Trip Report to St Barthelemy
By Ellen Caywood
November 28 – December 3 2006
A First Timer's Trip Report on St Barts
I have heard many times that St Barts is a special island, unlike others. Many say it's the people or the beauty or the privacy that makes it that way. Here is why I thought St Barts was special. St Barts is not just a beautiful island, but a clean island where the buildings and homes are well maintained, and it gives you the sense of being in a bit of a utopia. The geography of the island has so much personality and invites you to explore every nook and cranny. The people are so special with their sophistication and kind, friendly nature. The island has SO much to do from beaches to beautiful villas to shopping and dining. On my first night there I knew that there just aren't enough minutes in a St Barts day. I hardly wanted to sleep for fear of missing an opportunity to engage in the island.
It turns out that traveling to St Barts is part of the fun of the island. Our flight plan included 2 legs - Boston to San Juan, PR on American Airlines, and then San Juan to St Barts on Tradewind Aviation.
I would recommend Tradewind to anyone visiting St Barts. The Tradewind check-in process in Puerto Rico is quick and easy. They will take any baggage that you do not want to carry on, and then they personally escort you through security, which is excellent and entails skipping any line that there might be.
We were on their 1 propeller plane that has 8 passenger seats, all with great views! The pilots are extremely friendly and are more than willing to tell stories and point out the islands as you pass over them. They even tipped the plane at one point so we could get some great pictures. I had heard that landing in St Barts is an adrenaline rush, and later found out that it is considered either the 2nd or 3rd toughest landing in the world. The pilot was cleared for either of the 2 landings and gave us the choice, Hill or Mountain. We chose mountain and were warned that their computer would automatically start warnings that we were too close to the mountains, but not to worry. Well, once you are whipping through the mountains, villas just an arm-length away, and the computer is politely demanding that the pilot, "pull up, pull up" all you can do is hold on and enjoy the ride.
Driving on St Barts is a blast. I was mortified and wanted nothing to do with the narrow, windy, hilly roads until I got behind the wheel of my Terios. Its fun to drive in St Barts and the only way to get to know the island. The rental cars are small so the roads don’t seem quite as narrow as they are. Even though there are no street names on the island, it's pretty easy to get around because at most intersections there are signs pointing you to one neighborhood or another.
The Villa Experience
I rented my villa through Wimco. Their local partner is Sibarth Villa Rental. Sibarth has a great team of young, friendly, and very customer-oriented people that work at the airport. They take away a lot of the stress of arriving in a new place when you are tired and frustrated, because they lead you through the process from that point forward; directing you to the nearby rental car counter, giving you a packet of information about the island and your villa, and leading you to your villa. I wasn't getting a rental car, and was the only one in my group who was heading to villa SIB FUN, so I jumped in the Sibarth car with Fred for my first experience of St Barts.
One of the special requests that I would recommend for every client is asking Wimco to provision your villa beforehand. It's easy to imagine yourself running to the supermarket on your first day, but when you actually get to the villa, the only thing you really want to do is sit down or jump in the pool. Having a fridge full of snacks and drinks is an incredible treat that allows you to really relax on your first night. We were able to make dinner for the 5 of us out of the snacks and drinks, allowing us to just sit around and enjoy each others company in these beautiful, breezy surroundings.
One of my favorite parts of being in a villa is all the space you have. I really noted in all the villas how they have so many unique gathering places. Our villa (SIB FUN) had at least 7 areas where you could sit. These areas were both indoor and outdoor, and included dining areas, lounging areas and sitting areas. My favorite was the incredible sunken outdoor seating area with huge chaises, a couch, and tables, all with views of St Jean Bay.
The first thing I did at the villa was to jump into 1 of the 2 pools. It was heavenly, especially with the music coming from my room, and the views of twinkling lights in the mountains. We were lucky enough to have 1 heated pool which was great for nighttime. Either way, having a private pool at your villa is a luxury you get used to very quickly.