What's New in St. Kitts

st kittsMONTEGO BAY, Jamaica -- As part of our ongoing coverage of the 2014 Caribbean Travel Marketplace, Travel Agent learned about the St. Kitts Tourism Authority's most recent tourism-related news, events and developments from the island.

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A pro-active approach to building and supporting airlift services from key source market continues to bear fruit.  Despite entering into the island’s historic low season, September year-to-date system-wide scheduled arrivals posted a 1.3 percent year-over-year gain when compared to September 2012 with nearly all carriers showing positive growth.

From North America, total arrivals remained strong enough from the scheduled carriers to register a 1.1 percent year-over-year growth, which is in part reflective of the addition of two non-stop American Airlines flights to St. Kitts from Miami beginning on November 16, 2012, which fly southbound on Fridays and Sundays and northbound on Saturdays and Mondays. It also results from an increase in capacity over the Atlanta hub, following Delta’s upgrade of the aircraft size from a 737-800 to a 757 effective December 15, 2012. 

Meeting the continuing increase in market demand expected for the winter, Delta reinstated peak season flying seven weeks earlier this year than in 2012, with winter service having resumed from November 2, 2013.  In addition, American Airlines added two new rotations from Miami on November 21, 2013, thereby providing twice daily service Thursday through Sunday, and shifted the schedule for its New York flight from a Sunday to Saturday departure and from a Wednesday to Thursday return, opening up new connections to the island.

Seaborne will launch service between San Juan and St. Kitts on January 15. Seaborne has a code share agreement on select sectors with American Airlines and interline agreements with Delta and JetBlue.  The code share and interline agreements will provide additional connections over San Juan that will augment the island’s current non-stop lift and open St. Kitts to passengers flying Jet Blue and other carriers to the Caribbean.

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St. Kitts’ cruise tourism industry continues to grow robustly, with a recent study conducted by US-based research firm BREA (Business Research & Economic Advisors) reporting an increase in cruise passenger arrivals to the island from 117,000 in the 2005/2006 cruise year to 629,000 in the 2011/2012 cruise year, an increase of more than 400 percent as compared to an increase of 13 percent throughout the Caribbean over the six-year period.

In the 2009/2010 cruise season, St. Kitts exceeded the half million passenger arrival mark for the first time in its history. St. Kitts is currently projecting cruise passenger arrivals to reach approximately 650,000 in the 2013/2014 season and to exceed 700,000 in the 2014/2015 season. In addition to rising cruise passenger arrivals, the geographic markets from which the lines originate are expanding, with vessels now hailing from the U.S., Canada, U.K, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Latin America.  Further, St. Kitts will be receiving six port calls from Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas in its inaugural 2014/2015 season. It is the first of Royal Caribbean’s new Quantum class of ships and will include St. Kitts in its 11-night Eastern Caribbean and 12-night Southern Caribbean itineraries.  The Quantum of the Seas will sail roundtrip from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey. For the first time, St. Kitts and Nevis will be receiving scheduled calls from four ships of the luxury Seabourn Cruise Line, which will make a total of 29 calls in 2013/2014.

Reflecting confidence in the future for cruise tourism, the St. Christopher Air and Sea Ports Authority (SCASPA) has signed a memorandum of understanding with Massachusetts-based firm, Jay Cashman, Inc., to become partners in the development of a second cruise pier at Port Zante.  The second pier will be built alongside the existing pier and will be capable of berthing an Oasis class ship – the world’s largest passenger ship.  Construction is slated for completion in November 2014, just in time for the winter 2014/2015 cruise season. 

Plans are also being developed for further development of the Port Zante marina, as well as for the modernization of yacht entry and clearance administration. In addition, SCASPA has installed a breasting dolphin at the multi-purpose cargo pier so that it can accommodate ships over 850 feet. in length, giving St. Kitts the ability to berth three large ships in time for the start of the 2013/14 season. 

First announced in February 2013, preliminary work has already begun on the $180 million 298-unit Koi Resort & Residences in St. Kitts’ Half Moon Bay.  Situated on 16 acres of prime beachfront property adjacent to the Royal St. Kits Golf Club, it will feature 24 Half Moon Villas and 12 waterside villas with the rest being studio and one-bedroom units.  The mixed-use resort development will also include the renowned Koi Restaurant, beach club, and an exclusive ultra-lounge, all with a design that will combine colonial and modern architecture to capture the definition of rustic luxury. 

An internationally-known brand with properties in the U.S, Thailand and Abu Dhabi, Koi Resort & Residences will blend the natural beauty of its beachfront location to create an architectural story of one living with nature.  All luxury villas and suites will have sweeping ocean views and guests will have access to a variety of state of the art resort features upon completion, including banquet and special event facilities, bars and restaurants, a destination spa, swimming pools and a wide variety of sports and leisure activities.

The $10 million Imperial Bay Beach & Golf Residences broke ground on March 11, 2013.  Set in St. Kitts’ Half Moon Bay, the project consists of six two- and three-story buildings housing 86 contemporary and traditionally-styled one bedroom condominium units with Atlantic Ocean views of Nevis as well as views of a lake and the Royal St. Kitts Golf Course.  It will also feature a common area with an office and leisure room, a swimming pool and manicured landscaping.  

Located at Potato Bay in St. Kitts’ Frigate Bay resort area, Pelican Bay is a $90 million development set on six and a half acres of land sloping down to the Caribbean Sea. Comprised of 210 one bedroom condominiums, it will also include two infinity pools, two restaurants, a fitness center, spa, business center, office and administrative support with luxury amenities that will blend classic sophistication and Caribbean comfort with modern conveniences. The project architect is New York based Anne Hersh, who will lend her more than 30 years of experience in the field to Pelican Bay’s development.  Groundbreaking took place on March 11, 2013 with construction scheduled for a completion date of December 2014.

Groundbreaking on the Park Hyatt hotel at Banana Bay, Christophe Harbour, took place on June 3, 2013.  The final project will feature 200 hotel rooms and 50 branded residential condominiums. Phase One of construction has begun and will include the completion of 134 hotel guest rooms and related service facilities, conceptualized around a Caribbean village theme. The second phase of construction will include the completion of the remaining guest rooms and additional facilities. Phase One of construction is scheduled for completion by the end of 2015.  Development continues on the Christophe Harbour marina, with the naturally protected harbor to include 300 berths with the ability to accommodate the world’s largest superyachts, with Phase One of the marina scheduled for completion by the end of 2014. Christophe Harbour is also constructing a beach club with a dock located around the old salt factory at WhiteHouse Bay, scheduled for completion in March 2014.  

The Christophe Harbour Development Company, Ltd (CHDC) is the master developer for Christophe Harbour, a luxury resort development currently underway. Located on 2,500+ acres of the southeastern peninsula of St. Kitts, plans include a mega-yacht harbor, marina, Tom Fazio championship golf course and an impressive collection of restaurants, shops, boutiques, five-star hotels, oceanfront and hillside homesites and villas. In February 2013, Christophe Harbour also announced a new $50 million residential villa development for 50 new two-bedroom villas within its Sandy Bank Bay community, each of which will incorporate 1,500 square feet of interior and exterior living space.  Most recently, Kier, a global construction company based in the UK and a publicly listed FTSE 250 company, was appointed as the main contractor for Phase One of the construction of Park Hyatt St. Kitts.  Kier’s plans for the development include providing employment in construction and maximizing the use of local materials and resources.  Roughly 350 construction jobs and additional training program jobs are expected to be created in Phase One. 

Also as of the end of May 2013, Ocean’s Edge has launched a limited release of its Beachfront Studio Units.  These 15 units offer spacious accommodations with large outdoor terraces in a prime beachfront location with panoramic views.  Pre-construction pricing for these units begins at $445,000.  Ocean’s Edge is a resort development overlooking Frigate Bay that covers approximately 40 acres and is comprised of 381 properties including beachfront and hillside one- and two-bedroom apartments, many of which have individual plunge pools, and 37 luxury detached villas.  A variety of leisure and entertainment facilities are planned, including recreation centre, swimming pools, beach club with water sports and beachfront restaurant with bar and two tennis courts.

Phase One of construction on Silver Reef Resort, which began in April 2011 and consisted of 36 one- and two-bedroom apartments, is complete.  Phase Two consists of another 36 apartments of this 90-room development and is nearing completion.  Set in the Frigate Bay area of St. Kitts adjacent to the Royal St. Kitts Golf Course and ten minutes outside Basseterre, this $30 million development features villas and apartments in one- and two-bedroom configurations with spectacular views of both the Caribbean and Atlantic.  The property also features landscaped gardens and freeform, infinity-edge swimming pools.  Built eco-sensitively, it employs a combination of common sense principles like orienting the buildings to optimize the breeze, recycling grey water, use of solar power and sourcing local materials to minimize the carbon footprint. 

Construction is nearly complete on the new private jet terminal, which is scheduled for a soft opening in January 2014. Groundbreaking took place on February 3, 2012 for this new world-class facility at St. Kitts’ Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport.  The private jet terminal is located west of the main airport parking apron.  

It will consist of world class arrival and departure lounges, a business center, and related offices and processing facilities, as well as an elegantly landscaped courtyard and events center.  The first phase of the development will feature the main tropical-styled and environmentally friendly terminal, valued at roughly $6 million, with the total cost of the final project estimated at $15 million. The terminal will be constructed by Veling Limited and operated by Leeward Flight Services with full ownership to be transferred to The St. Christopher Air and Sea Ports Authority (SCASPA) at the end of the concession contract period.  Veling Limited is a global aviation solution provider with offices in Mauritius and London, England.  The architect and interior decorator for the new terminal is internationally acclaimed Bobby Mukherji & Associates, recognized as one of India’s top ten design firms.  

Visit www.stkittstourism.kn and keeping visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for more updates from our ongoing coverage of the 2014 Caribbean Travel Marketplace.