Interior Design

Paradise found

Issue 3 · Winter 2015/16
Words by Charlotte Hogarth-Jones

When Val Kempadoo set out to create Kittitian Hill, he was determined to build a luxury resort that was ethical and sustainable. The result? Heaven on earth

Issue 3 · Winter 2015/16
By Charlotte Hogarth-Jones

When Val Kempadoo set out to create Kittitian Hill, he was determined to build a luxury resort that was ethical and sustainable. The result? Heaven on earth

Trinidadian entrepreneur Val Kempadoo describes Kittitian Hill, his 400-acre sustainable resort and farm on the island of St. Kitts, as a “labour of love”. “I’m not a hotelier,” he says, “but a large part of my life has been about creating meaningful change. I’d worked in media and politics, and when I turned my attention to the hospitality business I discovered that the models being used across the Caribbean had very little regard for our social, economic or physical environment.”

Ten years in development, the resort’s 84 five-star guesthouses and seven five-star farmhouses are finally open to the public. Hotelier or not, there’s no doubt Kempadoo and his team have created something very special.

Perched on the northwest tip of the island, overlooking St. Barths, the resort is based in the heart of the old sugarcane-production area, although St. Kitts grew its final sugar crop back in 2005. To protect the natural surroundings very few trees were removed, and each building has been carefully positioned to slot into the existing landscape.

“The buildings are all completely handcrafted,” says Kempadoo, “which means they have a lot more character. We’re very proud of the fact that the development was built using small, local contractors.” It hasn’t all been plain sailing, however. “We had to buy tools and teach the craftsmen how to use them, so it took a bit longer than normal,” Kempadoo adds. “But there’s an enormous sense of pride among the local people.”

 

Villas are in traditional Kittitian style

The resort's main swimming pool

 

American architect Bill Bensley and his Thailand-based team spent a year on the ground in St. Kitts producing the first drawings for the site, and then another year interpreting every last detail into designs that were authentically Kittitian. “We looked at everything, from how they grouted stone 200 years ago to exactly what widths of wood they used, and where,” says Kempadoo.

Fruit trees and vegetable patches are planted in and among the villas and farmhouses, so guests can pick fresh produce just feet from their door. On an island where 90 per cent of the food is imported, here 90 per cent of produce is served straight from the estate, with any excess going to the local population.

“There’s a special kind of energy that comes from placing every building perfectly on site,” says Kempadoo proudly. “We’ve created a community that is firmly rooted in the Caribbean – physically, culturally and spiritually.”


 

Scott Dunn offers 7 nights at a farmhouse on Kittitian Hill from £2,304 per person on a bed and breakfast basis including flights and private transfers. Call 020 8682 5020

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