Upon close inspection, a new property often can't live up to the hype that leads up to its opening.
Add to that several postponements regarding the opening date due to construction delays, and one gets an idea of the anticipation surrounding the debut of the Park Hyatt St. Kitts on Nov. 1.
This property on Banana Bay, on the island's southern peninsula, does not disappoint. In fact, it exceeds expectations, a visual stunner that melds contemporary architecture with Kittian colonial culture and storied history.
For example, the Rampart, the adults-only infinity pool, is set between two stone arches that form a small replica of the Unesco-designated Brimstone Hill Fortress, a signature attraction on St. Kitts that was designed by the British and built by slaves in the 1700s.
Island stars in chef's kitchen
I met executive chef Pankaj Bisht as I devoured a spinach, kale and egg white frittata at breakfast in the Great House restaurant on my first morning. Read More
The Stone Barn, its fine dining, adults-only dinner restaurant, replicates the old stone barns from the days when sugarcane drove the economy. The cool interiors of the barns protected sugar from high outside temperatures.
The place is stone and brick, lit by candlelight and wall sconces and serves hearth-cooked food from an open kitchen.
It's where I sampled the chocolate blossom coconut mousse with lavender honey: a mound of mousse tucked inside rose-colored chocolate petals that opened like a flower when the sauce was poured around the base.
Chef Fernando Castelan laughed as I attempted to video the culinary happening and grab a spoonful of petal and mousse at the same time.
"You like?" he asked.
"I like!" I replied.
That dessert is a special one created for the Chef's Table, one of the Park Hyatt's optional culinary offerings that features a specially curated dinner for 12 at a table set inside the open kitchen at the Great House, one of the three on-site restaurants.
The third restaurant, Fisherman's Village, serves lunch and dinner in an open-air, over-the-water, bungalow-style design with views of the island of Nevis and cloud-shrouded Nevis Peak two miles across the water.
Each of the Park Hyatt's 78 rooms and 48 suites comes with a water view. Accommodations are in 18 three-story buildings curved around the beach at Banana Bay.
My top-floor suite had an infinity plunge pool and sun deck, an easy-to-work TV remote and alarm clock, light switches and lighting that made sense, a silent air-conditioning system, fast WiFi and screens for the patio and windows.
A king room at the Park Hyatt St. Kitts shows the lack of art. The views, says the hotel’s manager, are the art.
When I visited in mid-January, occupancy was in the mid-30s, according to Flor van der Vaart, general manager.
"Our bookings in February and March are really picking up," he said. "What we need, and what St. Kitts needs, are more nonstop flights each week from New York."
American and Delta offer nonstops on Saturdays from New York JFK, as does United from Newark. Other cities with nonstop Saturday flights include Atlanta and Charlotte. American also has a daily flight from Miami.
We toured the high-ceilinged Living Room, the guest check-in area that bears no resemblance to the standard hotel lobby and is dominated by a wall of hats.
"Hats are an island thing," van der Vaart said.
He pointed out that there is very little artwork inside the resort, including paintings inside the guestrooms.
"Art is outside, so we have no art inside," he said. "We want nothing to distract from the [scenery] outside."
No artwork could upstage the views of Nevis Peak across the Narrows, and the resort's lush foliage and long stretches of secluded sand.
The family pool in the center of the property has a sand beach, shallow wading areas, a juice bar and cabanas that rent for $200 a day, including a 30-minute massage.
I had a basalt stone hot oil massage at the Miraval Life in Balance Spa oasis, the first Miraval Spa to open within the Hyatt portfolio and in the Caribbean. I wanted to stay on that massage table forever.
Resort rates start at $500 per room, per night, double, excluding breakfast, taxes and services charge.
For bookings made through March 31, the property is offering a fourth night free. Valid for stays through Dec. 22, the deal includes a $300 airfare credit per person for flights from Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami, Newark, New York and Toronto.