This is our first blog, so here goes! We might as well start with a wonderful trip. It is helpful to think about a tropical getaway this time of year in freezing New York City! As you can tell from the title of this post, St. Barth’s was a family vacation. We were lucky enough to spend a week there over Christmas. If you have never been…dust off your high school French and get there! It is nothing short of breathtaking. The balmy climate of the deep Caribbean melts away all the city stress instantly. I have a large family ( mom, dad, two brothers, a sister, and a husband), and we were all ready for some fun in the sun. St Barth’s offers a little piece of France ( beware of the Euro!) in the West Indies. We have compiled a list of must do’s, where to go’s, and all around favorites below- enjoy!
Getting to St Barth’s: There are direct flights from New York City into San Juan, Puerto Rico as well as direct flights into St Maarten. Then it’s a quick hop in a puddle jumper over to St Barth’s. You can also take a boat from St Maarten to St Barth’s if your heart and stomach are not up for the drop from the sky onto the small runway!
Splurge: Fly into San Juan, Puerto Rico and stay the night at the Ritz Carlton. Dinner at Il Mulino ( A New York favorite- they make the pasta at the table) and hit the casino. The next morning we met our pilots at the Tradewind Aviation counter at the San Juan airport. You are whisked through security (no lines!) and brought to your plane. The flight is smooth and they have maps aboard to show you which islands you are flying over. They have thought of everything to make the flight as painless as possible. The total flight time is an hour and twenty minutes. Flying directly into St Barth’s allows you to skip the hassle of St. Maarten ( double customs, delayed flights, and missing luggage). For a family this was a great option. It takes the stress out of traveling.
Tradewind Aviation- an executive charter service: http://www.tradewindaviation.com/premiumScheduled.shtml
Where to stay:
Traveling as a family: Renting a villa is THE way to go. We rented our villa through Ici et La and worked with Remy. He met us at the airport and loaded our bags into his van. We followed him in our newly rented Jeep Wranglers to Villa Walhalla and Tiwa in Pointe Milou. Pointe Milou is a small community with AMAZING sunrise and sunset views. As an interior designer I immediately fell in love with our villa. The floor plan is perfect for an older family or group. Everyone had their own bedroom and the layout allows lots of space for everyone. The house is a wooden structure just like something out of an Ernest Hemingway novel. Painted floors, sisal carpets, rattan furniture, and built-in banquets with cushions upholstered in white linen created a casual beachy vibe. Two outdoor kitchens with long ceramic topped tables set the scene for many dinners cooked at home. After dinner we would move to the outdoor living rooms for a game of cards or dancing.
Ici et La- ask for Remy: They will handle Villa rentals as well as maid staff, cooks, and any on island activities you wish to do.
Private Chef: We debated many options but in the end went with “CANNELLE PAPRIKA” – private chefs and catering run by “Ms. Laurence and sophie”, whose mantra is “DELICATE FOOD MADE FOR EMOTIONS”.
Tél : (011) 590 590 27 78 78
Fax : (011) 590 590 27 78 28
The other preferred rental company on the island is Wimco. On a previous trip to St Barth’s we stayed in a different villa in Pointe Milou with a group of friends. Bon Temps Roullez (BTR) reminded me of Palm Beach home ( Palladian Style) with a distinctive Caribbean twist. All the materials used to build the house remind you of the sea and the landscape that surround you. With soothing whites, tans and blues the house combines textures ( Limestone floors throughout, hand painted tile banquettes, and stone tiled bathrooms) and soft color to create a relaxed elegance. Each piece of furniture is exquisite and you want to examine everything you see- details, details, details! The 50′ infinity edge pool looks out over St Jean Beach and St Maarten. You have all the modern amenities in a beautiful indoor/ outdoor beach home.
BTR Through Wimco: http://www.wimco.com/villa-rentals/st-barthelemy/pointe-milou/bon-temps.aspx
Maco Lodge: more modern Balinese style. Stunning both inside and out. This House is steps away from the Christopher Hotel. Bright strong colors remind you of the bougainvillea surrounding the house.
For a couple – We loved the hotels below:
Hotel Christopher in Point Milou – This Hotel is on the water on the sunset side of Point Milou. The pool sits right at the waters edge and is surrounded by lounge chairs and Palm Trees. Two restaurants sit on either side of the pool area( Mango for Lunch and Taino for Dinner).
Hotel Christopher: http://www.hotelchristopher.com
Eden Rock in St Jean – The history of this hotel is great- it evolved from an imaginatively sited house built sixty years ago by Remy Haenen. It has evolved and developed, starting in the 90’s, and is nothing short of breathtaking today. In 2003 they purchased the beach hotel next door, and on the other side of the rock they have Niki Beach. Staying here you are right in the heart of everything- shopping, dining, and beach.
Eden Rock: http://www.edenrockhotel.com
Le Serano- A minimalists dream with a beautiful beach. Le Serano was designed by the french master Christian Liaigre. Sophisticated yet unfussed. The freshwater swimming pool overlooks the beach.
Le Sereno: http://www.lesereno.com/
Boating: Rent a catamaran for the day: Meet your captain in Gustavia and hop on board! We sailed out to Fregate Island and spent hours snorkeling in the deep turquoise waters. When we swam back to the boat they had a feast of sushi, various salads, tomato and mozarella, and couscous prepared for us paired with a delicious Rose Wine. Champagne and cake followed and we set sail for Colombier Beach. The only other way to reach this isolated gem of a beach is by foot- a 30 minute hike. While out on the boat you get a unique view of the island and all of its coves. You also get a peek at all the major yachts that are moored just outside of the harbor.
Contact: Skipper Miguel Danet (phone 590 06 90 65 89 03) or Remy at Ici et La for information on our boat.
Favorite Shops– St. Jean and Gustavia boast the best shopping centers on the island.
Lolita Jaca- beautiful silk and chiffon beach cover ups and dresses for an evening out
Poupette- same as above
Mia Zia- eclectic bohemian pieces
Vanita Rosa- find the perfect dress for dinner
Calypso- get your high fashion fix- YSL, Chloe, Balenciaga, Missoni, and Lanvin take up the racks in here.
Christian Celle– also in St Jean – cotton and linen beach cover ups and fun gold and silver jewelry.
Vilebrequin and Sundek- two shops for beautifully printed mens bathing suits. Sundek has a retro vibe.
Cafe Coton- around the corner from Le Select you will find a store that holds pressed cotton and linen shirts in every color of the rainbow. Striped, flora, checkered, and plain! A linen shirt is the STAPLE for men on the island so pick up a few!
Tek- A home store filled with teak furniture, coconut bowls and frames. A perfect store to pick up a house warming gift.
Christian Liaigre- The very well known minimalist chic designer has a home store in Gustavia. You may have seen his work at the Mercer Hotel in New York or at Le Sereno hotel on St. Barth’s. In the traditional whitewashed cottage with the red roof he sells sleek wooden beds, chairs and other home accessories made with exotic and tropical woods like wenge, wacapou, wamara, and ebony from Africa, and upholstered with muted, earth-toned fabrics.
Kiwi- great men’s linen shirts and bathing suits.
Lili Belle- womens day wear
Rock Shop- Designer duds for day and night- Milly, Pucci, Antik Batik etc
Terra- fashion for day and night
Casarina Surf: Pick up a snorkle and mask for your expedition to Gouverneur or Columbier!
Cafe Santa Fe- Informal lunch above Gouverneur Beach. After a long day at the beach a late lunch served by the owner himself, Emanuel, is a treat.
Niki Beach – Jet set beach side lunch in St. Jean. Complete with Ti Punch, a fashion show, and music. White walls, muslin drapped everywhere, and large white cushions contrast nicely with the bright blue ocean a few steps away.
Le Ti – Dinner on Thursday or Friday night in Pointe Milou. The restaurant is walking distance from both BTR villa and Villa Walhalla Tiwa. Delicious food served with a side of burlesque dancing and amazing music. You will end up dancing the night away on the table tops amidst swaths of red velvet and disco lights.
L’Isola – A newcomer to St barth’s in Gustavia. Mouthwatering Italian food and the decor is beautiful. Long Tables with deep red drapes lend a romantic vibe. For an appetizer, the burrata was amazing. Try the fish special for your main course. From here you are ready to start your night on the town. A stroll down the street leads you to Le Bête à Z’ailes, a restaurant/ bar ( they serve delicious food as well) where they have live music and dancing. If you are ready for more you can continue on to one of the many night clubs in Gustavia and dance until dawn.
Le Select- Cheeseburger in Paradise! Jimmy Buffet wrote the his hit song about Le Select. This is an informal spot decorated with liscense plates, flags, and bumper stickers. Grab a cheeseburger with a side of fries and a Caribe beer. They have live music every night. Jimmy performed here this autumn!
Gouverneur – My personal favorite. The drive out there is long and winding- some parts of the road allow one car at a time. But the reward is an isolated beach with great snorkeling.
Saline- A close second. This is another pristine white beach close by Gouvernour.
Flamands – While we were in St Barth’s a storm passed off the coast which resulted in some big waves all over the island. Though St Barth’s is not known for its surfing there were plenty of locals who hopped right in. My family grew up on the coast in Rhode Island so we were thrilled to see some big surf! We found the biggest waves at Flamands. Hotel St-Barth Ile de France and La Langouste are nearby for lunch or a drink.
Columbier – also called Rockefeller’s Beach since David Rockefeller owned the land surrounding it for many years. Usually a fairly isolated spot due to the 30 minute hike. Bring a picnic lunch!
If you are someone who loves to travel, and who appreciates the little things that can enhance a hotel stay or a larger itinerary, then contact Bobby Zur at Travel Artistry. He loves the idea of “meaningful travel”, and helps his clients to seek out inspiring experiences.
Bobby Zur at Travel Artisty: Email Bobby Zur