25 JUN 2018: St. Kitts and Nevis are special islands. Very special. They are just waiting to be explored by those travellers who long for the Caribbean of novels, movies and history. If your clients talk of wanting to see swaying palm trees, glorious vistas of dramatic mountain peaks, fields of sugar cane, brilliant flowers, verandas and a slow and easy pace, St. Kitts and Nevis are the islands for them.

These two tiny islands (only 176 and 93 square kilometres respectively) are part of the Leeward chain of islands, in the West Indies and offer various intimate hotels, the kind they thought were a thing of the past.

The destination boasts championship Golf Courses, a casino. It offers a kind of friendliness you don’t find in other destinations. On one trip, I hired a cab, and the woman cab driver stopped and introduced me to every local along the way. Then she took me home for tea. A memory that is with me still.

Basseterre, capital of St. Kitts and rich in Victorian architecture is a walk-around-with your- camera town. An ornate 19th century green clock tower looms as the meeting place in the central down-town square called “The Circus”.

Just a bit more than three kilometers south of St.Kitts, the small volcanic island of Nevis has charms of its own. Sleepy little Nevis had one of the most affluent plantation societies in the Eastern Caribbean. Today it still has a delightful rural character, and its colonial past is evident in the many sugar mills and plantation estates around the island. It isn’t hard to imagine Charlestown, the capital, back when sugar planters travelled in carriages, or were carried in sedan chairs. This little town of wide streets only gets busy when its link to the world, the ferry from St. Kitts docks.

These two islands in the sun, are the kind of places where you can happily explore the charming restaurants, cafes and bistros. Local seafood is fresh, delicious and fairly reasonably prices on both islands, bearing in mind everything must come in by boat, or air. Yes, several resorts have all inclusive plans, or optional meal plans, but your clients will want to explore the local restaurants as well. They will want to eat island style, whether it’s seafood with West Indian curry or goat water-goat stew with vegetables and dumplings.

But the scenic, safe Nevis which boasts coral grottoes at a depth of about 12 metres, is not just about eating. Nor is St. Kitts. For divers and snorkellers, St. Kitts has healthy expansive reefs, a wide variety of marine life, and many wrecks for exploring.

Tell your clients that every visit, should include a visit to a Plantation. They are right out of the movies. Clay Villa Plantation House and Garden is a must see; this plantation has never had slaves, and workers were paid.

Visitors and honeymooners can choose to relax in a romantic plantation inn, the world famous Four Seasons resort.

Both islands have rainforests and a heritage from 18th century sugar plantations. Views of long dormant volcanoes make pictures spectacular, and beaches are free of crowds.

St. Kitts’s beaches come in colours. The ones in the North are black, and in the south, they are gray or white. Friar’s Bay Beach is a local favourite, but also good for your clients with families. It boasts calm waters and food stands. Pinney’s Beach on Nevis reminds me of the South Pacific, as it has a reef protecting the waters, making it perfect for swimming and snorkelling.

Air Canada Vacations offers packages to the two islands, and a choice of 9 resorts. The largest is St. Kitts Marriott Resort and the Royal Beach Casino has 389 rooms and 7 à la carte restaurants. Kids stay free.

Sugar Bay Club Suites & Hotel lets kids stay free, as does Timothy Beach Resort.

Some of you will remember the Jack Tar Village. It was so popular. Well, that was long ago, and that property has had a huge update and is now the 215 room Royal St. Kitts Hotel. It is still on the golf course. The studio room has a kitchen, nice for people who want to do some meals themselves.

The best view for pictures is Brimstone Hill Fortress on St. Kitts, which commands a view of six islands: Montserrat, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Martin, and St. Barts. Your clients may yawn at the idea of one more fort, but tell them about the view.

Another fun thing to do is to take the St. Kitts Scenic Railway on the old sugar-cane track.

You’ll get a big “Thank-you when they come back. And yes, these are English speaking islands.

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Sam Ion

The expert on All Inclusives, Sam delivers up-to-date info on alternate Wednesdays in her column Not Just All Inclusives.

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