The biggest news in St. Kitts and Nevis this season is the opening of the Park Hyatt St. Kitts, which welcomed its first guests in November. The long-awaited retreat is the first luxury hotel on the larger sibling of the twin-island nation (there's a Four Seasons on Nevis), and the first Park Hyatt resort in the Caribbean. We were one of the first to check in and check out the Banana Bay retreat, and here are five things we loved about the new property.
It only takes 25 minutes to get from Robert K. Bradshaw Airport (SKB) to the hotel, a scenic journey during which you'll see that famous vista of the island's rugged Southeast Peninsula, washed on one side by the Caribbean, the Atlantic on the other, and Nevis in the background.
The resort is close enough to the airport that little ones won't have time to get bored or fussy during the ride. But its Peninsula location, removed from the hustle and bustle of the capital, Basseterre, makes it feel a world apart. Banana Bay, the hotel's half-mile-long sweep, faces Nevis, which, although 3 miles away, seems close enough to touch. Nevis Peak, the island's mist-crowned volcano, dominates the beach view — and, if you're anything like us – will dominate your Instagram feed while you're here, too.
You won't find the typical Caribbean design features at the Park Hyatt, which has ditched the British-Colonial aesthetic in favor of a contemporary style that's refreshingly modern. All 78 rooms and 48 suites are studies in understatement, with Scandinavian-style furniture; white wood-paneled walls; and a neutral color scheme punctuated with colorful throw cushions, chairs and wooden hanging pegs.
Muted tones allow the beauty beyond the sliding glass doors to shine through. And nowhere is that more evident than in a dozen Nevis Peak Park Suites, which have jaw-dropping views of the famous volcano from the bedroom, living room and the rooftop infinity pool.
We love when a resort — particularly a chain resort — goes out of its way to impart a sense of the destination into the experience of staying there. And the Park Hyatt succeeds in several ways. At the adults-only pool (one of two), stone arches are reminiscent of those at the island's most-visited attraction, the colonial-era fort Brimstone Hill. A wall of straw hats in the Living Room (reception); louvered plantation shutters in the portico; and a replica sugar mill in the spa reference the island's past.
Executive chef Pankaj Bisht incorporates local ingredients and techniques into menus, sourcing everything from herbs to free-range chickens locally, in keeping with Hyatt's "thoughtfully sourced, carefully served" culinary philosophy. And those lobsters served at Fisherman's Village restaurant (one of three on property) aren't flown-in or frozen; they come straight from the fisherman at the popular island restaurant, Sprat Net.
The Caribbean's first Park Hyatt also boasts the Caribbean's first Miraval Life In Balance spa, and we were impressed by the comprehensive lineup of services. They range from aromatherapy massages with warmed volcanic stones to the only-at-Miraval vadusarha, a Thai massage performed in a pool fitted with underwater speakers that play Tibetan music.
Several other treatments incorporate local ingredients such as Kittitian salt, black sand and brown sugar. And there's a replica of a stone sugar mill, which is used for meditation classes, yoga practice and romantic dinners. Other cool features: outdoor showers and a courtyard of canopied hammocks that are the perfect spots to relax post-treatment.
Named for an 18th-century governor of St. Kitts, this sophisticated watering hole in the oceanfront Great House is the resort's handsome hub, a place where you're sure to make new friends around the communal high-top table. It's easy to linger long past your dinner reservation here, particularly if you're drinking the bar's signature cocktail, made with saffron-infused vodka, honey, citrus juice and orange liqueur. But if you don't find something to suit you on the leather-bound cocktail menu, head mixologist Minesh will be happy to customize one to your taste. (And he'll make sure you're on time for dinner.)