31 AUG 2015:  A group of country and tourism officials from St. Kitts and Nevis accompanied the new tourism minister to meet with local media in Toronto recently to showcase some of their latest tourism initiatives. The theme: Luxury

The island - only 23 miles long and 5 miles - wide lays claim to fame as having the first British settlers in the Caribbean who arrived in 1623. Lately it’s been busy launching various travel products geared to the luxury market, and, in the process St. Kitts is laying claim to some 21st century firsts.

Lindsay F.P. Grant, minister of tourism, international trade, industry and commerce, says the island is more of a lifestyle destination. “We don’t want to be like all the Caribbean. We are not a mass tourism destination. We are more for the discerning visitor,” he says.

Since taking on the portfolio in February, the minister admits training hospitality staff to meet the demands of future hotel developments is on his wish list. “I’m in the capacity building mode,” he notes and adds that included on his list is: “To ensure our people are trained for the new environment we’re going to have. We want to be sure that we will be ready for business.”

The reason: more luxury tourism developments are on the books.

Luxury

“St. Kitts is going luxury,” he noted of the upcoming hotel developments and stressed these are not mass developments as “St. Kitts and Nevis are two islands one paradise.”

Findings from a recent tourism industry survey conducted in March indicate the average spend per person was up 20 percent to $182 a day per person. “I think we’re one of the highest in the Caribbean,” says the minister.

To boot, the ministry data also indicated the growth of the island expenditures was concurrent among visitors in the 200K+ income category. “That category group grew about 22 percent over last year.”

Minister Grant outlined three new hotels to watch over the next 18 months.

New hotel openings

Expect the Phase One completion of Park Hyatt St. Kitts in June 2016. The 134-room property is the luxury hotel brand’s first hotel in the Caribbean.  “Park Hyatt has seen their trust in us to put their brand in St. Kitts first,” he noted. The hotel will be located within the Christophe Harbour development on Banana Bay overlooking The Narrows, a strait separating St. Kitts and the volcanic island of Nevis.

Watch for the debut of Embassy Suites by Hilton in early 2017. The island’s first Hilton-branded property will be a 226-room hotel located in Pelican Bay.  The spacious signature suites will have direct views of the Caribbean.

Prepare for the 2017 opening of Koi Resort and Residences, a mixed-use resort complex which will be located in Half Moon Bay next to the Royal St. Kits Golf Club. “The owner of Koi Restaurant fell in love with St. Kitts (when he visited),” Grant noted and added it was this island love that spawned the new luxury hotel and restaurant development.

Christophe Harbour Marina

St. Kitts launched the country’s largest marina in February. “The Christophe Harbour Marina is for mega yachts up to 300 feet in length,” says the tourism minister about the 300 berth facility.

New Private Jet Terminal

For luxury seeking clients the new private jet terminal which opened last June at the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport he says offers unparalleled service, “You have to experience it.”

Jet setters exit their private jet to be transferred by a limo to the Yu Lounge

Equipped with a concierge service, clients immerse in this haute atmosphere while baggage handling is taken care of for you and custom and immigration formalities are done zippy split. Find meeting rooms, complimentary wi-fi, and island cuisine. The staff even serves a signature drink infused with lemongrass.

From the sounds of it, expect lots of island glam.

The Minister adds, “We want visitors to feel the beach before they even get to the resort.”




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Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

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