Story and photos by Carol Bareuther and Dean Barnes
About a dozen yachts were docked at The Marina at Christophe Harbor on St. Kitts the last Friday of 2018. These included the 131-foot Westport Far Niente and the 125-foot Benetti Inspiration on the 24-slip main docks, as well as a 60-some-foot sailboat. The emphasis here, however, as yachting director Aeneas Hollins will tell, is superyachts.
The master plan development around the marina, which opened in 2015, is a work in progress. Much of the 2,500-acre resort and superyacht marina destination’s master plan is still to come on the rolling green hillsides of the island’s southeastern peninsula, but attention to detail is apparent – from the five-star Park Hyatt that opened in November 2017, which offers marina guests day passes for pool, spa, dining and other amenities, to the tenacity of dock attendants, who on this day stood out in a brief downpour, then shammied the dock pedestals dry while waiting to tie up an incoming yacht long before the captain had nosed its bow into the harbor’s entrance.
“We plan to have the Customs House in the Marina Village completed by this upcoming November,” said Hollins, a U.K. native and former superyacht captain who arrived at Christophe Harbour in 2010 to launch The Marina. Progress was slowed by the hurricanes in 2017, he noted. Being bracketed by the islands, they had no damage and were open for business the next day, he said, but in the following six months, their supply chain was significantly slowed when shipping priorities in the area shifted to delivery of relief supplies. “In fact, we temporarily converted our retail bays to hold supplies for the different islands.”
Nevertheless, Christophe Harbor is an official port of entry, Hollins said. “The St. Kitts authorities are working with us to courier passports into Basseterre to clear until the Customs House opens.”
The Marina Village, a stone-built collective of storefronts situated steps from the docks and notable for the iconic cupola atop the Customs House, presently houses a small deli and provisioner called Salt & Pepper, a couple of fashion boutiques, a local artists gallery and a coffee kiosk called Peppe’s, which also serves salads and sandwiches.
Hollins said that the marina was the first-ever in St. Kitts to put a fuel pump at the water’s edge. Prior to this, boats were fueled from 55-gallon drums.
Today, the marina’s onsite fuel tank, the largest in the Eastern Caribbean dedicated to a marina, can provide 40,000-U.S. gallons of fuel per day via in-slip refueling at a rate of 125 gallons per minute, Hollins said.
During his years in St. Kitts, Hollins has assembled a network of more than 250 local vendors, including those in woodworking and stainless-steel fabrication. He spearheads the establishment of a marine trade association.
In the next two years, he said, The Marina at Christophe Harbor is poised to grow to the largest large yacht marina in the Eastern Caribbean when the next phase is completed. This phase increases the slip total to 250, with four slips for 350-foot yachts and one each for a 370- and 400-foot yacht.
Plans also were recently announced for a 76,000-square-foot healthcare facility onsite, run by Waters Anchor Medical Institute.
Plans call for a full imaging center, four operating rooms, eight overnight luxury recovery suites, a wellness and integrative health clinic, a physical rehabilitation and sports performance center, and a nutritional and integrative health program.
It is also possible to buy a berth and get freehold title, which is linked to a specific berth, is tied to citizenship, and is a legacy purchase for family, rather than the more usual leasehold ownership model. This is unique in the Caribbean, according to Hollins. He says 14 berths have been sold as of the end of 2018.
The Pavilion Beach Club, championship golf course, private homes and residences, and a second five-star resort distinctively abutting the marina on one side and ocean on the other are yet to come.
Finally, Hollins is ramping up events that target both crew and owners. In January, via Netherlands-based Acrew, The Marina at Christophe Harbor hosted its fourth Caribbean Crewfest – four days of educational sessions, excursions and social events. The Panerai Transat Classique race, which departed from Lanzarote in the Canaries in January, will finish at Christophe Harbour this year.
Hollins is also working with organizations such as The Superyacht Cup team, Gustavia Yacht Club in St. Barths and New York Yacht Club in the United States to put on events at The Marina at Christophe Harbour.
Carol Bareuther is a freelance writer living in St. Thomas. Comments are welcome below.