Change is coming to St Kitts

This Caribbean island has big plans to woo the tourists. Nina Lakhani reports

The only sounds to be heard along the coast road of St Kitts on Sunday mornings are the waves and the devout. Gospel songs radiate from the scores of churches found across this small East Caribbean island of just 32,000 people, where Sunday is still a day of rest. "If you live with mama, then you go to church," says my guide, Lisa. "That's not going to change for a long time."

But change is coming to St Kitts. Last month, British Airways launched a new weekly direct flight that will make the island and its even smaller sister nation, Nevis, more accessible to British holidaymakers. Also, by 2011, Christophe Harbour, a 2,500-acre development, will transform St Kitts' south-eastern peninsula into a formidable tourist hub.

The most ambitious of six new developments slated for the island, this luxury resort will centre on a mega-yacht marina and feature two five-star hotels, including a 125-room Mandarin Oriental, exclusive shops and restaurants. US basketball legend Michael Jordan is reported to have bought one of the plots of land overlooking Sand Bank Bay that carry a price tag of around $3m.

The resort will be spread across 13 miles of pristine coastline, including seven beaches. The marina and harbour village will be the centre, with moorings for 250 boats, including slips big enough for 300ft mega-yachts. Two beach clubs, tennis courts, deep-sea fishing, turtle watching, and a championship golf course will be part of the exclusive experience.

Despite the global recession, the development shows no sign of slowing down. It will create at least 2,000 new jobs; 80 per cent of those are expected to go to Kittitians. The government is committed to ensuring the architecture, size and density of all new buildings will have a minimal impact on the landscape. Ministers are also considering proposals to designate Sandy Bank Bay a marine sanctuary to protect the sea turtles that return each year to breed.

For now, visitors to the islands are presented with simpler pleasures. On the coast, where the sands turn from powdery white to volcanic black, bathers can choose from the calm Caribbean and wilder Atlantic. In the fertile interior, hikers can climb through rainforest to reach the 3,792ft summit of Mount Liamuiga, where a wide crater provides a perch from which to enjoy the views of neighbouring islands.

A less arduous way to explore the island is on the Sugar Train, a scenic railway that rides on tracks built to transport sugar. It passes beneath the impressive 17th-century Brimstone Hill Fortress, which encapsulates the island's colonial history. This Unesco world heritage site was built by slaves for the British to guard against French invasion. The two powers battled for 130 years before Britain gained control in 1713, ruling until independence in 1983.

Another diversion for visitors to St Kitts is a stopover in Nevis, a 15-minute hop by air or water taxi, or 30 minutes by ferry. If St Kitts is small and peaceful, then Nevis is tiny and serene; with around 11,000 inhabitants, the pace here grinds almost to a halt. Nevis has its fair share of beautiful beaches and a lush interior to explore in the shadow of its volcanic peak, but this island is all about plantations. Its well-preserved estates have been put to use as luxurious hotels for the mainly older visitors who come here for sunny days and early nights with a colonial twist.

But change is coming to this island too. There's much talk about eco-projects, though firm plans are hard to come by. One that is in progress is a geothermal energy plant. It's the first in the east Caribbean and is set to make the island self-sufficient in electricity by next year.

"Nevis has the best geothermal potential I've ever seen," says Kerry McDonald, engineer and chief executive of West Indies Power. "We don't have to drill too deep and there are no mineral by-products to deal with. It's like we've struck gold."

The plant will be able to supply electricity to St Kitts from 2011, and other islands are expressing interest. Locals are being trained, which would encourage young islanders to stay. Other sustainable projects include cotton and there has been a resurgence in small-scale farming. Like its sister St Kitts, this backwater is embracing the 21st century.

Compact facts

How to get there

Nina Lakhani travelled to St Kitts and Nevis with British Airways Holidays (0844 493 0758; ba.com), which offers seven nights at the Marriott on St Kitts and seven nights at the Montpelier Plantation on Nevis from £1,689 per person, including return BA flights from Gatwick, room only at the Marriott, and B&B at the Montpelier Plantation.

Further information

St Kitts Tourism Authority (020-7376 0881; stkittstourism.kn).

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
    Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
    Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

    Feather dust-up

    A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
    5 best waterproof cameras

    Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

    Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
    Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

    Louis van Gaal interview

    Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
    Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

    Will Gore: Outside Edge

    The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz