Standing on the deck of his 154-foot ketch Andromeda la Dea as the celebratory fireworks exploded overhead, Buddy Darby looked out with satisfaction at the dozen other superyachts berthed at Christophe Harbour for the marina’s grand opening in February.
“To me, life is about the acquisition of memories. My family, friends, captain and crew are all here to celebrate this milestone with me,” Darby enthused. “For the whole Caribbean yachting community, Christophe Harbour’s marina opening is a game changer.”
The creation of the largest, most sought-after integrated marina in the region has been Darby’s mission for some years, so the transition from drawing board to concrete-and-steel reality was a cause for major festivities. A concert featuring Bankie Banx from Anguilla, and Grammy-award winner and former Hootie & the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker, from Darby’s home state of South Carolina, wowed Christophe Harbour owners and local luminaries alike, but the real stars of the show were the dozen sleek superyachts sitting quietly dockside. Their owners and captains liked what they saw.
“We wanted to try out Christophe Harbour as a base for exploring the area,” reports S/Y Constance’s owner Phil Hulme. “We’ve enjoyed Antigua, St Barths, St Kitts and the neighbouring islands many times, but once you’ve gone downwind, they’ve lacked a really good protected anchorage. Christophe Harbour changes all that.”
Indeed it does. With Director of Yachting Aeneas Hollins at the helm, 24 freehold superyacht berths from 150 to 220 feet are now available, individually serviced by in-slip duty-free fuel, water and power from state-of-the-art shore power pedestals. On-site customs, a nearby private jet terminal, secure anchorage and tender dock, three restaurants for the exclusive use of Christophe Harbour Club members, as well as a brand new Park Hyatt due to open within 12 months in the very next bay, make Christophe Harbour a unique proposition in the region.
In the near future, the one-time salt pond will be able to accommodate 250 additional berths and have a full range of chandlery, hospitality and retail offerings in the new marina village. “St Kitts will be a great change from St Maarten, Antigua and St Barths, especially for guests who prefer a more exclusive setting,” says Damon Smallwood, captain of the M/Y Rochade.
As well as world-class marina facilities, what really confirms Christophe Harbour as the Caribbean’s newest signature destination is the variety and quality of the other amenities on the luxurious resort community’s 2,500 acres. With US$100 million of infrastructure already in place, several dozen fine residences have been built on the lush green hillsides overlooking the marina and surrounding sandy bays, with more under construction.
Tom Fazio, famed for his designs at Kiawah Island, Sandy Lane and Punta Cana, is building a championship golf course, the third 18-holer on island, and the fishing, scuba diving and surfing are all first class.
Just two miles away over the easily navigable Narrows sits sombrero-shape Nevis—“Queen of the Caribees.” The island has a luxe Four Seasons resort, complete with Robert Trent Jones II golf course and tennis complex, several boutique plantation inns, including internationally renowned Montpelier and Golden Rock, and some of the region’s very best restaurants and beach bars, as recently featured in MACO Caribbean Living.
On St Kitts itself, visitors can hike the 3,792-foot Mt Liamuiga, bike along the rolling hills, visit the Unesco world heritage site at the 18th-century Brimstone Hill fort, and take in the new hotel and Ian Woosnam-designed golf course at Kittitian Hill. Or just relax at Christophe Harbour: “The SALT Plage beach bar and The Pavilion— restaurant, infinity pool and bar—are outstanding,” reckons Tim Smith, captain of M/Y Diamond Girl. “Weeks after the opening, we’re actually back at the marina with owners aboard and they’re loving the experience.”
St Kitts and Nevis also has a tried and tested Citizenship for Investment scheme, enabling purchasers of slips or real estate to gain, after the usual formalities, a brand new passport. Taxes and government charges on goods, materials, vehicles, fixtures, or other equipment for yachts, have been waived until 2030, with the overall tax and regulatory regime particularly sympathetic to ultra-affluent buyers.
Primarily, though, Christophe Harbour is quite simply a magnificent new homeport for the worldwide yachting fraternity. A healthy number of slips has already been sold, with new enquiries coming in every day. “It is, without question, a destination’ not to be missed by yachts cruising the Caribbean,” says Tim Smith. “The marina is very well protected, the staff great and the scenery beautiful.”
There’s more work to be done, but the first phase of Buddy Darby’s magnum opus—created and managed by, and for, superyacht owners—has been successfully launched. Now it’s full steam ahead.