A double dose of the Caribbean
So much for getting away from it all…..On a week’s holiday in the Caribbean – a world-renowned paradise – I’m starting to wonder whether I’ve made a wrong turn, as I wade through an eerie, fastly-flooding rainforest.
As it turns out, this was to be a trip full of surprises.
I am in Nevis, a small, volcanic yet idyllic island. Human population, 11,000; vervet monkey population, 44,000! Nevis Peak may have stood dormant for a long time, but is a dominant presence nonetheless.
In the muggy wilderness of the forest, streams of revitalising rain water gushing beneath my feet, I realise that I’m probably not going to finish the three new books I’ve brought along in my suitcase.
While the Caribbean may be known for sun, sand and strong rum punches, I’m quickly realising that there’s far more to the islands than the perfect picture postcard scenes I’d imagined.
Being caught in a monumental downpour certainly wasn’t something I’d expected, but the forest tour is fascinating, and a mini adventure.
Our group guide, Lynnell, is a lifelong Nevis personality, full of stories. He’s an expert on every plant we encounter, and happily regales us with tales of boyish bravado from his childhood, too; scaling the towering coconut trees; collecting rare mangoes, passion fruits and avocados that had been spared by the monkeys, and even goading tarantulas from their holes.
As we take shelter in a cave, beautiful zebra butterflies glide by, seemingly unfazed by the torrential tropical thunder.
One of the great things about the Caribbean though, is that the rain showers don’t last for long. Plus, I might be soaked, but knowing I’m returning to the four-star luxury of my hotel certainly takes the edge off.
Montpelier Plantation & Beach is one of just seven accommodation options on Nevis, and stands out as the most endearing.
The considered approach of American owner Tim Hoffman and his young family is clear from the moment I arrive, as is the charming, family feel they have so successfully cultured.
The plantation, as you’d expect, is steeped in history. But Montpelier has rights to the biggest boast of all, as it was under its most-celebrated tree that Horatio Nelson himself married then-owner Fanny Nisbit in 1871.
Many more have since chosen to replicate this, and glowing honeymooners are notable in their presence among the hotel’s tranquil acres.
With its mountain setting, 19 generous chalet-style rooms, spread over a dreamy stretch of verdant land, complete with the most welcome of breezes, this gem of a hotel is a real treat. The food doesn’t disappoint, either.
Restaurant 750 serves up five-course taster menus, featuring a selection of delicious, locally-sourced delights, including fresh fish and an impressive array of meats. The second course ‘cauliflower cappuccino’ is the most deliciously-textured, creamy broth imaginable, and the desserts are divine.
During my stay, I’m introduced to yoga on the lawn, enjoy a kayaking expedition across the Caribbean Sea to Montpelier’s beach, where a cool cocktail awaits as reward, and spend many a relaxed hour lounging by the pool.
Island-hopping is also on the agenda, as this holiday is split between two – after a few days on Nevis, I head to Antigua.
Here, I’m staying at the all-inclusive five-star Curtain Bluff, named after the unique and beautiful wave formations on its room-side beach. It’s an entirely different kettle of (tropical) fish to Montpelier, but equally as breathtaking.
Guests are spoiled by a sun-drenched selection of facilities including four palm tree-skirted tennis courts, a luxury spa, gym, pool, two beaches, cinema room, not to mention the 25,000 bottle-strong wine cellar (hic).
The spacious rooms here feel almost palatial and, stepping out onto my balcony, I see that the perfect, picture postcard image of the Caribbean does exist – and it’s right here in front of my eyes! Heaven.
However, I still decide not to crack on with reading my books, and instead book a tennis lesson.
After a good work-out, the hour-long ‘ultimate de-stresser massage’ at the spa is just the ticket. After my tensions have all been kneaded away, I retreat to the ocean-hanging hot tub on the spa’s roof terrace, where I sip fruit tea and take in the view.
Later, I switch to a hammock. Here, basking in the late afternoon sun, I watch a hermit crab dig a hole in the sand, and realise that it doesn’t get much closer to heaven than this.
Both the food and evening entertainment at Curtain Bluff are predictably enchanting and seem effortless, largely thanks to delightful staff and the warmth of American MD Rob Sherman. And that wine cellar, of course…
While Nevis shows me the majesty and adventure of the Caribbean, Antigua shows me the bliss.
Island-hopping was perfect for illuminating quaint differences between the two islands, but there are still certain things they have in common: hospitality, sensational food and drink, adventure, and yes, even relaxation.
Between them, Nevis and Antigua offer not just a slice but an entire banquet of paradise.
KEY FACTS – NEVIS AND ANTIGUA
:: BEST FOR: Diversity. Challenge or chill – it’s your call.
:: TIME TO GO: November to April is best for escaping British weather for guaranteed sunshine.
:: DON’T MISS: The chance to island-hop for a more varied view of the Caribbean.
:: NEED TO KNOW: Coconuts are bigger killers than sharks, so careful where you lie!
:: DON’T FORGET: Sunscreen, swimming costume and an appetite for adventure.
Jake Richards was a guest of British Airways Holidays which offers seven nights’ all-inclusive at the five star Curtain Bluff Resort, Antigua, from £2,679, with BA flights ex-Gatwick. Price valid for travel November 12 – December 12.
Price ex-Manchester and Glasgow, from £2,769.
Seven nights’ B&B at the four star Montpelier Plantation & Beach, St Kitts and Nevis, starts at £999, incl return BA flights ex-Gatwick for travel until October 31, if booked by September 30. Price ex-Manchester and Glasgow from £1,099.
For BA Holidays reservations call 0844 493 0758 or visit ba.com/antigua.
(Both hotels close shortly, but Montpelier Plantation & Beach reopens on October 8, and Curtain Bluff reopens on October 29)
Written by: Jake Richards
Latest posts by Silversurfer's Editor (see all)
- Do you think university tuition fees should be scrapped? - February 20, 2018
- Let’s end polio for good - February 19, 2018
- It’s why we travel… - February 19, 2018
- Heart Valve Voice Reaches New Heights - February 19, 2018
- Will your pension support your retirement plans? - February 15, 2018
Leave a Comment!
Community Terms & Conditions
These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.
You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.
be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.
Contributions must not:
contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.
Nurturing a safe environment
Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.
We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!