Making Memories… Island Style

'Butts of St Barths' Illustrated by Anouk Colantoni at WIMCO Villa La Fleur de Mar for

St Barths holds a special place in my heart – this stunning French Caribbean island was the very first vacation I ever took with my then boyfriend, Victor.  I was 20 years old at the time and had yet to experience a holiday so breathtaking and decadent.  It was also the first time I had ever vacationed in a villa as opposed to an all-inclusive spring break-style hotel…I am a Long Island girl after all!  Oh, the memories I have from that trip will forever be rooted inside me…relearning how to drive stick shift on a hilly island (not recommended BTW), packing a lunch daily and discovering the many unique beaches scattered about the island – in particular the 20 minute hike down to the remote and romantic Colombier Beach. Getting lost as we left that beach at sundown may not be my favorite moment, but still made for a unforgettable memory and hilarious story. The island offered such beauty and adventure as I was falling in love on my very first adult holiday, it was truly indescribable.

Let’s remember I was 20 years old, so I may need to re-calibrate your expectations about our “villa”…. It was a teeny one bedroom bungalow up in the hills and although it was not glamorous in any way, boy was it heaven.  A few years later Victor and I got married and a few years after that we had a baby on the way.  During my pregnancy we visited St Barths again, a babymoon so to speak. We were in spiritual nesting mode and admittedly, I was bare-bellied the entire time admiring my expanding body and the precious life I held inside. Our villa this time was a slight step-up, with a stunning view but far from grand – we had a baby on the way after all.

So you see this very small, chic island was becoming a place that signified special moments in my life – so many rites of passage St Barthelemy offered.

Fast forward (yikes I cannot believe I am revealing this to you) 20 years from that 1st visit! Yup, I turned 40 this year and vowed to keep it a secret – no parties, no celebrating, no hoopla! But you know what, I chose to celebrate me instead.  I am happy, I am full with love, I feel healthy and beautiful, and have a family and career that I am very proud of…why should I hide the – duh duh duuuuuuh 4-0 number? So when a serendipitous night out with my girly girls brought forth talks of a swoony trip to St Barths with WIMCO Villas in November, I declared it my birthday trip!

A holiday escape with 8 of your closest girlfriends is pretty sweet but dial it up, oh I don’t know about 1,000 notches, with a private pimped out flight by Tradewind Aviation and a larger than life impeccably designed 6 bedroom Villa La Fleur de Mer (WIMCO Villa BWH) complete with vast scenic views of the Caribbean Sea and sunsets to die for and, well…HOLY SWOON!  Mornings began with a helping of buttery croissants, from Maya’s to Go, juxtaposed by morning yoga class with gear from MPG Sport. At the time I was in the thrones of re-launching EyeSwoon, which was super stressful with various bits and bobs going wrong; nothing like an early morning headstand and flying side crow to clear the mind and settle the body!

Worries of reality diminished more and more each day with poolside chatter of sweet and supportive conversations with my closest gals. Sharing and laughing about love and life became an afternoon into evening ritual – striking a yoga pose here and there, as we admired the sun slipping into the sea.

And then things got frisky as the gals bore all in a hilarious late night game of Cards Against Humanity punctuated by a whole lotta Rose wine and a poolside booty baring moment, brilliantly illustrated by Anouk Colantoni. Beach adventures by day, wild car rides with blaring music – singing at the top of our lungs with reckless abandon by night…. was I regressing back to those high school spring break days?!?  All this was capped off with a delish birthday dinner at our villa prepared by the islands most respected private chef, Benard Javelle, resulting in the swooniest pre-b’day celebration this 40 year old could have ever dreamt up. Thank you WIMCO!

To say I was swooned with gratitude and friendship by this holiday would be an understatement –  marking yet another significant & celebratory St Barths moment in my life.

Photography by Luci Taffs & Athena Calderone /Illustrations by Anouk Colantoni

Originally published on EyeSwoon blog by Aimee Blaut.