This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of So Scottsdale! magazine.
The island of Nevis is one of the most romantic places in the world—and the small Caribbean locale may also be one of the luckiest. It was spared damage from both Irma and Maria hurricanes, which destroyed neighboring islands. While Nevis did experience gale-force winds and heavy rain, the island did not sustain any damage and is ready for visitors. In the shadow of Nevis Mountain, this idyllic escape is filled with extraordinary history, cuisine and charm.
The History of Nevis
Part of the West Indies, this tropical paradise is the oldest British colony in the Caribbean. When Christopher Columbus arrived on the island in 1493, he thought the cloud cap on the island was snow, so he gave it the name Nuestra Señora de Las Nieves, or Our Lady of the Snows. Today, the island is simply known as Nevis—and you’ll never find any snow there.
In 1628, the British colonized the island and it became the sugar capital of the British Empire. The island’s most historical figure, Alexander Hamilton, was born on the island in 1775. The math genius became a member of the first U.S. Continental Congress, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, the first U.S. secretary fo the treasury, and founded the organization that helped abolish slavery in New York.
The sugar industry died out after slavery was abolished on the island in 1834, and Nevis became part of the independent nation of St. Kitts and Nevis in 1983. You’ll still feel a bit of that colonial influence as you explore the island; the ruins of the sugar mills are now grazing spots for herds of wild donkeys and monkeys, while the wide verandas are perfect for sipping classic Nevisian rum punches.
Staying in Nevis
Nevis, unlike higher profile st. Kitts or other Caribbean islands, is quiet and romantic with no big city distractions. For a peaceful retreat, head to the Relais & Châteaux Montpelier Plantation & Beach, a 60-acre hideaway at the base of Mount Nevis. The plantation dates back to 1687, but the AAA Four Diamond property has all of today’s modern amenities.
The luxurious sanctuary includes 19 ocean view rooms and two villas. Take time to walk through the gardens, breathing in the fragrance of the local herbs and flowers. Each morning, executive chef Cristian Bassi serves up a full English breakfast on the patio to set you up for days spent luxuriating by the pool—order up fresh flavors from Indigo or a cool rum cocktail—or heading to the private beach on the island’s protected western side.
Evenings start in the Great Room, where owner Muffin Hoffman greets guests with cocktails, rum punch and canapes. You can then enjoy dinner at Restaurant 750, with local specialties like succulent spiny lobster, which are plentiful in the local waters. For a very special experience, book a five-course tasting menu in the 300-year-old Mill Privée. This historic sugar mill is ideal for an intimate candlelit dinner, where Chef Bassi presents you with a selection of scrumptious Caribbean flavors.
If you prefer a waterfront retreat in Nevis, head to Four Seasons Nevis on Pinney’s beach. This 3-mile stretch of pristine sand is the focal point for the 350-acre resort, which has 179 rooms and 17 suites along with a selection of private villas.
The Four Seasons Nevis has multiple pools, a spa (complete with a spa garden), and a Robert Trent Jones-designed golf course. And, as with the rest of the island, there is plenty of great food at the resort. Mango, the resort’s open-air, waterfront restaurant, features Caribbean cuisine and a rum bar. Catch the sunset before noshing on barbecue ribs with coconut coleslaw and a rum tasting to complement your meal. Whatever you order, be sure to try the Llewellyn’s Hot Pepper Sauce. It’s available in a variety of flavors and is made by Llewellyn Clarke, a local Nevisian who is also a chef at the resort. Before you leave Mango’s, as chief mixologist Kendie Williams to make you a Spicy Island Turtle, which is comprised of Naked Turtle White Rum, mango puree, sugar cane syrup, and a dash of Llewellyn’s mango-pepper hot sauce.
For a sense of place, take a walk down the beach from the Four Seasons to Sunshine’s Beach Bar & Grill. This collection of brightly colored picnic tables on the beach is a favorite hangout for locals and visitors alike. Order a Killer Bee (or two) and anything with Sunshine’s secret sauce, and let the sound of the waves take you away.
Getting to Nevis
From Arizona, fly to Miami and then on to St. Kitts. Start your Nevis journey in style by booking a concierge arrival at the YU Lounge in St. Kitts, which arranges plane-side greetings, private customs transfers, Champagne and more. You will then get on a boat for a quick, 10-minute ride to Nevis. Those staying at Four Seasons Nevis arrive at a private dock; Montpelier meets guests at the main dock. To learn more about Nevis, visit www.nevisisland.com.