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Nevis: Paradise Found

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If you’re not friends with Richard Branson and have yet to be invited to Necker Island, that’s OK. There’s actually another small island in the Caribbean that’s just as quiet and unspoiled, blissfully free of casinos, duty free shopping and large cruise ships.

The island of Nevis, however, has some serious celebrity cred. It is the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton, and these days it’s a playground for celebrities including Oprah, Meryl Streep, Oliver Platt, Beyonce and Roger Daltrey.

Arrive in style

If you’re flying in to the airport at St. Kitts, the YU Lounge offers a way to smoothly get through customs and off to port for the quick transfer to Nevis. Schedule your arrival online and be escorted from your flight by a concierge to the lounge, never setting foot in the airport.

The staff will handle immigration paperwork, custom clear your luggage and deliver it to an awaiting car when you’re ready to make the transfer to Nevis. All the while you’ll enjoy gourmet bites of island cuisine and Champagne, naturally. There are also bathrooms with showers should you be delayed or just need freshening up.

Where to Stay

Lazing the days away at a picture perfect resort is a big part of the pleasure of Nevis. The crucial decision is whether to stay at the beach or in the mountains? The mountains are not far from the beach but offer plenty of privacy, lush vegetation, quiet pools and breathtaking ocean views.

Consider Montpelier, a Relais & Chateaux property, where Princess Diana once stayed with her sons. It’s set on the site of an old plantation and the ruins of a sugar mill which serves as an intimate private dining room.

The resort exudes understated elegance with a cool and clean aesthetic to ease you into the relaxed island lifestyle. Your biggest quandary may be whether to lounge by the cool blue-toned mosaic pool or take the complimentary shuttle down to the beach where you can read or nap in your private cabana between dips in the ocean. The cuisine is particularly outstanding and the chef offers gourmet cooking classes.

Another choice in the mountains also set near the ruins of a sugar mill is Golden Rock Inn. It features stunning landscaping and gardens by renowned landscape architect Raymond Jungles under the watchful eyes of proprietors and contemporary artists Helen and Brice Marden. Timeless yet modern with a balance of tropical beauty and pops of bright color, it has an exclusive romantic atmosphere.

Two options for stays at the beach are Nisbet Plantation Beach Club on the Atlantic Ocean or the Four Seasons on the Caribbean side. Nisbet is the Caribbean’s only plantation beach resort, with lovely cottages and friendly staff.

There are plenty of options for activities if you get bored of the beach though, including a fun pub crawl with the resort’s famous maître d’, Patterson Fleming. The tour is a great way to meet the locals and get a true feel for the island’s easy breezy vibe. Book your tickets at the front desk.

The Four Seasons property offers all that you would imagine—spa, tennis, golf, horseback riding, fine dining and luxurious accommodations, but in a serenely quiet setting. The resort also offers hiking guides and a guided stroll to see the famous monkeys. It also provides seamless transfers on a private boat to and from St. Kitts.

Where to Dine

One of the most memorable dining experiences is at the boutique hotel, Hermitage Plantation.

Every Wednesday night the Hermitage features a West Indian Buffet, also known as “Pig Night.” It take all day for the cooks to prepare family recipes. The wide variety of local dishes are served in beautiful traditional clay pots crafted on the island from Nevis clay and fired at the Newcastle Pottery kiln.

On a recent evening locals including a chef on his night off and a table full of birthday revelers were enjoying the buffet as well as guests from the hotel and beyond. Along with a whole roast pig, dishes included rabbit pie, rice and peas, fritters made from tania (a potato like root vegetable, related to taro), grouper and plump stuffed pumpkin.

Another particularly special meal is the rum-tasting menu at Mango Restaurant at the Four Seasons on Sunday nights. Five courses of creative cuisine ranging from snapper and corn ceviche to a chocolate rum cake are paired with different shots of rum to highlight the characteristics of each. Sitting outside with a view of the sunset is truly an exquisite experience, even more so if shared with a romantic partner.

For a casual meal, you’d be hard pressed to find a better place than Sunshine’s, located on Pinney’s beach. Considered the go to spot for beach barbecue, a “Killer Bee” cocktail or two and Sunshine’s festive soundtrack will put you in a vacation mood like nothing else.

What to Do

While the most appealing option for some is to do nothing more than rest and relax, should you be looking for more to do, Nevis offers a botanical garden, history museum and if you play your cards right, a chance of catching a glimpse of the famous monkeys. While your hotel can help arrange excursions, another solid choice is to book a tour with “Champ” Alston Smithen, a cool and capable taxi driver who will create a custom itinerary of the island based on your preferences. Like Nevis itself, he is charming, low key and welcoming.

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