It is a place such as Kittitian Hill in northern St. Kitts that is just so sublime, so healthy, and so naturally beautiful that begs me to forget my passion for golf, but at Kittitian Hill I don’t have to. Kittitian Hill features a world-class golf course and practice facility with views that will take your breath away. By any measure, I am in the Shangri-La of the Caribbean – 400 acres of paradise the way nature designed it.
So what is it about Kittitian Hill that has so captured my attention? Well, without any fore-warning of its elite reputation, as I was literally bumping along the one-lane dirt road up the hillside that serves as the main entrance to this farming resort, I would have assumed that either my driver had made the wrong turn, I had been secretly kidnapped, or this is a vacation from hell about to begin. Yes, I could see some buildings in the distance above me, but this seemed amiss. I was wrong. Actually, Kittitian Hill is about the closest thing to heaven you may find in all the Caribbean if not beyond. You see, this is a working farm/edible resort with natural organics fruits and vegetables grown right on site and delivered to and prepared right at your villa or in an architecturally exquisite dining room with views that even Robin Leach and his “rich and famous” friends would clamor for. Yes, the Kittitian Hill entrance may be one of the most underwhelming offerings in the world of luxury, and it is intended for it to stay that way. So what happened?
If I was being kidnapped, so be it because all of a sudden I was gazing upon ribbons of emerald golf fairways to my right and a first-class practice area to my left. Still climbing with my back to the Caribbean Sea, we came upon rich verdant forests with an ancient volcano peak partially hidden by the mist peaking down on me from a couple thousand feet higher. Upon getting to a small staging area and a village of clustered buildings under construction, smiles, gardens, and an elaborate tool shed greeted me. In fact, in keeping with the organic farming theme, I soon learned that the open air tool shed was the check-in so-called lobby area – how appropriate yet unusual. This was the five-star Kittitian Hill – naturally heaven with natural the operative word.
From here and above on the hillside where the nucleus of the resort is situated there are no cars, only golf carts and walking paths among the natural beauty of the forests and the fields that spill out down below to that fabulous golf course that goes by the name of Irie Fields. It is quiet and uncrowded, truly peaceful in every form. From the beauty of everyone’s smiles that greeted me to the almost indescribable natural wholesomeness that began to envelope me, I began to pinch myself to check to see if this was really a dream. Quiet, serene, and peaceful only begin to describe the ambiance. The architecture with the stone mined onsite in the classic native style with the high ceilings, splashes of bright color, adorned with casual, but dignified classic area furnishings define the very essence of understated timeless class with Caribbean flavored comfort.
Kittitian Hill is a low density, high touch operation minus the hustle and bustle of porters, children, or traffic. The vision of one Val Kempadoo, you can quickly tell that he is both a steward of the land and the people of St. Kitts and the Caribbean; not a single minute detail has been overlooked. Everything about this enterprise reveals a respect for the community and culture in a most vibrant and sustainable way. I soon discovered that the finest of everything is never more than a quiet request away – wines, meats, fruits, vegetables, desserts, flowers, state-of-the-art spa and gym accoutrements, yoga and personal trainers, 24-hour on-call dedicated concierge service lounging areas, with local shops coming – and that very attractive golf course. And Caribbean Sea, mountain, and neighboring island views are everywhere. Wellness surrounded me and Kittitian Hill is the perfect place to recycle and rejuvenate yourself. You can even create your own personal body scrub to take home with you – your gift from St. Kitts and Kittitian Hill. Can you begin to appreciate why I might be lured away from golf?
My favorite part of the resort was the Belle Mont Farm section – a tropical farm-like collection of 84 Guesthouses and seven 4-bedroom Farmhouses. Sitting at the highest point of Kittitian Hill, with cooling breezes thanks to its elevation of almost 1,000 ft above the Caribbean sea below, each unit is thoughtfully positioned and angled for both privacy and to best capture the amazing views. These open-air Guesthouses have sweeping verandas and private infinity pools, but interestingly have all their bathroom facilities under a roof, but out of doors – al fresco style. There are no televisions, but a huge computer-controlled screen the size of an entire wall magically drops down should you want to view something of interest from the provided tablet device. The proprietors are so confident of the climatic conditions that even with its elite pricing, no heating or air conditioning are provided – you simply open or close things up to adjust.
The nightly tariff for the smaller one-room Guesthouses starts at $2,250 USD per night based on double occupancy in season, but it is essentially all-inclusive of food, alcohol, mini-bar, unlimited golf, for two with forecaddies, along with a generous $200 daily spa allowance per couple included as well as a 10% resort service charge. What’s more, Kittitian Hill guests avoid regular St. Kitts Customs and terminal. Instead they are picked up at their plane and chauffeured away to St. Kitts’ elite new Jet Terminal Yu Lounge on both arrival and departure where they may enjoy refreshments and Caribbean tapas, and then are transported to and from the resort at no further charge. There are also the larger Farmhouses, which are among the most stunning vacation accommodations available in the West Indies and include a private 100-foot infinity pool. These units can comfortably accommodate up to 4 couples in comparable bedrooms with a central living area and a professional kitchen, while assuring each couple their own privacy.
As impressive as the facilities at Kittitian Hill are, perhaps it is the place’s themes that are the most captivating. Take the food for example. Fine, fresh, organic food is central. Kittitian Hill’s organic farm features the largest selection of tropical fruit in the Caribbean with one hundred varieties of mango alone. Ninety percent of the freshest ingredients are harvested from the surrounding land and Caribbean Sea and make for the daily menu. (Actually no formal menus exist.) Breakfast items are brought to your unit where you make your choice and they are prepared right before you via a gourmet mobile kitchen. For dinner, a 12-course menu is prepared and paired with beverages chosen by their Sommelier and Mixologist. The night continues with West Indian Stories narrated by their resident elder storyteller. Or for something different, the famed Golden Lemon Inn with its sand beach just ten minutes away is part of the property and features not only a beach club, but a bar and restaurant. In all, Kittitian Hill celebrates the very essence and beauty of St. Kitts and the Caribbean. It was built by locals with local materials, and furnished with local foods and serviced by local people in a most harmonious way. Indeed, it sets the standard for local economic and social development that is also in keeping with a respect for the environment. Now that’s pretty heady stuff when you consider it, especially when you also consider that everything is delivered with a smile!
As for the golf, the Irie Fields Golf Course that you passed on the way up to the lodging is “the world’s first edible golf course.” Built on the site of a former marijuana field and designed by esteemed former touring professional Welshman Ian Woosnam in collaboration with golf course architect Gary Johnston, the course is actually part of the working farm and signs are posted as to which fruits are ripe and appropriate for golfers to pick and eat with passion fruit, bananas, and pineapple typically among your choices. Here golfers will marvel at the sea views from every hole, as well as the imposing deep bunkers that not only adorn, but protect this challenging layout ready to open all 18 holes by late 2015. Now it will be golfers who will be getting high on an amazing golf property – some fun right! Veteran American PGA Member, Bruce Wilson who is a Colorado native, but has spent considerable time in Texas as well as Nevis heads up this impressive golf operation.
Kittitian Hill is obviously not for everyone, but rather for the discriminating few who value privacy, peace, relaxation, service and wellness with a healthy respect for nature and what it can provide. While the fees are high, the values are as well. The service, accommodations, food, beverages, golf, amenities, and such are all outstanding and included in the all-inclusive nature to some of the units; thus proving their worth. Whether you choose to stay onsite and explore and hike the property and the mountain above it, or venture about St. Kitts, a stay at Kittitian Hill becomes a virtual “Bucket List” experience – and a slice of Heaven with a true Caribbean flavor!
For further information, refer to: www.kittitianhill.com.
Bob Fagan features one of the most interesting backgrounds in travel and golf. Not only it is likely that Bob has played more American golf courses than any living person, he has been an accomplished player and instructor, holds a Ph.D. in Counseling, has been an innovative golf and life coach, PGA Section Executive Director, golf company executive, “Expert Golf Witness,” and, of course, a highly acclaimed travel and golf writer.