There is rarely a shortage of entertainment on Nevis. This sister island of Saint Kitts is steeped in history and tradition, which makes it a true Caribbean gem for travelers who care as much for learning about and embracing local culture as they do for kicking back and relaxing on a beach with stunning blue waters.
Visitors to this West Indies paradise can find as much enjoyment in the Museum of Nevis History or at Fort Charles, the 17th century military base, as they will sipping cocktails with their toes in the sand on the popular Pinney’s Beach. And some repeat visitors would probably recommend scheduling vacations around the island’s popular annual events like the Sea Turtle Experience and Nevis Culturama, a two-week festival that celebrates local arts and the emancipation of slaves in 1830 with pageants, a street fair and the Grand Cultural Parade.
There’s also an incredible devotion to wellness and fitness, as Nevis hosts the annual Marathon and Running Festival, the Nevis Triathlon and Duathlon and the Nevis Cross Channel Swim. And let’s not forget the Nevis Mango and Food Festival, which pays tribute to the island’s unique culinary offerings and puts a huge spotlight on the massive variety of mangos the island produces.
At the heart of this historic embrace is Montpelier Plantation & Beach, an award-winning boutique resort that merges modern designs and amenities with the property’s own incredible legacy, which dates back to 1687. From Lord Horatio Nelson’s wedding in 1787 to Princess Diana’s Caribbean vacations, Montpelier has so many stories to tell, which makes staying at this secluded luxury hotel an adventure in itself.
It’s a Package Deal
What makes Montpelier such a special place to stay is how it incorporates everything that makes Nevis so great into its specials and vacation packages. When we recently visited, the resort was hosting Pilates Week, which featured London Stott Pilates instructor Vanessa Pearce leading sessions in Montpelier’s yoga studio that overlooks Nevis Peak. Several weeks later, in conjunction with the island’s food festival, Montpelier launched the Mango Festival Package. This particular offering, while only three days, came with considerable pride, as the resort’s Chef de Cuisine Halva Browne and his culinary crew were the reigning back-to-back champions of the festival’s mango-cooking competition.
Guests will have to wait until next year for these experiences, but Montpelier always has something in the works to not only deliver a creative, thoughtful vacation experience, but also bring attention to the island’s charm and history. Currently, Montpelier wants visitors to “Live Like a Local,” as this special promotion, running through October 31, features special rates and introduces newcomers to a bevy of island activities that will challenge them to find such excitement and enjoyment anywhere else.
Things to Climb, Places to Dive
For beach bums who simply want to catch a nap under the sun or splash in the Caribbean waters—should you be able to get away from the resort’s 60-foot freshwater pool—Montpelier delivers with three acres of private beach, where umbrellas, gazebos and even a secluded cove await, and lunch and cocktail service will make sure you never want to leave. The resort even treats guests to a barbecue dinner on the beach every Monday.
If you do leave, though, Pinney’s or Oualie Beach will also check all your boxes, or couples (perhaps those enjoying Montpelier’s Honeymoon Bliss package) looking for more privacy can visit the appropriately named Lovers Beach. Divers will especially want to head to Oualie, where Scuba Safaris offers dive and snorkeling courses, as well as private charters to view the region’s diverse marine life up close.
Or stay dry and hit the island with Nevis Adventure Tours, which offers biking and hiking excursions through the island’s historic locations and to some of the most beautiful natural spots you might not even know exist. Perfect for (but certainly not exclusive to) more experienced hikers, the Nevis Peak “Up and Over” tour combines nature and history by challenging guests to hike from the village of Zetlands, up and over the mountain—through all of its lush vegetation—ending at the iconic Hamilton Estate.
Speaking of Alexander
The smash Broadway play Hamilton brought the Founding Father and first secretary of the treasury into the pop culture spotlight, but the native son is always a star on Nevis. Welcome Tours offers a full island tour that begins at the Museum of Nevis History, which is also Hamilton’s birthplace, and it continues to the Nelson Museum, Golden Rock Plantation Inn and eventually Newcastle Pottery, which is the last reminder of the island’s pottery industry.
Visitors with a historical itch can also save time by booking Montpelier’s Alexander Hamilton package, which features a half-day excursion to Charlestown and a tour of the museum and city. It also includes a “Hamiltonian” couples massage with a green focus, as it takes place in a serene, tropical outdoor setting. And families can also sneak some educational adventures into their kids’ vacations, as Montpelier’s Children in Action program also features a trip to hidden plantation ruins.
Staying at Montpelier
Widely regarded as one of the best properties on Nevis, Montpelier boasts 16 rooms and three suites that were all designed with the island’s natural surroundings in minds. The Premier and Plantation rooms combine tropical beauty with modern touches, while the suites—Garden, Tamarind Villa and Little House—offer more space and special views of the property’s gardens and Nevis Peak.
When he’s not dominating the aforementioned Mango Festival cooking competitions, Chef de Cuisine Halva Browne is curating menus for Montpelier’s three restaurants and three bars. Guests seeking an elegant, romantic dinner will be pleased with Restaurant 750’s modern fare that is accentuated by the chef’s use of local ingredients, or a more casual (yet equally fulfilling) lunch and dinner can be had at Indigo. But the one dining experience that should be on every guest’s bucket list is Mill Privée, Montpelier’s 300-year-old sugar mill that has been kept in pristine condition and converted into a truly unique restaurant, where guests can enjoy tasting dinners with wine pairings selected by the sommelier.
Perhaps the best thing about Montpelier, and the thing that is most indicative of the island’s charm and embrace of visitors, is how guests are always greeted by a member of the Hoffman family, which has owned the resort since 2002. After all, on the little island, it is truly the little things that make the biggest memories.