Disembarking from the Tradewind flight into the sultry warm St Barths air, I had one thought: “I’m never leaving. Ever. Send for the husband and pets.” Of course, that feeling hits me every time I’m on the island, whether it’s upon landing, running into an old friend, or enjoying a colorful sunset.
This most recent trip was two weeks, plenty of time to explore, see what’s new, catch up on the latest news, and experience the island from the eyes of someone on vacation. A common thread in emails from returning guests throughout the season was the amount of construction on the island, and the traffic. I personally didn’t mind the traffic at all. I decided it was a great way to: people-watch in the cars coming the other way; mull over options for lunch and dinner; make up silly French words like “jam du traffic”; start thinking about the dates for the next trip to St. Barths (maybe two trips this year?), and remind myself that being stopped in traffic in St Barths is better than a wide open road in Maine.
The first night was spent at the hotel Le Barthelemy, St Barth’s newest addition. Rebuilt after Irma, Le Barthelemy is a true gem: large rooms that are beautifully appointed, equally large bathrooms with over-sized rain shower heads, a plentiful array of Hermes products, thick towels, and lush robes. The crowning glory of this luxurious comfort was the staff—friendly, professional, knowledgeable, smiling, and generally happy to help. The rooftop bar, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, was the perfect spot for drinks and tapas after a long day of travel. I went back a few nights later to meet clients and again, it did not disappoint. This time there was a DJ playing music and there wasn’t a seat to be had.
We were pleased to learn the hotel has leased the land of the former Emeraude Plage Hotel on St. Jean beach. They plan on building an eco-friendly, bohemian type hotel, which when completed, will give them 40% of the hotel rooms on the island. I have every confidence they will do the new project justice and look forward to the end result.
As for the construction, it’s a necessary evil. There is still rebuilding and repairs because of a major hurricane. I was surprised to see the Tropical Hotel is being completely rebuilt. The silver lining of Irma is that some of the villas have benefited with upgrades, renovations, and in some cases, well deserved overhauls. Across the board, I think the villas as a whole are in the best condition ever. Looking ahead, it’s imperative as Villa Specialists, to know where the construction is going on, steer clients clear, and find the perfect accommodation. Enjoying a villa that fits one’s needs is part of the vacation experience.
There were so many new discoveries in the villas, far too many to list, so I’ll mention a few in each category:
WV LIL – soon to become a very popular new addition. A stones throw to Lorient beach, fully air-conditioned, with a small pool and nice little yard. Great value and adorable to boot. (Located behind SAJ so it would be a great combination for three bedrooms).
WV APN – Pretty setting, private, beautiful views, and a big sunning area. I think the gated neighborhood of Mont Jean is very appealing due to the peacefulness and lack of through traffic.
WV CAR – truly a surprise with its post Irma renovations! The spacious living room has been redecorated, the half bath off the living room has been updated, the dining table under the gazebo is now a big sun bed, and the two ensuite bathrooms are now modern and new!
WV APE – this newly added villa in St Jean is a little gem! Immaculate, light and bright, and well appointed. One of the two equal bedrooms is off the living room, while the second bedroom is off the terrace. Great option for those requesting a central location, all day sun, and good value.
WV MOZ – what a treat to finally see the renovations in person! The villa looks crisp and clean and feels like you’re entering a home and not a rental property. The views and the setting captivate you and makes it hard to leave!
WV SIX – this three-bedroom in Pointe Milou has just been purchased by new owners, and they have great plans for upgrades which should be completed by November.
WV LUZ – the new fourth bedroom was a pleasure to see as I wasn’t sure of its location. It is beyond the pool and past bedrooms two and three, making it the lowest building on the property. The ocean view from the bedroom is very pretty and it’s all done in white. Overall the villa looked great and remains a great choice because of its location, price/value, and comfort.
ECO and EGO – these two villas looked wonderful! They are true contenders in the frequently played game, “If you could stay in any villa on the island, which one would you choose?” I think both villas have matured beautifully and have a much more elegant feeling than they did when they were newly built. The views from both are stunning, yet very different from one another – ECO with views that include St Jean and the airport, and EGO of the island and open ocean.
WV CDM – another post Irma surprise, CDM gets the “most improved” award! Expansive ocean views, a new fitness room, beautiful bedrooms with new, modern ensuite bathrooms, large pool, and plenty of space necessary for five bedrooms. Tucked in at end of Pointe Milou, you don’t see any other villas and have no sense of any neighbors.
WV WAK – Truly an example of why I’ll always go visit a villa again, regardless of how many times I’ve seen it before. I don’t think I had a true appreciation of this luxurious property on my first visit. I was very happy to take the time and really understand the layout and its qualities.
WV VLP – another post Irma treat, I thought VLP looked fabulous. The new kitchen with its beautiful cherry cabinets, new state-of-the-art stove, beautiful grounds, mature palm trees, and the sound of the surf makes VLP a miniature resort. Combine that with the charming three-bedroom VSC next door, and it’s the ideal combination for large groups.
No trip report would be complete without mentioning the restaurants. I love Esprit, not only for the interesting menu, but the ambiance and the food itself. Dinner there is a treat and the service is what you’d hope for on your vacation.
La Langouste was so enjoyable, we went there twice for lunch. Both times I ran into people I know, so apparently the word is out about how good the food is! Even though Annie, the owner, has leased the restaurant and passed the torch to a new generation, it doesn’t miss a beat. Les Bananiers was also another restaurant where we had lunch twice. Don’t even look at the menu – my recommendation is to share an order of duck nems (one order per two people), and then have the Thai Shrimp Salad. You will thank me!
Sante Fe was very good and I still prefer to have lunch there over dinner, as the view is so pretty and there’s always a cool breeze. They win the award, in my opinion, for the best Caipirinha. They also have valet parking! Le Toiny Beach Club was a great choice for a long, Sunday afternoon lunch. All the tables have some sort of shade and there isn’t a bad table to be had. The setting is hard to beat with the mature palms, the blue ocean dotted by an occasional surfer, toes in the sand, and the “isn’t life great?” vibe is something to remember long after the trip has ended. The menu is limited but sometimes the setting and the company of friends has you realizing it’s not always about the food.
Choosing the right villa also lends to delicious meals at home. While we didn’t have a cook come in on this trip, fantastic meals were had via Mayas to Go, Meat my Fish with perfectly cooked ribs, and items to go from both the grocery store in St. Jean and Lorient.
In closing, it was another wonderful experience on the magical island of St. Barths. If you have any questions, please let me know.
Until next time…