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Nuptials in Nevis: Selling June Weddings

Written by  Melanie Reffes

Destination weddings are big business in June with agents selling romance to clients looking for picture-perfect weddings on the beach, tropical honeymoons, and time away from the fray to celebrate an anniversary. Popular with couples who prefer to skip the hordes on the other busier islands, this petite isle across the channel from St. Kitts is romance-central, framed by the sea the color of a Tiffany blue box.

Unflustered without a single traffic light, the island is also the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton whose story is told in the hip-hop musical on Broadway. “Nevis and romance is a perfect fit,“ said Greg Phillip, CEO, Nevis Tourism Authority. “Our natural beauty, history and warm energy makes it easy to see why our reputation as one of the most romantic islands is well-deserved.”

Posh Pedigree
Leading the pack of sunny swank, AAA Five Diamond Four Seasons Nevis is luxury brand recognition in suites, villas and Beach Houses that are really rentable houses on the beach. “We have only four and they book up fast,” smiles attendant Roslyn Jeffers. “Couples like the endless serenity and sea views that go on forever.” Along the west coast fronting Pinney’s Beach, the resort is one of two Four Seasons in the Caribbean (Four Seasons Anguilla opened last year) and does a brisk business with couples who are also fans of local history. Inspired by the Tony-award winning musical, the aptly named ‘Hamilton Perfect Union’ package is valid through the end of the year and comes with extras like a beach house rental for a day, Spa Under the Stars experience, candlelit seaside dinner, tickets to the Museum of Nevis History and a walking tour of Hamilton Estates, the sugar plantation once owned by the Hamilton family. “We work closely with travel agents through our travel industry sales managers,“ said Ed Gannon, general manager. “We offer agent FAM trips with discounted rates in order that agents experience the resort and the island first-hand.”

Ideal for wedding parties or couples celebrating on their own, dinner at Coral Grill is where South African Chef Tristan Baker raises the stakes with a shareable 32-ounce Porterhouse and a side of his gooey melange of mac and cheese gussied up with truffle oil. Hidden in plain sight in the resorts lobby, 101 Rum Bar is the perfect perch for a toast to the bride and groom.

For couples with many out-of-town guests, five-bedroom Monkey Business Villa invites with a palatial pool, elegant dining area, telescope for ridiculously fabulous views of Nevis Peak and a private chef, for an additional cost. “While some guests choose to book on their own, there are those who prefer the personalized care that an agent brings to travel planning and we work directly with those travel agents to ensure a seamless and customized experience for our guests,” explains Ed Gannon, general manager.

Sweet Suites
Marrying rustic with romance, Nisbet Plantation Beach Club is the only beachfront plantation-turned-resort in the Caribbean. The comfy resort is home to lemon-hued wicker-furnished cottages that sit on a palm-fringed 18th-century sugar and coconut plantation. Its own history reads like a love story as the home of Fanny Nisbet who married British Navy Captain Horatio Nelson in 1787 after he visited the plantation. Honored by TripAdvisor as one of the Top Resorts in the World for Romance, the resort keeps the theme with a trio of fine restaurants including The Great House where you may find Dan Perkins shaking and stirring his signature celebratory cocktails. Weddings are popular on the great lawn or on the beach with sand the color of champagne. To celebrate the newlyweds, a coconut palm is planted in honor of the couple. “The Nisbet Plantation experience is artisanal and the travel agents who know us best make that connection,” said Tim Thuell general manager. ”We proudly provide a 15% commission to our travel agent partners.”

Sweet Treats
Depart and arrive in style at the YU Lounge at the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport in St. Kitts where couples are picked up on the tarmac, expedited through immigration, poured glasses of chilled bubbly and driven to the pier for the boat to Nevis.
A tour on a sloop named Feisty is catnip for honeymooners. “Our tours are for couples who don’t favor crowded catamarans and flippers in their faces,“ smiles Captain Miles Denne, an affable Brit who moved to Nevis to follow his dream to the open water. With pick-up at Oualie Beach and the pier at the Four Seasons, sunset sails are a big hit with newlyweds. “Couples list a cruise on their bridal registry which is a far more appreciated gift than a tea kettle,” adds Captain Miles.
It may be a tad kitschy, yet sipping a Killer Bee at Sunshine’s Beach Bar is still a Nevis rite of passage. Destroyed by eight hurricanes, the hot spot on the sand is back with live bands, beach bonfires, buttery lobsters, gift shop and oh yes, those rummy cocktails.

Barefoot on the Beach
Three miles long between the capital city of Charlestown and the Sea Bridge Ferry Dock, Pinney’s is the beach photographed for the travel brochures that sell the island. Most often chosen for weddings, the beguiling blue water on the Caribbean side of the island is a sandy stroll from the island’s luxe resorts like the Four Seasons Nevis and Paradise Beach Villas. For a quieter ceremony, Lover’s Beach is hidden from the road on the northern shore. “This lesser known beach is known for its seclusion and tranquility, but a popular beach to watch the sea turtles nesting,“ said Greg Phillip, CEO, Nevis Tourism Board.

Make it Legal
Without a lot of paperwork and no residency requirements, it’s a breeze to say “I Do” in Nevis. Applications forms are signed in front of a Justice of the Peace, with the bride and groom required to have a passport or birth certificate.
Wedding venues run the gamut from elegantly restored plantations, seaside resorts and palatial villas, to one of seventy churches, barefoot on the beac

h, in one of many fine dining restaurants, or for less conventional couples, a ceremony in a rum shop is the real deal.
For more traditional ceremonies, St. Thomas’ Lowland Church was the first Anglican Church in the Caribbean while the Cottle Church built in 1824 is historically significant as the first church where blacks and whites were allowed to worship together. Although the interior no longer remains, the grounds are magnificently manicured and one of the island’s coveted spots for a wedding. “Romance goes hand in glove with the slow-paced easy living that is our hallmark and we are delighted to welcome couples whether to get married, renew their vows, enjoy their honeymoon or simply fall in love all over again, “ said Mark Brantley, minister of tourism.

Yes, you can make this at home
The newest beach bar at the Four Seasons, Kastawey is all about wedding toasts, sea views and the Kastawey Smash. “Our signature cocktail has become a very popular drink due to its magical powers that puts everyone in a relaxing Caribbean mood,” smiles Max Loayza, food and beverage director. Easy to make at home, mix one-half ounce each of Cruzan light rum, dark rum and coconut rum, add another half-ounce of Bacardi gold rum, four ounces of pineapple juice and two ounces of tamarind juice . Mix in a shaker with ice and serve with a wedge of lime or pineapple.

Save the Date
July 6- 9: Mango and Food Festival dishes up a fruit basket of fun from a eating competitions and cooking demonstrations to mangoes on the menu at many of the island’s restaurants and the Mango Madness Street Fair in the capital city of Charlestown. “As the popularity of the festival builds, we expect it will serve to augment the country’s tourism product,“ said Greg Phillip, CEO, NTA. “As we have an abundance of mangoes, we see this as an opportunity to use our sweetest resource to promote the island.“
October 19- 23: Romance Symposium invites agents to seminars, resort site inspections and meet and greets with destination wedding specialists.