Our American Airlines flight arrived at Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport on the island of St. Kitts at around 4:30pm. We took in some picturesque views of the island as we descended, and as soon as we were on the ground we were thoroughly enjoying the warm weather. After a quick shuffle through immigration and customs, we were on a taxi on our way to the resort.
Marriott Resort St. Kitts – Location & Arrival
The Marriott St. Kitts & Royal Beach Casino sits on an expansive beachfront on Frigate Bay, a small bay on the eastern coast of the island. It’s about a 10-minute drive from the airport and downtown Basseterre, the nation’s capital.
The resort is a Category 7 hotel in Marriott’s classification of Categories 1–9, meaning that a free night costs 35,000 Marriott Rewards points. We paid for our four-night stay using 140,000 points.
The property is very large and consists of a 7-storey main building as well as about a dozen 3-storey villas, with 320 guest rooms and 69 suites in total. About half of the villas have rooms for hotel guests, and the rest contain timeshare units.
Upon our arrival at the resort, a friendly bellman helped us with our bags and directed us to the queue for check-in. We waited a bit to check in before Marcie helped us at the desk.
There was a moment of confusion here. Marcie informed us we had received a room upgrade, from a room facing inland in the main building to a larger room in one of the villas with a patio. However, the keycard jacket we received had the old room number on it, so we were totally lost when we went to the villas looking for our room. Thankfully, Ashmo at the front desk was excellent and quickly informed me of the correct room number, Room 1108. He gave us a few bottles of water for our troubles, which I appreciated.
Marriott Resort St. Kitts – Garden House King Room
Our room was excellent. It was very spacious and featured a king-size bed, a table, and a lounge chair.
The bathroom area was spacious and well-designed as well, with a mirror and sink on the outside of the bathroom. Inside, there was a toilet, a bidet (which we never figured out how to use), and a large bathtub with spray jets.
There was also a minibar featuring the usual coffees and teas and a refrigerator. In my opinion it would’ve been very useful to have a microwave as well, especially as eating every meal at the resort can get pretty pricey (more on this later).
Since our room was located on the ground floor, our patio opened up directly to the central courtyard among our little cluster of villas. There was a set of patio chairs and a table, and it was a great place to pass the time.
Overall, I really liked the room and the amount of space it had. I loved how the patio provided direct access to courtyard – sitting on the patio at night, sipping tea and watching the palm trees sway idly, was pure relaxation. I also really appreciated the whirlpool bathtub. So many hotel bathtubs these days are way too small for a comfortable bath, so I thought this one was outstanding.
Marriott Resort St. Kitts – Pools & Beach
We quickly unpacked our stuff before heading straight for the beach, hoping to take a walk along the water and catch the sunset.
We strolled along the beach and pretty soon the sun began to set, which made for some fantastic views of the beach and the surrounding area.
Quick comment on the beach at the resort. The water is perfectly clear, and the sand is great, but since St. Kitts is an island almost entirely formed of volcanic rock, the beach isn’t quite the “white sand beach” that you’d find on islands with more coral or limestone – say, Seven Mile Beach in the Cayman Islands. I also read a few reviews before the trip that the amount of seaweed posed an annoyance for a few guests. Personally, I didn’t find this to be the case, as the amount of seaweed that washed up on the beach didn’t seem excessive and could be easily sidestepped.
In terms of the beach facilities, the Marriott maintains several banks of cabanas and beach chairs for its guests, which can fill up quickly in the morning but are otherwise pretty easy to snag for yourself. There’s also beach volleyball and beach soccer setups if you wanted to get a game going.
Then, let’s head to the pools. When the age-old dilemma at a resort like this goes along the lines of “Where do we feel like going today, pool or beach?“, one factor in particular helps the former’s case – variety. The Marriott St. Kitts certainly does not disappoint, featuring three pools, each with shallow and deep ends and each encircling a smaller hot tub-style whirlpool.
The North and South pools are considerably smaller compared to the Main pool, which houses its whirlpool on a mini-island accessible by footbridge, and also has a swim-up bar. Each of the pools has a volleyball net as well and is surrounded by several ranks of pool chairs with shades, so it’s pretty easy for half a day to whizz by without anyone realizing it.
Over the course of our stay, we went for a few dips in the evenings, mostly in the South pool since it was closer to our villa.
Later on in the evenings, when we weren’t feeling quite so eager to get wet, we spent a great deal of time swaying on the many hammocks dotted around the hotel grounds. The hammocks were large enough for two people and were perfect for stargazing at night or stopping for a brief rest during the day.
One thing I wanted to point out is just how quiet the resort gets after about 5pm. The majority of hotel guests seemed to be families with children, so presumably most of them retreated to their rooms for some rest after a long day in the sun, but I found it striking just how few people I saw after sundown. Walking along the garden paths at night, against a backdrop of still, blue-lit swimming pools, was mesmerizing.
Marriott Resort St. Kitts – Other Facilities
Aside from the pools, the main building was where most of the action took place. A set of stairs brought you from the ground floor up to the second floor, where the lobby is located. There’s a pretty stunning ship facade at the center of the stairs, although I thought it would have looked even more impressive if the waterworks were on.
First off, there was the Royal Beach Casino. We came here a few nights and had an absolute blast on the Wheel of Fortune machine (don’t judge me, I’m on vacation). There’s also table games with $1 minimum bets, so you don’t really have to break the bank to have a good time. Inside the casino, there’s also the Sky Ultra Lounge Bar, a swanky lounge area with live music and happy hour drink specials.
There’s a fitness centre on the ground floor, and I saw many guests using it each time I walked by. Personally, when I’m on vacation, I’m on vacation, so I didn’t manage to make a trip to the gym. There’s also a tennis court off to the side of the main building, by the villas on the south side of the property.
The main building is also home to many of the resort’s on-site restaurants, including the Royal Grille Steakhouse, the La Cucina pizzeria, and Calypso Cafe. We grabbed breakfast at Calypso a few times, and it was relatively affordable – expect to pay about US$10 per person for takeaway food and US$15 per person for a sit-down meal.
That’s about as cheap as things get on the property. Prices for lunch and dinner at the hotel restaurants range from US$20 per person for pizza at La Cucina to US$60 per person at the Royal Grille Steakhouse. On our third night, we had dinner at the seafood restaurant, Blu, located out near the beaches by the main pool. Jessica and I shared a tomato-based seafood chowder and a delicious mahi-mahi dish, and our bill came to about US$50 in total.
One thing to note as well is that a 12.5% service charge is automatically added to all bills at the resort. The service charge is split evenly among all hotel staff, and you’re free to add your own tip if you’d like.
The resort is located at the end of a long road named Zenway Boulevard, and you’ll find a few more restaurants about a 5-minute walk away. Prices at these restaurants are denominated in East Caribbean Dollars (pegged at US$1 = EC$2.7), though they’re about the same as the on-site restaurant prices. The one exception is Rituals Cafe, an American-style coffee shop where you’ll find wraps, sandwiches, and paninis for around US$10. You can also stop by the grocery store, Ram’s, to pick up a few items for cheap.
After you’ve perfected your tan on the Marriott’s stunning Atlantic beach, there’s no shortage of activities to keep you occupied. Whether it’s rolling the dice at the Royal Beach Casino or sampling the island’s signature Ting with a Sting – local sugarcane rum mixed with grapefruit soda – at the swim-up bar, there’s a little something for everyone.
Keep walking down Zenway Boulevard, and you’ll arrive at a roundabout and a fork in the road. The southerly road twists steeply up Sir Timothy’s Hill, while the long road to the west leads you to Basseterre, the nation’s capital, and beyond. We’ll dutifully explore both in the next few installments.