Friday, June 21, 2013

Paradise Vacation 2013: Nevis (Part II)

Wednesday morning started just like the rest, with a delicious breakfast buffet at the Coral Grill,  at a table overlooking the beach. We had another early start, as this time we had planned a Rainforest Hike with a group of Apple folks. We boarded taxis and headed towards the volcano. I thought it was just for effect when we were handed walking sticks, but it turns out they were very necessary. The climb was harder than we anticipated, but still lots of fun! The higher we got, the muddier it was, so we had to be very careful on some of the steeper parts. Our guide pointed out lots of different trees and plants (including a cinnamon tree and the "leaf of life"- a leaf that never actually dies). Hank was a little disappointed that we hardly saw any monkeys, but we were treated to a beautiful view once we reached the peak of the trail.

The Holland House: Breakfast Table
Our lovely view at breakfast each morning. 

The Holland House: Rainforest Hike

After the hike, we hosed and off and hit yet another pool. We wanted to take advantage of having some alone time away from the group, so we found a quiet spot at the Garden Pool and enjoyed lunch and drinks through the afternoon. Miss Jackie (our favorite staff person of the trip) took good care of us! Leisurely dips in the pool, followed by a nap, made for a very relaxing afternoon.

The Holland House: Pool Day

We headed around the corner for dinner again, this time eating at Double Deuce. We had read great things about it, and were not disappointed. The restaurant is run by a local family, and the British chef had previously cooked on one of the plantations. I caught a glimpse of the kitchen and could not believe there were only two people doing all of the work. Hank had fish and I had coconut shrimp, and everything was delicious! We were pretty worn out from the week, and I wasn't feeling so hot, so we skipped another late night at Sunshine's and opted to head back to our room instead.

Thursday morning finally brought the opportunity to sleep in a bit. We grabbed a late breakfast and decided to walk the "challenging" trail along the golf course. There were 3 options, and they weren't joking by deeming this a difficult one. Hank tried to run it our first morning there, and the hills nearly killed him. But the best part was that we finally saw monkeys. LOTS of monkeys! They got so close to us that we could have reached out to pet them. For fear of having our faces ripped off, we opted to just snap a couple of pictures instead. When the British originally settled on the island, many of them brought Vervet monkeys with them as pets. There is now a huge population of them on the island, but they aren't all that welcome. They're known for eating fruit and flowers, but they are awfully cute to look at!

The Holland House: Vervet Monkeys

The Holland House: Nevis Volcano
About once a month you can see a clear view of the volcano- we got lucky while on our golf course hike!

When we got back to the hotel, it was time to hit the beach for an Apple-hosted beach bash. They reserved all sorts of water sports (paddle boarding, jet skis, sailing, etc.) and served lunch and drinks. It also happened to be Hank's birthday, so I tried pulling it off as the best birthday party ever- all just for him! He didn't seem to mind. We had fun jet skiing, napping and hanging out with friends, all while sipping on cold drinks. The highlight of the day though was when four Frenchmen swam from their catamaran (at any given time there was a variety of boats and yachts just off the shore) and made friends with our group. A game of volleyball ensued, and there was all sorts of yelling in English and French. Watching Hank interact with these guys was hilarious, and I think everyone had fun watching.

The Holland House: Beach Party

Our final night in Nevis was the Apple awards dinner, held under a tent on the 18th green. There was a cocktail reception first, which included a performance by an adorable Nevis children's choir. The view from the event was gorgeous, and of course everything was top notch. We were served a three course dinner and treated to a slide show with fun pictures of all the Apple employees who were on the trip. After a day of drinking on the beach, and cocktails and wine with dinner, we got to show our stuff on the dance floor to a really fun band. The evening definitely got a little crazy, but we had a blast. There was a ton of dancing, and it was such a fun way to wrap up the trip.

The Holland House: Awards Dinner

We were sad to say goodbye on Friday, but ready to make our way home to see our fur babies and sleep in our own bed. The ferry didn't leave until 1pm, so at least we had time to sleep in and have one last lunch by the pool. Nevis had one more surprise in store for us though, a view of a $300 million yacht parked right outside the hotel. Each day the yachts seemed to get bigger and bigger, and this one took the prize. We found out that it belonged to a 38 year-old Russian billionaire named Andrey Melnichenko, and his yacht was simply named "A". You have to click this link to get a video tour of the inside- it is just ridiculous! It's hard to even wrap my head around what their lifestyle must be like. We also saw his matching plane as we flew out of the St. Kitts airport- it was hard to miss the matching A on each of the engines. Rough life!

The Holland House: "A" Yacht
In the middle picture, the open hull contains 2 matching James Bond-style 30-foot speed boats, and another small tender boat.

After an overnight stay in Miami, and a 6:20 AM flight the next morning, we finally made it home Saturday afternoon. I don't think I need to say again what an amazing experience the entire trip was, but I will! We so enjoyed getting away to paradise and shutting off all the stress of work, home, etc. We relaxed, experienced the islands as much as we had time for, and just enjoyed being together. I was ready to get back to work tough, and getting busy working towards this year's goal so that we can do it all over again in Hawaii for the 2014 Circle of Excellence trip.

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