HOTEL REVIEW: Paradise Beach, Nevis
If you’re looking to experience the ‘real’ Caribbean away from the throngs of tourists, a good place to start is the island of Nevis; the charming 36 square-mile sister island to St Kitts, also known as the ‘Queen of the Caribbean’ because of its unspoiled beauty. One reason Nevis is much less busy than others in the Caribbean is that many people haven’t heard of it. So, when you tell people you’re visiting Nevis, responses are likely to be either “Where?” or “Oh, you mean Ben Nevis?”
Yet, despite being just a short boat ride from St Kitts, the island is a world apart. You notice the difference as soon as your water taxi speeds away from the packed beaches of St Kitts; in the few minutes it takes to make the crossing, the ocean breeze washes away the noise of roaring jet skis as the prominent 3,232ft peak of Mount Nevis appears before you.
The best way to enjoy this remote island is at a resort that offers the ultimate in luxury and tranquillity: the aptly named Paradise Beach. The private resort, made up of seven exclusive villas, was refurbished and reopened in 2015 as a luxurious retreat with a focus on sustainability.
The resort’s owner, James Cabourne, told me he wanted to ensure the whole property has as little impact as possible on the island – from power consumption to the aesthetic of the villas. Whereas some resorts are specifically designed to stand out from their surroundings, Cabourne wanted Paradise Beach to blend into the landscape so as not to be an ‘ugly scar’ on the island.
The villas, inspired by Balinese architecture, were created by British interior designer Naomi Cleaver and carefully crafted so as to blend seamlessly into the island’s scenery. Each villa has a hand-woven palm roof, designed to mirror the Nevis Peak so, whichever angle you’re looking from, it is still the iconic Mountain that draws your eye.
Paradise Beach is the height of luxury. Entirely handcrafted, Paradise Beach Villas feature Italian tiled floors, marble bathrooms, and rough timber structures, and are all fully air-conditioned.
When I arrived at my expansive four bedroom villa, there was a fresh rum punch and an icy towel waiting for me. Throughout my stay, the attentive staff were happy to cater for my every whim from organising a sunset horse ride along the beach to booking scuba dives, a mountain climb with the island’s most knowledgeable guide and a luxurious catamaran trip – even popping in with ripe avocado freshly picked from the tree in the resort.
My villa was the perfect secluded hideaway. With its walled perimeter, I was guaranteed total privacy throughout the interior, gardens, private pool and thatched outdoor dining pavilion – and even in the outdoor rain shower!
Although there’s no restaurant on site, if you don’t fancy going out, your personal butler can stock your fridge with groceries, order and deliver take out from many of the most popular local restaurants or organise a private chef to whip up a sumptuous meal for you. And, of course, guests can enjoy their own private section of beach with its exclusive beach bar.
Paradise Beach is careful to ensure it is also in tune environmentally-speaking. The resort has taken an aggressive approach to lowering its carbon footprint and ensuring it is as environmentally friendly as possible. Each of the seven villas are made from sustainable wood which naturally repels termites, meaning no sprays or pesticides are needed. The roofs are made from artificial thatch because, unlike natural thatch which needs replacement material shipping over every six months, it is very low maintenance.
Power usage is minimised wherever possible; the entire resort uses energy-efficient LED lighting and water is heated by solar panels. In the swimming pools, the salt-generators means chemicals don’t need to be used and the pumps consume 20% less power.
The resort is also conscious of noise pollution: using a quieter (and more efficient) air conditioning system throughout. Also during the refurb, the sewage system was replaced with an energy-efficient waste management process called ‘anaerobic digestion’.
Being right on the beach, it’s important to the Paradise Beach team to protect the ocean. Before the refurbishment, rainwater from heavy rains used to cut a trench through the resort, collecting by the beachfront bar and washing mud, dirt and other foreign matters into the sea. To prevent this, a new infrastructure drainage system has been installed under the walkway, meaning that only things that are meant to be in the ocean end up in the ocean.
Combined, these efforts mean this little slice of paradise is not only luxurious but also more energy-efficient and sustainable. Guests are asked to help the resort in its conservation efforts by conserving the island’s water and electricity supply wherever possible.
Getting close to nature
Paradise Beach has little touches across the resort that help guests get closer to the island’s incredible wildlife. Wandering around the resort, as well as the beautiful flowers, chilli plants, mango trees and avocado tree, you’ll also hear the chattering of Green Velvet Monkeys in the trees or come across them playing by the beach.
On one afternoon while sitting by the pool, I heard a strange murmuring sound just a few metres away. Looking up, I saw a beautiful hummingbird darting to and from one of the flowerbeds just by my villa. This wasn’t just a lucky coincidence – all the flowerbeds across the resort are intentionally filled with scented plants that attract hummingbirds and other life.
The seven villas are each just a short walk away from an idyllic beach and coral reef. Paddleboards and snorkeling gear are available for guests who’d like to swim out and spot brightly coloured reef fish – and perhaps even a turtle – rather than just sunbathing on the shore.
Although it would be hard to imagine how you would improve on, well, paradise, the Paradise Beach team is always looking at how they can improve the first-class experience received by their guests.
There are several plans in the pipeline, the most exciting of which is the resort’s expansion: five new pole houses are being built so more guests can enjoy Paradise Beach’s first-class luxury. The new guesthouses, made from sustainable hardwood which is low maintenance as it won’t deteriorate, will be built ‘on stilts’ to keep them off the ground in case of a hurricane. As part of the development, the resort’s exclusive section of beach will be extended – so even more Paradise Beach to enjoy.
When to visit
Located just North of the equator, Nevis has a tropical climate all year round with an average temperature of around 28°C. The dry season runs from January to April and the rainy season from July to November. However, due to the year-long trade winds, the humidity level is very low so the weather is enjoyable enjoy almost every day. There’s your green travel sorted!
For more information, visit the Paradise Nevis website.