Being forced to stay on the grounds of a beautiful beachfront resort for a week? I think we can handle that. If it’s at a Four Seasons, even better. If it’s at Four Seasons Nevis, take my money and sign me up. After all, there have been far, far worse things inflicted on a traveler than vacationing in place.
The dual-island Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis isn’t taking any chances when it comes to reopening borders. While several of their Caribbean counterparts began welcoming tourists back to their shores as early as July, St. Kitts and Nevis hung back and waited to see how reopening strategies across the world played out before making any major moves of their own. Although COVID-19 has infected over 55 million people globally, St. Kitts and Nevis only ever experienced 19 positive cases—and, impressively, 100 percent recovery. With that, the islands have celebrated a COVID-19-free status, and they want to keep it that way.
During the current Phase One of reopening, St. Kitts and Nevis require all arrivals to present proof of a negative PCR test taken at least 72 hours before departure—and, if you’re staying less than 7 days, again before exiting. You’ll also have to sign up with their handy contact tracing app. The road to this particular paradise may seem a little bit bumpy, but just remember: it’s all about the destination, not the journey.
And so, fair travelers, I have saved perhaps the biggest entry requirement for last: quarantine. All international travelers visiting St. Kitts and Nevis will have to stick solely to their hotel for the first seven days of their trip. After seven days, if you test negative via yet another PCR test, you can venture outside the gates on approved excursions (if you test negative after 14 days, you’re free to roam about the country). In Nevis, there are currently only two hotels approved for international guests—Four Seasons Nevis, and Paradise Beach, just up the road.
If you’re staying at the Four Seasons Nevis, you might not even want to leave. Trust me.
Maybe it was the winding 15-minute car ride from St. Kitts Airport to the marina, or the 15-minute boat ride to Nevis (with a cold adult beverage in hand)—but, as soon as the Four Seasons Nevis dock came into view, there was a feeling of being halfway around the world. It didn’t hurt that we arrived at Golden Hour. Diffused pink hues dissolved the sky, a gray sea with mellow white-crested waves lapped up against the beach, and the bold green backdrop of Nevis Peak had everyone opening up their camera apps to a chorus of whoas.
On the long wooden dock, what seemed like the entire resort staff stood waiting to welcome us, at-the-ready with chilled hand towels, cold water, and warm smiles. The dock led us straight to a modest but pristine stretch of beach, the entryway to very well maintained and executed landscaping, and a sprawling collection of buildings that looked like they had just stretched out over the lawn. Unlike some island resorts which build up, Four Seasons Nevis was built out, a thoughtful design element that lends to the resort’s unpretentious, low-key vibe. Renovations from June 2018 to November 2019 replaced the resort’s traditional dark wood and old-world Caribbean decor with a contemporary Art Deco style outfitted in light, beachy shades of coral, sand, sea foam, and bright white.
As luck would have it, my room was an Ocean View, and from my terrace loungers, I could watch the action on the dock or just get lost in the repetition of the light waves rolling in toward the beach. While the resort’s spacious, contemporary and tastefully stylish suites and villas are divine, there truly is not a bad room in the house. Nevis Peak View Rooms are considered entry-level, but with marble bathrooms, absolutely stunning views out to Nevis Peak, and personal outdoor space, they are anything but ordinary. Post-renovation room decor is fresh, light, and airy. In-room highlights across the board start with extremely large TVs, stocked minibars, a sitting area, and one heck of a comfortable bed.
Anyone coming with family or a group of friends should consider a villa—either the two-level, three-bedroom, modern and sleek Pinneys Beach Villas, or the Palm Grove Villas, which sport a slightly more Caribbean- casual (and affordable) vibe. These spots offer private pools, a more secluded location, and full kitchens. Basically, a home away from home.
While I do love to cook, I also enjoy dining on dishes made by others. Never a huge lobster fan—talk to me about crab instead—rolling through the Lobster Night menu at Four Seasons Nevis’ new oceanside Kastawey Beach Bar had me changing my tune. I’ll neither confirm nor deny, but some of us may have even demanded seconds of the spicy lobster bisque. We also had the privilege of going through the chef’s Mediterranean tasting menu at Esquilina—located in the same physical space where you’ll find a phenomenal breakfast buffet spread in the mornings.
However, one of my favorite meals was spent working our way through the upscale Caribbean-American cuisine on the menu at On the Dune, the resort’s new open-air deck restaurant. This time, the wine and cocktail list was as excellent and inventive as the food. Some of my favorites? The steak tartare, wahoo and snapper ceviche, spicy conch chowder; plus, the gin-based Celery Serro and the Jerk Gin and Tonic.
Between feedings, we managed to find time to squeeze in a reflective yoga class, take a dip in the volcanic hot stone pool, and melt away with a Signature Nevisan Massage at the spa. Six of the spa’s treatment rooms are in cute and colorful outdoor gingerbread houses that are worth a special request. Anyone obsessed with the night sky should know that there’s a program available where you can have spa treatments under the stars.
We also took golf cart rides around the 350-acre property, soaking in the lush scenery and keeping our eyes peeled for monkeys, or what the locals call “tree mutton”. Some of the people in my group grabbed lessons out on the resort’s tennis courts. In addition to having excellent golfing, Four Seasons Nevis is one of only two resorts in the entire Caribbean where you’ll find tennis courts with three different surfaces: Astroturf, clay, and hard courts. We participated in a hot sauce making class led by local hot sauce celebrity Llewellyn Clarke of Llewellyn’s Hot Pepper Sauce (who also just happens to be a chef here). Go for the guava or mango.
All this to say that there is no want for things to do at Four Seasons, making it easy to never leave (or never want to leave) the premises. However, the resort is also perfectly set up to do nothing if that’s what’s on your schedule. Days spent lounging at the pool are just as justifiable as those spend thrashing around on watersports. I found so much bliss renting out a private beach cabana that they practically had to peel me out of my hammock when it was time for dinner. And, you know what? I’m just fine with that.
Certainly, the pandemic has changed some of these experiences. For example, turndown service is by request only, and some of the more social spots (read: restaurants and bars, particularly the ones indoors), are temporarily closed or operating with modifications, like social distancing and options for takeaway or room service. The salon and spa are, very sadly, closed, though guests can still use the fitness center and join group fitness classes, play golf and tennis, go on an unofficial monkey safari, and try out all the watersports their hearts desire.
You can still grab bottles of hot sauce and other goodies from the retail stores, babysitting is available, and some onsite activities are still scheduled but with a few changes. Plus, core elements like the beach, pool, and kids club are all open but with revised operations and hours.