Winter in Washington, DC is not our best season. While it varies from year to year, cold temps and snow are fairly common and, along with the dark days, makes for a slightly depressing few months. While a great spot to visit any time of year, it’s this mild seasonal affective disorder that had me so excited to head south for a few days of some much needed rest and relaxation on the Caribbean island of Nevis. Anytime a hotel transfer is conducted via boat is a reason to smile, and that’s exactly where I found myself crossing the narrow stretch of water separating St. Kitts from Nevis, the sun shining and a rum punch in hand. I had long heard great reviews about the Four Seasons Resort Nevis and since they just finished phase one of a major refurbishment, there was no better time for me to visit. Whether you’re curious about the fascinating history of the island or are just looking for a few days to unplug, this tropical getaway is the ideal choice for the following reasons and more.
Clocking in at 36 square miles, Nevis is not a large place and at times can be overshadowed by its neighbor island, St. Kitts. There’s more than proximity that connects these two spots, the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis is one country, although at times that relationship has been a bit strained. Nevis though is a lot more than just a small Caribbean island, its long and fascinating history is one of the many reasons why I was so excited to visit. Today Nevis is perhaps most famous as the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton, thanks entirely to the incredible popularity of the eponymous Broadway musical. The island’s history though is much more expansive than one slightly cranky Founding Father, and at times Nevis has found itself at the center of world politics. First spotted by Columbus, the island has a long history of European interest, first as a principal port for the slave trade and then as the most profitable sugar cane plantation island in the Caribbean. Sugar was big business in the 17th and 18th centuries and the quality of the sugar cane juice so high that it was the most profitable colony in the British Empire, at one time more so than the 13 American Colonies combined. For a variety of reasons, this boom did at one point decline and for generations Nevis fell into a more modest lifestyle. Today tourism is the chief industry, although you can find remnants of those old plantations and sugar mills across the island, including at the Four Seasons Resort Nevis.
Island Charm at the Four Seasons Resort Nevis
One of the most well-established Four Seasons Hotels in the Americas, the Four Seasons Resort Nevis has been welcoming guests for nearly 30 years to their laid back and expansive property situated on the site of an old sugar plantation. All hotels and resorts though need to be updated from time to time, which is why last year the Four Seasons Nevis began the process of reimagining both their public spaces as well as guest rooms. And from my experience, the results are nothing short of amazing. Walking into my guest room, one of only 189 at the resort, I was immediately impressed by the light but still sophisticated Caribbean vibe. Soft fabrics, light colors with pops of brighter hues and large patio windows all come together to create a room that is light and modern, while also being intensely comfortable. It was the ideal oasis for me as I spent a few days enjoying the many amenities on-site.
There’s actually a lot to choose from and right away I knew that I needed at least a week to properly enjoy everything offered at the resort. Arriving by boat to the resort’s private dock, it’s hard not to be impressed by the large stretch of beach for guests to enjoy. There are plenty of beach chairs along the strand with sweeping views of the Caribbean and nearby St. Kitts, as well as luxury private beach cabanas perfect for a small family or even a couple who want some privacy to enjoy their day. Truthfully though, I spent most of my R&R time by the pools, stopping by each one of the three separate and distinct infinity pools to try to get as much sun as possible before heading back north.
Active travelers won’t be disappointed either, when I was there both the golf course and the many tennis courts were very popular and if you want some lessons or even take part in a light-hearted competition, that’s easy to manage as well. I wasn’t there to exercise though, which is why I spent an afternoon at the resort’s expansive and incredibly relaxing spa. Much more than a simple spa, it’s a very large sanctuary set in a garden amid lush greenery and incredible flowers. Brightly colored Nevisian huts serve as treatments rooms and the entire experience was one of the best I’ve ever enjoyed.
Above almost everything else though I think the culinary side of the experience is one of the most impressive, and certainly delicious. A challenge for any hotel resort with such an amazing location is how to fuse local flavors with more traditional or fine-dining dishes that guests expect. Just as the property has undergone many changes, so have the menus and restaurants on-site and for me the food experience was perhaps the biggest, and best, surprise. Since guests typically stay for a number of days, there are quite a few of different options, each one offering their own unique fare. One of my favorite dining experiences though perhaps was so memorable thanks to its location. A short stroll down the beach is the waterfront Mango restaurant, a fantastic place to sip a sundowner before enjoying a delicious meal. The menu is strongly influenced by its Caribbean location with many dishes created just for the restaurant. Add in outdoor seating and you have the perfect culinary experience, at least for me.
There are plenty of spots throughout the US, Mexico and Caribbean if all you want is a sunny beach. If you’re like me though and want an experience that feels unique, personalized and even adventurous, then Nevis is one of the best options. Thanks to the small size of both the island and the Four Seasons Resort Nevis, nothing feels prepackaged or formulaic because, well, it’s not. This is not your massive industrial-style resort experience, this is a calming and restorative travel experience that is unlike many others in the Caribbean. Before traveling down to Nevis, I chatted with several people who have been visiting for years, which struck me as odd at the time. With so many choices in the Caribbean, I wondered why they would keep returning to Nevis. I now understand the appeal of not only the resort, but the island. It really is a remarkable destination and one I know I’ll try to return to as often as I can.