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Lost In Time

Exclusive Resorts CEO James Henderson discovers the allure of Nevis.

Arriving in Nevis feels like stepping back to a simpler time. There is a richness and depth about the island, found in the lush tropical vegetation and the green volcanic slopes, but also with the people. Everyone has time for you. The locals are thoughtful, caring, and immediately make you feel part of an extended family.

After a short 20-minute flight from St. Barths, we arrived at the Nevis Airport — a quiet affair with no other aircraft in sight (it felt like we were the only people arriving that day!). We were met by a lovely woman in a neon orange, ground-crew shirt who guided the plane as it taxied. After we proceeded through passport control, our ground crew friend quickly changed wardrobe and transformed into the manager of the arrivals hall, baggage claim, and welcome center.

Camilla Stahl, the fabulous General Manager of Paradise Beach Resort , greeted us at the airport and we loaded into her Land Cruiser. Originally from Sweden, Camilla has lived in Nevis for nearly 20 years and is a true Nevisian. She and her husband Miles, who operated a charter sailing company, happily adapted to island life and now have two young Nevis-born children. From our conversations, Camilla seemed content with Nevis life. As we meandered along the road to Paradise Beach, we slowed down for the occasional donkey, herd of sheep, or goats that freely roam around the island.

Upon arriving at Paradise Beach, we turned into a beautifully manicured resort winding down the hill towards the beach. On each side you’ll find stand-alone villas, with straw roofs and white walls tucked into abundant tropical flowers, shrubs, and massive mango trees. The Exclusive Resorts homes at Paradise Beach Resort include several large stand-alone, four-bedroom villas, each replete with private pools and outdoor decks with dining areas. The Club has also secured Beach Bungalows on stilts. Located above the beach and just a few short steps from the ocean, the Beach Bungalows are finished with wonderful outdoor decks that stretch the length of the bungalow, in addition to plunge pools and large outside sitting and dining areas. One of my favorite features? A cool, electrically operated stairway which you raise at night or when you want privacy. These residences are incredibly relaxing and you can simply sit ocean-side and listen to the waves.

After arriving inside the home, you’ll immediately sense the incredible attention to detail and care of the Paradise Beach team, with “Welcome to Nevis” in flowers and leaves found on the bed. My colleague, Vesna, arranged for a welcoming Rum Punch cocktail, one of the local libations (and not for the faint-hearted). Throughout our stay, we were continually surprised with thoughtful touches and amenities demonstrating the care and consideration of the team, from sea-shells arranged as a “Good Morning” on the door step to beautiful yellow flowers placed on towels over sun beds.

Originally named “Oualie” (Land of Beautiful Waters) by early British settlers, the island was eventually renamed Nevis after the Spanish Nuestra Señora de las Nieves (translating to Our Lady of the Snows), presumably a reference to the Nevis peak. The island is notable to the British, as Admiral Horatio Nelson was stationed on the island as a young sea captain and married a Nevisian, Frances Nisbet. Nevis is particularly significant to Americans as it’s the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton. There is an excellent Museum of Nevis History in Charlestown that provides a history of the island — well worth a visit.

The Golden Rock Inn is a converted sugar mill, that sits on a hundred acres on the slopes of Nevis Peak
A colourful island hotel splashed across unspoilt jungle on the Isle of Nevis

As for island cuisine, expect an abundance of fresh, locally sourced seafood. Our first stop was the Paradise Beach Club Restaurant, where Chef Jack Boast prepared an eclectic menu of locally inspired fare, drawing on his experience at London’s Michelin-rated Galvin La Chapelle Restaurant. Don’t miss the Curried Roti Mahi-Mahi for lunch — superb! Chef Boast spends afternoons fishing off the beach; as such, his evening menus are comprised of two starters, two main courses, and one dessert. Menus change daily based on what Chef Boast sources in local markets.

You’ll discover plenty of other superb restaurants on the island that offer creative, locally inspired dishes, too. Bananas is a clear favorite. The plantation-style home is tucked away up a quiet road and nestled along a tropical garden with palm trees and festive torches. The Golden Rock Inn is a converted sugar mill set on 100 acres on the slopes of Nevis Peak. The amazing ambience includes fabulous tropical gardens, fishponds, and views toward Antigua and Monserrat. Opt for the local Conch Chowder or the signature Spiny Lobster. Montpelier Plantation is a 300-year-old sugar plantation turned luxury boutique hotel. It reached notoriety in the 1990s as Princess Diana’s escape from the British tabloids and is a quiet, serene property. The Mill Privee experience offers a seven-course candlelit dinner in the old mill building, while Restaurant 750 also offers a fabulous fine-dining experience. One of my favorite stops was the Hermitage Inn, one of the oldest wooden structures in the Caribbean. Its menu changes daily based on locally available ingredients and the fresh herbs and spices are sourced directly from on-property gardens. It also offers a weekly whole pig roast and the Nevisian take on pizza night. The historic main hotel and bedrooms feel like they are from a bygone era. 

A trip to Nevis would not be complete without sampling the local rums and rum punch cocktails. A short beach walk from Paradise Beach Resort, Sunshines and its namesake host, Llewellyn “Sunshine” Caines, are famous for the Killer Bee Cocktail — a lethal rum punch concoction. You’ll discover plenty of local rums as well. The local favorite? Clifton Estates, a small-batch artisanal rum. However, our driver for the week, Marvin, told us that there was a thriving community of home-produced rum which is extremely popular with the locals, but I decided to save that until my next visit. What’s more, Nevis is home to more than 44 different kinds of mangoes, and there are thousands of mango trees throughout the island. Locals will tell you there are more like 200 different types and there is friendly local competition over who has the better specimen based on their sweet, velvety texture. The mangoes are also the staple diet of the vervet monkeys which can be spotted at dawn and dusk.

Nevis is unquestionably one of the most relaxing places I have ever visited. Time felt suspended. Our Exclusive Resorts Concierge, Joan Lescott, and the entire team at Paradise Beach Resort were superb hosts and treated us like family. Though it is a relatively small island, there is plenty to do and lots that I didn’t have time to experience. Next time, I will hike the volcano, take the sailing trip with Camilla’s husband Miles, go on the Funky Monkey ATV tour, and indulge in a proper rum tasting. All great excuses to come back for another visit to Nevis soon!

Flight Tip: Nevis is easily accessible, with direct flights from New York, Toronto, Charlotte, Atlanta, and Miami into St. Kitts. Expect a short taxi ride and 15-minute boat transfer to the island.