Tucked away in the ‘cradle of the Caribbean’ lies the vibrant and tranquil twin-island country of Saint Kitts and Nevis. No stranger to beautiful beaches and crystal-clear blue waters, this West Indian nation is, however, starting to create a bigger reputation for itself. A boom in tourism, increased real-estate opportunities, a new super-yacht marina and luxury accommodations have firmly placed this idyllic hideaway on the map.
Spearheaded by former Kiawah Partners CEO Charles P ‘Buddy’ Darby III, the creation of Christophe Harbour is the culmination of over 25 years of experience, married with Darby’s love of the sea and real estate. “I remember when we first made the trip down to check it out,” Darby says, “I couldn’t believe how stunning the property was. It’s one of the few places in the world where you find a blank canvas of 2,500 acres with tremendous beauty and physicality that I could bring my skill set and dedicate my team to.”
That skill set spans nearly three decades in the real-estate and property development market. Some of Darby’s biggest projects include Kiawah Island in South Carolina and The Lodge at Doonbeg. Starting out young in the family boatyard, and following in the footsteps of his real-estate developer grandfather, water and property have always been in Darby’s blood.
“I started sailing at an early age,” he says, “and while I like all types of yachts, I definitely lean mostly towards sailboats. I currently own the Perini Navi sailing yacht Andromeda la Dea. As she’s 26 years’ old this year, she really is a classic yacht. She’s great for entertaining and for spending time with my family and friends.” Buddy embodies the sailor of days gone by. His experience has been instrumental in guiding the development of The Marina at Christophe Harbour. The team has first-hand knowledge of what superyachts are looking for in a facility and what types of services are needed. The first phase of the marina is complete and fully operational, with the largest fuel farm available in the eastern Caribbean. There are four retail stores, plus a real-estate sales gallery operating this season with shoreside amenities continuing to evolve.
Coming in summer 2017 is the Caribbean’s first Park Hyatt, as well as the iconic Customs House, which will also debut at the marina this with marina operations, customs and immigration, crew lounge and fitness centre. Being an avid golfer, Darby plans to complete the 18-hole golf course designed by Tom Fazio, with whom he’s worked on several courses over the years.
Saint Kitts is a relatively young destination, bursting with authentic Caribbean feel and rugged unspoilt beauty, but yet to be overrun with tourists. Ideally for Darby and the team, it is also perfectly located right in the middle of the popular charter and cruising grounds, with recent developments providing a suite of services making Saint Kitts a desirable stop on any yacht itinerary. But more than this, Darby thinks it’s the people that keep drawing guests back. “There’s a vibrant, incredibly welcoming community that celebrates its culture, from batik making and carnival celebrations to world-class cricket and lively music festivals — there is something for everyone.”
As the industry continues to evolve, Darby hopes there will be a reversion to simpler times. “It seems like all the news from the industry these days is about new, bigger, bolder; whereas in times gone by it was all about beauty and performance. The focus seems to be about the hot tub instead of the engine room and I do wonder how that will change the soul of yachting.”
But for this sailor, he is living the life he wishes for others: “I hope we never lose the sense of adventure and peace found in the open waters that brought boaters such as me to the sea in the first place.”