TRAVEL: Eleven years later I finally return to the très chic French island of Saint-Barthélemy—St. Barth. The first trip, a sailing celebration for New Year’s Eve introduced me to the fact that I was not destined to become a worldly sailor. In 2004, my husband and I sailed from St. Martin to St. Barth in 10ft swells (I gripped any protruding handle that I could find on the 55ft sloop and held on dearly at a 45-degree angle), and I arrived at Gustavia dock a perfect shade of green, our captain, however, looked like a happy present-day pirate. I decided that the next trip to St. Barth I would keep my feet firmly on the ground. So this January started with a winter getaway to the Caribbean sans a sailing yacht.
The fifteen-minute flight from St. Martin’s Princess Juliana Airport to St Barth, via Windward Island Airways, (WinAir) provides an exhilarating landing, not for the faint-hearted. Once I recovered from the Twin Otter’s dramatic descent, I remembered that the less than 10-mile square island is super-small, and small cars make the best transportation—the Mini Cooper convertible we rented was a perfect island shade of pale blue.
Our villa, privately located on a hilltop near the Grand Cul-de-Sac offered a picturesque view across the bay of Le Guanahani hotel, with views of rolling waves on the north side of the island. I loved our tropical locale, which was near Hotel Le Toiny, my favourite hotel of all the luxury resorts that St. Barth has to offer (renovated last summer). We savoured dinner poolside with a view of the ocean more than once; the beach-chic interiors highlighted the relaxed ambience. Cocktails at the bar are a must, (the bartender creates hand-crafted bitters that will blow your taste buds away), and we visited Le Toiny Beach Club twice—by far the best ‘feet-in-the-sand’ lunch, set in a coconut grove on the beach. Heaven!
My list-to-do on this holiday was simple, visit a beach every day, well almost every day and to always eat lunch with our ‘feet-in-the-sand.’ Morning strolls on Saline and Gouverneur beach and a sunset drive along the Grand Fond took care of the larger beaches. One Sunday morning we took a 25-minute hike to Colombier beach, which is only accessible by boat or said hike. Afterwards, we stopped for lunch at La Cabane de L’isle at the Cheval Blanc hotel on Flamands beach—my personal favourite and easiest beach to swim. But I must confess this is the only beach that I spent time happily swimming.
We also enjoyed lunch on the beach at Indigo at Le Guanahani Hotel, Nikki Beach St. Barth not only offered sand but ‘feet-in-the-water’ as the tide washed around our ankles, as did La Plage at Tom Beach Hotel also on the Bay St. Jean. All serving a delicious à la française menu with true European panaché.
For dinner, a trip to St. Barth is not complete without a visit to Le Ti and entertainment being the key point of interest for most guests—enough said, and near Saline, we dined at Le Tamarin, a refreshing change from too much beach time, set amidst a tropical garden setting. We spent a couple of afternoon’s visiting Gustavia’s local boutiques, with a walk to Shell Beach for sunset cocktails. For dinner, we dined at a seafood restaurant called Bonito for its incredible views overlooking the port of Gustavia. A lazy vacation, but we certainly ate a lot!
The Eden Rock hotel on the Bay of St. Jean is the epitome of a luxury retreat in paradise while we never stayed at the resort, we did experience the restaurants. On arrival at the island, our first lunch at the Sand Bar seduced our holiday sensibility as we sipped our first glass of Rosé. Our final evening at the restaurant On The Rocks offering a worldly-inspired menu by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten completed our island escape with a nighttime view across the Bay of St. Jean—a fitting farewell to our tranquil holiday.
If you’re interested… we booked our villa through Luxury Retreats, and the concierge team was easily available via text the entire trip to help with anything we needed. The privacy of a villa but the accessibility of a hotel-type concierge made the holiday perfect. Au revoir!