Tips and Tricks to Maximize Your Stay at the Park Hyatt St. Kitts
The Park Hyatt St. Kitts has been high on my list of new properties to visit since I read about it almost four years ago, and with the incredible deals the hotel offered earlier this summer on room rates and resort credit, my wife and I booked a four night stay. TPG Contributor Michael Y. Park reviewed the property during his stay last winter, but today I'm going to share some tips and tricks you need to know if you're headed to the luxury Caribbean retreat.
Back in May, TPG Editor-at-Large Nick Ewen wrote about a Park Hyatt St. Kitts deal in which you could get both the fourth night free and a $300 per person resort credit. That was an incredible offer with rates below $300 per night before tax on some dates, but that deal expired at the end of June. However, the property is still offering other deals, including a $100 resort credit for two night stays and a huge resort credit up to $2,000 on seven night ocean suite stays, based on the cost of your round-trip airfare.
But even with these deals, you can do better. You need to book through a Hyatt Prive agent, which will give you an additional $100 per night and all the same benefits as an Amex Fine Hotel & Resorts booking, including room upgrade (if available) and free breakfast — and the breakfast at the Park Hyatt St. Kitts is fantastic.
The other great aspect of a Hyatt Prive booking is a much less restrictive cancellation policy than booking through the property or Amex FHR. With a Prive booking, you can cancel up to 72 hours before check-in, compared to the direct booking policy of having to cancel 14 days prior to arrival or forfeiting a one night deposit. With this in mind, there's great news from Citi — Flyertalk user antonius66 recently reported that the Citi Concierge is now a Hyatt Prive agent.
For our four night stay, we paid $1,468 all-in and received $700 in statement credits, plus free breakfast and a bottle of champagne in our room as a welcome gift. Hyatt gift cards are accepted by the Park Hyatt St. Kitts, but it can make the check out process lengthy as the desk has to call in the gift card number and PIN to confirm the balance before applying to your folio. If using Hyatt gift cards, you need to have the newer version which has a PIN number, compared to the old version which was consistently subject to fraud.
Getting to and from St. Kitts (SKB) isn't easy with points and miles, but can be done. American is your best bet with nonstop service from Miami (MIA) available on most days. An economy MileSAAver award will set you back 25,000 AAdvantage miles per person round-trip, or you can book Miami to St. Kitts round-trip for 20,000 British Airways Avios if you can find the award space with a British Airways agent.
Delta also has weekly service from Atlanta (ATL) and New York, but typically wants far too many SkyMiles. When I booked our return leg on the St. Kitts to Atlanta flight, Delta wanted 43,000 SkyMiles per person. But rather than drop over 80,000 miles for the one-way flight, I called Virgin Atlantic and booked the flight for 17,500 Virgin Atlantic miles and $26 each.
Here's the best tip I can give you: right after immigration at the St. Kitts airport, you'll go down an escalator to the small baggage claim hall. Inside is a Duty Free shop aptly named "Smoke 'N Booze." You can buy two liters of spirits each and bring them with you to the Park Hyatt, shielding your folio from the very high bar costs at the property. We bought three bottles of wine and a bottle of locally made coconut rum for a total of $36 in the shop. This saved us at least $200 in bar costs, if not more.
Grabbing a taxi to the resort is an easy feat, with a plethora of cabs lined up around the time any flight lands, and there's a fixed price chart displayed outside the exit door to confirm your fare. A ride to the Park Hyatt is $30 and we had a 12 passenger van to ourselves. It's about a 20 minute ride to the south tip of the island from the airport.
A proper meal on property without drinks or dessert is going to cost $100-$200. A local beer is $7 and a glass of house wine is $12 (with a rather small pour as well). A 12% tax and 10% service charge are added to all food and beverage costs listed at the hotel. Nearby dining options that are not on property are almost nonexistent. You either need to walk on a rocky path around the corner from the property to a few local beach huts, or take the boat over to Nevis, neither of which are convenient or cheap in their own right.
My first recommendation is to know what to expect and save for a few months before your trip so you aren't stressed about the food prices. My second recommendation is to pack a few snacks in your luggage. While that's a rather cheap move for my wife and I, a protein bar and some snack mix is a lot better than $17 chips and guacamole from the pool bar (plus 22% in taxes and service charge).
Here's the pool bar menu so you get a quick idea of the prices:
And here's the front of the breakfast menu:
My third food recommendation is something my wife discovered just before check out. We had an afternoon flight and neither of us enjoy flying on a full stomach, so my wife called and ordered room service, consisting of fish and chips off the children's menu.
For $12 we got the most food of any entrée during our four nights at the property, and my wife said it was great. The kids menu had a lot of other options, so its something to consider if you find yourself needing to penny pinch. We budgeted out our $700 in resort credit, and with the free breakfast from the Hyatt Prive booking, we only had to pay for a couple of lunches out of our own pockets over the course of the four nights.
The typical beach resort activities are all preset at the Park Hyatt, but there's a rather significant problem right now: seaweed. The entire beach on the Atlantic ocean side of the island is covered in seaweed. The staff told me the seaweed has been a constant problem since the hurricanes of the last few years. During our stay, workers would try to remove some of the fodder, but it was really a fruitless effort. Some serious machinery would be required to even put a dent in the problem, and it really put a damper on the beach experience.
That said, you can pull up a lounge chair at the upper shelf of the beach, which puts the seaweed near the water out of sight, and enjoy a rather terrific view of Nevis, the sister island just across the water from the resort. The Park Hyatt has its own pier and contracts out a local boat to take hotel guests to Nevis for the tidy sum of $25 per person each way for the short eight-minute boat ride. If you swallow the steep water taxi cost, I highly recommend a day exploring Nevis.
The quieter island is host to the Four Seasons resort, but not much else. However, a hike to the peak of Nevis is an outdoorsman dream, with a medium challenge, 2.5-hour hike to the top through steep jungle terrain. We opted for a trip to the Nevis Botanical Gardens and a walk around Charlestown, the small island's hub. Lunch at the Golden Rock Plantation would also be a worthy outing. Without a doubt, most Park Hyatt staff will suggest Sunshine's Bar and Grill for a Killer Bee cocktail and some local flare on the Nevis beach, but my wife and I didn't particularly see anything special about the place, as it was very touristy and prices were still steep. We also watched some locals brawl for 45 minutes at the bar, so perhaps we just had a bad experience.
The highlight of the activities for us was sitting by the fantastic pools at the Park Hyatt or in our Nevis Peak Suite, which has its own plunge pool. We were upgraded at check in due to my Globalist status and low resort occupancy. A few good books, some sun and glasses of local rum from our airport stop was the best thing we did every day.
As far as bringing kids, I was rather impressed by the kids club at the property, which is in its own detached building in the back of the resort. Outfitted with a kitchen, nap room, playground, rock climbing wall and dedicated staff, any kid would surely have a fantastic time there while Mom and Dad escape. The kids club does not require an additional charge, but does close at 5 pm everyday.
With a little bit of preplanning and utilizing some of the tips above, I think anyone would enjoy their stay at the Park Hyatt St. Kitts. Take advantage of the current rates and property credits, and be prepared to not be a beach bum all day until they figure out the seaweed problem. As pool fanatics ourselves, we thoroughly enjoyed our time at the Caribbean property.