The best fly-and-flop destination of the Caribbean is back. This week, the "let's spend Christmas in SPF 60" set were abuzz over delicious upgrades to the relaunched Four Seasons Resort Nevis, closed for two years following hurricane Omar. Guests raved over the new chef, Andreas Donnerbauer, who will scuba with certified guests to pluck spiny lobsters from the sea – then trade his wetsuit for chef's whites to grill up the spoils in an offering called Dive and Dine. Of course, for those enviable enough to be spending the holiday season here, the spa's signature Rum Tonic treatment won the most literal oohs and aahs. Because when a spa fuses classic island ingredients with warm hydrotherapy, subzero Canadian hearts – more accustomed to being wrapped in Roots than rubbed down with Caribbean sugar – are bound to melt.
My therapist, Nikita, starts with exfoliation, then coats my skin in a glaze of local rum, ginger and honey. As I'm cocooned in this culinary cocktail, she massages my scalp until I'm sure I'm floating. She finishes the treatment with a steamy Vichy shower, and then by hydrating me head to toe with a deep drenching body balm.
Booze may be dubbed liquid courage, but what has it done for you lately (other than make you feel wretched)? This treatment unlocks the good side of liquor. After all, men-in-the-know have been using rum aftershave to condition and seal their complexions for decades. Alcohols in skincare act as emulsifiers, moisturizers and thickening agents.
From the moment Admiral Nelson, Britain's greatest naval hero, famously fell under the spell of a Nevisian plantation owner's daughter, the island has endured as a destination of the imagination. And as spas go, the Four Seasons Nevis conjures a similar beguiling mix of romance and history. Treatments are in colonial-style spa cottages, complete with dramatic volcano views. The resort is set on a scenic stretch of Pinney's Beach, where pelicans feed and green vervet monkeys frolic quietly in the trees. This unassuming stance drew tennis darling Maria Sharapova to the resort, following the most gruelling press rounds after her meteoric rise at Wimbledon. Despite the resort's tournament-class courts, the ingenue never laced up a shoe and "spent most days in the sun, gazing at the water, and relaxing at the spa," as she told Travel and Leisure magazine. While many guests come specifically for prime golf fairways and jaw-dropping diving, just as many hurry here to do absolutely nothing. The most popular new amenity? Four new 200-square-foot cabana-style beach houses perfect for snoozing, sunbathing and imbibing – an ideal chaser to a Rum Tonic treatment at the spa.
Four Seasons Nevis at Pinneys Beach, Charlestown; Saint Kitts and Nevis; 1-869-469-1111; fourseasons.com/nevis; $255 for 80 minutes.
Si Si Penaloza Special to the Globe and Mail