THERE ARE FEW PLACES IN THE WORLD THAT ARE A MARRIAGE OF BEAUTIFUL SCENERY AND PRACTICAL BENEFITS, PLACES THAT APPEAL TO BOTH HEART AND MIND.
For a veteran developer like Charles P. “Buddy” Darby III, there can only be one response at first glimpse of a place like this— “Wow.”
That was Darby’s reaction when he first set eyes on the 2,500 acres on the southeastern peninsula of St. Kitts that were to become Christophe Harbour—a reaction he’s had only two other times in his life, when he first saw the land that would become the Kiawah Island development in South Carolina and when he saw what would become the Lodge at Doonbeg in Ireland (now Trump International Golf Links & Hotel Doonbeg).
On St. Kitts, Darby looked out at six pristine beaches surrounded by hills that either roll gently or come to a steep peak, bordered by a coastal rain forest. The views from these highly varied elevations were extraordinary, while the land was largely undeveloped—farm animals were a common sight on the roads. Darby, himself a yachtsman, knew that St. Kitts was convenient to what captains think of as the Leeward Islands “milk run”—Antigua, St. Barts, St. Martin, Anguilla—but just enough outside that path to provide something different.
The fact that St. Kitts has a stable and welcoming government made the deal even more appealing. “I have looked at a lot of places through the years,” Darby says, “and while nothing’s a no-brainer, this had enough of the ingredients that I thought that we could really create something pretty special in the Caribbean.”
Soon development began, guided by the firm principle of designing in harmony with nature. “This is a proactive strategy of collaborating with the natural system, not forcing ourselves on it,” explains Mark Permar, founder of Permar Inc., the Kiawah Island, S.C, firm that helped design Christophe Harbour. “We don’t just develop and leave—we create communities. We’re making decisions for the long term.”
Permar was among the first of Darby’s team to arrive at Christophe Harbour. During the 15-minute drive from the airport, he was reminded of California’s Big Sur. “It’s a big landscape,” he says. “The road is a ribbon going back and forth between the Atlantic and the Caribbean. When you approach the core of Christophe Harbour, with Nevis as a backdrop, it’s dramatic and pretty striking.” But Permar was there to work, and so he had to remind himself: “You don’t want to fall in love with this place—at least not right away.”
Permar and the rest of the team, many of whom first worked together on Kiawah Island, began to create a community. The ambitious project started with measuring topography, vegetation, solar and wind orientation. It was easy to select the protected inner harbor area that would become the superyacht marina, with the marina village slated to go alongside. Next came the delineation of recreational areas, including those that would become the award-winning Pavilion Beach Club and Salt Plage bar, the Tom Fazio golf course, the Park Hyatt hotel and, of course, the home sites, each precisely situated to take advantage of ocean breezes.
Christophe Harbour accommodates all manner of island housing preferences, from bespoke homes bordering or overlooking Sandy Bank Bay or the marina, to villas at Sanctuary Lane, with private gardens and courtyards designed by renowned landscape architect Raymond Jungles, and fractional ownership at the Windswept Residence Club. As of now, 43 properties—a mix of residences and home sites—are currently available for purchase.
All of these real estate investments—or indeed, a berth at the marina—entitle the purchaser to apply to become a citizen of the Federation of St. Christopher (St. Kitts) and Nevis, which comes with no residency requirement and permits dual citizenship. Citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis pay no individual income tax, capital gains tax, inheritance tax, gift tax, nor are there any tax-reporting requirements. And the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank is located in Basseterre, the capital city of St. Kitts and Nevis, which facilitates financial transactions and currency exchanges.
“We have a lot of American buyers who say, ‘I’m glad I have this in my back pocket as a plan B,’” says Katherine Verano, Christophe Harbour director of marketing.
Six pristine beaches surrounded by hills that either roll gently or come to a steep peak, bordered by a coastal rain forest.
The practical benefits helped to seal the deal for Patti and Peter Gordon, retired attorneys in Scarsdale, N.Y. Originally, the Gordons had thought they would buy a vacation home in Florida, but while vacationing in St. Kitts, they toured Christophe Harbour and “fell in love with the whole idea,” says Patti. “The views are spectacular,” adds Peter. “Christophe Harbour landscapes are very lush. It’s a terrific-looking property and a first-class development.”
There were other considerations besides scenic beauty. “We investigated the tax structure on St. Kitts as well as the government,” says Patti. “We liked that it was formerly a British colony and is English speaking.” Adds her husband: “We liked the fact that it has an independent judiciary and that we were dealing with a U.S. developer with a sterling reputation.” Factor in the security of the development—there’s one road in and out of Christophe Harbor and access points to residences are gated, among other measures—and they felt like their critical boxes were all checked. “Besides,” Peter says, “we liked it better than Florida—the weather is better.”
The Gordons selected a site that connects to the beach, then designed and built a two-and-a-half-story home replete with verandas and balconies, as well as two guest cottages and a pool. Patti Gordon says, “We’re very pleased.”
They’re looking forward to island vacations with their three children for many years to come, in a place that’s the rare, perfect blend of appeal to both the practical mind and the beauty-seeking heart.