30 Years of Being Part of the St Barths Experience
Why is it that every time I land on St. Barths I simply break into a smile? I feel complete joy and anticipation of yet another treasured experience, and yet know that when I leave, inevitably the tears still rise at the thought of tomorrow not being spent on this glorious spit of land in the middle of the Caribbean…
After almost 30 years of being part of the “St. Barths’ experience” I continue to feel such pride to be involved in some way of making it all happen. Returning to St. Barths is not just about the villas, but about the incredible relationships that have developed and how the conversations just seem to pick up where we left off last year – seamless and genuine! These cherished times are the stuff that memories are made of.
My colleague Bethany and I had the opportunity to spend our first evening at Le Barthelemy Hotel, which has no doubt set an incredibly high standard with their excellent customer service, attention to details and overall attitude. From the valet, to the front desk, to the waiter at breakfast, everyone smiled and was incredibly professional yet personable.
A late lunch at Villa Marie proved to be a most enjoyable experience. We were introduced to the “new” hotel manager, Nicolas Rondelli, who then joined us for lunch (along with one of the resident tortoises, who quite enjoyed his lunch as well). Nicolas is a charming addition to the hotel and will add a relaxed air. Villa Marie is a delightful oasis away from the noise and vibe of the beach restaurants, but we hear they may be purchasing a bit of property along St. Jean beach…stay tuned.
This time last year, it was a relief to see the palm trees beginning to produce new fronds and construction well underway. Skip to 2019, and, well, the island is back, big time! Construction and renovations are rampant and even those houses which last year looked so forlorn are rising up. This is all great news for 2020.
As Bethany and I have determined over the years, we enjoy our lunches whether it’s with owners or clients as well as our evenings at home. We prefer to mix it up with both local hotspots and neighborhood gems. Some that were memorable were:
La Langouste: All I can say is, do yourself a favor and come here for either lunch or dinner. I believe it’s reached a new level of quality and sitting there with the gentle breeze and glimpses of the azure water is just joy for the soul!
Les Bananiers: A neighborhood spot in Colombier where the food is great, the service is quick and they have daily specials at 13 euros—what’s not to love?
L’Esprit: In a word – magical! The perfect spot for old friends to gather and talk about the “year.”
Days were spent with villa visits primarily in the morning, prior to an arrival. I have incredible admiration for our WIMCO concierges who diligently organize their day according to arrivals and departures, and spend their days assisting clients. Their day doesn’t end at sundown; they are the face of WIMCO and without a doubt those boys make us proud!
As Bethany and I drove around and discussed houses that we visited, our question to each other was always “Which are your favorites?” Not which are the most grand, but ones that truly are the perfect SBH house. PAT is still one of those at the top, along with JAY which becomes more special each time. It is just about as close to perfection as is possible. Oh, and before I forget, CDM. As we walked in I simply exhaled and thought, “What an incredibly glorious spot.” The view is never-ending. The breezes are gentle. The space is large and open but not cavernous, and the renovations are superbly done! If it’s available—rent it!
Another house which has risen is CAR. It has been renovated yet retains a lot of its original charm and let’s face it: it has those incredible views, a large pool and is still well priced. Rented in conjunction with TOR – it turns into a great three bedroom.
On the flip side, we visited WAK on Flamands beach. The lower bedroom featuring the Jacuzzi and direct walk out to the beach was quite special, and the master with the huge tub overlooking Flamands makes me a fan of this house. As Bethany said – think of it as almost a hotel – and that’s exactly it. With a fitness room, cinema, and an adorable butler at hand, guests could enjoy being in a cocoon.
Two other villas that I would mention are LUM—bravo for the superb job they’ve done in rebuilding this house. It is really quite wonderful, and we took the opportunity to listen for traffic and it really was negligible. The other great one is ABB. With the fairly new expanded deck, new living area and dining space, plus those views over Grand Cul de Sac – this is a perfect spot for three couples who want quiet, breezes and space…all with a great high season rate of approximately $12,000/wk.
St. Barths continues to be magical despite the construction, the traffic and sometimes the noise. If you search, you can find the old St. Barths and all its charm, and that’s what brought us to this incredible spot and what makes us return year after year. For me, Sunday mornings spent at the Anglican church with the sounds of the bells, the windows wide open to the breeze and the birds flying in and out…with the notation that “this structure was built in 1855” let me know that this will always be my second home.
As our dear friend Brook Lacour used to say “Aren’t we just so blessed to be here?” Yes, we are!