When I arrived in St. Kitts for my first visit to the island, I just knew something was different. Aside from the absence of all-inclusive properties, the upscale-yet-laid-back vibe was evident from the moment I got there. Indeed, St. Kitts is a perfect recommendation for tropical travellers seeking anything but the typical island getaway; those wishing to enjoy a vacation that’s as stimulating and culturally immersive as it is charming and relaxing. Undisturbed by the mass tourism industry, it’s a place to luxuriate, though there is plenty of adventure to be had; volcanic mountains, rainforests and sun-kissed beaches contribute to the island’s unspoiled natural beauty.
So what do travel advisors need to know when it comes to selling St. Kitts? Here’s the lowdown:
St. Kitts appeals to travellers who have “all-inclusive fatigue,” says Paul Minich, market consultant for the St. Kitts Tourism Authority in Canada. “It’s great for those who have grown disinterested in cookie cutter ‘all-in’ resorts and are eager to explore an entire destination for all its culture, adventure, history and warmth.” Golfers should also be target prospects, Minich adds. St. Kitts has been actively marketing directly to Canadian golfers for two years now and Canadian golfers travel frequently – especially to golf destinations. “With three designer championship courses and a fourth under construction, St. Kitts is very much an emerging golf destination.”
APPEALING TO HIGH-END TRAVELLERS:
- PARK HYATT: Opening later is 2017 is the new Park Hyatt St. Kitts. “Every single design detail captures the authenticity and feel of St. Kitts,” Minich says. Of course, guests can also indulge with the signature Park Hyatt service and experience.
- KITTITIAN HILL: At the north end of St. Kitts is Belle Mont Farm on Kittitian Hill, where 84 luxury A-Frame units are tucked into the rain forest with stunning sightlines, a sustainable mandate and incredible farm-to-table dining experiences.
- IN NEVIS: On St. Kitts’ neighbouring island, find the Four Seasons Resort and a smattering of exclusive plantation-style options.
- YU LOUNGE: To really impress your clients and set the bar high on arrival, suggest they invest in passes to Yu Lounge. With this exclusive service, travellers are first welcomed on the runway and escorted by a concierge to the YU Lounge in a Porsche Cayenne, where they can then relax and enjoy gourmet dishes, not to mention, expedited customs and immigration services.
- CHRISTOPHE HARBOUR: This luxury Caribbean beachfront property in the southeast peninsula of St. Kitts boasts a marina, yacht club, retail shops and the soon-to-be-opened Tom Fazio golf course. A sunset visit to SALT Plage for live local music and handcrafted cocktails in an absolute “must do.”
EXPLORING THE ISLAND:
- Suggest clients take time to enjoy the St. Kitts Scenic Railway. The trip navigates along the entire north coast of the island, narrated by stories of the its sugar plantation history. Wave to locals, sip a pina colada, and take-in the beauty of sheer cliffs sharply dropping to the stunning beaches below.
- For more great views and a different perspective on St. Kitts history, pay a visit to Brimstone Hill Fortress and National Park, a well-preserved fortress and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Outdoor activities, such as zip lining and hiking in the rain forest, are very popular on the island, but visitors can just as easily chill on the many beaches.
- Everyone must go to the “The Strip” — great food and cocktails, beach fires and music; it’s part of the St. Kitts landscape both for locals and visitors.
- And don’t forget a day trip or stay-over in Nevis, where travellers can spend a day exploring or kicking-back at the Four Seasons Resort.
- Air Canada Vacations offers seasonal service to St. Kitts, Saturday to Saturday, December through April.
- There are also solid connections via American Airlines in Miami for all other needs.
- Note: United and Jet Blue service from other American gateways, however, the Miami connection is most popular with Canadians.
Q&A WITH PAUL MINICH, MARKET CONSULTANT, ST. KITTS TOURISM AUTHORITY
What questions do you frequently receive from travel advisors about St. Kitts and how do you respond?
Travel advisors know and recognize our seasonal relationship with Air Canada Vacations and our success with that service. The questions we often get relate to off-season travel – especially for golf holidays – or air routings and packages outside the ACV scheduling. This is where Sunspots Holidays plays an important role, especially with their relationship with American Airlines, which flies daily to SKB from Miami.
What makes St. Kitts a beneficial destination for travel agents to sell versus other Caribbean islands?
St. Kitts has recently embarked on a new awareness campaign in Canada having been a bit quiet over the past cycle of Canadian winters. This has resulted in a feeling of something new, something different and certainly something very authentic yet totally upmarket. The selling angle is that clients may not have had St. Kitts on their collective radar before and now there is this “new” destination with so much to see and do, plus top drawer accommodations. St. Kitts is rapidly emerging as both a golf and luxury destination and a totally new storyline is available to entice travellers looking for something different.
What misconceptions might exist in Canada about St. Kitts and what is the reality?
It’s not a misconception, but a memory: many baby boomers travelled to St. Kitts early in their careers for MICE trips and fondly remember the Jack Tar Village. Travel professionals of a certain vintage will also remember that same period – regular charters feeding SKB. Today the Jack Tar property is the beautifully refinished Royal St. Kitts Hotel, and adjacent to that the St. Kitts Marriott Resort and Royal Casino. New additions are Park Hyatt, Belle Mont Farm and the Yacht Club at Christophe Harbour. There is a lot of new in St. Kitts and that’s the message we have moving forward.
WANT TO KNOW MORE?
The St. Kitts Tourism Authority has a dedicated Canadian office in Canada. Marketing officer Jack Widdowson (who is Kittitian but studied at university in Canada) is a passionate resource for advisors: firstname.lastname@example.org.