d find in say, Anguilla or the Turks and Caicos Islands. Expect the sand to be golden, not ivory, and coarse rather than fine. Still, it’s not rocky; the water is clear; and because most guests seem to gravitate toward the family or adults-only pool, yours will likely be one of only a few bums on the beach.
The Bottom Line The Park Hyatt St. Kitts is a welcome addition to the island’s hotel scene, which will surely create new interest in one of the Caribbean’s lesser-visited destinations. The only luxury resort on the island, it’s destined to become the standard by which other hotels here are judged.