Balmy breezes flutter through the expansive marble-tiled atrium of the St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino before flowing uninterrupted past the bronze-cast woman kneeling on a jetty of rocks inside an open-air glass wall. They swiftly pass the new beach bar, winding turquoise pool, and sun ray-patterned promenade until they unite with the rustling breezes pushing waves onto the white sandy beach.
That wonderful sense of openness and and calm connection with nature pervades the 393-room St. Kitts Marriott, the only group hotel on this 68 square-mile island.
“We have the space, golf course and luxurious spa that planners want,” says Andrew Houghton, Marriott’s area VP of the Southern Region, Americas. ”You’d never come here and feel your group is being crowded or pushed aside for another group. We even allow for full buyout or all-inclusive price in the right time period.”
Breathe in the clean ocean air and adjust your pace to the tropical mindset that is as refreshing as the first sip of the resort’s signature grapefruit soda-inspired rum cocktail, “Ting with a Sting.”
The 18-hole championship golf course was recently judged by Conde Nast as the best ocean course in the Caribbean.
“With a relatively small local population to compete for tee times, it means groups have little difficulty scheduling a course.” Alongside the golf course, a 16,000-sf event center stands bare, ready to be decorated for group activities. The Royal Beach Casino, the Caribbean’s largest, beckons from the lobby.
Pampering begins at the award-winning Emerald Mist Spa in treatment rooms oversized even by luxury standards and decorated with island touches, like exotic flowers poised delicately on turned-down sheets. I sampled the signature bamboo stick massage. Hot compresses were laid across my legs, arms, neck and back, easing stress. Smooth sticks of varying sizes, some with flat edges, were warmed and gently but firmly glided across my apricot-oiled skin. Refreshing.
Nicknamed the Sugar City for its once-thriving sugar cane industry that gave way to tourism 10 years ago, St. Kitts’ vibrant society spills out in its history. Climb St. Georges Anglican Church tower, examine the recently uncovered rum distillery at Wingfield Estate, or take a half-hour ride on a curvy narrow road to Brimstone Hill Fortress, a national park inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. The battle scars are still evident and the museum details the siege, but at night the open space between fortress ruins can easily accommodate a reception for 800, with themed menu, calypso band and a re-enactment of a regiment stridently marching in red uniforms.