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Trip Report Nevis Trip Report - Long (as always)

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So, I realize I’ve been lax in my duty of writing a Trip Report. I apologize in advance for the length...if you have to get up and stretch your legs and get a rum drink, so be it.

TRAVEL TO NEVIS:

Since I was in Orlando for work, I met my wife in Miami and stayed at the Miami International Airport Hotel. It is fine for a short overnight stay, but I wouldn’t vacation there! My wife thought it looked like it was owned by the government.

We had a direct flight to St. Kitts. We had always flown directly into Nevis, but the ease of a direct flight, rather than through San Juan, was enticing. AA tried to make it difficult in the morning telling me that the number on my passport didn’t match the passport number on their computer. Still trying to figure out how it’s my fault that their computer had it wrong.

Good flight, right through customs and caught a cab to the dock. The great thing about this flight is that by the time you get through customs and down to the ferry, the ferry leaves in just a few minutes. Grab a cab or, to be exact, a cab driver (Sidney) grabbed us and we’re off to Montpelier.

We discover that Michele has lost her beloved pashmina, yes, I said pashmina…but more on that later.

We check in, have our welcome rum punch, are shown to our room, #2, unpack and settle in.

MONTPELIER PLANTATION:

Changes!

Rooms have been updated, the pool bar area (now named Indigo) has been renovated and the pool looks better than ever. The new bar has no more terra cotta. In its place, white concrete (?) with some very cool lighting and seating. The dining tables are a bit too IKEA for me, but that’s probably personal taste. And I’m still unsure whether I like the magenta beam across the top.

The pool, as I said, looks great. I think there used to be a diving board, but that’s gone. I don’t miss it.

New art. Very cool sculptures and paintings.

While our room was updated with modern bedding and a much better bathroom than before, the air conditioner made a lot of noise and the overhead fan wouldn’t stop “ticking”. That was a bit of a disappointment. But, we had a great view and being on the very end, made for very quiet evenings (if you don’t count the frogs).

Food

But we come back to Montpelier for the people. And while there are some new faces, there are plenty of regulars (Jackie, Kaddy, Venetta, Jacqueline, etc.) to welcome us back. This is our third visit and we love the property. Change is hard, though. I’m not sure if I understand the concept of Indigo. We had dinner up there one night and while the food was fine, the service was off and the servers seemed a little confused. However, the new bartender, Mick, kept us in rum drinks so I can’t really complain too much.

Dinner on the Terrace is always lovely. The views and the service were superb. I will say that the food was very good, but the price point ($75 US) seemed a bit steep. The menu has gotten quite limited…one appetizer, three entrees and two desserts (not counting the cheese course). I would have loved more variety as in past trips.

On a side note, Michele and I played backgammon every night before dinner. The final score after two weeks was TIED! We didn’t have the heart to play a tie breaker.

Oh, the breakfasts. I love their breakfasts. Everything is fresh and made to order. I think Nevisian honey is probably the best I’ve had. And the ladies that serve the breakfasts are funny and charming and love to tease you. And they give much better than they got.

Beach

And of course I have to talk about the Montpelier beach and shuttle. It’s still the same ride…bumpy, but very fun. They are building condos next to the beach (on the other side of the Last Resort house) which is causing an even bumpier ride for the time being. But the beach pavilion is really well-done and Steve does a great job of keeping the guests “hydrated”. During our two week stay, I think the most crowded day had eight people there. We did see a small cruise ship parked up near Coconut Grove, but they didn’t seem to wander too far.

We walked up to Chrishi Beach for lunch a couple of times and down to the Four Seasons and beyond once. The walk south to Pinney’s Beach is getting tougher…are there more rocks or am I just getting old? The jury is still out…

FOOD

Okay, I admit, we ate our way through the island’s restaurants. We didn’t get to all of them, of course, but we made the effort. My favorites in a rough order (totally subjective and really difficult to do as after the first three or four, the rest could be a tie, plus beach bars, restaurants and resorts are all different). Your tastes may vary:

1. Double Deuce
2. Mango’s
3. Nisbet Great House and beach restaurants
4. Bananas
5. Montpelier (Terrace)
6. Mt. Nevis (Mexican night)
7. Coconut Grove
8. Golden Rock (lunch)
9. Chrishi Beach (lunch)
10. Lime (lunch)
11. Gallipot
12. Montpelier (Indigo)

Indulge me as I note a couple of things about the restaurants.

Double Deuce has just recently reopened and Mark has a great big kitchen to work in. His ribs are simply incredible and his burger is truly one to try in paradise. The fish is always fresh and the rum drinks are potent.

Mango’s might have been number one except for the other guests. I know, I know, I’m sorry, it’s a terrible thing to say, but some of the Four Seasons guests are truly annoying. One honeymooning couple kept stroking each other’s arms and hair throughout dinner and then fed food to each other. Now, I’m glad they’re in love and I know I’m showing my age (not yet at 50), but c’mon, your room is right there. Use it.

Nisbet has great service and I could, and did, sit in the bar with Kaddy and Dan drinking 15 year old rum and listening to the live music. How does Patterson not perspire in his suit and tie?

Bananas has the most eclectic menu on the island I believe. And everything was delicious, including their drinks. Service (again) was warm and inviting. And, of course, just getting there is an adventure.

Mexican night at Mt. Nevis hotel surprised us. So much food and really good. The chef is from Mexico (duh) and came out and greeted us personally…well, we were the only folks left. And that view is spectacular.

Coconut Grove has the best wine list…hands down. We took a tour of their wine cellar…truly amazing. The location is spectacular. Our waiter, Allison, used to be at Nisbet and so we traded stories as to who is where and what happened to such and such. Very amusing.

Golden Rock. While we miss the beach restaurant, the renovations at the Plantation are amazing. Wow! Michele had to go there for the lobster sandwich. While the lobster sandwich was very good, she thought the bread was different and not as good. And yet, she managed to eat the whole thing.

Chrishi Beach is a “new” beach bar. Great location and really good food. I hope they make a go of it.

Lime is managed by Patterson of Nisbet fame and the grouper we had was outstanding.

Gallipot might have been higher, but they lost their lights (as did the entire island), their generator failed, and we really couldn’t see our food. However, they kept cooking throughout until the lights came back on, and it was delicious. Simply prepared fresh fish...yum.

NISBET PLANTATION:

As Montpelier had a wedding party that booked the entire resort, we had to move out for the last three days of our trip. So, pack everything up and head over to Nisbet. We had stayed there for a week in 2005 (when we also stayed at Montpelier for a week). We received an upgrade for being a return guest! Yea! We were shown to our room down in the buildings closest to the water and it was great. They had updated some of the furnishings and the bathroom was awesome!

The next morning we went down to breakfast and Violet looked at us and said, “Michele and David, where have you been?” Now, we hadn’t been there for seven years, so either she does research on Nisbet’s guests or she has an innate gift. I’m going with “innate gift”.
Breakfast. Okay, I should just stop now. It’s getting old, but I love my breakfasts in Nevis. I asked for pancakes…what I got was three different pancakes, mango, coconut and cinnamon, each one heart-shaped. All together now…aaawwww.

We had forgotten, but it’s much windier at Nisbet than Montpelier or the west facing beaches. The water is always a little rough and the beach usually has some dead grass and seaweed. But, they’ve built some new beach shades and the pool is great with comfortable chairs and wonderful service.

All in all, you really can’t go wrong when having to stay at either Montpelier and/or Nisbet.

OTHER

Taxis

Like I said, Sidney gave us a ride to Montpelier. When Michele discovered she had lost her pashmina which she uses as a pillow, blanket, scarf, etc. depending on what she is doing, we had the Montpelier staff search for it. No luck. One week later, as we are getting out of another taxi at Montpelier, Sidney is there holding the pashmina out the window. It turns out that he had been off-island and when he returned, saw the pashmina, remembered Michele and was returning it to the Montpelier staff. Amazing and, trust me, he received a healthy tip for the effort.

Our main driver from Montpelier was Champ. He is awesome! I was wearing my SF Giants cap one night and he had his Red Sox cap on, so we had a number of lively discussions. He took us everywhere and did so with a smile and a story. Sports, politics, local gossip…he had it all.

Hubert also drove us when Champ was occupied. Hubert made me laugh…he is quite the joker.

One question…where does Nevis get all these great taxi drivers? Last time, TC drove us and she is a kick in the pants, too.

St. Kitts

Day trip! Our first ever trip to St. Kitts. We took the ferry over and had arranged for a driver who took us all around the island. And I mean, all around the island!
Our driver was a lifelong resident of St. Kitts and filled us in on the history of the island along with some local news and gossip. It was very fun. We stopped and purchased some Christmas gifts at Romney Manor in the batik shop. Having grown up in Monterey and lived/worked in San Francisco, I know my “tourist traps”. Caribelle Batik may be a tourist trap, but it’s a good one! We learned about the process and then had low-pressure sales, as in non-existent pressure.

We learned that Rawlins Plantation is closed as is the Golden Lemon. The south side of the island is really developed with more on its way.

While we enjoyed our day trip, I don’t think I would have an extended stay. To me, it’s much like a day trip we took to St. Martin from Anguilla…slow to fast, empty to crowded, etc.

But, the public ferry is a great way to get back and forth. 45 minutes to get over. We rode up on top with locals who ride it back and forth to work. And you can get a Carib.

Exercise

Well, we did walk every day, so we got to see the monkeys and donkeys which I think will take over the island in about ten years.

And we did swim in the ocean and the pools, but that was about it.

I knew this was going to be a short section.

HOMEWARD BOUND

Sadly, we had to leave Nisbet and head home. We had a 4:20 flight, but Nisbet said we should check out around 1 pm. This time, we took a private water taxi to Turtle Beach and into the airport. We’re over two hours early! And, it’s hot, really hot. We did snag the exit row though and the flight to Miami was easy and after a quick burger at The Counter, head home to SFO. In bed at 1:30 am makes for a very long day.

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