Americans welcomed back to St. Kitts and Nevis, but you’ll need to choose from six resorts
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With just 19 confirmed cases and no deaths due to COVID-19, the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis is ready to welcome visitors to its shores once again. Beginning Oct. 31, 2020, the country will implement a phased reopening plan that will allow citizens, permanent residents and most visitors (including Americans) to travel to the islands, just in time for the holiday travel season.
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The news is a welcome development for both the nation’s battered tourism industry as well as countless people who are desperate to get away after months of being cooped up.
Who’s allowed to enter St.Kitts and Nevis?
When Phase 1 of the reopening begins on Oct. 31, the following groups of people will be allowed to enter the country:
- Travelers from the “Caribbean bubble” which includes those from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states
- National of St. Kitts and Nevis, permanent residents, Caribbean Single Market Economy certificate holders and Work Permit holders
- Travelers from international destinations outside the Caribbean bubble including the U.S., Europe, U.K., Africa and South America
All three groups of people are subject to restrictions and protocols for entering the Federation, but international travelers — Americans included — face the most.
Related: A guide to Caribbean re-openings
How Americans can visit
As mentioned above, if you’re visiting the islands from the U.S. or other foreign countries, you’ll be allowed to enter as of Oct. 31, but you’ll face hurdles before departing and once you arrive. Luckily, the country has released a very specific set of instructions to follow so that if you decide to go, you can be fully prepared.
- Before departure, you’ll need to complete the entry form found on the national website and submit a negative PCR test completed within 72 hours of travel from an accredited lab (a list of these is forthcoming)
- Upon arrival, you’ll complete a health screening which includes a temperature check and a health questionnaire
- Download the SKN COVID-19 contact-tracing app
- If your trip is between one and seven days long, you’ll be limited to staying on property at any one of the pre-approved hotels for foreigners (more on that later), but you’ll be allowed to interact with other guests and partake in any hotel activities
- If your trip is between seven and 14 days long, you’ll take another PCR test on day seven (paid for by you). If that comes back negative, you’ll be approved to book select tours through the hotel’s concierge and access select sites (a full list is forthcoming)
- If you’re staying longer than 14 days, you’ll take a final PCR test on day 14 (paid for by you). If you get a negative result, you’ll be allowed to move freely around the islands
Unless you plan to stay longer than a week, you won’t need to worry about the additional COVID tests on the island, but you will be restricted to your hotel — and your options are limited to properties designated for foreign visitors and selected by the government.
How to get there
Flights to St. Kitts and Nevis (SKB) tend to be expensive, and the only airline offering daily nonstop service from the U.S. is American Airlines from its Miami (MIA) hub. Other U.S. airlines offer less-frequent nonstop service, like Delta with Saturday-only flights from New York-JFK and Atlanta (ATL) and United with Saturday-only flights from Newark (EWR).
Fares typically fall at just under $500 round-trip for a seat in basic economy, though there is some variability depending on dates. The good news is, award availability, particularly with American Airlines, is pretty spectacular.
From Miami, almost every day has at least two economy award seats (15,000 AAdvantage miles each way) and dates starting in April even have 12,500-mile Economy Web Special Awards available.
Booking tickets from Miami with British Airways Avios could be an even better deal — it’ll cost you just 22,000 Avios round-trip in economy. We searched for pricing and availability for a week-long trip over most Florida school districts’ spring breaks for four passengers, and you’d have to pony up almost $1,800 in cash just for the tickets alone, but with British Airways it’ll cost you just 88,000 miles plus about $200 in taxes and fees.
If you’re not based in South Florida, booking with AAdvantage miles is probably the way to go, since BA’s distance-based formula creeps in price. However, nonstop flights are extremely limited, so most of the saver-level awards connect through Miami — again, with almost daily availability.
American Airlines resumes Saturday service to St Kitts (SKB) in November. Check out the St. Kitts and Nevis flights page for more options
If you prefer to fly Delta, you can find round-trip tickets from New York-JFK from 34,000 SkyMiles round-trip and from Atlanta from 42,000 miles round-trip. And if you’re loyal to United, most tickets from Newark can be booked at the saver level for 35,000 MileagePlus miles round-trip. Note, though, that United’s service begins in December and ends somewhat shortly after in April.
Where to stay
As mentioned above, foreigners visiting St. Kitts and Nevis are limited to a list of hotels to choose from that’s been pre-approved by the government. The silver lining of this, though, is that the list includes some of our favorites. The hotels are Park Hyatt St. Kitts, Four Seasons Resort Nevis, the St. Kitts Marriott Resort, The Royal St. Kitts Hotel, Oualie Beach Hotel, and the Koi Resort St. Kitts, part of the Curio Collection by Hilton.
If you plan on staying at the newly renovated Four Seasons, you won’t be able to use hotel points in the traditional sense, but you can get extra value and elite-like perks by booking through American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts, to which you’re given access by holding either The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express.
Related: Review of the Park Hyatt St. Kitts
If you want to use points while visiting, there are three solid options. We love the new-ish Park Hyatt St. Kitts, which is a Category 7 property in the World of Hyatt program. You can book rooms for 30,000 points per night, or cash prices are hovering around $300 per night, which is still a pretty solid deal considering the caliber of this property.
If you don’t already have World of Hyatt points, it’s easy to get them. The program is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards; you can instantly transfer those points to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio. If you open a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which is currently offering an 80,000-point sign-up bonus after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening, you’ll have enough for two nights at the Park Hyatt.
If you’re a Marriott loyalist, the chain has its St. Kitts Marriott Resort and The Royal Beach Casino. It’s a Category 5 property in Marriott’s Bonvoy program, which is a great deal for a beachfront resort of this kind. A free night will run you 30,000 points for an off-peak night, 35,000 for a standard night and 40,000 for a peak night. This makes it a great candidate for use of the up to 35,000-point free night certificates that come with certain Marriott cobranded cards like the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card. Cash rates can be as low as $198 per night but more frequently go $300-$350 per night.
And for Hilton fans, there’s the Koi Resort St. Kitts, part of the chain’s Curio Collection. Rooms here can be had for as few as 54,000 Honors points per night, but availability at that rate isn’t plentiful, so it’s likely you’d be paying 80,000 points or more for a free night. If you’re paying cash, you can expect to pay anywhere from about $220 per night to almost $500 per night, depending on your travel dates.
St. Kitts and Nevis has done well in its fight against the coronavirus, and now it’s aiming to get its tourism industry back on its feet by opening to international visitors. There are a lot of hurdles to overcome for visitors, but the nation has a clear set of guidelines in place.
You won’t be able to leave your hotel if you’re staying in the country for less than two weeks, but at least the designated hotels for international tourists include some of the best on the islands — and there are plentiful ways to get there on the cheap thanks to points and miles.
Additional reporting by Nick Ellis, Nick Ewen, Zach Griff, Summer Hull and Eric Rosen.
Featured photo of Park Hyatt St. Kitts courtesy the hotel.
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