{Editor’s note: The following “love story” is part 1 of a series of guest posts by John MacDonald, AIA, the principal and owner of Morehouse MacDonald And Associates. Stay tuned for part 2.}

If you’ve never been to St. Kitts, I can tell you this: it is beautiful – volcanic, lush in parts, arid and wind-scored in others and relatively underdeveloped. The history of St. Kitts is a fascinating blend of pirates, European control, war and eventual independence. The architecture, like its people, is whimsical yet enduring, and there is lots of local stone (called Nevis stone).

Christophe Harbour Reveals Itself

A rendering of a Morehouse MacDonald and Associates design in St. Kitts.

The southeast peninsula, where Christophe Harbour is located, is about a twenty-minute ride from the island’s main city, Basseterre, and only airport. Cruising over Timothy Hill to catch the first glimpse of the peninsula is otherworldly … natural harbors on both the Atlantic and Caribbean sides, beaches, more mountains and the island of Nevis: a volcanic pyramid rising in the distance, a few miles south of St. Kitts.

MacDonald designed home in Christophe Harbour to take advantage of the sites privacy and spectacular view.

It was clear that this peninsula, in all its magnificence, was undeveloped for a reason—it’s very expensive and very difficult terrain. The developers of Christophe Harbour are not faint of heart, as they are one of the few who could actually tackle a luxury gated community and resort in a remote location. They have expertly developed this rare, primitive piece of real estate. 

A Lesson in Remote Construction…and Life 

It wasn’t easy to build, but it was worth it.

As an architect, I was most fortunate to have developed a relationship with an experienced contractor. Bennett Hofford Caribbean Construction based out of Charleston SC and St Kitts is an award winning contractor with whom we worked on an intricate waterfront Kiawah residence.

Russell Fortenberry, Bennett Hofford’s senior project manager, showed me around St. Kitts and we commiserated over local rum and coconut water on how building in the Caribbean is very different. Everything, I mean everything, comes by boat.

You need heavy machinery to build into a hillside!

Shipping and customs costs must be built into the overall construction budget and local skilled labor is much more limited than in the US, so different tradespeople are flown in to the job site. Over the years, we’ve flown craftsmen in from the mainland as well as international locations such as St Petersburg, Russia.

And locally sourced concrete to hold back and stabilize the mountainside site.

These costs and the local “way of life” are all factors when building luxury residences remotely. Some call the pace “island time”, while others reference it as “rush slowly”. Any way you cut it; it is a snail’s pace in comparison to the frantic pace of the Northeast.

While it’s an adjustment, it’s also a life lesson that teaches us the value of slowing down and doing things the right way. St Kitts has that effect on its inhabitants, as well as its visitors. What’s not to love?