Caribbean Luxury in abundance on tiny, tranquil Nevis By Gay Nagle Myers / April 20, 2017 Share 1 A villa with private pool at Paradise Beach, formerly the Paradisio. The seven-villa complex is set on 10 beachfront acres. -- There are no traffic lights, casinos or high-rise structures. Goats and monkeys outnumber the human population of 12,000; there are as many churches as rum bars (60); beaches are long, wide and uncrowded; former sugar plantations house visitors; and it is the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton, first secretary of the U.S. Treasury.Nevis (pronounced NEE-vis), 7 miles long by 6 miles wide, sits in the shadow of its much larger sister island of St. Kitts in the eastern Caribbean. Together the two make up the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.Nevis is not the easiest island to reach, but it's well worth a day of travel to get there, as I discovered during my recent three-day visit.Most visitors fly into St. Kitts and transfer to Nevis by private launch or public ferry.Nevis has a small airport served by several regional carriers.Nevisians are welcoming people who understand the benefits that tourism brings to their tiny island but are wary of developments and projects that will radically change the landscape and their way of life.An oceanside guestroom at the Four Seasons Nevis. With 196 rooms and 50 villas, it’s the island’s largest resort. 'The forgotten island'Shawn, overseer of the weekly pig roast at the family-owned Hermitage Plantation whose 17th-century British colonial great house is the oldest wooden structure on the island, summed it up this way: "Nevis is the forgotten island, and I hope it never gets overbuilt."After viewing the whole pig turning on a spit over hot coals, I opted instead for a platter of Nevisian vegetables at the sumptuous buffet table and later toured several of Hermitage's gingerbread cottages, hillside and garden rooms and small villas.With just 450 hotel rooms and another 400 rooms in guest inns, bed and breakfasts and villas (Airbnb lists 97 rentals on the island), the grande dame on Nevis is the Four Seasons, the largest resort on the island, with 196 rooms and 50 villas; the largest employer; and the only branded hotel on the island — for now. A Wyndham Grand is slated to open in 2019.The Four Seasons, on 3-mile-long Pinney's Beach, opened in 1991 as the brand's first resort in the Caribbean (the second is the Four Seasons Anguilla, which opened this year).Bordered by the 3,232-foot Mount Nevis, an inactive volcano, in the background and the Caribbean Sea just steps from the guestrooms, the resort put Nevis on the travelers' map.Ruins of sugar mills dot the landscape on Nevis. Damage from Hurricane Omar in October 2008 closed the Four Seasons for two years, but it reopened to sellout bookings, new design statements and facilities.A major renovation project is on the drawing board now, although no timelines or details have been announced.Many of the staff have been with the resort for years, a big plus for returning guests who are welcomed home like family.Llewellyn Clark is one. I noticed his name on the label of a mango pepper sauce at the breakfast buffet and was told he was one of the resort's chefs."Yup, I do 9,000 bottles a year from my home. I sell them locally and online," Clark said. (His site is www.llewellynspeppersauce.com.) "Nevis has an abundance of peppers and fruits. I pick the mangos and Scotch bonnet peppers in my backyard. The glass bottles are shipped on palettes from the U.S." He's a Brit by birth and was a chef in England before arriving in Nevis in 1999. "I love working here. I know a lot of the repeat guests. They call me the hot sauce rock star."New to the Four Seasons this year is the Kastawey Beach Bar set on the sands of Pinney's Beach, serving sushi, ceviche, wraps and a killer signature drink with many rums, pineapple and tamarind juice.Another addition are four beach cabanas, complete with WiFi, chaise lounges, covered areas, an open sundeck and waiter service, although food and drinks are not included in the daily rental rate of $550 in low season, $1,300 in high."These were fully booked for a week during the Festive [holiday] season," said Roslyn Jeffers, cabana manager.Four beachfront cabanas at the Four Seasons include WiFi and waiter service. 'Built for luxury'Nevis woos the luxury and romance markets, according to Greg Phillip, CEO of the Nevis Tourism Authority."Tourism on Nevis is built for luxury. The majority of accommodations fit the luxury description. Also, Nevis upholds its story of exclusivity by limiting cruise activities to small luxury liners," Phillip said.The latest addition to the Nevis cruise offerings will be Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises' Crystal Esprit. The 62-passenger yacht will commence calls in November as part of its 14-day sailings for the next two years.On land, Nevis offers several options for travelers, including more than 50 pricey villas at the Four Seasons in addition to its guestrooms. Under construction is a 22,000-square-foot, 10-bedroom villa with five pools, five kitchens, a spa and full staff.Just north of the Four Seasons is Paradise Beach (formerly the Paradisio), a seven-villa complex set on 10 beachfront acres. Five more villas will open in November, according to Donna Woolfenden, general manager."Most of our market is from the U.S. We pay 20% commission and welcome weddings, corporate retreats and families," she said.Other luxury stalwarts include Montpelier Plantation, the Golden Rock Inn and the Nisbet Plantation Beach Club, the only plantation inn directly on the beach.Nevis nuggets Some tips and insider info on what to see and do in Nevis. Read MoreNisbet's long history is tinged with romance. British Navy Capt. Horatio Nelson and Fanny Nisbet, niece of the president of Nevis, met at Nisbet and married at the Fig Tree Church on Nevis in 1787. Tim Thuell, general manager, described Nisbet's great house and 36 cottages as "a mix of Caribbean charm with modern conveniences."The plantation inn recently scratched its long-standing, all-inclusive meal and beverage plan in favor of a simpler room-and-breakfast rate and no longer requires a minimum stay, even during the holiday season."It just made sense to streamline the rate structure," Thuell said. "We're also not closing this year during the fall. We'll be open year-round."Thuell encourages his guests to explore activities and dining on Nevis, noting that Nisbet's Friday afternoon pub crawl and its hike up Mount Nevis "are very popular. Guests love the experiential aspect."