The 13th hole at the Robert Trent Jones II Course with the island of St. Kitts in the distance at the Four Seasons Nevis. Golfers take two kinds of vacations: golf vacations and vacations where they play golf. A golf vacation is a trip to Myrtle Beach, Pinehurst, Monterey, Scotland or Ireland, where you bring you clubs and your best pals, book two tees times a day and try to find out if it’s possible to ever get tired of golf. (It isn’t.) The second kind of vacation is one you take with your husband, your wife, your significant other or your entire family, and golf isn’t the primary activity but you get out for a couple rounds, and if you’re lucky, encounter a special golf course.
The Four Seasons resort in Nevis, a cozy Caribbean island accessible via ferry from nearby St. Kitts, is ideal for that second kind of vacation, and later this month, the Four Season Nevis will make cold-weather golfers an offer they can’t refuse: a vacation on a beautiful Caribbean island with golf lessons from a PGA Champion. From Feb. 23 to Feb. 27, Shaun Micheel, winner of the 2003 PGA Championship [right], will lead clinics at the resort’s Robert Trent Jones II Championship course alongside the resort’s head PGA professional Bruce Wilson. The clinics will focus on a specific area of the game each day -- fundamentals, driver and long irons, short game and trouble shots, and putting -- followed by golf and then dinner with Micheel. The five-day package costs $2,750 or $625 per day. (Greens fees are included in package; the regular greens fee is $225 with $75 for club rentals. Club rentals are $55 for nine-hole play and twilight golf.)
But even when a PGA Champion isn’t on the driving range, the Four Seasons Nevis is the perfect destination for golfers who don’t want to choose between great golf and great beaches. For golf, the RTJ II course is a fun but challenging test that winds up Nevis Peak with crafty greens that require careful handling, the requisite stunning views of the coastline and nearby St. Kitts, and frequent monkey sightings. But what’s really special about the golf at the Four Seasons Nevis is how the resort embraces the spirit of the game. Every Friday afternoon, resort guests, residents and resort staffers get together and play a nine-hole scramble, followed by drinks and awards at Mango, an on-resort restaurant and bar with 101 different kinds of rum. Yes, it’s as fun as it sounds. If you’re staying at this resort and you play golf, don’t miss the Friday scramble. If you don’t play golf, learn how.
Then there are the beaches. In a word, they’re perfect. For a real treat, the resort rents beachside cabanas, where you can watch SportsCenter on the couch in the cabana, enjoying a fish sandwich and a local Carib beer with nothing but deep soft sand and that dazzling Caribbean turquoise water in front of you. Plus the resort faces due west so guests get a cinematic view of sun the dropping over the horizon every evening.
The best activity there is simply being in Nevis. I've been lucky enough to visit several Caribbean islands and I've never been anywhere as charming and welcoming as Nevis. With just 12,000 year-round residents, the island has a relaxed, small-town feel, and the service at the resort is outstanding. The Four Seasons Nevis has several excellent restaurants as well as the golf course and that spectacular beach, so guests can happily spend the whole week here without leaving the property, but Nevis has other charms worth exploring. In the evening, resort guests can find Caribbean music, drinks and dancing just a short walk down the beach at Lime Beach Bar and Sunshine’s Beach Bar & Grill. Nevis Peak is an active volcano -- don’t worry, there hasn’t been an eruption in recorded history -- and adventurous visitors can arrange a hike to the top through the resort. The island gets its name from the clouds that cover the top of Nevis Peak; “Nevis” comes from the Spanish “Nuestra Señora de las Nieves” (“Our Lady of the Snows”) because the first European settlers mistook those clouds for snow. Golfers tired of seeing their favorite courses covered in snow might mistake it for paradise.
Rooms start at $745 per night, with the fourth night free. Contact the Four Seasons Nevis website for details. Photos: Course photo courtesy of Four Seasons Nevis; Micheel photo by Robert Beck/SI.