St. Kitts Trip Reports

Have Baby Will Travel’s trip reports for St. Kitts & Nevis are organized alphabetically by city or region within the country. Simply scroll down to read them all. Each trip report has been provided to Have Baby Will Travel in hopes of giving other parents a clearer picture of what to expect when traveling to St. Kitts & Nevis with a baby or toddler.

(3 reports)

November 2007
Tommy & Family

This is by far the ONLY place to stay on the island if you are either a couple that like to hang around at the resort property or if you are traveling with children. There are 6 restaurants on the property and 3 pools. There are many activities to do during the week without ever leaving the property.

Some say that The Marriott is such an American place with no interaction with the local people, I say – Get real. There is not a single hotel that allows you to either have or not have interaction wtih locals. That is a choice that is up to you. You can hang out in the square in Basseterre and strike up conversations with whomever you wish regardless of where you are staying. Marriott is no more or less isolating than any hotel – NONE of which are designed (as far as I can tell) to encourage great interaction with Kittians – you have to seek out that pleasure on your own.

There are some downsides here — the hotel is new and suffers from some growing pains. After a week the food is a bit institutional. The music plays until 9.30 on the weekends in the open air hotel itself, and the sound echoes off the marble interior to keep everyone awake so do *NOT* come if you have an infant/toddler unless Marriott can guarantee you a room at the end of a wing.

Also, the rate structure here is bizarre. I booked a room a few months in advance and got a decent rate as a Gold member of Marriott reward points. It was $289 for a poolside deluxe room and included breakfast, ($20/adult). But when I cancelled at the last minute and switched reservations to the Timothy Beach Resort to try to save some $$ ($175/night difference in price), and then wound up not liking TBR much at all, I came back to the Marriott. They considered me a “walk-in” and charged me the standard rate of $175/night, which really is a bargain for this place. Some people were paying upwards of $400/night. I would recommend in the non-busy season (June-Nov) trying to book an inexpensive REFUNDABLE room elsewhere and then walk in to the Marriott to see if you can get the $175 rate.

Marriott is planning to expand this place greatly, according to the staff, including adding more restaurants, a lazy river, and another activity location that you could shuttle back and forth to on the Caribbean side (the resort is on the Atlantic). This is probably a year or two out, but Marriott already has the land in hand according to staff. That would make this a true 5* place (my real estimation is 4+, but there’s no option for that).

Staff is incredibly friendly. Worth taking the time-share trip for 90 min for the 15,000 rewards points – it’s not high pressure and good if there’s a cloudy day. Also recommend taking the rain forest excursion – ask for Rogers tours. Mr. Rogers is very friendly, a botanist/arborist who is very knowledgeable, and not too pricey. If you have smaller kids, the 4×4 safari is great b/c it does not involve hiking, which can be tiring on the young kids at 3800 feet!

Keep in mind that St Kitts is NOT very developed as of Nov 2007 (a good thing!) so if you want to go off resort, there is not much to do compared to St Martin, St John, Bermuda, and even Caymans. But with direct flights starting from NY (AA), Chi (UA), and Atl (Delta) in the next 6 mos, this place is poised to explode with tourism and there will be a new tourist infrastructure set soon. This is augmented by the fact that in 2005, the Kittian govt paid the final sugar plantation incentives – without those, the sugar industry is dead. Tourism is the new name of the game.

Overall, I think this will be one of the crown jewels of the Marriott collection once the final kinks are worked out and the resort is 100% developed (2010 timeframe). In the meantime, it’s the only place to stay with kids. For a romantic, honeymoon-type vacation, choose the more-expensive but delightful Ottley’s Plantation instead.

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February 2007
Joy & Family (baby 14mos)

Let me preface by writing that I visited St. Kitts 10-17 February, with my husband and 14 month-old child. We stayed at the Marriott on points. We used 150,000 points, which included a deluxe room with a balcony. We wavered b/t spending 235,000 points on a one-bedroom suite and 150,000 points on the deluxe room. In the end, I’m so glad that only spent the 150,000 points.

We came down via AA thru San Juan airport. All of our flights were uneventful and no luggage was lost. I will note that the airport in San Juan is not what I expected. With a two-hour layover, I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to hit a restaurant for some lunch. All that was available was a mediocre (at best) food court and a Dominos. Moreover, please note that there was no whole milk available if traveling with toddlers.

Upon arrival in St. Kitts, despite filling out a form on the AA Eagle flight – we had to fill out three immigrations forms and stand in line. By the time we cleared customs in St. Kitts it took approximately one hour. Please note that the elevator was down and we were forced to descend two large flights of stairs with carry-on luggage, a baby and a stroller. I will note however, that an airport attendant immediately came to help and assisted me the whole way through baggage and another customs clearance.

We opted to rent a car via Thrifty as I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of bringing the car seat with us in and out of cabs, etc. If I wasn’t traveling with a child however, I would not recommend renting a car as cabs were accessible and I heard nothing but praise from other hotel guests regarding them. The rental car, despite having a reservation, took 45 minutes. In addition, they have no computers so make sure you bring your reservations with you. Moreover, the full size car was analogous to a Honda civic in size. We couldn’t fit our luggage so they offered to drive our luggage to the hotel (free of charge). They came back later with supposedly a bigger full size car but when they came to the hotel – it wasn’t much bigger. Again, free of charge. We also had the option of renting a car while visiting Nevis free of charge. We never got there so I can’t write about the exchange process. In the end, we rented a car with an initial reservation charge of US$360 but with taxes and license fees, etc. it came to US$465. I will note it did include a tank of gas.

After getting our car – we were off to the Marriott. Upon arrival, our pre-vacation specialist and guest manager – both greeted us in the lobby. Before we arrived, I made reservations at Blu (the seafood restaurant), The Royal Grille (the steakhouse) and La Cucina (Italian). I also booked a babysitter for a few nights to watch our daughter and three golf tee times for my husband. Thus, my pre-vacation specialist asked me if I had any additions or revisions and handed me my itinerary.

In addition, there were fruity drinks and wet towels while waited in line for check in. Although we waited approximately 15 minutes, we have no complaints as we were upgraded. We are silver members and using points for our stay so I was surprised by the upgrade. I requested a top floor of the main building based on previous reviews. However, when given the choice b/t the top floor of the building or a first floor location by the North Pool, I’m so glad I went with the guest services recommendation of the first floor pool location in the Tabernacle House. It was PERFECT. Our patio was a stone throw to the pool. The room was very large inclusive of a decent size fridge with freezer. Despite previous reviews, I never heard a sound from upstairs. In addition, due to the various entertainment, I would not recommend a lower level in the main house as it’s very noisy. The location was also great as the baby takes afternoon naps, so I could still sit poolside rather than sitting in the room.

Based on previous recommendations I bought three US$99 dining certificates with the expectation of using two. I cannot recommend enough the dining certificates. The meals include an appetizer, salad, entrйe, dessert and all non-alcoholic drinks, tip and taxes. Now, if we didn’t have these certificates – we would not have ordered all these courses, however, it still would have cost us.

Blu – for example with the dining certificate has a surf and turf for US$54 – which is included in the certificate. At Blu, we had the scallops, crabs, salmon (appetizer – btw – big enough for an entrйe), mahi-mahi and my husband had Chilean Sea Bass. The desserts were very good. Our bill was about US$185 – as you can see the dining certificates paid off. Also, I should note that the wine lists in St. Kitts restaurants across the island are quite poor. We packed a couple of bottles and opted to pay the US$15-20 corkage fees. In addition, we picked up a bottle of Don Perignon 1998 for US$95 in San Juan. My husband is in the business and his cost in the States as a retailer is considerably more.

We retired for the night. The next day we hit the buffet for breakfast. It was a Sunday, and it was quite filled in addition to hotel guests and with locals. The buffet for two with taxes and tips is US$44. It has everything. They didn’t charge for the baby. In addition, we were able to get whole milk at the buffet for the baby, which came in handy. We came up empty handed despite multiple trips to various local supermarkets. Outside of Calypso is the calypso cafй with danishes, muffins and a coffee and ice cream bar. I will note that the caffeine coffee is $2.75 but the decaf is US$1.75. The specialty latte was cheaper than at our local Starbucks. The cookies and danishes at the cafй were incredible.

That day we just lied out by the pool and relaxed. As for pool service, we stayed most of the time at the North Pool – I think I only had a waiter service for one day. They don’t come around, in addition, my limited time in the late afternoons at the main pool – I was not impressed with the service. However, when you got a server or ordered at Bohemia – everything came out quickly. The prices are about $6 for a daiquiri and $8-9 for specialty drinks. A non-alcoholic drink is about US$5. Coming from New York, all of these charges seemed reasonable. In addition, the sandwiches were about US$10-12 and were all huge portions and very tasty. The pizza shack had individual specialty topping pizzas for US$7 or large for US$15 – great deals. Plain cheese pizza was US$4 for individual and $13 for a large. The ice cream is about US$1.50 per scoop at the pool. However, at Calypso Cafй the cost is US$2.50 for a scoop? Strange.

Dinner that night was at the Calypso Cafй with our daughter. Under age 6, children get to eat for free. We all had burgers. Our 14 month old got a burger the same size as ours, about 8 oz, plenty big. It comes with bacon, cheese and French fries and cost US$12 each for my husband and I. Iced tea runs about US$2 pp and includes free refills. The iced tea in the resort is very good.

Dinner at La Cucina, the Italian restaurant in the resort was the most disappointing meal all week. We had to take our entrees to go as our daughter was in a very good mood, but making too much noise and we felt bad as more guests were filling the restaurant. My husband had the Antipasti bar as an appetizer (US$12) and that was very good he thought. Make your own Caesar salad, a large Parmigiano cheese wedge to cut from and asparagus, charcuterie and cold salads made it very appealing for an appetizer. It is all you can eat as well. Cost is US$18 if you do it as your entrйe. 2 entrees and 2 desserts cost us about $100 here before wine, tax and tip.

On Tuesday, we toured around the entire island, this included a stop in the morning at the hospital, as our daughter cut her forehead on a corner of the night table in the hotel room. Hospital is about 20 minutes from the hotel and easy to find. Nurses and doctors were nice and we were in and out in under 2 hours. We ended up needing a late breakfast there as we had to rush out of the hotel to get to the hospital. There is a snack bar in the hospital and we can highly recommend the homemade tuna fish sandwich, which cost about US$1.50. The Snapple I had cost US $2! We almost went back for lunch later in the week. In our tour around the island we stopped for lunch at Serendipity, which is right near the hospital. The lunch menu is very reasonable and the food is excellent. My husband had the ribs (US$14) and I had the Chicken Caesar salad (same price). My husband thought the ribs at Serendipity were the best ribs we had all week. Be aware that we went through two bottles of Perrier at lunch and each bottle was about US$10 per bottle. Just when we thought we were getting away cheap. 😉

One dinner was at The Royal Grille. This is the resort’s steakhouse. We used one of our $99 dining certificates. My husband was very glad for that. Prices are similar to Manhattan steakhouse prices but do include some sides. Tableside Caesar salad is awesome. The anchovies are very mild. Appetizers were mixed. There were only three on the menu and the spring roll was not available. I ordered oxtail risotto with scallops, which was quite good except for the scallop, which is different from what we are used to in the northeast. My husband had the beef terrine (he tried to order the spring roll). He did not care for the terrine. He loves Foie Gras terrines but this was nothing like it. I ordered the surf and turf entrйe (US$42, Filet and Shrimp) and enjoyed it very much. My husband thought the quality of meat for the Filet was excellent but not seasoned well enough. He ordered the NY Strip, based on the waiter’s recommendation (US$39). The Strip was a thin, fatty piece with no flavor, he ate about half and was very disappointed. Both came with starch sides, which were good. We ordered mushrooms (US$5) as well and they were very fresh and very tasty, we both agreed. For dessert, we had the chocolate soufflй and strawberry shortcake. Souffle needs to be ordered when you order your whole meal. Both were good but neither was mind-blowing. For $99, this was a lot food and I thought it was good. My husband respectfully disagreed.

We frequented the casino on a few different nights throughout the week. The casino encourages you to sign up for a comp card and you do get a $10 match play to use upon check-in to the hotel. The casino is small but nice. There is a nice sportsbook to wager and watch events (probably about 20 televisions). 1-2 poker tables were in use during the evenings and 1-2 craps tables. During midweek, craps was $10 minimums, but $25 on the weekends. Ironically, the craps table were more crowded when it was $25 minimums. Poker was $1-2 no limit hold em (max $200 buy in) plus occasional tournaments. There are many $10 Blackjack tables throughout the evening. Some dealers are friendly and others are not. Most people do not tip, even on poker wins, which my husband found very odd. He tipped fairly well throughout the week and seemed to get compensated for it as we cashed in our comps at the end of the week, and although, he gambled one more evening than I, had 800% more in comp dollars. Drink service in the Casino is naturally complimentary (except at poker) and although, they are not the speediest, it runs in line with the rest of laidback service of the island. Everyone does tip on the drinks, obviously. FYI, the casino is open until 4 am daily.

Off site dining recommendations – Shigiddy Shack, Serendipity, SpratNet

Off site adventures – visit Brimstone Fortress and Turtle Beach

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November 2007
Tommy & Family

My wife and two children (5,3) booked ten nights at Timothy Beach Resort (TBR) over Thanksgiving, but wound up staying only one night. Let me tell you why.

Other reviews online are correct about several positive things –

  • The staff are very friendly and accommodating (otherwise this would be a 2-star review).
  • Apartments/condos are spacious
  • Location is great- right next to the beach and the beach “shacks”.
  • You will see monkeys and goats running around the property.
  • $100/night is dirt cheap for St Kitts or anywhere else in the Caribbean
  • Prob better than most of the St Kitts hotels in the price range.

But there are some negatives that you should be aware of, esp if you have children under 12 or have other concerns….

  • The condo we received was quite dated – pictures nailed to the wall crooked, outdated decor, very outdated bath.
  • Bath was not clean – hair around sink and tub
  • Tub lever was broken to divert to shower – I’m sure they would have fixed it but we didn’t stay that long.
  • Wall A/C units are loud, but more importantly – not installed completely properly. These units must be installed properly or else condensation builds up and drips into the wall cavity. This is what was happening in our unit. The result? Must and mold. Some people couldn’t care less – for us with allergies, it was not a viable option. And nothing the TBR folks could fix.
  • Sunset Cafe was indeed very slow (makes it esp. hard w/ kids) and not just slow by American standards, but as a world traveler, can attest to being extremely slow by any standard. And the food was terrible and not that inexpensive.
  • Beach “shacks” – I’ll leave that up to your own taste. Some looked ok – the newly installed “Oasis” – while some looked ripe for some stomach churning bacterial infections. Please be careful and order bottled water at these places even though St Kitts has good piped water in general. Some places still rely on cisterns.
  • AND MOST IMPORTANTLY – the reason we HAD to leave – on Friday night, music pounded from the beach until midnight, shaking some of the furniture in the room. None of us could sleep a wink. Total disaster w/families. The staff when I checked out said that this usually happens only on Fri/Sat/Sun, but that’s 3 out of 7 days, so be forewarned!!

If you’re a twenty-something here for fun in the sun, go for TBR. The beach was loaded with teenagers and twenty-somethings from dawn til dusk drinking heavily. Anyone a bit older or w/ kids, be prepared to get what you pay for.

In the end, we wound up heading to the Marriott up the beach and had a wonderful time.

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