With its old-school charm and relaxed feel, Jo Cooke finds a Caribbean isle in no hurry to join the 21st century
Nevis is the Peter Pan of the Caribbean. While its neighbours may keep up with the latest attraction trends such as zip lining and jeep safaris, or boast nightclubs and all inclusives, Nevis seems never to age and never to change.
When clients opt for this little gem, they sign up for classic Caribbean. The smaller island-nation sibling of St Kitts, Nevis takes clients back to the golden age of travel, a West Indian experience that oozes an air of exclusivity, tradition and affluence.
Then as now, Nevis’s offerings are pure and simple -– lush tropical flora, unspoilt beaches, understated accommodation and a handful of leisurely pursuits. Its peace and quiet is not for everyone, but would be loved by those who feel less is more.
STAY: HOLY TRINITY
Nisbet Plantation Beach Club, Four Seasons Resort Nevis and Montpelier Plantation & Beach are the properties to swot up on. This trio of establishments are the ones that star almost exclusively in both the major and specialist tour operator brochures.
For old-world charm the 36 room Nisbet Plantation Beach Club comes up trumps. There’s a croquet lawn, afternoon tea is served on the terrace and cocktails are taken before dinner.
Set on a former sugar cane plantation, a majestic avenue of palms announces this property has pedigree. It was once the home of Fanny Nisbet who married naval hero Lord Nelson.
The hotel also has the only Great House located on a beach in the Caribbean. Accommodation is in colonial-style cottages set around the historic estate house.
The Four Seasons, meanwhile, is geared up for families and those who like a little action with their relaxation. Three infinity pools, tennis courts, complimentary watersports, a spa, kids’ club and championship golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones II are all part of this 196-unit establishment.
Its cottages are set back from the ocean and nestle into the hillside in pleasing two-storey blocks.For boutique chic, there’s the 19-room, hilltop, Montpelier Plantation. The rooms are swish and contemporary with a slight nod to colonial style.
This Relais & Châteaux member has a tennis court, spa suite and funky pool, and is renowned for its cuisine. A private beach club for guest use is just a short drive away.
SEE: LUSH LOOKS
This island is a natural beauty. A mass of lush tropical foliage carpets the undulating interior and white sand beaches seem to hug every shoreline.
Activities revolve around these assets. Watersports such as kayaking, windsurfing and sailing are available from the hotels’ beaches, and horse riding, mountain biking and walking trails take you into the hillsides.
The island’s high point, Mount Nevis, can also be trekked with a guide. This dormant volcano, almost a kilometre high, gave the island its name.
When Christopher Columbus first set eyes on Nevis in 1493 he mistook cloud cover around the peak for snow and named the island Nieves – the Spanish word for snow.
If your clients are garden lovers recommend they visit the Botanical Gardens of Nevis where tropical plants, exotic blooms and an array of palm species fringe lily ponds and a sizeable glasshouse.
History lovers can learn about the island’s heritage at the Museum of Nevis History, then about its adopted son at the Horatio Nelson Museum.
Another must is a stroll around the harbour-side capital Charlestown. It has shops and a market to browse, plus a treasure trove of architectural gems from the 18th and 19th centuries.
SELL: EASY ACCESS
“There are two flights a week from the UK via Antigua to St Kitts so it’s easy to get to Nevis,” says ITC Classics’ Helen Tabois.
The British Airways route from Gatwick has a duration of about 10 hours 15 minutes including a touchdown in Antigua. Clients can then take a water taxi transfer from St Kitts to Nevis. Alternatively, Nevis can be reached from Antigua (eight-and-a-half hours from Gatwick) with a 30-minute flight.
Nevis is just seven miles long by six wide. It can easily be explored by car and as a former British colony, Nevisians drive on the left.
“With one main road around the island Nevis is the perfect place to hire a car and explore, and if you do get lost a friendly local will be more than happy to help get you on your way again,” says Elegant Resorts’ Caroline Beckett.
Tabois agrees. “The roads are mostly well-maintained, there are no traffic lights and just one roundabout. Other than that, you may just have to give the occasional goat, monkey or chicken right of way!’
If clients fancy heading farther afield, a ferry service links Nevis with St Kitts. It takes 45 minutes and there are several sailings a day making it an easy hop from Charlestown to Basseterre.
The islands also work well as a twin centre, with St Kitts offering the nightlife and major attractions and Nevis the get-away-from-it-all vibe.
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