St Kitts Marriott is Ideal Caribbean Getaway with Top Golf, Spa, Casino, Beach, Kids Club

The view through the open archway at St Kitts Marriott Resort to the pool and the Atlantic Ocean © 2012 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

by Karen Rubin

St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino is the largest resort on St. Kitts, has the largest Las Vegas-style casino in the Caribbean, a championship golf course, a world-class spa, fabulous white-sand beach, a superb Kids Club, a robust activities program, eight restaurants including three fine-dining restaurants that can hold their own among the best anywhere.

In short, the resort, which celebrates its 10th anniversary next year and just underwent a major renovation, offers everything that makes it the ideal destination for families, couples, destination weddings and corporate travelers.

View slideshow: St Kitts Marriott Resort is ideal beach holiday getaway

And something more: the island nation of St. Kitts.

There is so much going on at the resort, it is tempting to stay put. But when you are ready to adventure or explore, to experience a foreign country with a storied past, you have only to venture out the door.

Set on Frigate Bay North, just a 10-minute drive from the airport and capital city Basseterre, The St Kitts Marriott offers pampered luxury in an unpretentious, comfortable atmosphere.

I am immediately impressed by the pleasing interior – Italian marble and stone, with artwork and colors that reinforce the connection to Nature and St Kitts’ heritage, lovely sitting areas – and an open architecture with high arches that lets the fresh seabreezes through the interior, with views out to the pool and the Atlantic Ocean beyond.

Your vacation starts immediately – as I check in, I am offered my choice of a fruit punch or a local beer. I am intrigued by the historical maps that decorate the wall behind Reception, like treasure maps.

The Marriott offers 393 spacious and elegantly appointed guest rooms and luxurious suites.

My room (420) is, indeed, spacious, beautifully done with fine furnishings, and every creature comfort imaginable – refrigerator and coffee maker, safe and ironing board. flat screen TV (HBO, and other movie channels), WiFi, The furnishings are elegant but comfortable – a beautiful wood desk, tile floor, marble bathroom, granite top bureau, tile floor.

The view from my balcony © 2012 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

My balcony overlooks a glorious plaza (there is even an open-air stage), the main pool, and the Atlantic Ocean beyond, and the mountains along the coast.

The beach beckons. I drop my things and explore:

A huge plaza leads to an open-air stage, the largest of three free-form pools, and beyond, the beach.

Just beyond a barrier that separates the pool area from the beach, I get my first glimpse of row after row of individual palapas – little personal pavilions each with two lounges and a table.

The resort’s expansive white-sand beach is on the Atlantic Ocean which means it has bigger waves than St Kitts’ Caribbean beaches – but the resort built a breakwater so that it is very pleasant to swim – even dramatic with the waves pounding against the rocks on the other side, This actually makes swimming all the more interesting. and the reef, which has attracted coral and fish, makes for fabulous snorkeling.

The beach is also ideal for windsurfing and kiteboarding (lessons available at the resort).

Kite-boarding at St. Kitts Marriott © 2012 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

As I come down to the beach, I see a fellow kiteboarding with such grace and skill. deftly navigating a narrow channel between the reef and the shore. He turns out to be the instructor. As he describes what it is like (you don’t need to have a lot of upper-body strength), it sounds like something even I would love to try, and a sport I would like to cultivate (it will be an Olympic sport in the 2016 games).

The waves pound against the breakwater and it is windy, but the water is a perfect temperature, as if someone set a thermostat – breakwater keeps the worst of the waves away so it is very pleasant to swim – a soft bottom, no shells.

It’s a dramatic scene – you look down the beach at cliffs and mountains that rise up from the coast… the water is an exquisite emerald color, contrasted with white-snow foam against the green moss-covered hills, powder blue sky, clouds from white to grey.

The main pool is large and luxurious, beautifully landscaped, with lounge chairs that have their own shades.

The Bohemia Beach Pool Bar & Grille perfectly situated to also serve the beach area, where a band sets up in the afternoon. serves salads, burgers, sandwiches and frozen drinks overlooking the beach and ocean and there is a delightful swim-up bar as well as a tropical-looking covered patio.

There’s a handy snack shack, and a recreation office where you can borrow equipment (and you can purchase sunscreen).

Dining Out at St. Kitts Marriott

After an afternoon on the beach, our group meets for dinner at Blu. The St. Kitts Marriott has eight restaurants, which offer tremendous variety of ambiance, cuisine and price-points. Three of the restaurants are fine-dining and can hold their own with the best restaurants in the world.

Blu, with a lovely interior design that absolutely suggests the ocean – wood designs on the ceiling are like the bottom of boats, and the banquettes have a wavy pattern, so the effect is as if you are under the water, with 180 degree view of the ocean. The seafood chowder, crab cakes, sea bass all delectably prepared.

Chef Debndra Biata, originally from Nepal, incorporates local ingredients with cosmopolitan, sophisticated flavors, that adds excitement and interest to fresh seafood selections.

On another night, we savor The Royal Grille Steakhouse, a traditional city-style American steakhouse serving succulent cuts of beef and seafood, along with an international wine list, with an open kitchen.

Chef Terrance Dasent in the open-air kitchen at The Grille one of the fine-dining restaurants at St Kitts Marriott © 2012 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Chef Terrance Dasent, a local man who started at the Marriott as a cook and now is the chef for restaurant, offers selections that are stylish and cosmopolitan, but he says he learned his cooking skills from his grandmother.

Among the offerings: filet mignon served with a dark chocolate sauce; a succulent rib eye steak; veal filet; blackened mahi mahi. We enjoy a Nevis salad Nevis lettuce, grilled shrimp, smoked salmon, caramelized walnuts in balsamic vinaigrette; and fresh breads still warm from the oven, including a walnut bread; roll with bacon and onions.

The dessert selections are absolutely amazing: the big winner is the Molten Chocolate Lava, with vanilla ice cream, and the Banana flambé served with a dark rum sauce, prepared at your table with flaming theatricality for two persons.

La Cucina, specializes in the dishes of Northern Italy, a beautiful rustic setting and a wide selection of Italian and International wines. (Open for breakfast seasonally).

There are different options for breakfast and lunch: I enjoy Calypso, a casual restaurant that is furnished to remind you of earth’s bounty – stalks of sugar cane; local art depicting people working in fields; brown and green tones, wood shutters. You can take advantage of a lavish breakfast buffet, including made-to-order omelettes, or order from a menu (open for breakfast and lunch).

There is also a very pleasant grab-and-go, Calypso Cafe, right at the entrance to Calypso, where you can get coffee, espresso, sandwiches, snacks and pastries (breakfast, lunch and late night dinner).

The Keys Cigar & Rum Bar offers a wide selection of rums and cigars and on Friday & Saturday evenings beginning at 9:30PM you can enjoy live entertainment.

A charming Lobby Bar, where you can get a marvelous selection of Tapas, offers live entertainment on Wednesdays & Thursday nights from 8:30 – 10 pm.

You can take advantage of an all-inclusive package that includes dining, Super Experience Inclusive Package, which includes accommodations, fun and food, $399-$479, valid through December 21, 2012).

We are also able to experience Carambola Restaurant, the island’s new upscale restaurant and beach club located on South Friars beach. It has a delightful open-air ambiance and we luxuriate in the night’s fare of fresh seafood (outstanding sushi), steak and mouth-watering desserts, an incredible wine list, and elegant service. I savor the curried pumpkin and squash soup with coconut croutons, and a Salmon served with pesto, lamb prepared to perfection with pepper and mint, paired perfectly with Ecscudo Rojo, Rothschild, a Bordeaux blend wine selected for me by the sommelier.

The Royal Beach Casino

Each evening, I get to sample another distinctive aspect of the Marriott St. Kitts: its casino.

At 35,000 sq ft, the Royal Beach Casino is the largest Las Vegas-style casino in the Caribbean.

There are slot machines from 1c (and there are many), 5c, 25c; gaming tables from $5; video poker, video blackjack, roulette, craps, blackjack tables, high-stakes tables, and betting emporium.

What is really neat is the Players Card program which gives you free money to start your gambling: you register, then spin the Wheel of Fortune – with amounts from $5 to $500. Whatever number it lands on, that’s how much you get on a Players Card to bet with (at designated machines, but you can also use the card at the tables).

I won $10 with my spin of the wheel and gambled with it for 3 nights (I’m not much of a gambler, I like the penny slots). The more you gamble, though, the more points you win, which can be applied to hotel charges and drinks.

You can’t cash out the free money, but you can cash out the winnings – so over the course of the 3 nights, I was able to cash out winnings before losing all $10 that was on the card.

The casino has a pleasant atmosphere.

Championship Golf, World-Class Spa

The Marriott is famous for the St. Kitts Royal Golf Course, a par 71, 6859-yard, championship 18-hole links style course designed by Thomas McBroom. Three holes are directly on the Atlantic and two holes are on the Caribbean. Managed by Marriott Golf, it offers a lovely clubhouse and golf shop, rentals and lessons, driving range and putting green there is a golf program for juniors, and “Kids Golf-4-Free” program. The Marriott’s course was the first in the Caribbean to be certified as an Audubon Sanctuary.

The Golf Clubhouse Grille serves American fare – frosty beers, towering burgers and sandwiches (open for lunch).

During my stay, I get to experience the Emerald Mist Spa – a world-class spa, very well appointed. The class Swedish-style massage have is perfect, and does the trick to relieve the stiffness and the soreness after our hike to Mt. Liamuiga, the day before.

There is also a well-equipped fitness center, with cardiovascular equipment and free weights, which offers a selection of fitness classes at no charge, plus spinning and circuit training classes for a fee.

The resort also offers a robust selection of daily and weekly scheduled activities. For example, Intro to Scuba, pool volleyball, calypso dance lessons & happy hour (when drinks are $3.50 and beer is just $1.75),

Each day, there is a schedule of activities such as dive-in movie, tennis social, aquarobics: Saturday’s schedule, for example, included beach soccer, water polo, cricket, rum-tasting, live band at the lobby bar, Havana Nights (live band at the Cigar Bar) Sundays included Creative coloring, Intro to Scuba, Pool volleyball, trivia fun, Happy Hour with Calypso Dance Lessons (very popular), and Bingo Night. there are tennis socials, sandcastle building, teen beach volleyball, fitness classes (such as evening yoga).

There are fitness classes, such as an 8 am power walk/light jog, aqua aerobics.

I take advantage of the 8 am Yoga on the Beach, on the lawn under trees just in front of the beach, led by instructor Mackel Ryan. It is fabulous.

There’s also tennis, volleyball, basketball and table tennis.

Family-Friendly

The St. Kitts Marriott Resort is an ideal destination for families with its layout, facilities, activities, Kids Club, and with special value-packages.

A family enjoys the pool at the St. Kitts Marriott © 2012 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Along with guaranteed connecting rooms (as many as families need), St. Kitts Marriott invites kids five and under to eat for free, while young guests aged 6-12 receive a 50% discount. Families visiting the St. Kitts Marriott can enjoy all three of the resort’s kid-friendly pools, the sandy beach on the sparkling Atlantic Ocean, a specially designed kids program and an array of on-property casual and fine-dining restaurants which all feature kid-friendly menus.

Families also can take advantage of the Super Escape! Inclusive Package starting at just $399 per room, per night (three night minimum stay) where food for two adults and kids 12 and under is included, along with some extra treats for the adults.

The Super Escape! Inclusive Package includes accommodations, room tax and service charge; a choice of two activities (two per room, per stay: a round of golf, spa treatment or casino
value package); daily breakfast, lunch and dinner, including room service for two adults; Kids 12 and under eat free from the kids’
menu or buffet; children ages 13-17 pay an additional $75 per child per night; unlimited non-alcoholic beverages, Gold standard alcoholic beverages,
Local beers, house wines by the glass; use of tennis courts, beach rentals and pool floats; Kids’ Club (ages 5 to 12 years of age) and a 20 percent discount on treatments at the Emerald Mist Spa.

The Marriott Kids Club is a lovely, spacious supervised children’s center with activity rooms, a “movie theater”, geared for 5-12 year olds. The 8:1 ratio means there is capacity for 30 children (you should reserve a space in advance). (half day, $25; full day, $45; kid’s night out, Wednesdays and Fridays, 6-9 pm, $30). here is also a daily complimentary Intro to Scuba course in the pool for kids from 8 years old (869 466 1200).

Destination Wedding

The St Kitts Marriott Resort is a fabulous choice for a honeymoon or destination wedding, which are becoming extremely popular.

St Kitts does not have a minimum stay requirement to get a marriage license, as some islands do; you only need a birth certificate and photo ID, and if applicable, a divorce decree or death certificate if previously married.

But St Kitts has a fascinating ancient law that requires people get married before sunset. “It goes back to the days before electricity – the minister had to be able to see the face.”

The St Kitts Marriott schedules only one wedding a day, and a wedding coordinator is totally dedicated to the event.

The St Kitts Marriott also has a major ballroom, accommodating up to 1180, and a 16,000-square ft. pavilion, making it ideal for special events and functions, from destination weddings to business conferences.

A True Destination

The St Kitts Marriott is really three resorts – the main resort, a villa complex of timeshares (very popular for exchange), and a new Marriott Residence which are full-ownership residences. all tastefully built so that the resort looks like a quaint village with lush landscaping.

The facilities make it a pleasure to be here for longer stretches, such as a week or two that is typical of timeshare guests – such as a coin laundry and Pronto, a small market (there is also an IGA market 10 minutes away) You can even order groceries in advance which will be stocked in the refrigerator.

The resort wasn’t built specifically to be a LEED building, but in many ways, it manifests social and environmental sustainability – the restaurants support local farms by buying local ingredients, it collects books to donate to the local library; you can buy crafts produced by local artists. At Pronto, you can buy honey produced by the local beekeeper Eustache, to help fight the disappearance of bees on the island.

Marriott manages and operates the property as well as the golf course but the resort is owned and built by a Canadian – and it shows his love for St. Kitts and his own desire to have all the comforts of travel.

Exploring St Kitts

A seascape along the beach at St. Kitts Marriott © 2012 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

There is so much going on at the resort, it is tempting to stay put. But when you are ready to adventure or explore, to experience a foreign country with a storied past, you have only to venture out the door.

The tour desk you can get a sense of all that awaits:

“People don’t realize the amount of activities,” the tour desk concierge tells me. I peruse a thick catalog, filled with photos: catamaran cruise (one of most popular); ocean kayak; sail to Nevis on catamaran for BBQ; ziplining (perfect for beginners).

There are fascinating sights: Basseterre, the island capital, is 10-minutes away; Romney Manor, the St Kitts Scenic Railway, Ottley’s Plantation, the Brimstone Hill Fortress (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Black Rocks, the rainforest, sugar plantations, plus Nevis is a 45-minute ferry ride away.

During our brief stay, we get to sample some of these activities (see story).

Getting here: the most frequent air service is from Miami, but I was able to travel nonstop on American Airlines from New York’s JFK departing at 7:55 am, arriving just after noon.

For more information or to make a reservation, contact St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino, 858 Frigate Bay Road, Frigate Bay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, 800-228-9290, 869-466.1200, fax 869-466-1201 or visit www.stkittsmarriott.com.

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© 2012 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin, www.examiner.com/eclectic-traveler-in-long-island/karen-rubin, www.examiner.com/international-travel-in-national/karen-rubin and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com. Send comments or questions to FamTravLtr@aol.com. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures.

3 thoughts on “St Kitts Marriott is Ideal Caribbean Getaway with Top Golf, Spa, Casino, Beach, Kids Club

  1. Pingback: Exploring St Kitts, a Caribbean Island Nation Rich in Heritage, Natural Attractions | TravelWritersMagazine

  2. Pingback: Exploring St Kitts’ Fascinating, Rich Heritage | TravelWritersMagazine

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