A Souvenir from St. Barths
by Ben Werner, WIMCO Villa Specialist
A typical trip report begins where it should. . .“I knew I was back in St. Barths as soon as the salty air welcomed me on the tarmac in St. Jean.” This most recent trip, however, was far from typical, so I will start from the end.
As I sat in the airport, boarding pass in hand, I decided I had time for one last social media post:
“Back to reality. Ben Werner –traveling to Newport, Rhode Island from Gustaf III Airport.”
The timing of this trip had great influence on my perspective. We left for St. Barths shortly after the horrific terror attacks in Paris, and the attacks in San Bernadino occurred while we were on island. When I boarded the Tradewind flight, I thought about my words and the reality I was returning to. Leaving St. Barths is always sad—for more reasons than simply the sun and sand—but this time, there was more to it. There was a stark contrast between the joie de vivre of St. Barths and the general culture of fear we were returning to.
Taking off from St. Barths with Tradewind.
I reflected on a conversation I had with a waiter at Black Ginger in Gustavia. We talked about the recent terror attacks. What struck me was his upbeat outlook; Instead of anger, distrust, and fear, he said that he felt emboldened. Since the attack in Paris he had vowed to live an even fuller life. “MORE Joie de Vivre!” he smiled. He would take full advantage of the way of life these terrorists seek to rid from the world. He would live more freely. He would laugh more, travel more, and love more. “It is no longer enough to live life and be happy,” he said. “If they will broadcast their hate and terror, we must broadcast our love of life and be more exuberant than ever before.”
I decided on the Tradewind flight home that I will not merely accept a reality that is determined by outside factors, but instead the reality that lives in St. Barths. I return to work with not only a deeper knowledge of the island but also a deeper meaning for my job as a St. Barths Specialist. It may sound silly and I realize it’s bit of an overreach, but I feel a strong desire to send as many people to St. Barths to add more happiness to my clients lives, and in turn bring more happiness to the world. Joie de vivre is my souvenir and my aim is to share it with anyone open to receiving it.
Enjoying Sunday at Nikki Beach.
Other trips focus heavily on the nuts and bolts of villas in the WIMCO rental portfolio. This trip of course had an element of villa visits (we visited 23) but it was not the main focus. We traveled not only with Villa Specialists, but also with our concierge (Thibault) and our photographer (Cate). Our aim was to learn the island on a deeper level and communicate what it has to offer in live time via social media. What is the true scope of this island and to whom can it appeal? What activities can we offer and what do our clients enjoy most?
At a time when travelers have many options when booking a vacation, one of our goals was to highlight what sets WIMCO apart. We pride ourselves not only on the depth of island knowledge but the level of service both leading into a trip as well as throughout the duration of our client’s stay. Our goal was to be the eyes and ears of WIMCO, and to provide our clients with first hand detailed destination knowledge.
Visiting villas. At Villa Angel House (WV AGH), a 2 bedroom in Flamands.
Our clients vary a great deal, so our days would be varied. We found everything from relaxation to adventure from the itinerary crafted by our concierge, Thibault. We interacted with as many people as possible throughout the trip; Even though each person seemed to have different reasons as to what brings him or her to the island, each shared the same joie de vivre as the waiter at Black Ginger. Whether speaking about kite surfing, in-villa spa treatments, or simply catching up on some reading, the glimmer of pride and joy in each persons eye when talking about their island was remarkable.
I have a newfound sense of the diversity that St. Barths has to offer. Next time we speak, I may suggest a guided hike to the peak of Grand Fond, 276 meters in the air. Or the exhilaration of paddle boarding Grand Cul de Sac on a windy day. Or how quickly stress can dissipate the second you hit the warm water of Colombier Bay after a boat trip with Jicky Marine. I know that you will hear the smile on my face when I tell you about atmosphere at Nikki Beach for Sunday Brunch. Or the energy in Bagatelle when our plates were cleared and replaced with high heels of women waiting to dance on the tables. It was nearly as intoxifying as the champagne that flowed freely. St. Barths has it all. The juxtaposition of natural beauty and grandeur somehow finds a perfect blend on this island, and I’m hooked.
Jumping into Colombier Bay after a day of boating with Jicky Marine
After years of experience with clients, we pride ourselves on the relationships we have developed with all of you. We like to think we know not only the villas that might suit you best, but the specific draw and allure St. Barths provides for each individual. We can’t help walking into a new villa and thinking “This villa will be perfect for Mr. So-and-So!” or, “Mrs. So-and-So would love this restaurant.” The relationships that exist on the island—whether person to person, or person to nature—distinguish St. Barths from anywhere else in the world, and the relationships WIMCO creates with our clients are the same. We love creating smiles and memories that will last forever.
Reflecting on a great trip. At Sante Fe.
To see more from our trip, take a look on instagram at @wimcovillas or @sbhben.