The Best Nevisian Plantation Experiences, and Where to Find Them
With much of Nevis’ wealth provided by the sugar industry which put the West Indies on the map in the 18th century, it’s no surprise that the island plays host to some of the best plantation properties in the Caribbean. From endearing tales of love to ones of heartache and neglect, Nevis offers a captivating mix of plantation experiences to enjoy.
Below you’ll find some information about our favourites, along with details of how to reach them from your base at The Retreat.
Enjoy a Modern Take on Island Heritage at the Golden Rock Inn
Distance: 8 miles east of The Retreat, 20 minutes by car
Golden Rock is a fairytale world where old harmonizes with new. Situated on the verdant northern slopes of Nevis Peak, this notable Inn sits on the site of a historic plantation property that dates back to the 1800s. Now owned by one of New York’s most creative couples, Helen and Brice Marden, the property has been lovingly restored under their guidance and boasts a minimalist chic that perfectly complements its fine Nevisian stone walls and vaulted ceilings.
Choose a cocktail from the bar, I can recommend the banana daiquiri, and relax in the palm-shaded courtyard where vervet monkeys roam, and hummingbirds flit between historic ruins and vibrant modern furnishings.
Alternatively, take a stroll through the landscaped gardens where you’ll find over 50 species of palm tree (some from as far flung as Madagascar and Sumatra), along with 10 species of bamboo and a wealth of flowering plants from all four corners of the globe.
Step Back in Time at
the Hermitage Plantation
Distance: 6.2 miles east of The Retreat, 15 minutes by car
Likened to a country home in the Caribbean by owners the Luppinaci family, The Hermitage has a fascinating history and owes its sense of historic grandeur to the generations of families who have lived and worked on its grounds. Built around the oldest wooden house in the Caribbean (circa 1670) its architecture and antiqued interiors personify traditional West Indian living; it’s here that you’ll find a true taste of the Caribbean.
Set on the slopes of Mount Nevis, the grounds of The Hermitage are peppered with timber-framed, pastel-painted cottages, the like of which would have formed much of the infrastructure of the island during the height of the sugar industry. Inside the Great House antique furnishings from times past create a sense of the authentic and on a hot, sunny day the plantation’s wooden veranda is a welcome retreat from the coast.
A seasonal supply of fruit juices, such as freshly squeezed mango from their own heavy-laden tree and local favourite star fruit, are always available and have become a signature favourite at the bar.
The plantation properties on Nevis offer insight into the island’s rich heritage and a visit to one or more is a must if you enjoy unique cultural experiences.
Distance: 3.7 miles from The Retreat, 12 minutes by car
One of the island’s best preserved ruins, the vast mill stones of 18th century plantation the Hamilton Estate lay shrouded in undergrowth just outside the capital Charlestown. Owned by the Hamilton Family the plantation ceased operations in 1951 and has since been abandoned, its buildings left for Mother Nature to reclaim.
Wander among the foundations of the Great House, the windmill, the boiling house, and the chimney stacks, but be mindful of the waning structures and keep an eye out for nests of fire ants hidden beneath the soil.
Explore the Ruins of
the Hamilton Estate
Relax by the Shore at
Nisbet Plantation Beach Club
Distance: 3.7 miles north of The Retreat, 12 minutes by car
Although all of Nevis’ plantation properties evoke a sense of ardour, the Nisbet Plantation in particular boasts a rather romantic heritage. Once home to Fanny Nisbet, niece of the then Prime Minister of Nevis, she fell in love with British Navy Captain Horatio Nelson when he made frequent visits to the island during his time as commander of the frigate HMS Boreas in 1784, and the pair were married soon after in 1787.
Today, Nisbet is unique not just among the plantation properties on Nevis, but also throughout the rest of the Caribbean because it’s the only historic plantation inn that sits aside a beach. Visit the property on an afternoon and enjoy uninterrupted views across the narrows to St Kitts from a hammock on the sand, or sit and watch the sunset in an oceanfront hot tub.
Famous across the island for their Beachside BBQ night, Nisbet offers a Caribbean inspired menu that is served up amid a street-party style atmosphere in which local vendors sell their wares and live music rings out from a soca band.
Incorporate this celebratory evening event into your Nevis itinerary for a memorable plantation experience.
Distance: 6.2 miles east of The Retreat, 15 minutes by car
Dating back to 1687 when Sir Hans Sloane first discovered this desirable mountain-side location, the Montpelier Plantation has enjoyed a rich history of industry, romance, and hospitality.
After putting Nevis on the map with a profitable endeavour into sugar throughout the 18th century, and hosting the wedding of Horatio Nelson and Fanny Nisbet in 1787 the plantation was sadly left to ruin. However, during the mid-1960s Briton James Gaskell transformed the then crumbling 30-acre estate into what has become an icon of Nevisian luxury. Hosting HRH Diana the Princess of Wales along with the then young princes William and Harry in 1992, it has strived to maintain the same level of Royal appeal.
Vibrant colours of bougainvillea and hibiscus, and the indomitable form of an archaic weeping fig tree dominate the view as you enter the property. The 18th-century stone windmill that crushed sugar cane when Montpelier was in operation stands solitary aside the plantation’s Great House; an opulent Nevis stone structure it was rebuilt on the site of the original sugar refinery.
From the plantation’s Restaurant 750 captivating views over Charlestown extend across the narrows to St Kitts, and produce from the kitchen garden is served with a hint of Caribbean flare.
If a private dining experience is something you’d prefer Montpelier’s Mill Privée offers a unique and historic setting. Over 300 years old, the wonderfully atmospheric and rounded stone walls of this once working sugar mill are the only ones in the world to be transformed into a restaurant of this kind; make the most of the opportunity to dine in style during your stay.
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