The Great House, with Mt. Nevis rising in the distance.

It was slightly intimidating to arrive at Nisbet Plantation – not because of the grounds, which were beautiful or the staff, who were warm and welcoming – but I was arriving at a hotel with so many citations on Best of lists that I wondered if we really should be here. That thought lasted one minute, when chilled towels and a rum punch dissolved any doubt. The manager showed us to our room, pointed out where everything happens, give us the run-down on meals, and left us to begin our Nisbet experience in earnest. The people we met made it clear from the start: refined, Nisbet is, pretentious, it is not.

Our cottage, “Hermitage” was clean and well-equipped. The bathroom is modest in proportions but the amenities are all that you could hope for. Cozy would definitely be the word to describe the room, which is basically designed for sleeping.   The true qualities can be found outside with a screened-in porch, complete with a small dining table and chairs for meals and an outdoor patio with loungers. 

Stepping out of the cottage and looking around you see yellow buildings dotting a golf-course green lawn, sprinkled with coconut palms, many planted by previous guests to mark weddings or anniversaries. All tucked between the blue of the sea to north and the green of Mount Nevis to the south. The Avenue of the Palms guides guests down to the beach and waiting sea.

Nisbet’s beach is activity central; with guest either mingling at the bar/restaurant or blissed-out on their tiki-shaded loungers.  While not private, the beach is wonderfully quiet, with a constant breeze providing necessary cooling. I soon developed my own circuit of beach, pool and hot tub. Tan, dip, drink and repeat – there’s my day.

The Avenue of the Palms leads down to the sea.

The Avenue of the Palms leads down to the sea.

It was later at dinner at the Great House that we really began to take the measure of what really makes Nisbet Plantation special. The tradition of pre- and post-dinner cocktails is alive and well at the Great House. The bartenders mix terrific drinks while remembering each guest’s names, preferences and routine. Dinner is not stuffy but civilized and gracious. Nisbet has a broader appeal than I might have expected for a traditional British West Indian plantation hotel – parents dine with their children, honeymooners and more mature couples trade tales of their day. And – somewhat surprising to me – North Americans and Brits coexisted with a surprising ease (and I say that reverently, as a Canadian with a Brit husband).

Days easily melt away at Nisbet. Anytime, my ever-restless husband wanted to leave the property, the staff were helpful and encouraging, suggesting restaurants, offering to make reservations and giving useful information on the latest events to watch out for – whether a triathlon, an Olympic qualifying track event, or a good old-fashioned beach bar crawl.

Our last night was spent at the legendary Nisbet Beach BBQ, which attracts guests, locals and visitors from other hotels… The staff had promised that we would be dancing the night away.  I admit I was very skeptical and my husband down-right dismissive, but as the band (and the rum punches) did their thing, we soon gave ourselves up to the party.

Reflections…

Nisbet Plantation is upscale (and yes, a bit pricey) to be sure, yet it’s delightfully down-to-earth. Everyone is made to feel welcome, regardless of age or income level. And while you can laze away the day on the beach, expending energy only to take a dip or to refill your drink, don’t give in to inertia. Nevis is a special place – get out and explore it.

The expansive, peaceful beach provides a perfect place to relax.

The expansive, peaceful beach provides a perfect place to relax.

NH 2012