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A Royal Visit

My family considers itself to be the custodians of the Hermitage, and when our guests come to visit we know we are the guides and not the attraction. This house has been here near 400 years, growing its own charm and letting history gather around it, like the Spanish Moss that gathers in the trees, like the white lichen that grows on the stone walls. Visitors and interest validate our efforts to look after it.

While all our guests deserve a warm welcome and are noteworthy in his or her own way, some guests do come with pomp and circumstance. A few weeks ago, a call from Government House informed me of Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cornwall’s interest in the Hermitage. With the ever-present discretion of an innkeeper, I could not speak of it. Indeed, as it was the future queen of England that would come to visit, I immediately assumed there was a double O agent watching me, hiding in the bushes, probably not far from where the Rastafarian gardeners were also in the bushes, for other reasons.

I thought how best to prepare for a royal patronage; polish the brass, paint the trim, edge the long grass on the walkways. I thought of how to behave, how to speak, what to say and what I would tell the Rastafarian gardeners in the bushes.

In the first protocol meeting with the premier’s ministry I suggested I’d offer HRH a rum punch at the bar as an authentic gesture of hospitality and this began a debate; some thought it would be inappropriate and others thought she would politely decline. Since her private security did not forbid it, I made a bet with my family that on my suggestion, Her Royal Highness would indeed stop at the bar and have a drink.

I won.

The Duchess thought it was delicious. “Very good, pretty alcoholic,” she said. On leaving she commented that her husband would love it and accepted the offer of a bottle, with our compliments, for the future king.

As the convoy drove off, with sirens blaring and flags waving, we all gave a cheer and toasted the Queen and crown at the bar. We could now relax, put the china back in the cupboard, the silver back in the cabinet and remove our shoes. We could put back on display the knick-knacks, toys and tools we’d hidden and wave the all clear to the Rastafarian gardeners in the bushes.

Later, when asked why we thought Her Royal Highness had chosen to visit the Hermitage I could only echo her sentiments about our rum punch and reply that if one only has a short time on Nevis to celebrate the heritage of the island then the Hermitage is very good, pretty and alcoholic.

After all, if you haven’t been to Hermitage, you haven’t been to Nevis.

Caribbean Strong – Nevis

Nevis was very fortunate, we suffered minimal damage. The ancient saman tree in the town square was blown over, a few other trees have been lost and our beaches have been strangely rearranged but it is nothing that can’t be repaired with time and tide. With village names like Hardtimes and Burden Pasture, Nevis has known many challenges.We are not strangers to the storm.

Don’t You Agree?

After a trip away, I’ve just returned to these sweet charms of Nevis, the warmth of hospitality and the embrace of friends.

My Nevis Perspective

The best way to survive as a hotelier on a remote island with difficult logistics is with patience and a sense of humor.

Hermitage Newsletter December Edition

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The Pink House History

My mother lives in a Pink House, the house that we built for her mother, my grandmother, who we called Muzzy.

The Ocean’s View

Where the water meets the shore is the edge of the world, either in the rough collision of waves against rocks that tells the story of resistance and erosion or in the soft lapping and gentle wash that dresses the sand, with a fringe of foam like lace. The...

Leave Her As She Is

Over coffee in the mornings he spoke about it, at the bar in the evenings he promised to restore it. 

Summer days

The summer time is true to the heart of island living, with fewer tourists and expats, the buzz of visitors subsides. The days are longer and the nights are cool and refreshing. We spend more time in the evenings sitting outside, and I find myself looking...

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