Vanessa L Jackson
An impending tropical storm at your destination is the last thing any traveler wants to hear. I hoped the storm would somehow bypass the island. As the flight from Miami neared Robert L Bradshaw International Airport, strong winds, low clouds and heavy rains blanketed the area. This made it nearly impossible to see the airport or tarmac. The pilot looped the island several times trying to get a clear view to land. He then came over the intercom and announced he’d attempt to land one more time, but if he couldn’t land after 15 minutes, we’d have to refuel in Puerto Rico and return to Miami for the night.
Two ladies making me feel a word in parentheses said they weren’t able to land yesterday either. I could see there was still poor visibility. With fingers crossed and prayers in the air, many of us patiently waited to see what would happen.
The pilot circled the island one last time and much to my amazement approached the runway from the opposite direction. This maneuver worked and we landed safely. I, along with other passengers, cheered. Some people gave each other high fives. I was on the ground. But the country nicknamed, “Sugar City,” looked more like “Rain City” with the torrential downpours hitting the island.
The excitement of safely landing and being in a new country named for it’s once abundance of sugar plantations, quickly diminished when I found out my luggage didn’t make the flight. This would normally be a minor inconvenience. However, a tropical storm was happening and all flights in and out of St. Kitts were canceled. I was stranded in a foreign country with nothing but the clothes I was wearing. I failed to pack any clothes in my carry on. Barring a break in the weather, my luggage would be on its way the following day. Thankfully, Lavern Stevens, the Public Relations Manager for St. Kitts Resort & Royal Beach Casino, was there. Her warm smile and cheerful disposition made a bad situation all the better. She helped ensure my luggage would be brought to the resort when it arrived.
I was captivated and overwhelmed by the striking beauty of the St. Kitts Resort & The Royal Beach Casino. Through the rain, the luxurious elegance of St. Kitts Resort & The Royal Beach Casino sparkled. The resort featured a magnificent blend of Colonial architecture, high-open archways and modern features with Caribbean flair. I could tell extreme thought and consideration definitely went into every detail of this place. My room was even more elegant. It was so refreshing to be in such luxury that I soon forgot all I faced that morning. I took a hot shower and changed into the St. Kitts adorned attire I bought at the gift shop.
I then headed down for dinner at the Royal Grille Steakhouse. I elected to have the Surf and Turf, which consisted of a Caribbean spiny lobster and center-cut filet mignon in a red wine sauce. Paired with truffle potatoes and zucchini julienne, this foodie’s pallet was satisfied.
The next morning I awoke to more rain. Planned activities like sky safari zip lining through the Kittian rainforest, a bike tour and extreme hike through Mount Liamuiga, were scrapped. I chose to order room service and had one of their signature dishes, the Salt Fish Creole Eggs. I had never even heard of salt fish before but soon had a new breakfast favorite. After breakfast I headed over to the Emerald Mist Spa. I anticipated experiencing the cold plunge pool for the first time. I heard so much about it and when I stepped in I could see why. I quickly hopped out of that pool and headed for the hot plunge pool. The warm water was more my style. With the stress from the flight and having no luggage, the Swedish massage was a welcome relief. I was able to relax and unwind in tranquility.
After the massage I made my way to the lobby bar. Kittians and Marriott sure knew how to improvise given the situation. I munched on some skirt steak nachos at the Lobby Bar and drank several Miami Vices. I mingled amongst the other guests and we played various games. Though we couldn’t go outside it never felt like cabin fever. There was so much to do that I almost forgot it was a storm outside. I even won trivia with the little bit of knowledge I had learned from being in St. Kitts. Grand prize was a St. Kitts Beach Club bag, towel and a bottle of rum as my prize.
The Royal Beach Casino is the largest Vegas-style casino in the Caribbean and boy did it not disappoint. I learned the game of Black Jack but played it safe by sticking to the slots. I started with $5 from the wheel everyone spins and ended up with close to $200. Not a bad take for someone who has only gambled once before. I checked out the rest of the casino and was drawn to the Roulette table. Not wanting to play, I just watched. It turned out to be a good idea as I witnessed a casino regular and island resident lose about $15,000 in five minutes.
That evening we dined at La Cucina, swankily named kitchen in Italian. The Capellini ai Prosecco (home-made angel hair, sautéed shrimp, bell peppers and onions in a prosecco cream sauce) was good.
The weather finally cleared a bit on our last day in St. Kitts. Lunch was at a local favorite, El Fredos. Of course I had to try their salt fish, which was absolutely delicious. We visited local hangouts, Reggae Beach Bar & Grill where I learned about the legend of Wilbur the pig and the Spice Mill. We walked around the downtown area of Basseterre. One of the downtown landmarks is Independence Square, a former slave market. Slaves were kept in tunnels under the Georgian House and brought up to the square for bidding. I took in the rich history and immersed myself in the moment for a while. I appreciated how far St. Kitts had come from those days.
The night culminated with dinner at another local favorite, Marshall’s. It’s truly fine dining at its best and definitely a must-visit restaurant in St. Kitts. I started with the Seafood Coquille (conch, lobster, shrimp and scallops in a creamy white sauce) and chose a pan-roasted Chilean sea bass as my entrée. It was absolutely delicious and infused with authentic flavors of the island.
Overall, I experienced nothing but bliss at St. Kitts Resort & The Royal Beach Casino. I had a wonderful stay, despite all the rain. Whether it’s Sugar City or Rain City, St. Kitts Resort & The Royal Beach Casino is a resort that I plan on visiting again.