Sven WiedenhauptIt's a long way from war-torn Damascus, Syria, to the peaceful island of Nevis in the eastern Caribbean.

Yet that is where Sven Wiedenhaupt now finds himself as the new general manager of the 196-room Four Seasons Nevis, replacing Andrew Humphries, who held the post for six years and has now returned to England.

Wiedenhaupt, a veteran hotelier who worked for InterContinental Hotels Group and Marriott prior to joining Four Seasons, spent the last 10 years with Four Seasons in New York as director of food and beverage operations, in Qatar as hotel manager at the Four Seasons Hotel Doha and most recently as general manager of the Four Seasons Hotel Damascus.

For safety reasons, he was evacuated from the Damascus property during his tenure there and ended up running the hotel from the Four Seasons Beirut in his final months.

"I have profound respect for my team in Damascus," he said. "They have done and are doing an incredible job under difficult circumstances."

He described his style as part German-born work ethic and part American-raised entrepreneurial spirit.

"I was fascinated with food by the age of 4. I was intrigued with hotels by the age of 17, and ever since I have been on a voyage of discovery, and I am thrilled to now be part of this beautiful resort, the only Four Seasons hotel in the Caribbean," Wiedenhaupt said.

He summered in Jamaica as a child and said he likes tropical climates, and as a golf enthusiast he is looking forward to teeing off at the Robert Trent Jones 18-hole championship course that borders the Four Seasons Nevis.

Nevisian Spirit Four Seasons"My commute to the resort is a five-minute drive that passes the golf course. It is heaven on earth," he said.

Wiedenhaupt arrived in Nevis in mid-February, on the heels of a new government taking over following elections in late January.

"I have to spend some time getting to know this island, its people and how it works," he said.

"There is a certain cachet and small-town charm that the lack of glitz brings to the place," he said, surprised about life on an island that doesn't have a single traffic light.

Tasks at hand for Wiedenhaupt include "being a good student and understanding how this property has matured in its 22 years," he said. "Only then will I be able to add value to the 700 staff here, our guests and the tourism community at large."

Four Seasons Nevis, the largest contributor of tourism revenue to Nevis, garnered a second straight AAA Five Diamond award for 2013, an accolade Wiedenhaupt attributed in large part to the staff and service levels at the resort.

"We've had a terrific winter season with strong bookings from January on, with many nights over 85% occupancies," he said.

Airlift, a concern for smaller islands, is on Wiedenhaupt's mind.

"I have a lot to learn in this area, but I do know there is a need to investigate ways to increase the lift. The only way to grow tourism is to increase seats," he said.

Most of the resort's guests fly into St. Kitts and hop on either the public ferry or the Four Seasons' private launch, priced at $130 per person roundtrip, including a rum drink.

Cape Air serves Nevis from San Juan as do smaller carriers from Antigua and St. Maarten.

Follow Gay Nagle Myers on Twitter @gnmtravelweekly. 


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