St.Barts is getting ready. That’s where the Jet Set will be 6 months from now and for those of you who are now popping bottles at Club 55 in St. Tropez, St. Barts Nikki Beach is awaiting your arrival! Naturally, before that you’ll be doing a little skiing at Aspen or Courchevel.
Sure, there are lots of great places in the Caribbean to get away from the cold just like there are lots of places to ski. However, for certain people St. Bart’s is the only place. You don’t go there to get away from it all. You go to be part of it all. Glamorous St.Barts has more boutique luxury hotels than any other island in the Caribbean.
I won’t tell you my age but when I first sailed into Gustavia on a boat a friend chartered there was one hotel and you could buy land for about $5000.00 an acre. Uhmm! What a thought! Anyway, now there are countless villas to be rented and great hotels to stay at. The one thing I kept thinking about as I moved around the island meeting with hoteliers and real estate people was how competitive it all is. Not the price because, believe me, everything is expensive. It’s about the quality and beauty of the places to stay. Villa owners and hoteliers that are vying for the same piece of the pie were busy renovating and refreshing there already beautiful homes and hotels.
Villas are the way to go if your stay is an extended one. But if a week or two is it then there’s nothing better than a luxury hotel. Here are four where the ambiance and high level of service stand out…
Hotel Isle de France and Eden Roc are unique because they are both on beautiful beaches and offer easy access to the sea. If I had to say which is more luxurious I would have to say, even though it’s a close call, Hotel Isle de France. The new owners, the Oetker Group, better known for the Bristol in Paris and Hotel du Cap Eden Roc in Cap d’Antibes are seeing to that. All the rooms and suites are done in impeccable taste and the new beach one-bedroom villas with private plunge pools are jaw dropping. Just imagine waking up in a 1500 square foot open plan suite and being able to see and then walk on to white sand Flamands beach and into the aqua colored Caribbean. The garden rooms, less expensive then ocean front, are my personal favorites. Maybe, because there surrounded by dense jungle like vegetation. Their beach restaurant is literally on the beach.
Eden Roc hotel is on St. Jean Beach which is also where Nikki Beach is; the Caribbean version of Club 55 in St. Tropez. The water is always calm and if being on top of the “action” during the day is important then this may be your preference. The hotel, situated on a peninsula, with the beach on each side, started out years ago as sort of a little funky beach hotel. It’s always been unique and has a sense of place like no other hotel on the island. Now, after many years and many updates it still has great character and beautifully decorated rooms and suites. Eden Roc is practically adjacent to the airport (this is a tiny little strip, not JFK) and you often see someone waving at their arriving or departing friends. Their bar and restaurant, “On the Rocks” is a great place for a sunset drink. It’s above and surrounded by water. Their restaurant, Sand Bar, is on the beach and a less quiet place for lunch if you’re not in the mood to walk down to Nikki Beach.
You may not think of St. Bart’s as a family type of destination but many like to take their kids, and why not? The best hotel for children is Guanahani. There’s a kindergarten for children 2 – 6 and for kids 6 – 12 there are all types of supervised water sports using their exceptional watersports center. One of the watersports they can arrange for you or your kids is kite boarding. The waters around the hotel are perfect for the sport. I was mesmerized watching as I sat in the shade at Guanahani’s terrific beach restaurant where I also heard the best music. The beach restaurant which overlooks the main pool and is on the beach also has an exceptional buffet breakfast. The low rise hotel is spread out with the rooms and suites located in various villa like structures. They’ve been redone in soft tropical shades with hardwood bare floors that complement the beautiful grounds that surround Guanahani. The Spa really stands out as it has an outdoor swimming pool where you can sun bath or swim in a more peaceful setting. You may just want to get away from your kids for a bit of private time. The Spa at Guanahani is managed by Clarins and this great escape maybe one of their bestselling points for a family vacation.
My last visit was to a hotel I had not been to in years. My opinion of it has completely changed and while once upon a time ago I thought the hotel was nice I now think it is the most romantic hotel on St. Barts. Le Toiny, an all-suite hotel, sits on top of a hill commanding glorious views of the Caribbean. All the suites are actually individual mini villas that have sliding glass doors that open up onto a deck and your own pool. But the amazing thing and what really helps makes this hotel so romantic is the fact that each suite is totally surrounded by lush vegetation making them totally private. What a place for romance! If you don’t have the right person to go with but love yourself, you could go there alone! The suites are a little old fashion but there comfortable and charming. This is the type of hotel where days will pass slowly in idealistic bliss! Ahh! Then, on the nights you don’t feel up to going out, Le Toiny has an exceptional gourmet restaurant with a wonderful staff that’s warm and personable.