Charlotte Anderson – St Barths Oct 28 – Nov 7, 2019
Arriving to St Barths is like coming home from a long day of work, kicking off your shoes, putting your feet up on a chaise lounge and finally exhaling. You then breathe in the warm Caribbean air, take a sip of chilled rosé and drift away to the sounds of palms rustling in the breeze. There is undeniably something magical in the air on this island that immediately puts you at ease. This relaxing feeling is something that I relish as soon as we step off the plane. With 50+ villas, several hotels and plenty of friends to meet, both new and old, we certainly had an exciting itinerary ahead of us.
My colleague Bethany and I began the trip with the wonderful opportunity of staying in villa WAK, which is a newly built six bedroom beachfront villa set on Flamands Beach. The villa operates like a well-oiled machine thanks to the attentive butler, chef, and discreet housekeeping. The villa is also complete with a private office, home theater and wellness center with a sauna, Turkish Hammam, massage room and gym. Complete with every amenity, as well as a wonderful professional staff, it is difficult to justify ever leaving the villa! Bethany and I certainly found leaving absolutely unnecessary unless it was strictly for touring villas. We enjoyed top rate breakfasts and four course dinners on the terrace while listening to the surf and taking in the gorgeous view. With the exception of an occasional person strolling the beach, you truly feel like you are in your own world here.
While we waited for our colleagues to join us, Bethany and I spent the following two days touring fourteen villas of various sizes, along with the very sweet hotel, Les Ilets de la Plage, on St Jean Beach. Standouts from our tours include:
CAR and TOR
Both villas are located in Lorient/Camaruche, private with gorgeous views over Lorient Bay, St Jean Bay and on to St Martin and Anguilla. Butterflies filled the air and flitted amongst the floral gardens as we took in these two villas. Both are completely private from the other, but can be rented in tandem for a total of three bedrooms.
CAR, newly refreshed following the 2017 hurricanes, has a comfortable, spacious living room, with a full guest bath, new kitchen adjacent to the living room, along with two bedrooms in a separate bungalow located on the opposite side of the large pool deck. The villa has brand new furniture and appliances. I can imagine two couples or a family enjoying this villa – coming together on the pool deck or in the open living room, or retreating to their rooms for privacy.
TOR is the sister villa, located just below CAR. It is a spacious one bedroom and very private. It is the perfect villa for a romantic retreat, honeymooners, or for guests interested in a private retreat from friends or family who are renting CAR. TOR does not have a separate living room, and is instead more like a large hotel suite. However, the lack of living room goes unnoticed due to the size of the bedroom, as well as the ease of access to the pool terrace. The kitchen is intended for breakfasts or easy meals on evenings that you choose not to dine out. I was impressed with TOR’s level of privacy, spacious bedroom, walk in closet and clean, updated bathroom.
This villa certainly has “wow” factor. You walk in through the living room, and your eyes are drawn to the clean lines of the spacious palm-lined terrace, and on to the expansive ocean views to the south. The air was so clear that you could perfectly see Saba, St Eustatius, as well as St Kitts and Nevis. The villa, while luxurious and large, instills a sense of peace with its shades of whites, blues and natural woods throughout the interior, and warmed by the green gardens, soft pampas grass and palms that frame the view. Following a stone path through the gardens, there is also a fully equipped gym, in-ground trampoline as well as court tennis. This is certainly a villa that a large family or group of friends would enjoy and never feel the need to leave.
ALW and DZR
ALW, formerly known as LED, is a newly renovated three-bedroom villa in Colombier, just around the corner from my favorite bakery, La Petite Colombe. The villa has been enlarged, and now has a larger living room space that is open with the kitchen, which is completely outfitted in Smeg appliances. One of my favorite aspects of the villa is the elevated sun deck, which is located on the highest point of the property. We were visiting this villa in the late afternoon and had a gorgeous view of the island drenched in the late golden sun and could see six neighboring, from Anguilla to Nevis, all at once!
Located just lower than ALW, the three-bedroom DZR is very private and has gorgeous ocean views to the south and views of Gustavia Harbor. You can see the neighboring islands, Gustavia, and watch as the planes come in for landing. The bedrooms were nicely separated from each other, which creates further privacy for couples traveling together. Couples traveling together and seeking a relaxing get-away, should highly consider this villa.
A final thought on why I love these villas is their proximity to Gustavia and St Jean. I find that some guests overlook the western arm of St Barths and consider it to be “too far.” In fact, you are just five minutes from either St Jean or Gustavia! With ease of access to town, walking distance to a bakery, ocean views and beautiful sunsets, I consider this area to be one of my favorites.
On Wednesday afternoon, our colleagues, Kristen, Chiara and Thibault joined us. Bethany and I went separate ways as she and Thibault stayed in villa DIA (2br, St Jean), and Kristen, Chiara and I stayed in villa MOZ (4br, Pointe Milou). While we missed Bethany and Thibault, it is no surprise that we absolutely fell in love with MOZ.
Situated right at the precipice of the peninsula of Pointe Milou, MOZ is a recently refurbished traditional style home that is very comfortable and extraordinarily private. The villa is meticulously maintained by the live-in housekeeper, who was readily available when needed and never intrusive. She provided us with welcome bottles of champagne and wine, delicious homemade rum punch, baguette and cheeses, as well as delivered French pastries each morning.
Whether gazing at Mont Jean in the morning light or at St Martin and Anguilla as the sun set, I always found myself in awe of the natural beauty here. It was always an immediate relief to come home, relax at the covered dining room table, or catch some rays on one of the loungers on the pool deck. I also had the opportunity to go for a night swim with Chiara, and we both found the pool to be very well heated! I am grateful for my opportunity to stay here and look forward to the day that I can return.
Tableside at MOZ
Over the next three days, we toured 20 villas. Standouts include:
As we approached the villa, we passed under a beautiful canopy of trees that immediately put me at ease. Walking in, we found ourselves in an open air, yet secluded hide-away overlooking Grand Cul de Sac. The living areas and bedrooms are all on one level, bungalow in style, and each accessible from the covered walkways. The décor was simple, modern and elegant. While there was a distinct Master bedroom, I did not feel like the other two bedrooms were that much different in size. Steps below the living areas we found a large pool deck and sun terrace. As the villa borders a nature preserve, it was very quiet, peaceful, and you could hear the sounds of waves all the way from Grand Cul de Sac. For a peaceful retreat, I would greatly recommend this villa
PAR was perhaps my greatest surprise of the trip. Located in the private neighborhood of Mont Jean, this five bedroom villa has recently received a major facelift. Formerly yellow in color, the owners have washed the entire house in white and have accented it with rich blue aqua shutters. Just this change alone allowed the house to brighten and evokes a Mediterranean feeling to the entire villa. The bedrooms are all bungalow style, with four bedrooms located at the main villa, and a separate guest house located closest to the entrance. This is truly a villa that allows families and friends to step away from their busy lives and reunite for meaningful time together, in a completely private setting.
By the time we finished our tours on Saturday, we were ready to settle in to our new villa, SBH DOL in Pointe Milou. The villa is very spacious with five bedrooms, which allowed our entire group to reunite once more. What I enjoyed most about DOL was the ample, and oh-so-comfortable seating in the living room. The villa also had a commanding view over St Jean Bay, and looked almost right down the middle of the runway of the airport. The pool was divine, and even with minimal relaxation time allowed in our schedule, I made a point to go for a swim as often as possible. The downstairs featured an additional living room, fitness equipment, a massage room, and a convertible ping pong/pool table. Of course, Chiara, Thibault and I had to test our skills on the pool table one evening and had a great time.
Sunset at DOL
A great treat of the weekend was a visit to VBB, in Colombier. I have never experienced such a magical place such as VBB, and the sunsets are truly enchanting. Set in bungalow style around a garden courtyard, this four bedroom villa enjoys spectacular ocean views to the south and west towards St Martin and Anguilla. The villa is meticulously maintained with décor that is traditional St Barths style – elegant, luxurious, yet understated. Yet, with all of these traditional, elegant motifs, the villa delivers all modern conveniences, leaving the guest not wanting for anything, except perhaps another glass of rosé.
Sunset at VVB
Sunday was enjoyed as it should be – slowly. I caught up on emails in the morning while Bethany went grocery shopping for us for the day. She brought back a magnificent feast from Maya’s To Go, enjoyed by all. After a dip in the pool, Chiara, Kristen, Thibault and I stopped in to Nikki Beach for a quick late afternoon cocktail (all I can say is, wow!) before heading over to Gustavia for a sunset catamaran cruise. It was such a great experience taking in St Barths from the water. As the sun set, we jumped in the ocean and swam to Colombier Beach, before boarding again and heading back to Gustavia by nightfall. It was a great time and I am grateful to both Thibault and St Barth Sailor for arranging this!
Monday came much too quickly as we set out on our final tours of the trip. Standouts from Monday’s tours include:
This is a four bedroom villa in Gustavia, set just below the fort and faces the harbor. The villa was recently renovated, yet still has the charm of an older St Barths villa. Although in town, the villa features a pool on the lower level in the front of the house. This villa could work for a family, especially with the two connecting bedrooms, however I can also imagine a group of couples, or friends enjoying the villa for a fun, easy experience, just steps away from town.
Interior of VGV with Kitchen
Fourth Bedroom of VGV
This villa was another anticipated visit that I thoroughly enjoyed. SBV is a two-bedroom villa, facing the center of Gustavia Harbor, located between the Carl Gustaf Hotel and Shell Beach. The interiors were simple, clean, modern and bright, entirely done in whites, beiges, and natural tones, with soft green accent pillows that connected the villa with its gardens. This villa gave me the impression that it would be perfect for two couples traveling together or for overflow guests of an additional party staying elsewhere. They could use this villa as their in-town pied-a-terre, as a place for friends to rinse off after a day at Shell Beach, or to park their cars and meet for a drink at the villa before walking in to town for a fun dinner. A small family with kids would also be well suited to the villa as its convenient location in town makes the use of a rental car less of a daily necessity.
JOC (Available for XMAs)
Tucked away in the hills of Lurin, this private three-bedroom villa certainly topped the list of villas for the trip overall. We were lucky enough to visit in the late afternoon sun and were treated to gorgeous golden views of the ocean to the south, over Gustavia and directly facing west towards St Martin. From each level, the gorgeous view is a main focus and we could not help but stop every so often to take it all in. This is the perfect villa for a family or group of friends, especially for those with a passion for cooking, who are interested in a private, relaxing getaway, yet easy access to Gustavia for shopping.
Views from JOC
Following our Monday tours, we had the opportunity to come together for a dinner at Maya’s with our WimcoSBH colleagues all from our real estate division, management team as well as our concierge team. As always, the food was excellent and the company was even better. We also had the opportunity to get to know some of the new WIMCO Concierge team members, who are the main faces of our company. We came away fully confident that our guests are in excellent hands on the island and will be served at the highest level. Thank you to Randy and Maya for hosting us for such a special evening!
For our last night together on Tuesday, WIMCO held its opening season party at Tamarin. It was such a wonderful evening in such a beautiful setting. I had great fun speaking with villa owners and managers we had met along the way and meeting guests of WIMCO who were currently on island. Together, our team celebrated our successful trip, as well as toasted to the beginning of a great season to come.
My final day and subsequent solo travel day allowed me to truly reflect on the past 10 days on St Barths. I found that I have refined my taste in villas and have a true appreciation for villas that are older in their bones, but refreshed with modern conveniences and beautifully maintained by thoughtful, discerning updates. I personally also err on the side of traditional St Barths design, but do have an appreciation for the newer, flashier style villas that are being built on the island. As a colleague reminded me – sometimes when you go on vacation, you want to try something that is totally different from your normal routine or environment. With both styles prevalent on the island, St Barths is entirely inclusive to individual taste and style, no matter who you are or what you do.
The best part about the trip overall was the stronger connection I felt to the island, fortified by the opportunity to reunite with and meet so many wonderful people on the island. I relished in all of the incredible stories of St Barths, especially those beginning with the question, “So when did you first come to St Barths?” Quickly you realize that these stories and people share the same, magical relaxing feeling that you have, once you’ve stepped foot off the plane.
Flying over Pointe Milou and Mont Jean on the way to SJU