By WIMCO Villa Specialist Charlotte Anderson
Arriving to St. Barths
When I first arrived to St Barths last summer, it felt a little like the first day of Freshman year: arriving to a place that you’ve heard everyone talking about and have longed to see. Then, with your feet finally on that mythical ground, you realize that you don’t know anyone, where to go, what to look for, or even your place amongst the others: locals, repeat guests, and returning colleagues. All you know is that you’ve “made it” and that you’re in for something good.
This time around, it felt like first day of Sophomore year. I now know a bit more of the lay of the land, where to go, what to look for, what to make mental notes of to bring back to my clients and colleagues, as well as to look for familiar faces.
David greeted us at the airport before escorting us to Villa CBA in Grand Cul de Sac, where we would stay for our first four nights. As we settled in and relaxed after a long day’s travel, that familiar, magical St Barths feeling started to seep in. It’s incredible what warm weather, palms gently swaying in the breeze, a peaceful view, and a touch of French culture will do for the soul.
However, it wasn’t time to relax just yet. During the next two days, we toured thirteen villas, ranging in size from one to six bedrooms, as well as a tour of Hotel Christopher. Standouts for me from that group were:
VLK (4BR, Anse des Cayes)- This home is very private, yet gives guests direct access to the beach. The spacious rooms had understated modern decor infused with natural elements and subtle Moroccan influence. Centered in the backyard, the large pool deck provides perfect areas for sunbathing or laying in the shade.
ARK (3BR, Pointe Milou)- With steep cliff sides that drop to crashing waves below, there is no way to beat the location of Pointe Milou. I also loved the fresh, minimalist decor, and neutral colors as well as the open air, yet cozy living spaces in this home.
VSC (4BR, Lorient Beach)- What a surprise! This villa was so well maintained and had brightly colored tiles that added a sense of fun throughout this pristine white beach house. The shrubs between the villa and the beach have matured and have helped not only with privacy, but have created virtually your own private beach club, as the owner has placed loungers and sixteen daybeds all along the beach and amongst the palms and hibiscus. Bulb lights adorn the beach area, which paired with a glass of wine and the sounds of the waves, makes for a relaxing night.
ECO & ECG (4BR, Gouverneur) I loved the zen architecture of both of these villas. While similar in style, they each had their own unique features. ECO was all about the impressive view and large communal spaces. ECG, while also benefiting from a great view, was more about personal retreat and relaxation. Laden with various palms, ylang ylang, and frangipani, the gardens are stunning.
Our visit to Hotel Christopher was such a nice change to the usual villa tours. We toured one of their Ocean Junior Suite rooms along with their Sisley Spa. The hotel is sleek and sophisticated. The late day sun and sunset views are also hard to beat, especially while relaxing by their large, curving, seaside infinity pool. The spa is beautiful, with luxurious products from Sisley Paris, and is also one of the only spas on the island where the only thing you hear are the sounds of the waves crashing on the rocks as you enjoy your treatment. The hotel staff was so friendly and hospitable. We ate an incredible lunch at Mango, which was the perfect way to end our tour!
Sunday rolled around and we finally had a moment to catch our breath since the start of our trip in the Virgin Islands. Hotel Christopher had left such a great impression on us that we decided to come back and enjoy the hotel. We spent the day by the pool, followed by lunch at Mango with some coworkers. After lunch, Kate and I had the opportunity to visit the Sisley Spa for a treatment, which is not to miss. The spa experience was so relaxing and enjoyable, it was hard for me to leave! It was the perfect way to end the day and refresh for our next few days of tours.
A Quick Villa Change
On Monday, we checked out of CBA and into ABR in Anse des Lezards. New to our portfolio, ABR was such a pleasant surprise! It is a four-bedroom villa, however functions very well as a two-bedroom. The pool is refreshing and can be heated for guests enjoyment. The wooden deck is large and enjoys sun all day, which was relaxing after long days of tours. With the peaceful crashing of waves just below the villa, this is the perfect spot to take an afternoon nap.
Before checking in to ABR and for the rest of our stay there, we toured 21 villas, ranging in size from one to six bedrooms, as well as two hotels, Le Sereno and Le Barthelemy. Standout villas for me from this group were:
APE (2BR, St Jean)– Being the sister property to ASE, the two villas are dissimilar only in bedroom count. I loved this villa for its white, fresh, and sweet nature. Photos do not do this villa justice! It is located so conveniently in St Jean and comes with easy access to St Jean Beach.
More Villa Tours and Favorites
VRN (4BR, St Jean)– The floral covered entrance pergola had me entranced the moment we walked in. The villa was modern, sleek, and spacious. Living rooms and staircases separate the bedrooms, giving it privacy for a late group of friends traveling together. Plus, the location in the hills of St. Jean is hard to beat.
BST (3BR, Lurin)– This villa offers ultimate privacy and peaceful serenity, yet is still close in proximity to Gustavia or Gouverneur. The home opens onto the large wooden pool deck covered with lounge chairs.
JUN (6BR, Corossol)– This villa is well decorated, has equal sized bedrooms and, of course, fantastic ocean and mouth-of-the-harbor views. I enjoyed the amenities that come with this villa, like the fitness room, outdoor dining area, chic kitchen, and home theater.
MER (3BR, Gouverneur)– This was one of my favorites that we saw overall. The ocean views of four different islands were breathtaking. Plus, the pool deck is spacious and the interior is sleek and comfortable. This home is very calming thanks to its white, grey, blue, and natural wood color schemes. The bedrooms are nearly equal in size, but there are two distinct Masters suites. This is the perfect house for two couples looking for peace and privacy. The flower gardens surrounding the villa were also impressive.
ACI (3BR, Flamands)– This new villa is connected to three-bedroom Villa ART by sliding walls, and the two can be rented in tandem for a larger group. The views over Flamands towards the ocean were great. Of course, as always, I was attracted to the pristine, white interiors.
Touring Grand Cul de Sac
I was happy to see both Le Sereno and Le Barthelemy hotels. A Front Desk representative conducted our tour and was able to show us an available room, a Grand Suite Plage. I loved the dark wood flooring paired with white walls and minimalist decor. We walked through their restaurant, which was full of guests, and also viewed their relaxing pool area. The palms surrounding the pool we so effortless and whimsical. They reminded me of Truffula Trees from Dr Seuss’s The Lorax.
Immediately after our tour with Le Sereno, we headed over to Le Barthelemy. The hotel was teeming with guests, collecting their cars from valet to explore for the day, or lazily claiming their lounge chairs by the beach or pool for a day of relaxing. We were able to view a Garden View room, which is equipped with a screened in terrace next to a beautiful tropical garden. She also walked us through their underground spa that receives natural light from its glass atrium, which is reminiscent in style to the Pyramid at the Louvre. They offer treatments with La Mer products, which I can only imagine is heavenly.
The hotel was well-staffed and everyone was attentive and friendly- greeting every guest they passed with a smile and “hello”. Following our tours, we enjoyed a delicious light lunch at their beachside restaurant, Aux Amis Plage. This is one of the only restaurants on the island that you can actually eat “on the beach”.
Reflecting on the trip
For our last day on the island, Kate and I laid low and soaked up the sun at ABR. We ate a light lunch at Lil Rock, plus a swim at St. Jean beach. The relaxing day allowed us to reflect on our St Barths experience. I was pleased with the mix of villas that we saw, some older staples and some newer additions, as well as a good balance of small and large villas.
A favorite memory from this trip was our Team Dinner at Maya’s on our second night on-island. We were fortunate enough to be on island during the WIMCO management retreat. It was so much fun to be among both familiar faces from Newport, as well as reuniting with our WIMCO St. Barths team members and friends. The night was filled with good food, great conversation, and lots of laughs.
Overall, this trip was an absolute success. We explored nearly every corner of the island and saw so many great properties. I am so grateful to David, Fanny, Jules and the rest of the on-island team for assisting us throughout the trip. I am also so thankful to AnneMarie and Michael for their great company and conversation, while we shared time on the island. Our love and appreciation of St Barths grows exponentially with each trip, and it is with pride and pleasure that we can share this love with our clients – both those who share that magical feeling, and those yet to discover it.