This article first appeared in the April 2018 issue of PAX magazine.
Imagine for a moment a place where in the early hours of dawn, a breeze sends the smell of fresh fruit and flora wafting in all directions.
The occasional green vervet monkey, baby in tow, makes an appearance on the porch, and as night falls, the chirping of crickets drowns out any other sound, and fireflies signal that it’s time to turn in.
And yet, at any given moment, pristine service in the form of private attendants is right at your fingertips from the comfort of your very own luxury cottage, nestled in 400 acres of fertile, organic farmland in the heart of St. Kitts.
A luxury farm
Belle Mont Farm, located in the eco-friendly resort community of Kittitian Hill, opened in December 2014 on the premise of delivering a truly sustainable hotel experience for visitors to St. Kitts, while promoting local farming practices that empower those in the surrounding community.
“Kittitian Hill was founded on the concept that a business could serve as the vehicle for social change,” said Valmiki Kempadoo, founder, Kittitian Hill and Belle Mont Farm. “Given that the tourism industry is by far the most significant in the Caribbean, I decided that a significant resort community could serve as this vehicle... it was around the same time that St. Kitts was closing the sugar industry and therefore offered an ideal destination for the business model.”
With the sugarcane industry winding down, and the tourism industry in decline as a result of Category 4 hurricanes Georges and Lenny in 1998 and 1999, the island needed revitalization and a new sustainable tourism product offering, Kempadoo hoped, was the answer.
Designed by world-renowned architect Bill Bensley, Belle Mont Farm is set at the base of Mount Liamuiga, which allows the property to capitalize on an abundance of natural resources, without jeopardizing the surrounding natural beauty of the island.
“At a time when almost every acre of available land in St. Kitts was under sugarcane cultivation, almost all of the lower slopes of Mount Liamuiga were cleared of the native vegetation,” Kempadoo explained. “Being on the foothills of Mount Liamuiga is a blessing for Kittitian Hill, as it has provided wonderful free draining and very fertile volcanic soils. Kittitian Hill ranges in altitude from 500 to 1,000 feet above sea level and this gives us a wonderful microclimate which allows a variety of tropical and subtropical fruits and vegetables to thrive.”
The secret's in the soil
More than 100 species of mango trees, and various tropical fruits like soursop and bananas grow at Belle Mont Farm, alongside other crops like cocoa and coffee.
The working relationship that Belle Mont Farm has with its farmers is vital, as 90 per cent of all food served in the hotel’s restaurants is harvested straight from the fields on the property, further driving home the sustainable farm-to-table-concept.
Inside The Kitchen restaurant, located in the Great Hall, executive chef Christophe Letard serves up Caribbean cuisine with a French twist, featuring a menu that boasts delicious eats like lobster eggs benedict in the mornings, or pan-seared duck breast with root vegetables at night.
The rich, volcanic soil is the secret to Belle Mont Farm having the biggest selection of tropical fruit and easy-to-grow vegetation, meaning culinary possibilities are vast.
At the Farm Table, guests have the opportunity to enjoy a feast among friends under the stars thanks to a retractable roof, and at the Patio Bar, guests can enjoy casual fare by the poolside. Belle Mont Farm also boasts the world’s first “edible” golf course – a Par 71, 18-hole golf course called Irie Fields, that replicates as additional farmland and provides another source for crop cultivation.
Stay a while
Belle Mont Farm features 84 luxury cottages, which make up the majority of the accommodations on the property.
Each private cottage features an infinity pool set against the backdrop of the Caribbean Sea, a four-piece outdoor bathroom suite characterized by quirky, antiquated decor like a clawfoot bathtub with bronze taps and rainwater showers, a king-sized bed, and a pull-down screen and projector that transforms the room into its own movie theatre.
In addition, four farmhouses, encircling 5,000 sq. ft. of living space in two-storey cottages, and a personal 100 ft. swimming pool, as well as 14 three- and four-bedroom luxury villas set on half-acre and one-acre lots, can be found at Belle Mont Farm.
All of the structures mimic authentic Kittitian chattel houses, whose wooden boards are painted baby blue and white, and crafted using locally-sourced materials.
Belle Mont Farm practices a number of sustainable development techniques that aim to neutralize the carbon footprint, like using recyclable glass drinking bottles instead of handing out plastic bottles, and deploying solar energy practices.
Amidst the boutique aesthetic, leafy palms drape across a private veranda, creating the utmost sense of privacy, and wildlife like small frogs and geckos make common appearances. An outdoor, eco-friendly approach to living is part of what makes Belle Mont Farm special in the eyes of Caribbean travel, and is something Kempadoo hopes guests will come to appreciate.
“Most of our guests understand this, and are not alarmed by the odd tree frog that finds itself into their bathtub, or a spider or two,” Kempadoo said.
Text and photos by Christine Hogg.
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