St. Barths: Charming me for 30 Years and Counting…

by: Bethany Ludwick, Villa Specialist

Thirty years ago this month, I flew to St. Barths for the first time. Just a naïve 24 year old with no idea what I was getting into or what to expect. Or that I was about to embark on one wonderful ride.

Fast forward to 2015, and St Barths still never disappoints. The common denominators—the people, the food, and the ambience—haven’t changed much. And neither has the spirit. Like when I was sitting at dinner with a large group one night when a majority of them began smoking. I asked my dinner companion, “I thought smoking was banned from public places?” He smiled. “It was! They do it anyway.” Just the mentality for an island of leisure, non?

This trip included stays at two of my favorite villas: Villa WV MOZ and Villa WV VUE. Amongst villa visits and delicious meals, we also were able to attend the combined season kick-off and the Vendôme Guide party at Tamarin. I can safely say a good time was had by all. The setting was beautiful; the champagne and wine flowed freely, and the turn out was huge. Villa owners, hoteliers, and clients all attended, as well as our partners from the restaurants, airlines, and on-island vendors. It’s nice to see so many people together in one festive venue, especially when we share a common goal: to accommodate and service clients on vacation.

Mingling with guests at Tamarin.
Mingling with guests at Tamarin.


I was fortunate enough one evening to be invited to On the Rocks by an old pal. She said we’d be joining her friends, which I was looking forward to. (Working out of a home office in Maine isn’t exactly life in the fast lane.) Meeting new people opens a window of opportunity, and true to form, I heard a great story on how one of the couples met:

Explaining the story in English with a heavy French accent (only adding to the story’s allure), this charming Frenchmen said, “Eleven years ago I was vacationing in St. Barths… I had a sunburn, and walked into the pharmacy for some help. Behind the counter was a woman who I automatically fell in love with. The next day, I used the sunburn as the excuse to visit this woman. Unfortunately, she was married.”

He went back to Europe and wrote her a love letter. He never mailed it thinking it was pointless: she was married, and he lived in France. So he put the letter in his desk drawer.

“A number of years later, I was talking to someone in St. Tropez who was from St. Barths. She asked me if I’d ever been to the island, to which I said yes, and that I fallen in love with a pharmacist there. As if out of a movie, the woman told me, ‘I know who you are talking about. She happens to be my best friend. She is still working at the pharmacy. And, she is single now.”

Thanks to the age of technology, emails were exchanged and he came to find out that the pharmacist did indeed remember the guy with the sunburn. He took a picture of the love letter written eleven years ago and emailed it. They’ve been together for three years now.

I had to share this because it’s so fitting for St. Barths to hear such a fairytale story, even more so when your backdrop is the beach, with the wine, and the accents.

Wine and dinner in St. Barths…what could be better?
Wine and dinner in St. Barths…what could be better?


In other exciting news, I can’t wait to share the new sense of energy and excitement permeating Le Toiny. It has gone through a major transformation, with remodeled villas and a terrific beachfront restaurant, reminiscent of Lafayette Club. Over the years the hotel had lost a bit of its pizzazz, and seeing it return to the flagship property it should be was a treat! I am looking forward to rebuilding our relationship with the new staff, and their welcome to us stated the same.

If only one thing is remembered from my trip experience – have it be this piece of advice: If you do not have Global Entry, stop what you are doing and make an appointment to enroll in it now! I have had it for two years but never used it before. Coming back through San Juan, there was a long line at customs. With a bit of anxiety, I passed by everyone and went into the empty Global Entry kiosk. While I did have a lovely young man behind me walking me through the procedure, I realized it was easy enough to have done it on my own. Seconds later I was walking (smugly I admit) by the others in their long lines wondering, “Haven’t they heard of Global Entry?”

Until next time St. Barths…

Not a terrible view…
Not a terrible view…