St. Nicholas Abbey
BARBADOS // SEPTEMBER 2016
SUGAR, RUM & RELAXATION
Over Labor Day weekend, Greg and I made the journey to Barbados to visit his parents who became Caribbean residents earlier this year. Neither of us had been before, but with Caribbean memories in mind, coupled with the fantastic things we’d been hearing the last 8 months, we were eager to experience the island for ourselves. Whenever I visit a new place, one of the first things I like to do is get my bearings and a sense of the land and culture. We hit the ground running and spent our first full day exploring.
Our first stop was St. Nicholas Abbey, a surviving plantation built in the 17th Century nestled on Cherry Tree Hill. Considered one of the seven wonders of Barbados, the plantation encompasses over 400 acres of rolling sugar cane fields, tropical gullies, mahogany forests and formal gardens. The house on the property is a rare and stunning Jacobean mansion, one of just three remaining in the Western Hemisphere. With intriguing architecture and a bright white exterior, I was ready to move in!
We didn’t spend much time exploring the mansion, but made our way to the back of the property to check out the steam mill and rum distillery. Surrounded by lush tropical gardens, the mill and distillery are in full operation and produce St. Nicholas Abbey Rum (and more importantly, rum cake!), a product the Caribbean is famous for. The operation is extremely impressive and fascinating! Some advice- if you have the flexibility of choosing when to visit St. Nicholas, I recommend going during December through May, as this is when the plantation grinds the cane crops using the steam mill and visitors are able to witness the historic process. Though we visited out of season, it was still fascinating to see and learn about the machinery, and I didn’t feel my experience was shortchanged whatsoever.
The tranquil and natural beauty of the plantation, coupled with the tasting rooms, make it the perfect spot for an afternoon of relaxation and reflection. It feels as though you’ve stepped back in time, which to me is usually a welcoming experience. We ended the self-guided tour by loading up on brown sugar and rum products, as well as local handmade treasures, from the unassuming gift shop and stepped into the chapel to watch an engaging home movie documenting life on the plantation in 1935. Our time spent at St. Nicholas was the perfect introduction to Barbados! I'll for sure be back, next time touring the home and enjoying lunch at the Terrace Café.