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Review: Sunset Reef

If you want the privacy of a villa or Airbnb, but with all the frills of a luxury hotel stay and an eye on sustainability, this is your spot.
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Why book? 
If you want the privacy of a villa or Airbnb, but with all the frills of a luxury hotel stay (infinity pool, on-site massage services, concierge) and an eye on sustainability, this is your spot.

Set the scene 
You’d never know it takes just 10 minutes to drive from the airport to get here. After turning off the main road in the village of Trinity, expect to trundle down a bumpy side road shrouded by palms and little else—this level of seclusion will soon reveal itself to be one of the highlights, and what makes Sunset Reef feel a little unique on an island where most of the luxury offerings are resorts. Within seconds of arriving a fresh juice will be in your hand before you’re led to just one of the seven suites on property, all of which have stellar views of the Caribbean Sea thanks to their clifftop location. Between the location and number of rooms, you can pretend to have the whole place to yourself, until it’s time to trot off for lunch by the pool or down to the pocket-size bar, Sandbar, to watch the sunset and spot the other guests—likely a pair of honeymooners or a multi-gen family getting together for a week in the sun.

The rooms 
Before Sunset Reef was a boutique hotel, it was a large private home, and the owners have stayed true to its original layout—sticking to just seven renovated suites (although there are tentative plans to build more on a neighboring piece of land in the future). Each one ranges in size, the smallest being a king suite and the largest a six-bedroom villa, meaning both couples and big families can both stay here, and all have breezy decks or balconies overlooking the sun-beaten volcanic rocks and beach below (fun fact about St. Kitts: it’s black sand here thanks to the island’s multiple active volcanoes). Inside, the rooms are decked out in beachy, muted tones of cream, brown, and gray, with wooden ceiling fans and floor-to-ceiling glass doors. Admittedly, the design lacks a little imagination—I kept hoping to stumble upon little details that spoke to the rich culture of the island or a minibar stocked with local products to sample—but what the rooms lack in character they more than make up for in luxurious comfort. The bathrooms are vast, with walk-in showers and, if you’re lucky, deep tubs. Plus, I had the best night’s sleep in years courtesy of the king-size bed and black-out curtains.

The service 
The service was attentive without being overbearing. In other words, the staff, who are lovely, are there for you as much as you want them to be. I really appreciated how thoughtful each person was—when I said I loved my fresh juice (a blend of carrot, orange, and ginger) they kept an extra batch behind the bar just for me. There is also a tailor-made concierge service available to arrange activities for guests depending on how adventurous they’re feeling, from a rainforest walk with local operator Greg’s Safaris to a rum tasting at family-owned Old Road Rim distillery. (A concierge highlight for me was being taken off the tourist trail to a beach dive that served us fresh lobster straight off the grill alongside a bucket of cold beers.) And for days when you’re more interested in staying on property, there’s a yoga deck, as well as opportunities to rent all the requisite beach amenities like kayaks, paddle boards, and electric jet skis.

For families 
This is a stellar property for a multi-generational trip—in fact, it’s possible to buy out the whole place if there are enough of you. My only caveat is that the pool itself feels more honeymoon than kids’ club, but the property hopes to introduce a deck/beach area onto the rocky shoreline below which would expand outdoor recreational areas considerably.

Eco effort 
Sunset Reef is incredibly vocal about its sustainability efforts, weaving them into much of the property’s design and service in the hope of leaving a smaller ecological footprint than other properties on St. Kitts (its size also helps). Case in point: It runs on a geothermal system (i.e. that scorching Caribbean sun is responsible for the hot tub and heating the infinity pool); uses an on-site water filtration system to enable guests to drink from the tap and avoid plastic bottles; and landscapes with only native plants that require much less water and can rely on the climate.

Anything left to mention? 
Try the cold plunge in the pool area if you’re feeling daring. And book a massage with Anetta Tobierre—she healed me after a long travel day.

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