27 Jun 2017 How to have a great time in St. Kitts and its world-class St. Kitts Music Festival
When it comes time to planning a vacation, I want to have options. Generally I prefer to stay active and experience as much as possible, but I also would like to have the option of kicking back at a comfortable hotel if that is what feels right. In turn, St. Kitts was an ideal fit for me as a traveler, as my visit was timed towards this year’s St. Kitts Music Festival.
Launched in 1996, the St. Kitts Music Festival kicked off its 21st edition on Thursday, June 22, 2017. Now hosted at Warner Park Stadium — a venue built in 2006, which hosted the 2007 Cricket World Cup — the St. Kitts Music Festival has played host to plenty of major headliners, including Lionel Richie, 50 Cent, John Legend, Ne-Yo, Michael Bolton, and Outkast’s Big Boi. 2017 featured plenty of homegrown talent at Warner Park Stadium, including Shanna, Richard Drue, LAX & KT and Stadics. However, fans of international artists had plenty to look forward to, as the festival also attracted The Goo Goo Dolls, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, K. Michelle, Third World, Shabba Ranks, Jah Cure, Phyllisia Ross and V Bozeman.
Beyond the lineup, I found several things to be especially remarkable about the three-night festival. First was how intimate it felt. While there were thousands of people in attendance each evening, everyone had plenty of space. There were screens projecting the show throughout the grounds of Warner Park Stadium, but you could clearly see what was going on wherever you stood. Second was how inexpensive everything was. Tickets were $40 USD per day, unless you wanted the fully-catered VIP section tickets for $135 USD nightly; the tickets are even cheaper if you buy for the full festival. Third was how lax the scheduling was. This was an all-night festival, so you not only did not know when or how long artists would be playing, but also what time the festival would be ending. In turn, the St. Kitts Music Festival promises a value-oriented experience for all who chose to attend.
The site of the St. Kitts Music Festival is about 15 minutes’ drive from St. Kitts Marriott Resort, where I had the pleasure of staying for three nights. Located about 20 minutes from Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport, this is not your typical Marriott. It is on the beach, it has large outdoor pools, it has multiple restaurants, and it has a casino with a sportbook. There are multiple shops on-site, including a duty-free store. It is also down the road from a mix of Italian, Japanese and locally-themed restaurants.
The 4th floor room I experienced at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort had pretty much everything one could hope for in a hotel room. It was spacious with furniture and beautiful tiling. It had a balcony with an ocean view. It had a television that was compatible with USB and HDMI inputs. It had a coffee set-up in addition to a refrigerator. The bathroom had a bathtub for the shower and a bidet. The room was well-lit from both lightbulbs and natural lighting. During my stay, summer weekend rates for one night started at $224 USD plus tax — including a $25 USD resort credit — which is much cheaper than your average major city hotel on a weekday.
For St. Kitts travelers seeking lodging that is a little less traditional, a visit to Kittitian Hill will be more than worthwhile. Focused on sustainable living, the accommodations of Kittitian Hill’s Belle Mont Farm are pretty much as green as it gets for a boutique hotel. As the pictures within this article will show, a stay at Belle Mont Farm puts you in the middle of nature. All of its lodging offers open air experiences, including unique outdoor restrooms. Whether you are situated in a one-bedroom guesthouse — rates start at $299 per night — or a multi-floor villa, you will have your own infinity pool. After you are done hiking on one of Kittitian Hill’s beautiful nature paths, you can dine on-site at The Kitchen, which specialized in farm-to-table Caribbean fare, or enjoy handcrafted cocktails at The Mill; the resort’s staff-driven golf carts can take you up and down the hill if needed. Both The Mill and The Kitchen are open daily from 7:00 AM until 11:00 PM.
Visitors considering a residence in St. Kitts ought to look into The Pavilion, Christophe Harbour’s private beach club. A members-only establishment, the menu of The Pavilion is overseen by Executive Chef Barnaby Jones, who applies distinct Moroccan flavors, French culinary training and a “hook to table” approach towards classic Caribbean fare; Jones was observed in attendance of the St. Kitts Music Festival as was Jon Gersonde, Christophe Harbour’s Vice President Of Operations. Condé Nast Traveller once voted The Pavilion among the world’s best beachside cafes, as it offers breathtaking oceanfront views beyond its top-notch fare. Christophe Harbour is in the midst of tremendous expansion within St. Kitts, as spread out over 2,500 acres and six secluded beaches. Beyond its luxury residences — ranging from the mid six figures to a little over $8 million — and its Superyacht Marina and Village, Christophe Harbour’s on-island offerings will soon include a Park Hyatt Hotel and a Tom Fazio Championship Golf location.
A few tips for you to have the best experience possible in St. Kitts:
- Residents of the United States will need a valid active passport to come to St. Kitts. When entering and exiting the country, you will need to go through customs.
- While St. Kitts has its own local currency, everywhere I went accepted U.S. dollars for payment. ATMs were not difficult to locate and gave the option of dispensing U.S. currency, so visitors need not exchange their money before traveling to St. Kitts.
- Driving is done on the opposite side of the road from the States. In addition, most of the roads I saw had one lane — some of them only one lane in total without a shoulder, leading to yielding stand-offs — so this is probably not a trip for you to rent a car for.
- The Caribbean islands are known for being on “island time,” and St. Kitts is no exception. In turn, “15 minutes” is not to be interpreted the same way as it would be in New York. So before you come to St. Kitts, practice your breathing and be prepared to wait. But once situated, expect to receive world-class hospitality.
- Earlier this year, Delta Airlines announced direct flights from Atlanta and New York to St. Kitts, making it quicker and easier to get there.