It is an unfortunate truth that having kids makes life a little less glam. Practicality becomes a driving force when choosing shoes, clothes, handbags and, all too often, vacation spots.
Will the accommodation accommodate us? (Could we make a hotel room work?) Will it be OK if our child has a tantrum and ends up eating on our lap? (Is there, perhaps, a surf that will drown out the sound?) Will we feel like we belong at the pool? (Can’t we relegate those without kids to a different place?) Is there any way around paying $8 to have a sleeper laundered? (Is there free laundry, perchance?)
We found a place where the answers are Yes (and Yes – thanks to an oversized balcony); Yes (and Yes – and if the surf didn’t work, a new at-table toy did); Yes (and Yes – those uninterested in joyful shrieks simply decamped to the adult pool). Yes (and Yes – thank goodness). Suffice to say, the vacation was fabulous.
The Four Seasons Nevis is a 40 minute boat-ride away from the more-major airport of St Kitts, which is another reason it’s fabulous: kids love boats and we loved the rum punch they served on the way over. The resort sits below a volcano called Nevis Peak (tick) on a mellow slice of Caribbean beach (tick) where the waves are gentle (tick) and the shells are plentiful (you get the point). The resort feels intimate because it stretches only a few hundred meters from the beach, and the two-story buildings, which contain the rooms, spread out along the shore from the Great House. So you’re never far away from breakfast (which turned into the longest meal of the day while our kids worked their way through the buffet), the beach (where the hotel-provided beach toys, magazines and lemongrass water were enjoyed by all), one of the two kid-friendly pools (which had excellent waterfalls over which to jump), the spa (where I watched hummingbirds before having the blissful Nevisian Massage), the playground (which was clean and new, and shady in the morning), or the tennis courts (where I re-discovered my love for the game and my four-year-old, Max, had his first official tennis lesson).
There is also a kids’ club (for ages 3-9) and a teen hide-out, which is as cool as anything you might have liked back in the ’80s. (“Yes, except that I’ve totally outgrown it,” said the 16-year-old guest whose mother I was talking with. “I was the queen of the kids club two years ago, but now I’m too old.” Later, her mother said to me: “But I love the fact there are no casinos or nightclubs here. It makes it a great resort for teens.” Two nights later, I see her and her friend hanging out with two boys on the lobby terrace. It’s really sweet, and I get it.)
My family and I stayed in an ocean-view room with a king bed and a pull-out sofa, which — once we figured out the furniture arrangement — fit the four of us just fine (Max in the pullout, and Conrad, 2, in a travel cot). It wasn’t an excessive amount of space, but the bathroom was very large, as was the balcony, which is where my husband and I made our way each night after the kids went to sleep. We brought a small white noise machine to ensure they stayed asleep, and had nightly romantic rendezvous under the growing moon: drinking wine and talking about our lives, our kids, and how beautiful palm trees look at night when lit from below. Then we snuck back in and went to sleep. (Note to future guests: the air conditioner is connected to the sliding glass door, and without a potentially child-waking push, the door won’t close properly and the A/C won’t turn back on. And then you will wonder why you get hot at night.)
The resort makes an effort to separate families on one side of the Great House, and couples on the other. And with the natural timing of family (6:30pm) vs. couple (8pm) dinners, and kid-friendly touches everywhere (sippy cups, kid cutlery, at-table projects, and of course, kids’ menus, we found eating low-stress, too. We almost didn’t make it to the Coral Grill, thinking our kids would be too much, but we ended up going early and eating on the balcony, and loved our Wagyu flank steak and lamb chops. We also had two delicious dinners at Mango, which was casual enough to accommodate a bit of dancing under the stars. (It’s also the place to go without kids, if you’re thinking of booking a sitter for one dinner. The roof opens entirely, making for an incredibly romantic al fresco experience.) But it was the lobby restaurant that was easiest for us, and you can eat inside or out, and for any meal (or fraction thereof), with little sacrifice on ambiance or menu.
While at the resort, we took a golf-cart ride one early evening with a staff member, and headed up Nevis Peak, where we saw monkeys by the hundreds. It actually isn’t too hard to find them — you just need to know the spots where they like to hang. (It was easy access to nature, and fit in well with the, shall we say, easy nature of our trip.) On the same trip, we also passed the privately-owned Four Seasons villas (available to rent) and a ruin of a sugar mill. We spoke with guests who stayed longer and loved their visits to the Golden Rock for lunch and garden exploration. We spent one day in a beach hut, which made my husband happy (he watched Barcelona and AC Milan), me happy (I appreciated four lounging choices — inside, shade, umbrella or sun) and our kids happy (they waved the service-indicating red and green flags).
It was a fabulous five days. To this night, our kids sleep with the stuffed monkeys that awaited them as they entered our room. And every morning, they slide on their mini Four Seasons slippers. And we’re reminded that we really must go back, since this is clearly where fabulous lives.
Note: Sarah and her family stayed at the Four Seasons Nevis on a media rate.
Sarah Western Balzer grew up in Tampa, FL and worked in the music industry in New York, Washington, DC and London before she got married, started a lifestyle relocation business in London, and had a baby. Now she lives in Toronto and is a mostly full-time mom, but still oversees the Lifestyle section of London-based financial news website, Here Is The City . She and her husband, who is German, have two sons, a Brit and a Canadian.