By Jan Schroder
Beach chairs at the beautiful St. Kitts Marriott
As I sat in the dentist’s chair enduring the second hour of drilling on a seemingly endless process of replacing my old and leaky fillings, I knew the only way to endure it was to place myself in a happier place. Which, let’s face it, at that point was just about anywhere. I put myself where I knew I’d be in a few short days – a lounge chair beach side on the gorgeous island of St. Kitts.
I know of no better antidote to winter fatigue or just about anything else that ails you than a trip to a lovely Caribbean island. A four-day trip to St. Kitts was just what I needed. The irony of the island’s nickname did not escape me. It is called Sugar City for all the sugar plantations once located there – an overdose of sugar in the third grade is pretty much what landed me in the dentist’s chair in the first place.
The low-tech weather station
After a fairly painless flight down on American Airlines, we took a short ride to the St. Kitts Marriott Resort, a beautiful 320-room property on the Atlantic side of St. Kitts. My ocean view room was lovely, with a balcony large enough for two chairs. The resort has a spa, three pools and several dining options. Oh, and a casino – a huge plus if you’re the gambling sort. Which I most definitely am not but the casino is nice, with a cloud-painted ceiling, a very nice touch.
I never had trouble finding a chair at the huge, multi-part pool
Let’s start with the food. I don’t have very high standards for restaurants in resorts, so was thrilled to enjoy amazing meals at the Marriott. Café Calypso has an excellent breakfast buffet that includes just all the usual as well as items such as jerk chicken and empanadas. For a quick breakfast one day I grabbed a cup of coffee and a delicious fresh carrot muffin that was about as big as my head. I had an amazing lobster salad sandwich at the Bohemia Beach Pool Bar & Grille one day, accompanied by delicious fries. For dinner the first night we ate at Royal Grille Steakhouse where I had a perfectly cooked strip steak. I suggest starting your meal with a Ting with a Sting, a refreshing rum drink mixed with grapefruit beverage. And the seafood at Blu Seafood Restaurant was quite good. My favorite dish was my starter, coconut chili soup with scampi and lemon grass – so delicious and unlike anything I’d had before.
The spa is small but very pretty and it’s worth the trip down there just for the bamboo massage, which was relaxing and effective. The pools always had plenty of chairs available, although it took some instruction from a guy nearby for me to keep the top of the chair from flopping over. And down by the ocean you can get a break from the sun by setting up underneath one of the many available cabanas.
The spa at the St. Kitts Marriott
My only regret is I missed a Zumba class one day. It looked like a lot of fun, and a great way to burn off those vacation calories, but I took the lazy way out and got a gelato instead. I did take a yoga class beachside one morning and loved stretching to the lovely lilting voice of our instructor asking us to “concentrate on the breathing.”
So what is there to do in St. Kitts if you manage to pull yourself away from this beautiful resort with all this relaxing, eating and de-stressing?
I’ll let the photos tell the story.
I generally find forts about as exciting as the knitting channel, but Brimstone Hill is very pretty. We wandered around on our own enjoying the gorgeous hilltop views. I did read about a hair-related tragedy here on Easter Monday, 1950. Around 3000 people gathered that day, an island tradition, when there was a rain burst. The islanders believed if your hair was "pressed" and it got wet, you'd catch TB and a stampede ensued. Several people were trampled to death.
Next we visited Caribelle Batik, housed in this cute place on the Romney Manor, once owned by the great great great grandfather of Thomas Jefferson, Sam Jefferson. We saw a demo of batik by one of the artists, who informed us that no two hand-batiked items are the same. How can you tell if you have an authentic batik? The pattern is reversible and appears the same on both sides. The adjacent shop had hundreds of very reasonably priced batik items. I bought a beautiful pareo, which included a booklet on several ways to wear it. It also can double as a beach or picnic blanket and will make a beautiful tablecloth for my front porch.
Next stop: Reggae Beach, where Wilbur the Pig reigns supreme. The story goes that he was being sent to slaughter but somehow charmed his way into a comfortable spot on the beach where he entertains tourists. Well if you call lying there in a lifeless heap entertaining. His best friend is a goat, who lives in a cage nearby where he is tortured constantly by a monkey riding his back. We did spot several monkeys as we were driving around the St. Kitts and were warned about their sunglass-snatching tendencies.
After lunch at the nearby Spice Mill, we lounged on these beautiful cabanas with a view of Nevis. Once valued for their production of sugar, now both islands are more known for tourism and beautiful beaches. Nevis and St. Kitts are only 2.5 miles apart and the StarMile Cross Channel Swim between the two has become an annual event. St. Kitts is a popular cruise ship destination with one of the excursions being a day trip to this beach, so around 3:00 the beach pretty much emptied out as cruisers headed back to ship.
We ran into the multi-colored bearded Christian Rameshwar a few times - hard to miss him right? He operates the Tangerine Fun Truck, which offers tours accompanied by lethal rum punch. "It will make you see double and feel single," he claimed. He shared a glass with us but I stopped after one sip as I figured I needed to save my vision. And my marriage.
In the evening we set sail on The Spirit of St. Kitts catamaran, accompanied by delicious appetizers and open bar, which probably had something to do with the frenzied dance party that broke out on board and involved several rounds of the "Cent, Five Cent, Ten Cent, Dollar" dance. Here is our group at the end of the sail. We were later told that the song and dance was invented so the islanders could teach the rhythm-impaired visitors how to shake their hips, Caribbean-style. Whatever its origins, the song had us all up and frenetically shaking our booties.
I knew I'd love a place called Mr. X's Shiggidy Shack. I started with a margarita then enjoyed a huge plate of grilled lobster with my toes in the sand as we dined on a table right on the beach. Heavenly.
We visited the capital city of Basseterre one day, where this clock at the center of a traffic circle is called the circus. We strolled around the town, picking up a cute stray dog along the way. I didn't really shop but did look in the Island Hopper. Located on the circle, this cute shop carried lots of clothes and souvenir-type items. We tried a sugar cake from a street vendor, although one bite of the fried coconut and ginger sweet was enough for me.
It may be a while before I can return to St. Kitts. But I’ll know I’ll be revisiting soon – at least in my mind. Another dental appointment looms.