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St. Kitts for Christmas; sunshine and carnival

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Jan 3rd, 2014, 12:37 PM
  #1
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St. Kitts for Christmas; sunshine and carnival

Now back to a foot of snow and I miss the Caribbean sunshine.

I haven't been to St. Kitts & Nevis for over 23 years and was a little nervous about revisiting after all that time but we had a fabulous time reconnecting with old friends and haunts plus finding some very nice new restaurants and beach bars.

We stayed at the Marriott on St. Kitts using points for the 8 nights and we were upgraded to a Garden villa with an ocean view (DH is 'gold' with Marriott hence the upgrade and luckily that includes free internet as it's expensive otherwise).

More later..
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Jan 3rd, 2014, 05:12 PM
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Food
The bad and the ugly award...
We ate at the Marriott three times and regretted it!

First for breakfast on Christmas Day it was very disappointing. Can't believe that the fruit wasn't even freshly cut! The melon was a bit slimy.
The second time was a quick pizza for our offspring by the pool. It was just OK claimed the kids that will eat almost anything.
Finally, we ordered lunch before leaving for the airport.. big mistake! Bohemia by the pool was slammed and it was obvious that orders weren't coming out in any particular order. Ours took almost an hour and the food was disappointing. Dry overcooked fish sandwich, really bad calamari (we did warn our son not to expect much!) but the fries were fine (can you go far wrong with frozen fries?)

The OK/good

The 2 beach bars we went to served good local food that was very reasonably priced.
We ate roti or the catch of the day/fish sandwich/chicken dinner.
We liked Shipwreck best and ate there twice. Maybe the Green flash cocktails made the food taste better!
Mr. X's shiggidyshack was also OK.

The Wharf
We used to love this place but it's been extensively remodelled and had just reopened. The food was OK but bland and didn't seem to be as described on the menu.
The service was dreadful.
Our waitress was painfully slow, the food took ages to arrive and we dined with a local friend whose meal didn't arrive until 10 mins after the rest of our group.


Better

The Ballahoo. We really like this casual place in town and used to eat here many years ago.

more later..
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Jan 3rd, 2014, 05:28 PM
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Keep it coming, I am enjoying reading your post..
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Jan 4th, 2014, 09:16 AM
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Anxious to hear more. We have been to St Kitts three times in the last 15 months to visit our daughter. While I love the warm weather, except for two or three salads and a breadfruit pudding, no food I had anyplace was noteworthy. I keep hoping to find something that is.

Did you go to Nevis?
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Jan 4th, 2014, 06:32 PM
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Thanks tch912!

Sassafrass, we did have a few really good meals which I'm just coming to in my report.

Now for the really good food...

Runners up!
Christmas dinner at Ottleys Plantation Inn was delicious and the service was excellent. My son enjoyed his steak and the rest of us had the traditional turkey dinner.
Dessert was disappointing though as the white chocolate mint mousse tasted exactly like toothpaste and was a similar consistency!

We also had lunch here on Christmas eve and the food was good.

Golden Rock, Nevis
We had a lovely lunch here with a friend one day and it was very nicely prepared and served in a beautiful setting.

Carambola was undoubtably the best restaurant we went to.
We ate here on our last night and it was lovely to watch the sunset on the beach and then enjoy dinner.
I had the local spiny lobster, yum. My son had lamb and was very impressed. My daughter enjoyed her chicken dish and my husband had the swordfish special which was excellent.
We chose a night when we knew there were no cruise ships in port so we had the beach more or less to ourselves for the afternoon.

Carambola also served the best cocktails. The basil margarita was perfect!
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Jan 4th, 2014, 06:42 PM
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I love good food on vacation. The diet is out the window.
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Jan 5th, 2014, 06:50 AM
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Thanks sassy. We've been to Nevis but we haven't yet been to St. Kitts. When we first started going to the Caribbean many years ago most places had "island time" service. Service has dramatically improved most places we've been in the last 10 years or so. It sounds like that hasn't happened so much on St. Kitts.
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Jan 5th, 2014, 01:27 PM
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sharona, Maybe your observation that St. Kitts is slower to improve its service is correct but there were a few mitigating circumstances (and some excuses!).
It was the busiest time of year and one day there were 5 cruise ships in port.

I must add Carambola service was very good and extremely prompt, maybe a touch too quick but this might have been because we were getting used to island time! They were mobbed one day when the cruise ships were in so we didn't eat lunch there but I think they probably could cope better than most places on island.

The two restaurants we had the most problems with (the Wharf and Circus Grille) claimed that they had staff shortages (and new staff plus a new menu at the Wharf).
I forgot to mention our dinner at Circus Grille perhaps because it was largely unmemorable. My daughter didn't like her chicken pasta dish, the service was slow and my fish was topped with a weird combination of onions, tomatoes and peppers not stated on the menu.

I think the Marriott is another kettle of fish. The staff members we met were all friendly and helpful but there must be some incompetent kitchen staff.

With hindsight I'd stay at the Marriott again as the room we had was quiet, comfortable and had a nice view plus the maid service was excellent and unobtrusive. However, I'd make sure to avoid the restaurants!!
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Jan 5th, 2014, 02:06 PM
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Service has been good in St Kitts on our visits, but I read somewhere that there were over 35,000 cruise ship visitors to St Kitts in the week between Christmas and NY, so average of 5,000 a day. That doesn't count visitors actually staying on the island. Of course, the cruise visitors should not affect evenings in restaurants unless they did not have enough staff to work day and night shifts.

We had brunch at Ottleys and enjoyed it, especially the ambiance, thought the food was good, but not anything special.
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Jan 9th, 2014, 07:30 AM
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Sassafrass, the dinner we had at Ottleys on Christmas Day was a notch above their usual fare but so was the price ($75 a head).
Try Carambola next time you visit!

Beaches

We mainly hung out on South Friars Bay at Carambola or Shipwreck Bar. It's the Caribbean side so not as rough and theres a raft to swim out to at Shipwreck.
We burn easily so shade was important (cabanas at Carambola were more effective than the simple palapas at Shipwreck).
We avoided the cruise ship crowds by arriving in the afternoon when most visitors were heading back to their ships.

The Marriott beach looked quite busy and as we like to swim rather than be buffeted by waves we spent virtually no time there. We took a brief dip in the pool at the hotel one day but the pools are unheated and as it was windy and cooler than usual the water was too cold for me.


Nevis

We parked our rental at the Sea bridge ferry and walked aboard with minutes to spare.
The ferry left on time and I was told this is a recent change as it frequently ran behind schedule.
Our friend met us at the dock on Nevis with his pick up truck and we spent the day driving round the island, stopping at a bar, then at Golden Rock for lunch, a beach and a visit to our friend's home.
Golden Rock has gorgeous gardens and the current owners have a quirky eclectic taste in decor. Great spot for lunch!
We also called in on the surgeon that operated on my husband and saved his life almost 25 years ago. He's retired now but wanted to 'inspect' his handiwork! But, his wife said he'd just left for St. Kitts. Ah well, maybe next time..

The rest of the time..

We met up with old friends and former colleagues. School was closed for the holidays so it was hard to find people we'd lost touch with but everyone we did meet tried to put the word out we were visiting.

We visited Brimstone Hill (where a former Peace Corps friend worked). Beautiful views of several islands from the top and restoration of the fort continues.

We went to Caribelle Batik at Romney Manor and I wore my dress than I purchased well over 20 years ago. Most of the staff recognised the pattern and smiled or commented but only one had been working there long enough to know that I didn't make it myself with their material but it was a design they no longer use.
My son bought a pretty dress for his girlfriend.
The gardens are also very pretty.

We caught the tail end of J'ouvert. Didn't want to stay up all night but we went into Basseterre for breakfast and the music was thumping out.

We drove around the island stopping at various points to reminisce on changes.
There is now a new movie theatre.. the old place in downtown is still there but boarded up.
I visited Cayon High School and although it was closed I bumped into a teacher there that I used to work with and we chatted about my former colleagues. Some retired, some moved on and some still there!!

My husband met up with friends too plus a former pupil, now a lawyer on island.

We also relaxed. Did nothing but lime.

Looking forward to another visit!
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Jan 9th, 2014, 08:05 AM
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Sassy_cat,
It was fun reading about your visit to old haunts. Thanks for sharing it.
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Jan 9th, 2014, 09:04 AM
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You had a great time , St. Kitts is on my list to visit. I loved your trip report.
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Jan 16th, 2014, 11:14 AM
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Sassafrass, tch912,
Thank you for reading!

I've updated my profile pic with a shot of "Shipwreck beach" on South Friars Bay.

I left out a couple of things.. I forgot we'd eaten at Bombay Blues, a curry place on the Marriott strip and I wish we'd skipped eating there as I'm convinced the chicken I ate was off. I was the only one that was sick though.

Rituals, a coffee/breakfast place very near the Marriott was our go to place for coffee/ breakfast. We'd have picked up coffee at the Marriott but the coffee bar there was always busy. My husband could walk to Rituals and back with his coffee and see the same people in line at the Marriott!
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