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St. Kitts, Anguilla and St. Martin Trip Report

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I’ve been back from my incredible vacation for a week now and have put off writing the trip report, because it means coming to terms with the fact that the vacation I had been looking forward to for months is over.

Some of you may remember my posting from earlier this year regarding my concerns about traveling to St. Martin. After planning a 12-day trip split evenly with time on both St. Martin and Anguilla, I became more and more worried about what I was reading about crime on St. Martin and wanting a stress free vacation for me and my mom. Not long after that post, I talked with my mom about my concerns and let her know about a package I had found for a stay at Ottley’s Plantation Inn on St. Kitts and after sending her some pictures from the Ottley’s web site, she was ready to make the switch as well. We were all set to spend six nights on St. Kitts and six nights on Anguilla (flying in and out of St. Martin and using inter-island flights to transfer) when Delta decided to discontinue its Thursday service from St. Martin to Atlanta, so we ended up tacking on two extra days in St. Martin before heading back home on a Saturday.

On Saturday, 12/6, we left Milwaukee for Atlanta and our connecting flight to St. Kitts. A communications problem with the plane and a blizzard in Milwaukee caused a one-hour delay and we arrived in Atlanta for our St. Kitts flight just in time to watch the plane pull away from the gate without us. We were then booked on a flight to St. Martin that was leaving 15 minutes after the St. Kitts flight with an inter-island connection on Winair. The flight to St. Martin was uneventful and we had a 4-hour layover in St. Martin before catching our flight to St. Kitts. We knew that the inter-island planes would be small, but, I had no idea how tiny they were until we boarded our flight to St. Kitts. Fortunately, the ½ hour flight went by quickly and we landed in St. Kitts without incident. Ottley’s had arranged a taxi driver for us and she patiently waited while we filled out the claim forms for our lost luggage.

As we drove up to Ottley’s all of our travel-related stress and worries about our lost luggage melted away. One of the front office staff waited for us to arrive and showed us to our lovely and spacious ocean/mountain view room in the main house. After a quick tour we went down to the Royal Palm restaurant for dinner which stayed open for us since we arrived so late in the evening. Our Luxury Link package included breakfast and a three-course dinner daily and the meals were one of the highlights of our stay at Ottleys. The restaurant staff was warm and accommodating, especially Melva, who would great us with a hug prior to seating us for dinner. We usually found that the breakfasts were so filling that we would just have a small snack in the afternoon before eating again in the evening.

On our first full day on St. Kitts we slept through breakfast and decided to have brunch instead. On our way down to brunch, we met Karen, who is the daughter of the inn keepers, and we were formally introduced. She immediately made us feel like family and after hearing about our lack of clean clothes to wear, she brought us up to the office to sort through her stash of staff clothing that she offered us until our luggage arrived. She even went down to her cottage and started pulling her own clothes out of her closet for us so we’d have shorts to wear as well. Karen and her parents, Art and Ruth, were absolute gems and truly epitomized the Ottley’s experience for us. I cannot say enough about their kindness, generosity and hospitality.

After brunch, we spent the rest of the day unpacking and exploring the grounds, which included beautiful gardens and a rainforest complete with monkeys! Since my mom and I are both animal lovers, we also ended up adopting one of the Ottley’s resident cats during our stay. Thelma is a sweet old girl (her sister Louise died last year). Every evening after dinner, she would meet us by the business office and we would entice her up to our room with some leftovers from dinner. She’s an equal opportunity kitty and would alternate between my mom’s bed and my bed every night during our stay.

On Monday, we took advantage of the Ottley’s shuttle that runs a free service into the capital of Basseterre for some shopping and exploring. Fortunately, shopping is not one of the reasons why we chose St. Kitts. My mom and I are much more interested in local crafts and art work and aside from a few shops and galleries in Basseterre, there wasn’t much to see. We were incredibly turned off by the sales pressure at the duty free stores in Port Zante and we were more than happy to head back to Ottley’s when the shuttle came to pick us up later in the afternoon.

Tuesday was beach day, and we paid an extra $10 to have the Ottley’s shuttle drive us to Cockleshell beach. The weather wasn’t great, and the rain would come and go in spurts, but, we were thankful Ottley’s provided us with a sun umbrella that we ended up using a few times for a rain umbrella. Aside from the rain, we had a great time at the beach, enjoyed the mystical cloud cover over Nevis and sang along to the holiday reggae songs played at the nearby beach bar. The extra charge for the drive to Cockleshell was worth it, since the views on this part of the island were amazing.

On Wednesday, we took an island tour arranged by the Ottley’s front office. We were especially looking forward to this, because there were several galleries and sights that weren’t easily accessible without a rental car that we wanted to make sure we visited before we left the island. During our tour we stopped at the Potter’s Shop, Romney Manor/Caribelle Batik, Brimstone Hill, Rawlins Plantation/Kate’s Gallery, The Golden Lemon and Black Rocks. We had our very informative driver, Winston, for five hours at a rate of $120. The weather again wasn’t so cooperative during this part of the trip, especially during our visit to Brimstone Hill, but, we did manage to catch in our photographs a beautiful rainbow at Brimstone. Wednesday was a much more successful shopping day. We bought a few batik pieces at Caribelle Batik and my mom purchased a print from Kate’s Gallery at Rawlins Plantation. We also both purchased gorgeous pieces of pottery from Carla at the Potter’s Shop. I think the highlight of the island tour though was the view of the Black Rocks and the crash of the surf.

Thursday was our last full day on St. Kitts and we decided to stick close to “home” by lounging around the plantation with a couple of good books and by taking some additional pictures of the grounds. Prior to dinner, Art, Ruth and Karen held a rum punch party for the guests in the plantation’s great room. This was just another example of their warm island hospitality. We had so much fun talking with everyone, and we were so glad we got to attend their party before we left the island. We left our last dinner at the Royal Palms by giving Melva a few more hugs with a promise to return next year.

Friday was bittersweet for us, because as we said our goodbyes to everyone at Ottley’s with tears in our eyes, we were looking forward to finally seeing if the beaches on Anguilla were as beautiful as the pictures and testimonials had indicated. We left St. Kitts on a Winair flight to St. Martin and had a 2-3 hour layover in St. Martin before taking an even smaller plane over to Anguilla. Since this was our second stop in St. Martin in over a week, we had become pretty familiar with the shops at the airport, and we’ve come to the conclusion that the hot pretzel stand near the C gates at the airport makes the most delicious and flakey soft pretzels we have ever eaten! The flight from St. Martin to Anguilla was over in 8 minutes, and while, I was holding on to dear life during all of those 8 minutes, my mom had a blast taking pictures from the plane.

Anguilla – To Be Continued

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