Nevis. Even the most veteran jetsetters haven't heard of it, let alone know how to pronounce it. (For the record: it's "nee-vuhs.")
But the Caribbean island's surprising obscurity is among many reasons why I picked it for my first post-vaccination vacation. Spanning just 36 square miles, Nevis brims with sublime, unspoiled natural wonders, from crystalline waters – there's no other place in the world I'll swim so freely in the ocean – to abundant wildlife, like 156 species of birds and cheeky Vervet monkeys.
Because getting here requires some effort – you fly to the sister island of St. Kitts before transferring via ferry – the West Indies island maintains a refreshingly hushed vibe all year long. No wonder some of history's most recognizable faces, including Beyoncé, Oprah Winfrey, and Princess Diana, have come to escape the limelight and relax in complete privacy.
Equally important: Nevis prioritized public safety from the beginning of the pandemic – to date, there's only been 20 reported cases of COVID-19 and no deaths – with strict protocols for all visitors. Currently, Americans who are fully vaccinated must quarantine (or as I prefer to say, vacation in place) at their accommodations for nine days, and submit a negative PCR test for re-entry home.
While there are reputable hotels on the island, I decided to stay at Four Seasons Resort Nevis. Because it encompasses over 350 lush acres stretching from Nevis Peak's base to Pinney's Beach, there was more than ample space and opportunities for me to totally unwind and soak in the local culture. It's also one of those increasingly rare destinations that truly offers something for everyone. "We're very much like an open secret, says General Manager Yvette Thomas-Henry. "But whether you're an individual, couple, or family – everything you could possibly want and are looking for is here, just waiting for you."
Despite celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, the waterfront property feels as inviting as ever – thanks to a sweeping renovation that wrapped in late 2019. As for what's new, all the guest rooms and suites have been brightened up with a crisp decor that nods to Nevis's unique locale. My ocean-facing room, for example, was kitted out with shutter doors, a calming pastel palette, and chairs upholstered in a whimsical monkey print fabric. And I couldn't have dreamt up a better way to start mornings than with a hearty breakfast of Salt Fish Eggs Benedict on my private balcony. Seeking a more secluded experience with even more space? Opt for the 50 rental homes (Residences, Villas, and Estates), which are especially ideal for families and extended stays.
On The Dune, the latest addition to the resort's dining outlets, is a beachfront, open-air restaurant turning out continental and Caribbean cuisine (like Chef Rodelle Rawlins' Nevisian goat water and conch chowder) all day long alongside spirited cocktails by Kendie Williams, the resort's award-winning mixologist. If you're a heat seeker like me: ask for some Llewellyn's Hot Pepper Sauce – a fruity-spicy condiment created by the resort's butcher, Llewellyn Clarke – with your meals. (I highly recommend booking a hot sauce-making class with Clarke himself.)
The iconic dock, where friendly staff await during your arrival and departure, has been revamped as well. It's now nearly doubled in size, and the quintessential spot to indulge in a proper sundowner such as Williams' crowd-pleasing rum punch Kendie's Kick. While the beaches are still an obvious choice for daytime chilling, the sparkling new Limin' Pool provides more comfort with vibrant landscaping, lounge chairs, and four private cabanas.
And what's remained the same? The unparalleled fitness and wellness offerings. Water activities are a given here, with popular ones like snorkeling, paddleboarding, and kayaking being complimentary. More experienced golfers will enjoy playing the 18-hole championship Robert Trent Jones II Golf Course, as newbies can practice their swing with oceanside eco-bio golf – which uses biodegradable, plankton-filled balls that dissolve in water. You can also break a sweat at one of ten tennis courts with a lesson with director David Wilson, and at the end of a long day of relaxing (or raising your heart rate), pamper yourself with the spa's Signature Nevisian Massage. A treatment like no other, it combines a balancing foot and back scrub with a full-body massage incorporating organic, locally-sourced botanicals and ingredients. (Request Marvella, a local therapist gifted with a big heart and healing touch.)
But perhaps the best part of staying at Four Seasons Resort Nevis is the distinctive hospitality you won't find anywhere else in the world. Sure, the Caribbean is already beloved for its easygoing culture, but the locals here are especially personable and nurturing. So whether you're coming for the first time or a frequent visitor, the staff always somehow feels like, well, friends. As Thomas-Henry puts it: "Nevisians are truly warm and caring, and delightful to be around."
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