The Caribbean estate where Princess Di fled in 1992 is up for sale for £ 14million
“Nevis was – and still is to some extent – unknown and off the beaten track, so she could have come here without being inundated with paparazzi,” comments Hoffman. He was not there at the time, but some of his employees were there. “They talk about how down-to-earth and very outgoing she was. She was playing cricket on Pinneys Beach with her boys. It was a last minute arrangement and she hadn’t rented the hotel exclusively for herself so there were other guests staying here as well. But the restaurant was closed to outside bookings so no one else could enter.
Diana’s former bodyguard Ken Wharfe also has memories of the princess’ stay in Montpellier, as recounted in her book Diana: Closely Guarded Secret. Harry and William, then aged eight and 10, were running nine-inch-long toads in the Nevis Toad Derby. “Harry especially liked the place. It was not a five star place, but unique in many ways. Rugged beaches and trips in a dented open-top Toyota truck, ”Wharfe wrote.
In November 2016, when Harry visited the Caribbean, he returned to Nevis – this time to breed turtles rather than racing toads on the north coast of an island that looks like a child’s paradise image – a perfect triangle, with the verdant, volcanic peak of Nevis rising in its center, and a single road bordering the coastline.
Besides its alluring natural beauty, the charm of Nevis – especially in its quaint, pocket-sized capital of Charlestown – is that it is “old Caribbean,” says Hoffman. His parents stumbled upon the Montpellier estate – which sits in the south of the island at the foot of Nevis Peak – when his late father, Lincoln, felt like taking on a challenge after retiring from banking. “We ended up chasing a dream, my wife Meredith and I, my mom and my dad. We set out on the adventure of trying to find a hotel to run a family business and we saw the vision. It’s one of the few properties we’ve seen in the Caribbean that had really good bone structure, ”says Florida-based Hoffman.
His mother, Muffin, along with a staff of 30, still runs the multi-award-winning hotel full-time, which includes 19 sea-view bungalows, a former sugar mill, three restaurants. and a beach. “But mom is approaching 80 and she works seven days a week. My ability to return is reduced because my life and family are in the United States. We’ve owned the hotel for a long time and it’s time to hand over the baton, ”Hoffman says of the family’s thinking about bringing the property to market. He stressed that the hotel will remain fully operational and that all bookings will continue unimpeded. The family is in no rush to sell; whether it takes six months or 10 years, it’s about finding the right person to take over.