The car­ing Caribbean

A lux­ury re­sort on St Kitts has an in­no­va­tive green phi­los­o­phy

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - JESSAMY CALKIN

Valmiki Kem­padoo had a dream. A tall, eru­dite Trinida­dian with a pas­sion for hor­ti­cul­ture, Kem­padoo wanted to cre­ate an en­tirely sus­tain­able, or­ganic farm on his beloved Caribbean is­land of St Kitts. A farm that would help the lo­cal econ­omy and pro­vide jobs; a farm where he could in­dulge his in­ter­est in botany and hor­ti­cul­ture, and cre­ate a tree nurs­ery. A farm with a ho­tel at­tached.

Con­struc­tion be­gan in 2008, and Belle Mont Farm opened as a ho­tel last year. Set in the foothills of Mount Li­a­muiga vol­cano, there are now 84 low-ly­ing cot­tages (and seven four-bed­room farm­houses plus five vil­las) sur­rounded by a fer­tile for­est of green­ery. There is no beach in sight, and it’s all the bet­ter for it. Kem­padoo used lo­cal con­trac­tors, some of whom had never done any- thing on this scale be­fore and didn’t even know how to read plans. He watched Belle Mont Farm — which is part of a larger scheme, Kit­ti­tian Hill — take shape with grow­ing ex­cite­ment. “I loved see­ing the build­ings go up be­cause they flowed to­gether,” he says.

The farm was de­signed by the Asia-based ar­chi­tect Bill Bens­ley, us­ing lo­cally milled stone. The look of its cot­tages is based on chat­tel houses (tra­di­tional plan­ta­tion work­ers’ homes); the fur­ni­ture is dark cedar wood and the style is colo­nial. Clap­board with cedar shin­gle roofs, the lit­tle houses man­age to blend in seam­lessly with the lus­cious vege­ta­tion.

The devel­op­ment cost $US400 mil­lion ($535 mil­lion) but, in a canny move, much of it was fi­nanced by real-

Charm­ing guest ac­com­mo­da­tion at Belle Mont Farm, St Kitts, above and above left

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