Imagine if, rather than queues, confinement and wistful dreams of golden sands, your lockdown had revolved around almost exclusive access to a stunning 18-hole golf course, swimming alongside turtles in the Caribbean, and sundowners delivered to your door?
When half of the world's population went into lockdown, there was little time to prepare. Borders were closed almost without warning, airlines pulled up to 100% of their flights, and families were suddenly separated by entire continents for an indeterminate period.
Life-altering decisions needed to be made with only moments to spare and while some people sought the sanctuary of countries providing first-rate medical care, others chose small islands that could readily instigate a complete lockdown and prevent the introduction and spread of Covid-19. St Kitts and Nevis were two such places, the twin-island federation ultimately harboring just 15 individuals with coronavirus – all of whom are now recovered.
One couple we spoke with chose specifically to stay on Nevis, an island they have known and loved for thirty years. Having made the decision to move there semi-permanently from the beginning of February 2020, it was an easy call: lockdown by the beach with the swaying palm trees just made sense. The restrictions on movement beyond the property were potentially a frustration, until an ad hoc gym was created on site thanks to the staff at the F.I.T. Wellness Center. Zoom has been used to run family fitness sessions across three continents – precious time (albeit virtual and slightly sweaty) with grown-up children that might otherwise never have been shared.
To be able to emerge from months of strict lockdown with nothing but positivity is testament to the island's ability to thrive in sometimes seemingly impossible situations, and the attitude of residents being to maintain a steadfast determination to look for smiles and sunshine on even the darkest days.
Think of a lockdown with unfettered access to the 18-hole golf course at the Four Seasons Resort Nevis, beautiful fairways watched over by Nevis Peak and easing their way languidly towards the sea. One family decided to stay put in a private villa, hiring a beach cabana as an office space – yes, it is directly on the white sands and mere moments from the sparkling Caribbean Sea, cooled by gentle breezes and complete with a fast Wi-Fi connection. They resorted to regular barbecues in the absence of beach bars, grilling fresh vegetables delivered by the supermarket alongside wahoo and snapper caught just hours earlier. Having previously acquired a timeshare in a Pinney's Beach Villa that granted them citizenship, the family is now looking to purchase a private villa or plot with a view to constructing their own perfect home - partly as a consequence of the extremely positive lockdown experience on the island.
While for some this has been a period of stress and uncertainty, for others it has been daily tennis matches, a basketball game with the kids, and a healing soak in the ocean. There is the strong sense that Nevis has maintained its spirit and strength of community, with people calmed rather than frustrated by the crucial role the government has played. There has been a winning combination of bailout packages, extra doctors flown in from Cuba, and clear guidance and rules that have been willingly followed. It has been a reassuring confirmation of that already known in times of crisis, Nevis offers the ultimate retreat.
Those we spoke with in private homes talked of their sense of peace and security, and those in villas at the Four Seasons were admiring of the convenience and ease of these potentially difficult months. Even at the height of lockdown, prescription medicines could be flown in when supplies were low, and private nurses on hand for the sort of emergencies that have kept others around the world afraid to seek healthcare. The first few anxious days of wondering if the right decision had been made were soon forgotten, replaced with a certainty that this is an island not just for a week or two in the winter but indeed for all time.
There are luxury homes for sale across St. Kitts and Nevis with pools and views and privacy and peace, and now more than ever they are a retreat far from the madding crowd, far from the confusion and chaos and danger, and closer to a life worth living.
*All those we spoke with for this piece purchased property through Helene Robic of Nevis Style Realty.