free tickets to paradise

With the addition of two new American Airlines flights from Miami International Airport to St. Kitts, arriving in paradise has never been easier. And you know when I speak of paradise I can only mean one place: the sublime Four Seasons Resort Nevis. (Star Alliance loyalists take note: Cape Air continues its scenic, low-flying service into Nevis direct via San Juan, too). On arrival, take a stroll on untainted stretches of golden sands; play amid dramatic tropical backdrops on the acclaimed Robert Trent Jones II-designed course; unwind in a private outdoor cottage at the Caribbean’s poshest spa; and recount the day’s events as you savor excellent seafood and spectacular ocean vistas at Mango. Or do what I love most: snuggle into a gingerbread-trimmed beach house and be pampered. Even better, book a five-night stay – good through December 19th - and receive a $1000 airfare credit.

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last looks

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beating a not-so hasty retreat

Flying in and out of Nevis was so much easier than anticipated – as well as a nice change of pace from my last arrival on the island, which included landing in St. Kitts and taking a ferry across the straits. Bonus points to Cape Air for launching the daily non-stop service from San Juan into Vance Armory airport. It meant not having to check out of Four Seasons Resort Nevis until 45 minutes before take-off. Even better: no lines at the airport. In fact, not only were there no lines but we were the only passengers on the only flight leaving that morning, which lent an air of glamour to the whole experience – as though flying private. A pretty perfect send-off, if you ask me. If I have to leave Nevis – and unfortunately, I do –  this is the only way to go.

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hugging the coast

Breathe deep and take it all in. (Oh, and click the image for greater detail, too.)

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can’t get enough of my shake-shack

This would be the waking-up-from-a-food-and-wine-induced-coma view – before running around the back to play peekaboo hide-and-seek with a yacht that is.

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a perfect picnic

Picnicking at the beach house made for the most atmospheric en plein air lunch I’ve had in I don’t know how long. Poached shrimp on a citrus salad with avocado and shaved fennel, and a meaty lobster sandwich with celery, red onions and spicy creole mayonnaise on lightly-grilled brioche made the perfect foil for a splendidly chilled bottle of rose. The postprandial nap was equally sublime, too – just in case you were wondering.

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welcome to my shake-shack

I’ve never been much for the cabana experience. Frankly, I just never saw the point; I mean you’re already paying to stay at a resort on the beach – why would you pay even more for what amounts to little more than a pup tent with a day bed? Yet the trio of miniature beach shacks at Four Seasons Resort Nevis struck me as far too inviting to not finally break down and give it a try. Each architecturally detailed bungalow comes fully loaded: couch, dining table, flat screen tv, wi-fi, iPod dock, fruit, stocked refrigerator, loungers on the deck, loungers on the sand, loungers on your own stretch of beach, and best of all, a butler. I had no idea what I’d been missing. Happily ensconced after breakfast in my little home away from home, I didn’t want to leave. So I didn’t. I read a little, I slept a little, I listened to all six hours of Wagner’s Götterdämmerung while navigating between the three levels of lounge chairs at my disposal. I swam, I snorkeled, I got spritzed with Evian and cooled by soothing mint-scented towels just as the beads of brow-sweat were becoming an irritant. When hunger hit, a feast was delivered. So, too, a crisp bottle of Chateau D’esclans Whispering Angel rose. In fact, every time I had passing thoughts of some thing that I might like, the butler was there with a toothsome smile and one treat or another, be it the aforementioned spritz or a mid-afternoon mango smoothie. The phrase “treated like a king” gets bandied about these days with far too much frequency, so let’s just say I was duly recognized as the reigning royalty of my little shake-shack. Alas, time passes far too quickly when you’re being coddled. Before I could truly appreciate it, the sun was setting over the Caribbean and I was draining the last dregs of rose – raising a glass in toast to the purest day of wanton leisure I’ve had since I was 10 years old.

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perfect moment: sitting on the dock of the bay

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one rainbow, or two

Much as I’d like to bestow credit for an early morning double-rainbow, I think there are limits to even what the superior staff at Four Seasons Resort Nevis is able to carry out.

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video: beach walk, in stereo

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every day a parade

Twice-daily a boat arrives from the St. Kitts “mainland,” ferrying resort guests and provisions to the dock on Pinney’s Beach. Here at Four Seasons Resort Nevis even such quotidian occurrences are treated as cause for celebration. Colorfully-clad locals and the island’s best string band line the gangway in a scene straight out of Fantasy Island. As the sounds of jazz and bluegrass build to a crescendo the welcoming party unexpectedly transforms itself into a parade, dancing across beach and into the resort’s lobby. With a welcome like this, who needs Mardi Gras?

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the same – only better

When Hurricane Omar slammed into Nevis back in 2008, the island sustained limited damage and was up and running in relatively short order. One resort, unfortunately, got positively thwacked: Four Seasons Resort Nevis. As a long-time fan I know I wasn’t alone in feeling terrible about what happened. The intimate retreat was special: not only did it sport a low-key vibe, effortless chic and unspoiled environment, it was also the largest employer on the island. Forced to shutter for almost two years it put a serious damper on the local economy while leaving regular guests to wonder if what returned could ever live up to the original. Well, I hope the past few days of teases have whet your whistle because after a two-year, $100-million dollar renovation my favorite Caribbean resort is back.  And it’s blissfully the same – only better.

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lunch locally (sourced)

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juice du jour: passion fruit

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rise and shine

Because the only thing better than a belly-busting breakfast at the Four Season Resort Nevis is the panoramic view of a Caribbean sunrise from one of the resort’s five-star suites, click the image and feel a little of the sun for yourself.

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