Bliss in St Kitts
A relaxing week being pampered at a plantation hotel in the centre of St Kitts. (Or St Christopher to give it its full name.) Ottleys is a family-owned, former sugar plantation, magnificently situated at the foot of majestic Mount Liamuiga. It is surrounded by stunning vistas, mountain ranges and rolling hills and it has heaps of atmosphere.
The building is a restored eighteenth century mansion house with beautifully decorated in- keeping-with-period rooms and views across the manicured gardens. There are swaying palms to the ocean.. This accommodation is not cheap. But the really affluent get ' intimate' stone cottages with private plunge pools. There's a gorgeous main pool next to the breakfast cafe and gourmet (but expensive) restaurant for the also rans.
There's also a great (but expensive) spa, which overlooks a rainforest ravine, a well, a donkey and other delights to be discovered in the extensive grounds.
The service is excellent and there are much worse ways to spend a week.
An Island Tour of St Kitts
An island tour doesn't take long. The tiny capital, Basseterre is mainly colourful concrete houses as the French and British architecture was damaged in a fire in 1867. The town is built around Independence Square, originally used for slave auctions in the 18th century. There's an imposing stone church behind. There's also a typically colonial green clock tower built in Glasgow.
The old fortress at Brimstone Hill is somewhat ambitiously nicknamed the Gibraltar of the West Indies but this is still a large fortress,. It is UNESCO listed and replete with guns. More fantastic views are the main reward for struggling up the hill and many stairs.
I got a ferry to sister island Nevis and wandered round colonial Charlestown. For a small place it's stuffed with Georgian architecture and has a very atmospheric high street ideal for sauntering along the cobbles. There's a church from the 1900s founded by freed slaves, the historic Bath Hotel (the first ever constructed in the Caribbean) and an atmospheric Jewish cemetery with graves as old as the 1600s.
After that a saunter (one and half miles) along the coast to Pinney's Beach. There's a long expanse of powdery white sand and a beach bar....The whole is frammed by the (usually) cloud shrouded mountain rising grandly behind.
- No beach on the doorstep (take a car or free shuttle bus down). Cockleshell Beach at two miles long with a view across to Nevis is generally thought to be the nicest. Though Frigate Bay Beach is quieter. The sands here are mostly silver, rather than gold, but it's still the Caribbean..
- Wooden floor boards - I'm sure there are elephants stampeding in the room overhead