Belle Mont FarmSustainable Luxury in St Kitts
Here, ylang ylang trees grow alongside fragrant eucalyptus, and Blue Mountain Jamaican coffee plants are wedged next to orange trees. Spinach and avocados jostle for space with patchouli, bamboo, and vetiver. Enormous fig trees, with their fat, glossy leaves, cascade overhead, while towering mango trees throw swathes of shadow over picnickers laying, relaxed on the lush earth.
On a 162 hectare former sugar plantation, nestled high in the Caribbean hills on the Island of St Kitts, ripe mangoes – hundreds of them – are dotted over the earth like burnt orange confetti. Nearby, in the nursery, an experimental space devoted to discovering which crops thrive in this climate, Winston Lake, the farm’s resident nurseryman, sings softly as he tends to his plants. Here, ylang ylang trees grow alongside fragrant eucalyptus, and Blue Mountain Jamaican coffee plants are wedged next to orange trees. Spinach and avocados jostle for space with patchouli, bamboo, and vetiver. Enormous fig trees, with their fat, glossy leaves, cascade overhead, while towering mango trees throw swathes of shadow over picnickers laying, relaxed on the lush earth. The scent of lemongrass – grown in abundance and turned into tea – is always in the air, and Pick Me signs hang where fruit is ripe and ready to be plucked.
This is Belle Mont Farm at Kittitian Hill, a truly sustainable, green resort and a project of love for visionary owner and hotelier, Val Kempadoo. It was first conceived by Kempadoo in 2008, and phase one opened in December 2014. It’s an ambitious, forward thinking project, with 84 luxury cottages built in the local style, by local builders, a number of private villas, four farmhouses, five restaurants, a nursery, and viewing deck all created to coexist harmoniously with nature. Future plans include the creation of a ‘village’ with 100 hotel rooms, and more restaurants. A farm and rum bar, set up in association with farm to table pioneers Blue Hill chefs, and iconic Copenhagen restaurant Noma, will also be added to the resort’s offering. Everything here has been designed with sustainability in mind, from the buildings and the restaurants, where 90 % of the ingredients used are grown on the property, to the golf course, which is, as well as beautiful, entirely organic and edible, incorporating 70 acres of farmland where tropical fruit is grown.
“For me, Kittitian Hill is a purpose with a hotel wrapped around it; it’s a mission,” says Kempadoo, who was born in Trinidad and worked in politics and media before turning to social reform and hospitality. “My vision is to bring together community and culture, mindful conservation of natural resources, and rewarding activities and learning opportunities.” Kempadoo’s commitment to the region is unwavering, and his refreshing approach to sustainability in creating this special place has had a ripple effect through the community. “In every aspect of what we’re doing, we weave in what is traditionally considered sustainability,” he says. “I say ‘traditionally’ because I believe sustainability starts with people, not the environment. The environment is a net product of people getting together with a certain level of consciousness to create sustainability, not the other way around. We must resolve real meaningful social and economic issues, then the care for the environment and care for each other becomes automatic.”
- Words & Photos: Rosa Park