St. Kitts’ little satellite sister island is lush, lovely and sweet
by Susan Campbell
I was stoked to finally visit little Nevis in the Caribbean West Indies recently.
It’s a tiny island -36-square miles-largely undeveloped and dotted with dormant volcanoes shrouded in mist and carpeted in emerald greens flanked with some beautiful beaches. You can access it by a 6-minute water taxi from St. Kitts or more recently by Caribbean Helicopters from Antigua or St Barts. Once an important sugar producing island for the British you witness its plantation past almost everywhere you go. In fact, seems you can’t throw a conch shell without hitting the ruins of a sugar mill, and many of them have been restored to host the island’s handful of unique resorts. Nisbet Planation Beach Club, where I was intending to stay is one of them, and it’s the only one located right on the sea.
Nisbet is a storied spot dating back to the 1700’s, most famous for being where Lord Horatio Nelson met and fell in love with Fanny Nisbet. (They were later married at Montpelier Planation.) Upon arrival, the first thing you notice is the impressive stone archway ruins with a staircase that leads to the sky. It’s enchanting. And the beautifully preserved Great House where the bulk of the dining is offered also impresses. But it won’t take you long to realize that though however “grand” this resort appears at first, the vibe is anything but pretentious. In fact, it is one of the warmest friendliest and inviting spots I have ever been.
It also won’t take you long to realize that the majority of guests are British- most repeat visitors. The daily high tea might be your first clue, but it’s the constant cheery hello’s that everyone exchanges –strangers or not- with the distinctive accent that seals it. And as for the staff, they are predominantly native Nevisians. But don’t confuse friendly and easy-going with inefficient. Quite the opposite. The Nisbet staff has just received international accreditation by “Hospitality Assured”, the standard for service and business excellence in the hospitality industry, and in my opinion very well deserved.
Though the feeling might be laid-back, and the charming little cottages (36 of them) give you a feeling of a small town holiday village, they don’t skimp on luxuries and amenities. The only thing that’s missing in each room however is a television. But after a day, you won’t miss it once you see that the greatest show on earth is right outside your grand deck via the sea by day and the tropical stars on moonlit waves at night. For relaxation and entertainment there is an infinity pool and whirlpool by the sea, tennis courts, cricket, yoga, kayaks, snorkel gear, or just kicking back with a fun crowd at Sea Breeze- their beach bar/dining spot.
But we wanted to explore more of Nevis, so we opted for a day tour. The other resorts are worth taking a look at, as most of them are located on historic sites in their own right. Like Montepelier Planation (Princess Diana stayed there,) a Relais & Chateaux hotel with the only private dining in the world set in a 300-year old sugar mill tower. And the Golden Rock Plantation resort- also in a restored sugar mill- but decorated in avant garde art by its owner/artist from New York. Then there’s Hermitage Resort in what is said to be the oldest wooden house in the Caribbean. They all have such interesting heritages.
The main village of Charleston also has a few noteworthy sights- like the surprise of the public outdoor “spa” right downtown fed by thermal volcanic springs. And nearby is a fabulous and trendy beach/bar/club called Chrishi’s with a great view of St Kitts. And if you head up the mountain to Bananas you’ll find a gorgeous garden shaded oasis with an incredible view of the sea and the rainforest from above. You can easily tour all the points of interest on Nevis in a day.
And on the waves, a don’t-miss activity is a snorkel tour with Leeward island Charters, it’s a half-day of fun fish finding and rum punch fueled dancing on the deck. They take off from the Four Seasons Nevis Resort, also worth a tour while you are there. It’s the most modern resort on the island, very luxe, though there is a brand new luxury boutique property called Paradise Beach, which will feature Balinese style beachfront accommodations.
Our stay of just four days was far too short, especially since we were told that Nevis has more monkeys than people on it, but sadly, we saw very few. And though the slow pace of this island might actually frustrate some at first, once you surrender- into its gentle rhythms- you’ll never want to leave. We all need time to recharge and reconnect with nature. And taking it nice and easy in Nevis is an ideal way to do so.
Visit: www.nevisisland.com & www.nisbetplantation.com
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