Set on once-flourishing plantations, these family-owned inns deliver the ultimate tropical experience.
Nevis had its fair share of expansive plantations during the colonial period. These estates often hosted the international elite, who came as guests of plantation owners to indulge in an island style of life. Formidable great houses hosted elegant dinners and clever conservation. Now these restored charmers boast modern comforts, cuisine to appease the gourmand and wine lists that would impress any oenophile. A world apart from the modern resorts of today, these gems of past retain their former charm and intimacy and are run by a host of welcoming innkeepers who just happen to be family members.
The Hermitage Plantation Inn
The allure of a bygone era captivates you upon entering the Hermitage compound, sending your imagination adrift to languid days of a savored and splendid lifestyle. The family-run Hermitage Plantation Inn is essentially a collection of chattel houses—some built to match the style of the great house, others lifted and moved from locations around the island. The process began in 1971 when they bought the Hermitage and rebuilt it as their home and by 1984 they converted the surrounding 20 acres into an inn and began to welcome guests. The result is an enchanting village of 15 small homes, with names like Pink House, Pasture House and Twin Gables, that provides guests ample privacy and a connection to the past. Porches are strung with hammocks and accented in timeless wicker, all overlooking the gardens and rainforest. Four-poster canopy beds draped in a shimmer of mosquito netting, ceiling fans, plantation shutters and curios from another period atop antique furnishings transport guests back in time.
Today the transformed great house has an elegant library, sitting room and bar, all leading to a terraced dining area where tiny twinkling lights are strung over latticed architectural arches. Inside, the walls lit by candelabras display equine and nautical photos; the tables and shelves are stacked with bronze, wood, silver and china collectables. Antiques acquired throughout the Caribbean by the Lupinacci family are of museum-quality. Settle in with a book, then pause for afternoon tea and conversation with other guests, including visiting artists who come for the inspiration the place exudes.
The result is a welcoming, elegant and comfortable family-run inn with warm and gracious hosts—Richard and Maureen Lupinacci along with their three daughters and son Ritchie.
Montpelier Plantation & Beach
The Hoffman family, three generations of hoteliers, lives at and runs the Montpelier Plantation & Beach. If a family member doesn’t greet you as you pass through the iron- gated entrance, then Ziggy or Neptune might. A greeting by a labrador is not what you would expect at a Relais & Chateau property, but here on Nevis the lifestyle and service is relaxed and low-key, even with a five-star rating.
The 60-acre patch of land once a well-cared-for sugar plantation was purchased by the Hoffmans back in 2002. An intact sugar mill and great house, where a giant ficus tree stands guard, are elegantly embedded in the surroundings, and rooms are scattered about the gardens. For updates, they pulled in an interior designer from Miami; rooms as well as common areas were completely renovated.
Today stone walls, wooden shutters and casement windows maintain the 18th- century plantation ambience. A mix of period and contemporary furnishings, pineapple motifs as accents and monochromatic fabrics cast against dark woods exude an Architectural Digest chic. Contemporary artwork hangs against walls of stone at precise opportunities—simple elegance is delivered.
On a rolling green hillside with amazing sea views, guests can fade off in one of the hammocks strung between trees or enjoy the vista and afternoon sea breezes in a pair of Adirondack chairs. A display of Nevis’ flamboyant trees provides texture and shade; petals of red and yellow flowers lie atop green grass creating impressions of madras.
In the evening the stone staircase is illuminated with hurricane lamps, and tiny lights dangle from the tree outside the great house. Guests come to congregate in the communal living room for an evening of cocktails and canapés before dining on the outdoor terrace. Special occasions are celebrated with a five-course tasting menu enjoyed at tables lit by candles inside the circular stone walls of the sugar mill.