The Caribbean has a military and cultural history that spans many centuries and the remnants of buildings can still be seen today throughout the islands. Here is a small selection of architectural gems which have been integrated into beautiful hotels.
The discovery and naming of the island of Nevis by Christopher Columbus in 1493 sets the tone for its subsequent history. Columbus believed the clouds above the peak to be snow so naming the island ‘Our Lady of the Snows’ in Spanish shortened over time to Nevis. The idea of romance continues with the marriage of the British Navy captain, Horatio Nelson, to Fanny Nisbet, the niece of the President of Nevis and widow of Dr Nisbet, the owner of a sugar plantation. After their marriage in 1787 at Fig Tree Church, the newly married couple ran the plantation converting it to coconuts from sugar.
Steeped in history, Nisbet Plantation Beach Club remains the only plantation style property on Nevis and its heritage can still be felt in the warmth of its welcome.
Set on the south coast of Antigua, English Harbour is steeped in the history of its involvement with the British Navy in the 18th century. The Admirals Inn was built after the arrival of Horatio Nelson as the Captain of HMS Boreas in 1784.
Its conversion into a hotel celebrates the history of the building, which took three years to build being completed in 1788. The main building was constructed with bricks brought over on the ship from England as the ship’s ballast and used to provide pits on the ground floor to separate the storage of turpentine, lead and barrels of pitch for the naval ships. The ballast for the return journey home was mostly rum! The Admirals Inn boasts a photographic copy of the original Admiralty draft of the ships’s plans. It hangs in pride of place behind the bar framed in one of the original door frames. In the hotel grounds, round pillars are the only remains from a large boat house and sail loft following its destruction during an earthquake in 1871.
The fascinating history of The Admirals Inn adds to its charm from its Gunpowder Suites to its restaurants, Pillars and Boom. Watching yachts lying at anchor from the terrace can only hint at past Naval days.
Both military and cultural history underpins the very fabric of Fort Young. In the 18th century, battles between the British and French for domination of Dominica saw the origins of today’s fort being constructed in 1770 using local volcanic rock known as ‘welded turf’, river boulders and coral limestone held together with mortar and whitewash combined with molasses, the rum sugar! Welsh slate and Yorkshire stone brought as ships’ ballast add a British element – a large stone at the hotel’s entrance was once used as to mount horses. Nineteenth century cannons that used to fire a welcome to visiting ships and over the town to let the locals know it was 9pm still remain along with three imperial brass measures for traders and the owners of rum shops to ensure their own measures were accurate when the fort acted as a control station. For over a hundred years, the fort was even used as a police station.
Now luxury has met with history to create a truly unique hotel overlooking the azure waters of the Caribbean Sea.
Emily Whittington is Marketing Manager at Tropic Breeze.