Having visited tropical islands and beaches in several countries and in all parts of the world, I thought I knew paradise. I had come pretty close to it in Virgin Gorda, Puerto Rico, Necker Island, and Nassau, because each locale has a unique mix of warm turquoise waters, soft sands, and local cultures. But not until I accidentally fell upon Nevis did I realize that paradise definitely does exist in a tiny, 36-square-mile island tucked away 200 miles off the coast of Puerto Rico, smack dab in the middle of the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Nevis and neighboring island St. Kitts are one country (the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis), and the two islands are part of the inner arc of the Leeward Islands in the West Indies. I recently spent six days in Nevis, thanks to my amazing friend and host, Eric Johnson, who is the Director of Marketing & Sales of Four Seasons Resort Estates Nevis, and my friend and travel concierge extraordinaire, Shanna Dickerson of Blue Sky Luxury Concierge. Both offered me a birds-eye view of the exotic beaches, the rich local culture, the rain forest, the resorts, and the best island dining this picky traveler has had the pleasure of experiencing.
Here’s what I learned in six days in Nevis:
History: It’s got to be a cool place to go since Jay Z and Beyonce vacation there, right? Well, yes… but that’s not the kind of history I’m talking about, although when you Google Nevis you will see numerous celebrity A-listers who vacation on this island regularly. The history I’m talking about is the nuggets you learn when you read the local tourist magazines and visit the museums. For example, I learned that one of the founding fathers of the United States, Alexander Hamilton, was born in Nevis and lived there during his childhood. His birthplace is now The Museum of Nevis History. Columbus first sighted the island in 1493, although it had been settled at the time for more than 2000 years by the Amerindian tribes. In the late 1600s Nevis was considered the richest of the British Leeward Islands. The island outranked larger islands like Jamaica in sugar production in the late 17th century. Many of those who worked on sugar plantations were slaves up until 1834 when the practice was abolished in the British Empire and 8,815 slaves were freed. The first Monday in August is celebrated as Emancipation Day and is part of the annual Nevis Culturama festival. Nevis was united with St. Kitts and Anguilla in 1882, and they became an associated state with full internal autonomy in 1967. Four years later Anguilla seceded. Together, St. Kitts and Nevis became independent in September of 1983.
Home: I was fortunate to stay at the Ernie Boch Jr. estate located within the Four Seasons Resort. The 1.25 acre property is nestled along a peak above the resort, offering panoramic views of the ocean, a volcano and nearby St. Kitts. Johnson says that Four Seasons Resort Estates Nevis has a wide array of ownership options, ranging from multi-million dollar estates, like Boch’s, to smaller villas at Pinney’s Beach. The villas are available to purchase in their entirety or in shares. Johnson explained that the resort was recently purchased by a new investor group and will soon be undergoing a massive renovation. The scheduled work follows on the heels of a complete overhaul of the property that started in 2008 when a hurricane caused severe damage. That two-year project helped the property look new, from the Infinity pools, to the dining areas and recreational centers. According to Ernie Boch Jr, who has called Nevis a second home for nearly 10 years, “Four Seasons Nevis has been a perfect fit for me, because I get the autonomy of a separate home for me and my family, while also getting all the perks of Four Seasons living, like recreation for the kids, fine dining, yard and pool maintenance, housekeeping, and concierge services that are just a phone call away.” The auto magnate added about the island, “Nevis is this special place where no matter where you are on the island, people are friendly and accommodating. No matter what restaurant, shop, or beach you visit in Nevis, you get the feeling that the people who live there year round are like family. It’s that special.” Boch’s Boston based real estate adviser, Michael Carucci of Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty, was in Nevis consulting on the marketing of the Boch estate which is currently listed for $7.2 million. Said Carucci, “Many luxury clients who live along the Northeastern seaboard of the United States are seeking second and third homes in the Caribbean and West Indies due to the convenience, the favorable climate, and the seclusion of island vacationing.” Eric Johnson added that he has seen a spike in international buyers shopping for a second home in their resort this year. He says many buyers simply want to invest in a place they can bring their families to create amazing memories ever year, while other buyers are interested in the citizen by investment program offered in St. Kitts and Nevis, whereby buying on the island comes with a number of benefits, including visa-free travel to more than 120 countries. Nevis citizens only pay taxes on income earned on the island. Johnson pointed out that even purchasers who opt to purchase a share, such as 1/10th ownership in a villa, can opt for the dual citizenship for their entire family.
Heaven: Much of my time on Nevis was spent exploring restaurants, beaches, and the rain forest. Bananas Restaurant offered Caribbean-themed dinners in a beautiful setting decorated with local artwork. I also dined at Golden Rock Plantation that is nestled within Nevis Peak, where both the food (the lobster roll is to die for) and the view were beyond decadent. Last, but not least my favorite restaurant was Sunshine’s, where the food was world class, and the drinks, including their famous “Killer Bee,” a Caribbean punch, were worth going back to night after night. I also got to meet and enjoy the company of Sunshine, the proprietor of the restaurant, who hung out each evening checking on guests, sharing stories about the island, and learning about the people visiting his restaurant. If there’s one thing that each of the restaurants had in common, it was the friendly owners or staff who went out of their way to talk about the food, the weather, the views, and the island. Shanna Dickerson, the owner of Blue Sky Luxury Concierge, works with individual travelers and plans large scale corporate events, including assisting extraordinary clients like Richard Branson. She says that the number one reason many of her clients love Nevis is the people. “Clients book Four Seasons Nevis for the top notch golf, spas, tennis, and beaches, but the reason they keep coming back is the amazing people of Nevis who make everyone feel at home,” says Dickerson.
Every afternoon in Nevis, I landed in the same spot, sitting in the backyard of the Boch estate, mesmerized by the sunset. If there is such thing as heaven, I’d imagine that it’s a place where the people are friendly, the weather is immaculate for long stretches of time, the beaches are warm, and the views are awe inspiring. And if that’s the case, then I undoubtedly landed upon a small slice of heaven in Nevis.