Afternoon tea and rum tour in Fairview Great House St. Kitts
Touring St. Kitts we also spent an afternoon at the Fairview Great House – $30 for afternoon tea with pastries or $60 per day using the pool too. Built by the French in the end of the 17 century is nowadays the only surviving French Great House on St. Kitts. It used to be a hotel but the new owner Mr. Krishan Chandiramani from India didn’t want it any more and took the cottages away. The wooden Great House was restored in 2007 because the termites were eating it.
As soon as we got seated at Nirvana restaurant, we started learning about the herbs – lemon grass, lemon basil, Italian basil, sweet ginger, peppermint and other leaves and had a cup of delicious fresh herbal tea made of all these plants (used locally for sore throat, better immunity, to treat cold etc.). Then the girls began to serve us cheese sticks, parmesan cheese cookie, mango chutney, scones with carambola jam and butter, oatmeal cookie, cream puff etc., everything home-grown and home-made and more than finger-licking! What a perfect afternoon tea with sun shining it was!
After the relaxing afternoon tea tasting we walked with satisfied stomachs through the Great House with antique furniture that was now colorfully painted, then through the ladies gossip room where they made scarfs. Learned that the full bath was only used to take once or maximum twice a week downstairs in the stone bathtub because it was difficult to fill up the bath with buckets of water.
Volcanic stones were put under the Sun to heat them up and then moved into the bathtub to keep the warm water for longer. The whole family from parents to kids bathed there one after another. Then we entered blue-walled room, called by our sweet Delecia guide ”man zoo” where women couldn’t enter. And maybe it was good for the delicate females not to enter the amount of cigar smoke and manly chatting.
Afterwards, Delecia took us through the green botanical garden and entered what is now the conference room but used to be old chapel and hospital. Inside Delecia played us a video and explained how the both sugar cane and rum making business worked on St. Kitts. Sugar cane was brought to the Caribbean by Christopher Columbus in the 15th century. The birthplace of rum was Barbados even before St. Kitts but the first attempt failed – known as ”kill devil”.
On the table we had the main ingredients for rum making – molasses, sugar cane, yeast and water. The photos clarified us that men were the ones cutting the sugar cane with machetes and then women carrying it on their head to the mill.
”The rum fermentation takes only 9 days but the excitement is as big as with a 9-month pregnancy” continued Delecia with a big smile.
My friends there could have ”fun with rum” (I don’t drink alcohol myself) and taste rum such as Brinley Gold or Shipwreck, then grog (hot rum drink made of rum, water, sugar and lemon we drink in Slovakia too) and also rum cake. Their faces and the mmmm echo all around the conference room said it all 🙂
There were 68 sugar plantations on 68 square miles on St. Kitts as everyone wanted to get in the business.
More than 1,000 jobs were lost with the last cane made on St. Kitts on the 31st July 2005. The sugar cane production was no longer profitable because many other countries produced a lot more. All those people now work in tourism or started their own farms to sell fruit and veggies at the market.
Nowadays the sugar is imported from Cuba and distilleries are forbidden on St. Kitts since the end of 1990’s with the fine for an illegal distillery of around $1,300. The only Kittitian rum you can get is Hammond, Moonshine and Bush rum from 42 to 90 %.
”It has such a strong sense your skin stinks and you have to take a shower.” Delecia laughed once again.
Most of alcohol that gets to St. Kitts now comes from Guyana and then it’s just transformed into rum.
Ah, and remember that if you ever visit St. Kitts and have cold or sore throat and you are not an abstinent like me, try the local remedy – rum shot with lemon juice.
My time at Fairview Great House St. Kitts was a press trip organized by the St. Kitts Tourist Board in the collaboration with Fairview St. Kitts. All the opinions in this article are my own as usual. Thanks a million to the tourist board, Zarina, Maynard and Delecia.
*** It took me 4,5 hours to write this post.