On Nevis, the past very much lives in the present, thanks to a colorful history and some highly clever adaptive reuse projects. From a 200-year-old sugar mill converted into a romantic private cottage, to the Caribbean’s oldest wooden home (c. 1670) transitioned into a boutique hotel and restaurant, here are five places where Nevis keeps history in style.
Alexander Hamilton Birthplace
American history doesn’t get much cooler than Alexander Hamilton. The Founding Father’s life story inspired Broadway’s biggest hit show of 2016 (garnering a record-setting 16 Tony nominations), and, believe it or not, this icon’s story begins on the small island of Nevis. Hamilton was born in Charleston, Nevis in 1755, where he lived with his mother until the age of nine, when they packed up for St. Croix. Today, it’s possible to walk in the footsteps of a young Alexander by visiting a rebuilt version of the c. 1680 two-story, lava-stone Georgian-style home where he lived (and perusing bona fide Hamilton memorabilia). Outside the Hamilton hoopla, the building is officially maintained as the Museum of Nevis History on the first floor and the Nevis House of Assembly on the second.
Cast over 64 acres high in the hills of Nevis, Montpelier Plantation & Beach is a Relais & Chateaux-pedigree hotel built within the relics of a 300-year old sugar plantation. Plantation cottages have been reinvented as guest suites while ancient sugar-mill machinery, such as the iron wheels, now serve as garden decor. Undoubtedly the most spectacular element of this adaptive reuse is the original sugar mill itself, which has been transformed into a private restaurant, Mill Privée (translating to “Private Mill.”) With advance reservations, diners can delight in a five course-tasting menu designed by Montpelier Plantation’s Executive Chef Dimitris A. Zouka. A recent dinner included the likes of fresh salmon tartar with shallots and pine nuts as well as bison wellington with garlicky smashed potatoes.
Sugar Mill Cottage
Artists Helen and Brice Marden have adapted a 19th-century estate plantation property into a lovely 11-room hotel, Golden Rock Inn, leaving no stone unturned—literally. The main house has been painstakingly restored to its original stone-hewn grandeur with the addition of colorful wooden panels and contemporary art pieces. Housed within the walls of the estate’s original sugar mill is the highly requested Sugar Mill suite, a one-of-a-kind, artsy and edgy, bi-level cottage linked by a winding staircase.
The Hermitage Verandah
The oldest wooden house in the Caribbean (which dates to 1670) is nowadays the top spot for experiencing Nevisian cuisine. The historic home’s verandah is the restaurant arm of The Hermitage, A Plantation Inn and a place where even locals head for a breakfast of pumpkin pancakes and coconut crispy French toast. For dinner, anticipate an ever-changing selection of just-caught fish—perfectly spiced—and prepare to wash it down with the sinfully delicious house-made rum punch (a potent mix of local dark rum, brown sugar, and island citrus fruits.)
The Bath Hotel
Few realize luxury tourism in the Caribbean can be traced to Nevis, specifically to The Bath Hotel, the region’s first luxury hotel c. 1778. Word of the hotel’s therapeutic hot-spring-fed pools quickly spread back to Britain, prompting countless British elite to sail for months to reach Nevis to experience The Bath’s famed pools and tour the island’s capital, Charlestown, by horse and carriage. Though what remains of The Bath today is a dilapidated building in need of major TLC, the actual pools have now been reopened for public use, allowing visitors to thoroughly soak in the historic scene.
*Featured photo courtesy of Photo: Montpelier Plantation & Beach.