Spotlight: Park Hyatt St. Kitts
In late 2017, one of the Caribbean’s most anticipated new hotels finally opened its doors. Set on St. Kitts’ quiet southeast peninsula—on a secluded, beachfront stretch that’s part of the 2,500-acre Christophe Harbour luxury yacht, marina and residential development—the 78-room, 48-suite Park Hyatt St. Kitts is both the brand’s first property in the region, and one of just a few five-star hotels on an island that, until now, has managed to fly a bit under the radar.
“Park Hyatt guests tend to be sophisticated, culturally engaged travelers who are searching for meaningful and insightful experiences, and St. Kitts offers just that,” says Flor van der Vaart, general manager of the resort and a seven-year vet of the Park Hyatt brand. “This is one of the most untouched islands in the region, and one that offers a true Caribbean experience, which can be difficult to find on some of the other islands.”
The Perks of Location
In addition to access to St. Kitts’ historic and natural wonders, there are other advantages to the resort’s picturesque, bayside location. Most important, the island was for the most part spared by the 2017 hurricane season, with “the international airport and port operational within days, along with most restaurants, bars and tourist attractions,” says van der Vaart. While there were delays to some of the plans for the resort’s grounds, the property opened on time last November—and as a new resort, has been purpose-built to withstand future storms.
The low-slung resort’s setting on a tranquil cove backed by rolling green hills, is just across the water from sister island Nevis, views of which can be enjoyed from most of the guest rooms and restaurants. “There are not many locations in the Caribbean that offer two islands so close together, and with Nevis only a five-minute boat ride from our private jetty, guests have the opportunity to visit two islands in a day,” says van der Vaart. Day trippers can boat over to explore the island, play a round at the Nevis Golf Club or enjoy lunch at the Four Seasons Resort Nevis. The more adventurous might want to sign-up for the annual, 2.5-mile Nevis to St. Kitts Cross Channel Swim, which culminates at Cockleshell Beach—just steps from the Park Hyatt.
Then there are the perks of being part of Christophe Harbour. As detailed by Worth, the 2,500-acre development’s master plan includes luxury home communities, a beach club, restaurants and bars, and a marina with a customs house, retail village and 250 yacht berths, including 50 for superyachts. “We attract the same discerning clientele, with the same luxury palate and high standards for hospitality and service, so the resort and Christophe Harbour complement each other well,” says van der Vaart. Though no formal partnerships are currently in place, many Harbour guests—both from the residences and fresh off their yachts—are already spending the day at the Park Hyatt to enjoy its restaurants, pools and Miraval Spa.
The Luxury of Local
Beyond its immediate neighbors, the resort is also collaborating with area business, taking inspiration from the setting and drawing upon the surrounding community for its staff (an impressive 94 percent of the employees are from St. Kitts or Nevis.) The artisan market off the lobby, which invites area craftspeople to showcase their goods; a spa building that evokes a traditional island sugar mill; and local design touches in the cheerful rooms and suites (including the use of island-quarried stone similar to that found at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Brimstone Hill Fortress) help the resort feel particularly Kittitian.
When it comes to the cuisine, though, “local” is taken to the next level. Under the direction of its passionate, young executive chef Pankaj Bisht, the resort is not just using local suppliers, but actually helping to grow new businesses. To adhere to the Hyatt standard of serving only cage-free eggs, Bisht was told he would have to source his products from the nearest cage-free egg farm—which was in Miami. Instead, the chef worked with a local chicken-farming couple to help turn their operation cage-free, then committed to purchasing eggs from 1,000 of their chickens. (A guest experience that will include a visit to the remarkable T&T Poultry Farm is also in the works.) When negotiating with a local fisherman to source his lobster, the chef had two requirements: that the lobster be delivered by boat, not truck, to ensure freshness; and that a few lobster cages be kept on-property, bobbing in the ocean, so guests could select their own fresh catch. As word of the resort’s high-quality seafood has spread, the fisherman has seen increased demand for his products on the island—allowing him to stop sailing four hours to sell at the markets on St. Maarten.
Above all, the chef and his culinary team—who oversee the Fisherman’s Village seafood restaurant, the Great House for all-day dining and Stone Barn, serving gourmet tasting menus—are investing in the next generation of kitchen stars. Prior to the resort’s opening, chef Bisht spent a semester teaching cooking classes to students at the nearby Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College, then was able to hire many of the college’s current students or graduates to fill his entry-level kitchen team. It’s one of the clearest examples of how the Park Hyatt is honoring its first Caribbean opening—and helping guests connect to this special destination. hyatt.com