Not too shabby: Four Seasons Resort Nevis. (All photos: Four Seasons Resort Nevis/Facebook)
Hotel: Four Seasons Resort Nevis
Location: Pinney’s Beach, Nevis, West Indies
When to go: High season is winter — December through April. But I was there in July and the weather was still quite good, with just a little sun shower here and there (and cheaper rates).
The vibe: Laid-back Nevisian luxury
Getting there: For most flights, you have to fly into Nevi’s big-sister island, St. Kitts, and then take a 30-minute ferry to Nevis. American Airlines offers daily flights from Miami to St. Kitts and weekly nonstop flights from Charlotte, N.C. United is starting a new weekly service from Newark, N.J., to St. Kitts on December 18. Another option for Four Seasons guests is to fly to San Juan and then connect on Tradewind Aviation shuttle to Nevis airport.
Background: The only Four Seasons in the Caribbean, the beachfront resort opened in 1991 on the former site of a sugar and coconut plantation dating to the late 1790s. There are lush gardens all around, and the buildings are designed with local Nevisian architecture in mind, including a West Indian plantation-style great house. The resort also has a largely Nevisian staff. Nevis only has 10,000 residents, so with around 800 locals working on the property, almost everyone who lives on the island is related to someone who works there.
The Rooms: The resort has 196 beachy, bright rooms, ranging from the more affordable (volcano) Peak View and Ocean View rooms to Ocean, Plantation, and Seascape Suites (17 in total). Prices start at $385 per room per night (for a Peak View room in low season). Money-saving tip: The volcano view is amazing and cheaper, so if you’re willing to give up the ocean scenery view from your room (which is steps from the beach anyway), it’s actually a good way to save money.
What I loved: For me, there were a few things in particular that I thought were fab: 1. The resort is right on the beach, so of course the ocean view from the balconies are lovely, but the bonus is the amazing view of the volcano from the front door. 2. The staff was warm and friendly. 3. There is a separate area with a pool and a beach for adults only — so no little rug rats to contend with if you don’t feel like it.
What I didn’t love: The food was decent, but nothing to write home about — not so unusual for a resort. Plus, sometimes the staff is on island time.
View from the golf course.
What to do: In addition to the usual snorkeling, paddle-boarding, boating, and other water sports, the resort has lots of cool things to do. Rent a “beach house,” which is basically a private little three-walled wooden cottage steps from the beach that’s outfitted with cozy beach chairs. The structures can hold as many as five people and can be rented from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. for $696. They’re not cheap, but they come with a butler to take care all of your “day-at-the-beach” needs — everything from food and drink orders to getting you snorkeling gear. I also recommend taking a tennis lesson. (I had Kip, and he was awesome — not only a lovely man, but he improved my game in an hour. Of course, the only place for me to go was up. But still.) Each session costs $105 (plus tax and tip). There’s also a gorgeous golf course that has the remains of a stone windmill near the second tee and beautiful vistas. There’s even an unofficial golf course mascot, Coco the dog, who spends her mornings tagging along with golfers. For first-timers, it can be a little tricky to find the next hole, so Coco shows them the way. After 18 holes, she goes back and finds her next group.
What’s nearby: Nevis may not be as well known as its larger sister island, St. Kitts, but because of that it is certainly a gem — a bit of throwback to the old-school Caribbean. Head to Charlestown to see the spot where Alexander Hamilton was born (literally, he was born outside next to an old building that is now the Museum of Nevis History) or take a drive to the Bath Hotel and Spring House for a dip in the hot springs — Nevisians swear the waters have healing powers. You can also take a 40-minute boat ride over to St. Kitts to check out the sights there. And at least one night, make sure to take a walk down the beach to Sunshine’s Bar and Grill. The owner, Sunshine, is fantastic, as is his family-style, down home food (think barbecued chicken, fish, rice, and from-scratch chocolate cake), and the infamous Killer Bee cocktails should not be missed.
Where to eat: Choose from the resort’s four restaurants: Neve for breakfast; and for other meals there’s Cabana, located near the pools and beach, open-air Mango, and the Coral Grill. If you’re adventurous and, well, rich, go for the Dive and Dine package. Executive chef Jason Adams or Kai Autenrieth (both certified divers) take you out to secret dive spots (via a private boat) to catch local spiny lobsters. After bringing the crustaceans back to the resort, one of the chefs grills them on the beach for the fanciest cookout you’ve ever had. It’s truly fantastic, but pricey — $1,950 per couple and $500 for each additional guest. (The price includes the boat charter with equipment, two dive tanks, snacks and refreshments on board during the dive, a barbecue lunch with an interactive cooking demo, as well as a beach house rental plus amenities for the remainder of the day.) It’s also worth venturing off-site to the aforementioned Sunshine’s, as well as local restaurant Indian Summer.
Related: Top 20 Beach Bars in the Caribbean
A tagged and GPS’d sea turtle returning to the ocean.
Don’t Miss: If you love sea creatures, book during the Four Seasons Resort Nevis’s annual sea turtle conservation program. Hawksbills, leatherbacks, and green sea turtles nest on several of the island’s beaches, so the resort teams up with Florida’s Sea Turtle Conservancy (STC) as well as local conservation volunteers to lead nightly walks with guests to find nesting sea turtles. Not only could you witness a mama sea turtle laying her eggs, but the team tags the turtles and attaches GPS units to track them. Each sea turtle is then named and released (to much fanfare!). You can track the turtles on STC’s website for up to a year. When I was there, I was lucky enough to see a nesting turtle, and we tagged two mama hawksbills, Luna and Millie. The program is free to guests. And if you have kids, you’ll also want to take them on the Sunset Golf and Monkey Tour, which leaves from the pro shop every evening. You’ve never seen so many monkeys in one place as you’ll see during the driving tour of the golf course. They playfully run along the greens and climb into the trees to munch on guinep fruits. At hole 14, the caravan stops to see if anyone can hit the ball across a wide valley in one shot. If you make it (which only one of about 20 people did the evening I was there), you get to keep the retrieved ball and a little prize.
WATCH: Flying Singapore Airlines in First Class for an Hour Ruined My Life
For more on Yahoo Travel’s travel policy, click here.