Discover Belmont Estate
HISTORY IN THE MAKING
To be a model of sustainable agriculture and tourism practices by producing organic products, creating extraordinary experiences, and preserving our heritage and environment so as to enrich the lives of others.
Creating extraordinary experiences and products sustainably.
Belmont Estate dates back to the late 1600s, during the colonial era, when plantations were first established under the system of land allocation during the French rule. In the late 1600s and early 1700s, it was one of the 81 plantations established on the island with coffee being its major produce. Sugarcane was introduced as the main crop later in the 1700s. The ruins of the water mill remain as a testament to that part of its history. Cotton, was also a major crop of the estate, which was later replaced with cocoa and nutmegs in the 1800s, then bananas.
First owned by the Bernago family of France, Belmont Estate became the property of Mr. John Aitcheson Jr. of Rochsolloch, Airdie, Scotland, following the cession of the island by the French to the British in 1763. Mr. Aitcheson appeared to have taken an active role in affairs of the island when he signed a petition to the King in 1764, protesting instructions to Governor Melville that would deprive the privileges of the representatives of the people.
He was also a signatory to several other petitions throughout the 1760s. Upon his death, Belmont Estate became the property of his father, Mr. John Aitcheson Sr. Mr. Aitcheson was mostly an absentee landlord who in 1770 leased the estate to Mr. Alexander Campbell Esq., owner of the then adjoining estate, Tivoli. The lease was for a period of 13 years at a price of £2,520 a year.
Mr. Campbell was a colonist of high standing, a former colonial agent for the island, speaker of the Grenada Assembly, and the hero of the "Campbell V Hall" case of 1764-1774. He was also a close friend of planter Ninian Home who later became the island's governor.
On the night of March 2, 1795, the beginning of Fedon's Rebellion, Campbell and Home were at Home's estate in Paraclete and they were captured the following morning. In Fedon's Declaration of March 4, 1795, only two names — Home and Campbell — were cited among the 40 prisoners captured at that time. Campbell and Home were executed on April 8, 1795.
In his will, Aitcheson bequeathed Belmont Estate to his eldest daughter Bethia, stipulating that she was to sell it in the event of his death and after paying all his debts, share the proceeds among herself and her two sisters, Margaret and Isabella, and his nephew Gilbert Hamilton, a merchant in Glasgow. At the time of Aitcheson's death, the total value of the estate's assets — including the slaves, animals, sugar mill, coppers, stews, ladles, skimmers, sugar pots, stills, furnaces, still heads, tools, implements, chattels, lands and buildings — was £21,183.00 about £1.5 million or US$2.5 million by today's standards.
Following Aitcheson's death, Belmont was sold to Robert Alexander Houston of Clerkington East Lothian in Scotland. Subsequent to Houston’s death Belmont was bequeathed to a family member, Major James Flower Houston and his son Lieutenant Alexander Houston of Her Majesty's Royal Artillery, both of whom were from Montepelier Square, London. The estate remained in the hands of the Houston Family for more than 170 years and in 1944 Norbert and Lyris Nyack of Hermitage, St. Patrick purchased it from the trustees of the Houston Family.
Research suggests that the Nyacks were the first Grenadians of East Indian descent to own an estate on the island. Though simple people with only a basic education from the River Sallee Government School, they were savvy and diligent entrepreneurs. They made Belmont Estate their home and the base of their new business - operating the plantation. At one time they owned six of the most productive estates on the island - Waltham & Diamond in St. Mark; Plains, Le Tage & Belmont in St. Patrick; and Mt Horne in St. Andrew - and employed more than a thousand persons. They also purchased the Hankeys business at Grenville and started managing the commercial operations of a supermarket, hardware store and lumberyard.
Mr. and Mrs. Nyack were also horse lovers. They owned several horses over the years and raced and won at horse races in Grenada, Barbados, Trinidad and Guyana. They established the Telescope Race track, just outside of Grenville, a popular sporting and social destination in Grenada in the fifties and sixties. They were a socially vibrant couple, with strong social and civil consciences. Quiet philanthropists, they gave of their time, talent, love or means. Without fanfare or pronouncement, they shared benevolently with Grenada 's Homes for children, the elderly, hospitals, and churches and schools, and to individuals or causes of need.
Mr. Nyack was actively involved in politics, and was appointed Senator, by Premier Eric M. Gairy, a post he held until his death in 1969. His wife Lyris continued to reside at and manage the affairs of Belmont Estate up until her death on December 19, 2001, at the age of 94. She was laid to rest close to her residence at the estate. Belmont continues to be owned by the Nyack family. Though they had no natural born children, they were blessed to raise several nieces and nephews as their very own children including: Tommy, Jean, and Leah and Norbert's sister Lydia.
As with most businesses, Belmont Estate has faced several challenges through the years, and has gone through peaks and valleys. With the disintegration of the plantation system and plantations, and the partitioning of lands, very few plantations have survived. The transformation of Belmont Estate to this agri-tourism product is the brainchild of Shadel Nyack Compton, grandniece of Lyris Nyack.
The estate first opened its doors to tourists in April 2002, offering plantation tours, a museum and a charming 20 seat-restaurant. The product was well-received by locals and foreign guests, and within a year, the restaurant had grown to 110 seats. Unfortunately, Grenada was devastated by hurricane Ivan in September 2004, and Belmont Estate sustained severe damage during the hurricane, resulting in total destruction of the restaurant and museum, and significant damage to our cocoa drying facilities. The fields also received significant damage, resulting significant loss of tree crops, particularly nutmegs, and to a lesser extent cocoa and other fruits and vegetables. The tourism component of the business reopened in 2007 after being closed for almost three years.
Through all of our challenges, and in particular the recovery since hurricane Ivan, our team of committed staff has worked ardently to restore, re-build and preserve Belmont Estate, so that you can come and experience all the delights that we offer. We welcome all our guests, to tour and witness a traditional historic plantation at work. The fusion of agriculture, tourism, food and historic and cultural traditions crowned with outstanding warmth and friendliness of our people provide visitors with a unique and outstanding destination so far unparalleled in Grenada.
Under Shadel’s leadership Belmont Estate has become one of the top agritourism business in the Caribbean. Employing more than 80 full time staff, we offer a range of products and services, organic and fair-trade certified produce, chocolate factory, tours, a restaurant, a goat dairy producing goat's cheese, animals, and a plant nursery. Through Belmont Estate’s charity arm the Belmont Estate Foundation, several programs have been developed: summer school and school assistance programs for children, financial and in-kind donations to children, hot meals to the elderly, Christmas food hampers, home repairs, food and medication donations, and disaster relief. In addition, we engaged in educational and environmental programs and activities to building awareness about environmental responsibility. As a result of its work and commitment to tourism, agriculture, its community and the environment, Belmont has received numerous local and regional awards for environment and community stewardship, and best practices in tourism and agriculture.
The delivery of excellent customer service, protection of the environment and natural resources, enhancing education, food and job security, fulfilling our corporate social responsibility and forming strategic partnerships underpins Belmont Estate’s operations and practices.
These core practices have provided a framework which allows Belmont Estate to provide an extraordinary experience for our guests while strengthening our ability to assist in the improvement of the quality of life for the community. Further, it creates a platform where solutions can be sought, innovation can be pursued, and new operational approaches developed.
Belmont's partnerships include:
Our Sustainability Initiatives
Awards and Accolades
Since its opening in 2002, the company has been recognized regionally and internationally as a best practice in agri-tourism. It has for the past five years received several industry awards – service, ecotourism, environmental, entrepreneurial; and has been invited to participate in several conferences and forums worldwide that promote agri-tourism and sustainable development. Here are some highlights:
2019: Cocoa of Excellence Programme & the International Cocoa Awards - Among the 50 Best Samples
2019: Trip Advisor Hall of Fame for Service Excellence
2019: Best Tourism Attraction - Ministry of Tourism & Civil Aviation, Grenada
2019: Awarded Certificate for Service Excellence by Trip Advisor.
2018: Awarded Certificate for Service Excellence by Trip Advisor.
2017: IICA/CTO Agro-Tourism Award- Sustainable Tourism Awards Caribbean Tourism Organisation and Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture)
2017: Special "Bridging Islands of Knowledge" Award- Sustainable Tourism Awards (CTO sponsored by Centre of Excellence (COE) for the Sustainable Development of SIDS)
2017: Anthony N. Sabga Caribbean Awards for Excellence for Entrepreneurship.
2015: Cited by the Centre for Responsible Travel (CREST) in its article “Celebrating Women in Tourism”, occasion of International Women’s Day
2015: Excellence in Ecotourism, Grenada Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
2015: Awarded Certificate for Service Excellence by Trip Advisor.
2014: Presented at Private Sector Partnership Forum, SIDS Conference, APIA, Somoa
2014: Fair Trade Certified with Fair Trade Sustainability Alliance (FairTSA)
2014: Recognition from News Travel about Belmont Estate spice tours, gardens, museums, goat milk farm and restaurant.
2014: Presented at Brussel’s Briefing 37: Building Resilience of SIDS through Trade and Agribusiness Development.
2014: Awarded in Recognition of Unique Agro-Heritage Attraction at State of the Industry Conference, U.S. Virgin Islands from Caribbean Tourism Organization and Travel Mole.
2014: First Prize, Mango Festival for most innovative use of mangoes and best packaging by the Grenada Marketing National and Import Board.
2013: Awarded the Most Outstanding Organic Farm for 2013 on the Occasion of the World Food Day Celebrations by the Ministry of Agriculture of Grenada
2013: Businesswoman of the Year by the Grenada Chamber of Industry and Commerce
2013-2016: Certificate for Service Excellence by Trip Advisor
2012: Innovative Use of Root Crop- Root Crop Festival, Ministry of Agriculture, Grenada
2010: Environmental Excellence of the Year by the Grenada Chamber of Industry and Commerce (GCIC).
2003: Belmont Estate Certified Organic by Certification of Environmental Standards (CERES)