We’ve been lucky so far this winter in the Northeast in that it seems like we bypassed the season entirely. As New York denizens, however, it’s our duty to constantly be scouting out the bigger, better deal. In anticipation of a repeat of that bleak and bitter January 2011, I started scoping out quick and easy weekend getaways as of the first of the year and The Four Seasons Nevis came across my radar.
Here’s what I quickly found out about Nevis (pronounced Nee-Vis): it’s an island spanning 36 square miles, bordered to the east by the Atlantic and to the west by the Caribbean Sea. It’s a 30-minute boat trip from St. Kitts and approximately 50 miles from Antigua. The island is accessible through 4-hour direct service into St. Kitts from JFK on American Airlines — but only on Wednesdays and Sundays. From there, The Four Seasons has worked out a seamless transfer system on their fleet of watercraft (they even provide gourmet box lunches for the way back). The other option is a JetBlue flight into Puerto Rico and a connection straight to Nevis airport on a Cape Air propeller plane.
My travel partner and I opted for the direct route, and the moment we landed in St. Kitts our travel-related stresses abated, with the staff of the Four Seasons ensuring that trivial matters wouldn’t enter our brainwaves for the duration of our stay. We were greeted with warm smiles and animated Nevisian personalities at baggage claim and transferred onto the Nevisian Dream. What followed was a 30-minute cruise through water bluer than Robert Pattinson’s eyes, past dormant volcanoes, lush green hills and perfect streams of sunshine – with, of course, a mighty strong rum punch in hand at all times.
We landed at The Four Seasons on the island of Nevis to be greeted immediately by Fabien Lim, the Guest Services General Manager. Lim gave us the layout of the property — 196 rooms on 350 acres all with golf course or ocean views. The resort covers it all — including a host of dining options and experiences, outdoor activities and relaxation/spa services. Virtually everything on the grounds is brand new; the hotel underwent a $110 million renovation following Hurricane Omar and had its grand reopening in December 2010. Plus, it’s impossible not to immediately realize that in every direction, the view is breathtaking. Nevis Peak seems to stretch up in deep green foliage indefinitely, and is almost always surrounded by this fascinating ethereal haze. To the other side, the peaks of St. Kitts are visible in the distance above the bright azure hue of Caribbean waters. It all trumps the view from my New York City office.
There are 12,000 residents of Nevis, and, as one of the largest resorts on the island, The Four Seasons employs around 2,000 of them. Upon hearing this, I thought of the inherent resentment for tourists and self-proclaimed ex-pats that must take place on many an island in this region of the world. On Nevis, however, this simply isn’t the case. My travel partner and I pointed out that this trip would be unbearable if taken with someone you weren’t too fond of (because the general vibe is romantic and tranquil), but I have a feeling that a solo traveler would be welcomed with open arms by the overly gregarious Nevisians. And although this is a lame comparison, probably just like the reception that Jason Segal’s character had in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Actually, just like that. Everyone on the island genuinely wants to be your friend.
Of the surplus of activities offered by the resort, we took advantage of Laser sailing lessons, kayaking, a driving tour of the island, a day in one of the resort’s completely stocked, luxe beach cabanas (personal highlight), and a Rum Tonic Body Treatment (with sugar cane exfoliation and rum/ginger/honey glaze) and afternoon of ultimate relaxation in the serene spa garden. The daily breakfast buffet at Nevis became a creature comfort and AM guilty pleasure. The hotel concierge also helped us select unique dining experiences and memorable sightseeing excursions in and outside the resort. Here is my Must-Try List:
Mango: Farm-to-fork dining directly on the ocean at The Four Seasons property. We judged this to be the best view on the island and hands-down the place to watch a sunset. They serve Caribbean specialties, including spiny lobster, BBQ ribs, daily fresh-catch fish, and a heavenly dessert selection utilizing locally-sourced ingredients. The coconut tart and bread pudding cake are game-changers. The restaurant works with a locally-known agriculturalist called Mansa who hosts tours of his farm especially for hotel guests.
Montpelier Plantation Inn: The Montpelier property is situated on Nevis Peak with stunning views and local Caribbean fare with modern edge. The menu changes daily and diners have the option of enjoying the open-air, European-influenced grandeur of the Restaurant 750 or eating within the ancient structure of The Mill (the interior of a retired 18th century sugar mill). Drinks are served in the hotel lobby and dinner orders are taken here before seating. It all feels very country club. Nikolas, the General Manager, will make sure you feel right at home.
Double Deuce: Located just south on the beach from The Four Seasons, Double Deuce is the late night island hot spot. During our stay, we joined Mazen Saleh, Assistant Food and Beverage Director of TFS, as he manned the DJ booth and made rounds with the regulars. The rum punch/billiards/dancing combo here is exactly what we needed to unwind from unwinding. The very hospitable owner of the joint also insisted on showing me his catch of the day.
Golden Rock Plantation Inn: This charming estate overlooking the Atlantic is an ideal stop-off for a light lunch or an afternoon cocktail. Lizards and monkeys frequent the restaurant and lobby deck, right around the coy fountains, in case you become bored with the view.