John Hanley, four months into his new job as CEO of the Nevis Tourism Authority, has good reason to be upbeat about the destination he represents and the upcoming winter season.
"Nevis is poised to make its mark on the tourism scene once again," said Hanley, who joined the authority from the Ministry of Tourism, where he worked as the policy and regulations officer in the Research and Development unit.
"The past year has challenged us, but now much of our room stock has been renovated, upgraded and reopened, our culinary scene is hot, our airlift has expanded and we're ready to welcome our winter season visitors," he said.
The reopening of the 196-room Four Seasons Nevis scheduled for Dec. 15, following a two-year closure due to Hurricane Omar in October 2008, is the big news on this small island this winter, but Hanley was quick to acknowledge the efforts of smaller properties during the Four Seasons' closure.
"The plantation inns and smaller hotels and properties stayed afloat and stayed open and kept this island going," Hanley said. "All of us in government and in the private sector are grateful to them."
Visitors to Nevis this winter will benefit from the resumption of the American Eagle flight from San Juan, effective Dec. 14, as well as expanded lift into St. Kitts from major U.S. gateways that connect with ferry transfers to the island.
As for accommodations, Hanley said he participated in a series of site tours at hotels and inns after he took office and is confident about the island's offerings.
"The hoteliers are positive about this winter season, and so am I," he said. "Everyone has invested money and heart into the product."
Among the hotel developments:
- The Montpelier Plantation Inn introduced Indigo, a poolside tapas restaurant.
- The Golden Rock Inn, an 18th century sugar estate with seven cottages, has new co-owners who spearheaded a renovation that included a refurbished sugar mill suite, a new kitchen and an open-air restaurant with a terraced water garden.
In culinary developments:
- The Chrishi Beach Club Restaurant & Lounge on Cades Bay Beach will reopen this month with meals served seaside or in the beachside pavilion.
- The Old House Cafe, a family-owned restaurant, opened in August and features classic Caribbean cuisine and seafood dishes.
- The Riviere House Restaurant in Charlestown, the capital of Nevis, recently reopened after a two-year restoration and now includes a theater seating up to 28 people, a small art gallery showcasing 12 local artists and an Internet cafe. The restaurant specializes in West Indian-style cuisine.