Alexander Hamilton left lush St. Kitts for the American colonies in the 1760s, but if he’d been born 200 years later, he might have thought twice about leaving. St. Kitts and its sister island Nevis offer a taste of the old Caribbean, for many of the plantation manor houses built during 1700s, when sugar was king, have been preserved—not as mere museums, but as luxury boutique hotels. They offer a chance to live like aristocrats without the pressure to wear a silly wig.
Manor house options on St. Kitts include Ottley’s Plantation Inn, arguably the best little hotel on the island; the Rawlins Plantation Inn, an antiques-filled, air-cooled (as distinct from air-conditioned) hillside hostelry; and the Golden Lemon Inn and Villas, another air-cooled hideaway whose rooms feature four-posters covered with traditional mosquito netting. Sister island Nevis has even more plantations-turned-hotels, including the exquisitely restored Hermitage; the hillside Montpelier Plantation Inn, where Admiral Horatio Nelson wed Frances Nisbet in 1787, and the more affordable Golden Rock Plantation Inn. Note that sugar barons built their homes on hillsides rather than beaches so they could catch the breezes, but most of these inns run shuttles down to beaches like Pinney’s on Nevis, which is one of the finest in the Caribbean.
That said, there are some small hotels right on the beach, such as down-home Bird Rock Beach Hotel, on St. Kitts, and Oualie Beach Hotel, some of whose units have kitchens, on Nevis. For a full-service beachfront experience, the St. Kitts Marriott Resort & Royal Beach Casino features an 18-hole golf course, a serious spa, eight restaurants, bars, nightclubs, a huge gaming facility, tennis, the works. The Four Seasons Resort, Nevis offers championship golf, a 10-court tennis complex, a full menu of watersports and more.
BEST TIME TO GO: December through June
FUN FACT: The green vervet monkeys of St. Kitts were introduced by French sailors
GETTING THERE: Delta flies from Atlanta to St. Kitts
ENTRY DOCUMENTS: Valid passport
CURRENCY: Eastern Caribbean dollar
MUST-TRY LOCAL FOOD: St. Kitts still has farms, so order anything with breadfruit, coconut, soursop, or other fruits and vegetables
BEST BUYS: Award-winning CSR rum; the distillery was founded by Baron Edmond de Rothschild
INFORMATION PLEASE: St. Kitts Tourism Authority—stkittstourism.kn