I’ve daydreamed about escaping to Golden Rock Inn at least once a day every day for the last 10 months. Even before the pandemic was a thing, I would find myself suddenly back on Nevis lost in a happy place so real that I could almost feel the sun on my skin.
Some days, my daydreams have me waiting out the rain in my cottage, content while reading on the bed with the windows open so I can hear and smell the rain outside. Other days, I’m back eating on the covered stone terrace of The Rock, Golden Rock Inn’s top-notch restaurant, savoring a parade of bright, bold, and delightful island-inspired dishes chock-full of hyper-local fruits and vegetables, and starring fresh local fisherman-caught seafood—mahi-mahi with Creole sauce, grilled red snapper, and lobster salad. I’m already drooling.
Sometimes I allow myself to be stunned by Golden Rock’s scenery, like it’s the first time I’ve ever laid eyes on it. I scan the stone terrace: I’m impressed by the enormous lily pads floating on the surface of the Balinese-style reflecting pool, I watch the garden waterfall in slow-motion, stare at the beautiful domed pavilion. I get lost in the paths that wind through Golden Rock’s 40-acres of meticulously curated jungle grounds containing tens of thousands of different indigenous plants from Nevis and Florida, even if I don’t remember exactly what it looks like.
However, most days, I find myself back at the pool. It is small, spring-fed, and somehow manages to be both perfectly social and wildly serene at the same time. I’m usually sipping down a glass of the stylish boutique’s infamous Rum Punch, looking up at the impossibly tall palm that rises up from the corner of the pool, almost—it seems—scraping the light blue sky as it sways.
The truth is, I didn’t even need 2020 to become the year we all dreamed of escaping to start these mental-minute day trips back to paradise. I started daydreaming about Golden Rock Inn during my first visit to Golden Rock Inn. It’s just that kind of place. You know, the kind of place you’re genuinely bummed about leaving; the kind of place where you celebrate being stranded another night because a bout of rain canceled all flights the day you were supposed to head home; the kind of place you start planning your return to before you’ve even left.
Nestled over 1,000 feet up on the hillside, Golden Rock Inn proves you don’t have to be on the beach to experience the ultimate Caribbean escape. Its relaxed and refined, come-as-you-are, do-as-you-please vibe is a good reminder there is another type of tropical vacation beyond the frozen daiquiris, poolside DJs, and nightly entertainment (all of which I am still a big fan of, by the way). Here, things are luxurious enough to make sure you’re comfortable and taken care of, but not so much that you feel like a snob.
The inn’s 11 guest rooms are a mix of two standalone cottages, a handful of breezy island-style duplex cottages, and the fan-favorite Sugar Mill, one of the property’s original stone-cut sugar mills that was converted into a two-story, one-of-a-kind guest room. The cottages are scattered throughout the property’s garden grounds, imparting the gifts of privacy and being close to nature. Rooms are stocked with thoughtful essentials; an airy dressing gown you’ll never want to take off, fresh fruits, tea and coffee, water, worn paperbacks, luxurious toiletries, and an outdoor area to kick up your feet.
Golden Rock Inn is the personal getaway-turned-boutique of NYC artists Helen and Brice Marden, who bought the 1800s colonial sugar mill estate years ago. Their style and subtle swagger is impeccable, balancing several of the estate’s original stone structures and features with a contemporary, arty edge full of bold pops of color. It’s tasteful, chic, and looks and feels effortless.
During our last 24 hours at Golden Rock Inn—a bonus, thanks to the rain—my two travel companions and I, strangers only days before, sat, drinks-in-hand, in the open-air stone lounge, phones out, calendars up, and browsers open to Google flights, trying to coordinate when we could come back together, next time with everyone we loved in tow. Unfortunately, this was just weeks before the novel coronavirus would ring alarm bells, shut down the entire world, and halt international travel.
The islands are currently coronavirus free, though they did have 19 collective positive cases—all recovered and no deaths. After closing its borders for nearly six months, the dual-island Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis announced it would reopen for tourism on October 31. International tourists are able to visit again, but under very strict rules that include the likes of proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure, two different levels of mandatory quarantine periods at your hotel, and, for those staying less than seven days, proof of a negative PCR test upon exiting.
However, us big dreamers have had to wait, because in an effort to mitigate spread among the local population, only a handful of hotels on either island were designated by the government to accept international tourists. Fortunately, good things come to those who wait.
Golden Rock Inn recently announced that it reopened to international travelers, and I am counting down the days until I can once again make these daydreams a reality. Who’s in?