To get to Nevis, you must first fly to St. Kitts. From there, a shuttle picks you up and drops you at a ferry, which travels through a 2-mile canal to the sister island’s shore. The ride from the airport to the dock is somewhat deceiving. Apartment complexes and resorts line the streets of St. Kitts, a relatively settled and visited island with a population of more than 55,000. By contrast, divide that number by five. You’ll get to the amount of people who call Nevis home, give or take.
“Donkeys, monkeys, goats and sheep are a traffic jam in Nevis,” says Helen Kidd, the general manager at Montpelier Plantation, one of few hotels on the island. The unspoiled West Indies isle has no stoplights, no fast-food chains and only three supermarkets. Kidd, a Scotland native, settled in Nevis decades ago. It is the remoteness she adores. As do the hotel’s guests.
Montpelier has 19 seaside-facing rooms on 60 acres of land. During our stay in May, word spread across property that a Facebook executive checked in during the height of the company’s Cambridge Analytica data scandal. “Nevis is a place where you can disconnect from the rest of the world,” Kidd says.
The hotel has served as a safe haven to many since its debut in the 1960s. Among the list of celebrities and elites who’ve vacationed at Montpelier is Princess Diana, who in the early ’90s escaped the media with her sons on a trip to Nevis.
Muffin Hoffman, property owner, keeps proof of their stay: a faded photo of Diana and the boys all piled into the back of a rusted pickup truck that’s winding down a tight road framed with lush jungle. Hoffman, a poised woman with slim, chiseled arms and a chic pixie cut, took over the estate when her husband, Lincoln, died a decade ago.
The Hoffman family acquired Montpelier in 2002. They renovated the rooms, and added a private beach and the restaurant Indigo. The property’s elevated service and outstanding dining qualified it for the honor of becoming a Relais & Châteaux property.
In its past life, Montpelier was a sugar plantation—dating back as far as 1687. Some of that first identity has been preserved; most notable is the massive sugar mill at the center of its campus. The structure was used until 1933 and has since evolved into the restaurant Mill Privée, which can comfortably fit one round table for an intimate dinner. To enter the mill, guests climb stone stairs outlined with torches.
One nightly event crasher is almost guaranteed. Cosmo, the yellow Labrador, is the Hoffman’s family dog and the property’s mascot. He, Kidd and Hoffman make nightly appearances in The Great Room and at the Pool Bar, to interact with guests they know by name, not by room number.
Days are filled with Pilates sessions in an open barn with a view of Nevis Peak; outdoor spa treatments sans soundtracks because close-by frogs and donkeys provide live vocals; and bike rides to the beach where picnics are readied and dropped off from the hotel kitchen.
Montpelier Plantation offers an escape from the rest of the world, as Kidd says. But in an effort to run away, those staying on the island run into themselves. After all, Nevis as a whole is only about 35 square miles.