Before the musical Hamilton came to Broadway, few people had heard of Nevis. For years, the volcanic Caribbean island had kept a blissfully low profile, known only to a few discerning travelers who, quite frankly, preferred to keep it all to themselves.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote Hamilton and starred in the title role, has brought Nevis, Alexander Hamilton’s birthplace, into the spotlight. Miranda spent extensive time on the island researching its most famous native son and gathering inspiration for the work.
It’s hard not to be inspired by Nevis. The 36-square-mile isle comprises one-half of a nation—the other half is St. Kitts—in the Leeward chain of the West Indies and is marked by its prominent volcano, Nevis Peak, which almost always sits beneath a halo of clouds. The volcanic soil renders the island fertile, so color explodes on the sloping hillsides. Springs dot the landscape, further branding Nevis as the quintessential tropical idyll.
It’s the kind of place in which you want to get lost and play out a modern Cast Away fantasy. But why do that when you can stay at a Four Seasons? The resort proper has been around since 1991 and its charming cottages are beloved by patrons who’ve been coming to the island for years. But those who desire a more exclusive, private experience head straight for the new Villas at Pinney’s Beach, developed by Four Seasons Resort Estates.
The three- and four-bedroom villas are ideal homes away from home, complete with high-end finishes, floor-to-ceiling windows, vaulted ceilings, modern furnishings, and private plunge pools. The plan is equally suited to relaxing and entertaining: The great room, kitchen, and pool area are separated from the two-story bedroom wing by a courtyard. The feeling is residential, down to the golf cart parked in the driveway and reserved for guests’ use.
The villas are situated along the golf course and in the shadow of Nevis Peak. Though it seems counterintuitive to not have a beach view, the emerald world beyond the private deck is nuanced with tropical breezes and sunset vistas that more than make up for the lack of sand between your toes.
Farther up the hills is a collection of privately owned island homes in the FSRE portfolio, most of which are offered as vacation rentals. This is, perhaps, the ultimate luxury, as these multimillion-dollar estates offer everything a second home does: massive square footage, smart-home features, lush landscaping, pools, and entertaining areas overlooking sprawling hillside and water views. If you happen to fall in love with the lifestyle, FSRE offers several ownership options as well.
Villas and estates have the added benefit of Four Seasons housekeeping and resort privileges, such as dining and spa. An enclave of gingerbread cottages, the spa is tucked inside a secret garden that immediately encourages a relaxed vibe. After a treatment (we recommend the Nature’s Getaway, which includes a coconut scrub, a prickle pear wrap, and a warm ginger oil massage) and a long soak in the volcanic stone Jacuzzi, lunch is served alfresco amid verdant surroundings. The spa menu of bento boxes and fresh juices is the perfect mix of delicious and virtuous.
The Four Seasons offers several dining experiences worth indulging in, including the beachfront Mango that recalls Saint-Tropez chic, but the one that can’t be missed is Dive and Dine. During lobster season, scuba-certified guests are encouraged to dive for their own dinner. Nothing tastes finer than a lobster caught earlier that day with the guidance of a Nevisian dive master who truly knows the local waters and grilled to perfection by a Four Seasons chef.
Another dining must is Sunshine’s. This locally owned, beachside eatery claims to have the best food on the island, and that’s not an exaggeration. Start with a Killer Bee (emphasis on killer), Sunshine’s famous rum punch, and progress to a family-style dinner with garden salads, barbecued chicken, and the freshest fish, marinated and simply grilled. The vibe is totally relaxed and hyperlocal, and you never know when you might spot a celebrity in the considerable crowd.
If Alexander Hamilton is Nevis’ most noteworthy figure, Sunny (short for Sunshine) is probably the most colorful. Sunny and his team surely gave rise to the term “Nevis nice,” which truly describes the attitude throughout this gem of an island.
For most travelers to Nevis, it’s easier to fly into St. Kitts and take a launch to the island. To make the process easier, Four Seasons has partnered with YU Lounge, a chic terminal akin to a private-aviation or first-class lounge. YU allows guests to sail through immigration and wait for transfers in comfort while enjoying a glass of Champagne and light bites.