“Life is about the acquisition of memories,” says Darby, addressing the crowd of 1000-plus gathered for the opening of the Marina at Christophe Harbour, indicating that not only was this opening going to be an important memory, but that the marina itself would be the site of many memories to come. As the sounds of Darius Rucker and band fade and the fireworks start to illuminate the yachts in the marina, it’s hard to believe that just eleven months ago, the ‘ground’ had still not been broken here.
Silhouetted against the Kittitian sky now blazing with fireworks, yachts like the 52m Palmer Johnson M/Y Helios 2, Perini’s 73m M/Y Grace E, 57m M/Y Rochade, 46m S/Y Antara, M/Y Spirit, catamaran Orion and 31m M/Y Diamond Girl fill the marina.
For several of the visiting yachts, this is their first visit to St Kitts. “We typically do the Virgin Islands, St Maarten and St Barths,” says Damon Smallwood, captain of Rochade. “I, as well as the owners, had never been to St Kitts before this opening event, mostly because there was no marina for us to go into.” For Smallwood, indeed all the captains I spoke to, St Kitts offers a welcome change from typical St Maarten to St Barths itinerary.
While St Barths, St Maarten and Antigua may be the classic itinerary favourites, at the heart of St Kitts is a refreshingly relaxed, barefoot sophistication that these other spots have perhaps lost.
“St Kitts is a wonderful island,” says Captain Tim Smith of Diamond Girl. “I think that it is typically an island that yachts tend to anchor off of for a night and move on to the next big thing (St Barths, St Maarten and Antigua). It is unfortunate as St Kitts, in my opinion, trumps all of those. I believe that with Christophe Harbour being open, St Kitts will become a bigger part of the Caribbean itinerary for owners and charter guests.”
It has long been one of the Marina at Christophe Harbour’s USPs that the berths will be available as freehold rather than leasehold, and this has already piqued investor interest. “We’ve sold nine slips now out of the 23 available,” reveals Ron Wallschlager, sales executive at Christophe Harbour. “Four of the buyers are non-yacht owners. Look at it this way, as freehold berth owners, they own the land, so if the price of property goes up, which it already has, they have a genuine stake when they come to sell.”
Christophe Harbour has already seen USD 100 million infrastructure investment, but there is still a way to go before its marina is fully operational. When completed, a shore-side village with restaurants, boutiques, and hotels and a large customs house, with extensive crew facilities, will complement the marina. “I think the sooner they can get the crew amenities in place they will have their share of large yachts stopping by to spend some time on a safe secure dock,” says Giles Smith, captain on Helios 2.
For guests, while a Park Hyatt and Tom Fazio golf course are currently under construction, Christophe Harbour’s SALT Plage seaside bar (the location of the grand opening VIP afterparty) is already within walking distance from the marina and the Pavilion Beach Club is within easy reach for lazy poolside afternoons. "This place is beautiful, the people are great and we now have a destination between destinations in the Leewards," says Diamond Girl's Smith.
An added bonus for Christophe Harbour and St Kitts is the private airport terminal that opened last summer. The new terminal features the luxury airport lounge concept Yu Lounge, which is open to both commercial and business jet passengers, the brainchild of India–based architecture firm Bobby Mukherji and Associates.
“I came here all those years ago and didn’t know what I was going to find or what I would do here,” Darby tells me after the fireworks, surrounded by his celebrating family, on the aft deck of Andromeda La Dea, which, for perhaps the first time in this marina, is completely surrounded by other superyachts. “I’m pretty excited by what we are creating here. This is a special yachting spot. And it is only going to get better.”
The Superyacht Owner will look at Christophe Harbour and St Kitts in greater detail in Issue 17, out May 2015. To become a member and receive your copy, click here.