October 2003Barbara Pierce
Mishaps aside, it was good to finally be in the islands. After scrutinizing every detail of the Italian countryside for more than a decade, it was nice to turn my eyes to this new view, and nice to offer a fresh take on the places Lidy knows like the back of her hand.
When we arrived on Anguilla, I could see right away why people choose to seek solitude in this sun-washed spot. Although it's just a short ferry ride away from St. Martin, Anguilla remains quiet and relatively unaffected by the hustle and bustle of its louder, faster neighbor. Friendly and safe, it seems the perfect place to simply relax and unwind. I have several dear friends with close connections to Anguilla, including friends with a connection to the architect of both the stunning CoveCastles and the striking Villa Altamer. Zipping along in stark contrast to the island's easy pace, we were able to tour these resorts plus several villas during out six hours on the island.
We returned to St. Martin in the evening, picked up our luggage at the previous night's hotel and (after the flat tire incident) found our villa in the dark. I like St. Martin. It's sophisticated and offers any activity you desire. It plays a terrific fiddle to the soft music of Anguilla and spending time on both islands provides a delightful contrast of beats. I prefer the French side of St. Martin and was very impressed with the villas shown to us by our local representative, Francis. Francis has quite a high standard for his properties and they are all fresh, glamorous and well appointed. We toured more than 20 villas and I found two of them particularly striking: Villa L'Oasis and Villa Pamplemousse. Strictly for the rich and famous, L'Oasis is a magnificent villa on a hill overlooking Baie Rouge Beach. Complete with a media room, a roof-top sundeck and two swimming pools, the villa also comes with a French chef willing to cook three meals a day! Pamplemousse is a large and charming villa in Terres Basses decorated with bright yellow fabrics indoors and with beautifully landscaped gardens outside. The house faces west, offering a terrific sunset view.
Next stop St. Barts. The flight to St. Barts was every bit as thrilling as I was told it would be. The 12-seater plane that we took from St. Martin literally dropped between the hills, touched down on the runway and skidded along the tarmac until the nose edged the beach. The beaches are covered with the young and the tan, and the young and the tan are not covered by much. The hills are dotted with luxury villas and first class restaurants. We arrived during the height of Boubou’s Music Festival and town traffic was fast and heavy with mini-Mokes whizzing in and out and around the Smart Cars that are gradually taking over St. Barts's roads. The peaceful Zen of our villa (the Rothschild's Gitana Bay, built entirely of precious woods with a simple yet elegant interior) was a welcome sight at the end of several busy days of touring villas. Whether it was lunch at the absolutely exquisite Isle de France or the less refined but no less delicious dinner at Eddy's, dining out on St. Barts simply cannot be beat. Beside the delectable French-Caribbean cuisine, celeb spotting at the island hot spots is a "national" sport on St. Barts. For those that aren't quite famous yet, a stop at the any of the trendy, high fashion boutiques can make you look as if you are.
Toward the end of our stay on the island we took the morning off to go snorkeling. After an hour or so of sailing and diving, I sat on the edge of the boat with the warm sun drying my salty skin and gazed back at the shores of St. Barts. With a cold drink in my hand and the clear blue sea rocking beneath me, I knew I'd found a view that would be hard to beat.
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