Gay Nagle Myers
Gay Nagle Myers

St. Kitts remains on target "to pursue and launch initiatives that improve our quality of product and service, demonstrate our commitment to sustainability and reposition the destination during a difficult market," said Ricky Skerritt, minister of tourism, sports and culture.

"Our research shows that people still want to and will travel to destinations that offer authentic experiences, a rich heritage and a lush, natural setting to restore their sense of balance and well-being, and this will not change, no matter how bad the economic conditions may be," Skerritt said.

Resort developments are moving ahead, including the massive Christophe Harbour project on the 2,500-acre southeastern peninsula of St. Kitts, separated from its sister island of Nevis by a two-mile-wide channel known as "the narrows."

The project will encompass high-end residential properties, villas, condominiums, a megayacht harbor and marina, six beaches, a designer golf course, multiple restaurants and the Mandarin Oriental St. Kitts Hotel & Spa, scheduled to open in 2011. The project already has racked up more than $100 million in real estate sales, according to Skerritt, and many of the purchased units will go into resort inventory when not owner-occupied.

Marriott's St. Kitts Beach Club opened 22 more villas in January, bringing the total to 66, with another 22 planned in the future. Ocean's Edge Resort, a 40-acre site at Frigate Bay, completed 16 apartments with 14 more units and several villas under way. A 200-room hotel also is in the works, set to break ground in mid-2010.

Small operators on St. Kitts and Nevis got a recent boost with the launch of a special incentive package for small hotels (properties having between 10 and 99 rooms) that includes the free import of construction materials, food and beverages in an effort to reduce hoteliers' costs.

Hotels on both St. Kitts and Nevis banded together to launch the "Feel the Warmth" campaign this winter with value-added programs offering up to 35% savings on combined air and land packages as well as attractions and activities.

For summer arrivals, St. Kitts is ramping up for the 13th annual St. Kitts Music Festival June 25 to 27.

"We have to stay positive and focused. If not, we will miss opportunities when the tourism industry revives, which it will," Skerritt said.

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