St. Barth Post-Irma Guest Blog from a 15-year St. Barth Visitor’s Perspective

May 22nd, 2018

What a Difference Five Months Makes

Bonjour!

Many of our clients love St. Barth so much that they vacation on this tiny piece of paradise more than once a year. Today’s Guest Blog is written by Amy M. from Summit, New Jersey.

Enjoy!

Sunny regards,

Peg

My love affair with St. Barth began almost 15 years ago with a special group of friends. The idea was a girls’ trip—no husbands, no children, just friendship in paradise. Every April for 10 years my friends and I returned to “our” island. We rented villas, enjoyed long sandy lunches, explored beaches, hiked, shopped, relaxed and laughed (a lot) until life and schedules got in the way. After 2 years away, I realized how much I missed St. Barth and decided it was finally time to introduce my husband to my “other” love. Just days into our first trip he was sold—he too loved the island’s winding roads, beaches, food, wine and of course, the warmth of its people.

After a few trips together, we decided to bring our daughters for a Thanksgiving holiday. They immediately loved the island and asked on that first Thanksgiving if we were returning for the next one. Yes, of course, we all agreed, this would be our new tradition. The next Thanksgiving was last November, not long after Irma, and we were determined to keep our plans. Several plane changes and 1 villa later (thank you SBP!) we were fortunate to return. It was a very special trip, one I will always remember with a few tears—not only for what the island had endured, but also for its strength and warm embrace. While St Barth had obviously suffered greatly, it was fighting back in full force and we were touched by its courage and spirit. We didn’t mind the scarcity of WIFI or no landline, we allowed extra time to drive the darkened roads at night and didn’t mind less choices for eating out. We spent a peaceful week amidst the quiet beauty of the island slowly greening, growing and rebuilding. It seemed especially fitting to end that trip with Thanksgiving dinner in the newly planted garden at Tamarin, beside the beautiful tree, celebrating and giving thanks.

Shortly after returning home, we made plans for next Thanksgiving. Knowing I couldn’t wait that long, I had an idea. My husband’s birthday falls the last week of April, and truth be told, a few were missed over the years due to SBH trips. He never minded when the group calendar synched that way and always said “go, have fun with your friends” so I decided this was the year to finally celebrate his birthday, together, on St. Barth. I got in touch with Julie Nally, my trusted SBP villa agent, and she arranged our week at Villa Birdy in Pt. Milou.

I couldn’t wait to see how far the island had come since November and it did not disappoint! Travel through SXM was much improved—the new temporary air-conditioned tents are comfortable and the entire process more organized. I flew down a couple of days early as schedules allowed, but even separately, both JetBlue JFK-SXM flights were on time, and both St. Barth Commuter flights actually departed early. Smooth and efficient, I landed and was greeted warmly as always by Odile at Gumbs.

On the drive to Pt. Milou I could see right away how much the island foliage had grown and how many palm trees had regrowth. There are still homes and roofs to repair, hotels to reopen, and work to be done, but the island felt much more like itself. I settled into the villa, perfect for the two of us, just above the Christopher hotel, and enjoyed the sunset.

The sunsets at Villa Birdy were glorious.

After a peaceful first morning at Gouverneur Beach, it was time to stock the villa. The Oasis market in Lorient hadn’t yet reopened in November but has since been nicely redone and is very convenient to the villa. Marché U was completely stocked, the freezer sections full and I found more than everything I needed. That night, I had the pleasure of meeting Julie for dinner (she happened to be on island for SBP business) at the wine bar Le Papillon Ivre in St Jean. Just up from Le Piment, it’s a sweet casual spot with wines by the glass, an extended menu of small plates and very friendly service. The food was delicious.

The next day, after a walk around Pt. Milou, I spent a few hours on Saline Beach before picking up my husband at the airport. We toasted his birthday at sunset and headed to dinner at François Plantation located at the Villa Marie hotel, a perfect choice for a special occasion. The room is stunning, the service top notch, and the food outstanding. In conjunction with the restaurant, SBP arranged a small birthday cake for dessert, candles and all. Delicious!

The birthday dessert at François Plantarion was fabulous.

Over the next few days we explored our favorite beaches. Gouverneur again was sparkling, a bit windy with perfect waves. The tree at the entrance is slowly growing back and there was ongoing dune restoration with great progress over several days. The path to Saline looked greener, and while the descent down was significantly steeper in November, it now seemed slightly less so. The lower hike to Colombier was as picturesque as ever and we finally found new access paths down to the beach after years of scaling the big rock. We noticed fewer rocks in the water and definitely less at the far end of the beach where many had accumulated post Irma. Several boats were docked, and, despite some wind, we found a nook and enjoyed a peaceful afternoon before hiking back and stopping at Shellona for drinks. It was fairly full at late afternoon and understand they have recently closed until June to expand their kitchen. Earlier that day we stopped in to see the recently opened beautiful Hotel Manapany in Anse de Cayes. A very pretty spot on the beach for lunch, drinks or dinner.

Colombier Beach

The main pool at the Manapany hotel is beachfront.

Loved the feet in the sand restaurant at the Manapany hotel.

That night we met Julie at the re-opened Bonito for sunset cocktails. Such a stunning room, very happy to report it is as beautiful as ever post Irma. We sat at the bar and enjoyed a perfect sunset over the harbor.

St. Barth Properties Villa and Hotel Specialist Julie Nally took this picture of us when we met her for drinks at Bonito.

Since we had a little time before dinner, we walked down to Baz Bar to see its re-do, always a special spot for drinks along the harbor. It looks very much the same, though miss the loungey feel of the original. We then walked up to L’Isoletta for delicious pizza, red wine and great service, perfect for a casual night. Another excellent dinner was Orega—one of our favorites. Everyone so friendly and welcoming with wonderful food, the tuna with foie gras a must. Greg, the owner, was as hospitable as ever, the restaurant beautiful. The next day we hiked to the natural pools at Grand Fond—something I’ve wanted to do for years. There are a few spots where you might not want to look down for too long (!) but it is a breathtaking hike and well worth the effort.

We walked to the Natural Pools at Grand Fond.

Another photo of the Natural Pools in Grand Fond.

After a quick change we walked down to a gorgeous lunch at Mango at the Christopher hotel. While rebuilding Taïno restaurant, the hotel has done a great job managing the construction while keeping Mango and the hotel spa open. We enjoyed the seaside setting and some of the best food I’ve had on St Barth. The chicken gyoza, soft boiled egg in mushroom crust, crispy chicken leg with tabbouleh, and yellowfin tartar were all excellent. We spoke with one of the staff who said the pool is scheduled to reopen in June, fingers crossed!

We enjoyed having lunch at the Christopher hotel’s feet in the sand Mango restaurant that is just a short walk from Villa Birdy.

That afternoon it was time to shop. Most stores in St. Jean and Gustavia have reopened (with a few to come) and after a quick run to Kiwi, we drove into Gustavia to M’Bolo for our favorite vanilla rum. The bottles we bring home never last long, so fortunately Sandy and Christian have started selling online at mbolo-rum.com. We stopped at Bijoux de la Mer to pick up a repair which Marie sweetly sealed in an envelope for our daughter, then visited a few other favorites like Baya before drinks at Bar L’Oubli. We restocked our wine supply at Le Cellier du Gouverneur and La Cave du Port-Franc on the way out of town and headed back to the villa for sunset, a casual dinner and a St. Barth full moon!

Sweet packaging by Bijoux de la Mer.

After service at the Anglican church Sunday morning, we drove up to the park by the hospital and took in the views before heading to Saline for our last afternoon. On the way back, we stopped at Eden Rock’s pop up on Lorient Beach for a glass of rose. It was very quiet that day, and we enjoyed seeing their temporary set up for lunch, drinks and lounging. We had a long chat with one of the staff who said the hotel plans to re-open just before Christmas. Later we walked down to meet a friend for cocktails and another gorgeous sunset at the Christopher. It was then on to dinner at Tamarin— the gardens as beautiful as ever. The restaurant was quite busy and the food, wine and service excellent. After dinner, back to the villa for vanilla rum and one last night of stargazing.

The view from the park behind the hospital is breathtaking.

Our last sunset from Villa Birdy was beautiful.

All in all, my plan worked! A very special birthday celebration and a perfect trip—travel, weather, villa, restaurants, shops, hikes, people—all fabulous. We are so fortunate to have been to St. Barth twice since Irma and very encouraged by, and in awe of, all that’s been accomplished. For those who know St Barth, do not hesitate to come back, you will find it as beautiful as ever and its spirit unchanged. For those considering a first trip, now is the time. In these months of rebuilding the island is quieter and more like its older self, while well on its way to becoming better than ever!

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2018 Transat AG2R transatlantic sailing race

May 9th, 2018

The incredible St. Barth La Transat AG2R LA MONDIALE

Life goes on in St. Barth. Some things have not changed and that is the Maritime traditions that continue to take place – Irma or no Irma. We had the CataCup, the St. Barth Bucket Regatta, Les Voiles de St. Barth, the West Indies Regatta, and now the biannual La Transat AG2R LA MONDIALE is on its 17th day of the race.

The Transat AG2R is a transatlantic sailing race that takes place every other year. The departure point is Concarneau Harbor in France, and the finish is Gustavia Harbor in St. Barth, a total of 3890 miles. Each boat has only two crew members and are identically equipped 33’ Figaro Bénéteau II single-hull sailboats. It is amazing that so many sailing buffs scramble to find sponsors, spend three to four weeks in cramped quarters with as few supplies as possible so as not to weigh them down, and risk getting on each other’s nerves big-time. The challenge for the crew is to take advantage of the wind while determining the best route.

For the 2018 Transat AG2R, 19 boats left Concarneau on April 22, 2018, heading off to St. Barth where the islanders intently follow their progress. This year is extra special because our very own St. Barth resident, Miguel Danet (The St. Barth Sailor), is racing on Le Macaron French Pastries sponsored boat with Eric Perron.

The St. Barth tean Miguel Danet (Left) and Eric Perron are very skilled sailors.

As of today, the first boat is very near St. Barth and Le Macaron French Pastries is in 8th place. No matter what time of day or night, many people jump in their own boats and chase out to Colombier to give each finisher a hero’s welcome and a personal escort into port. Each boat is welcomed in the same exuberant fashion, from the first to last. The final true celebration does not take place until the last place boat finishes. And then, what a celebration! Awards, food, drinks, music and dancing, all of which takes place on the Quai Général de Gaulle with everyone kissing one another and congratulating all of the exhausted crew members who successfully completed the race.

Follow the race here: http://player.georacing.com/player_ag2r2018/

Miguel and Eric, skippers on Le Macaron French Pastries race to the AG2r Transat finish in St. Barth

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Bonjour, Pearl Beach Hotel

April 10th, 2018

Au revoir, Tom Beach Hotel and La Plage restaurant
Bonjour, Pearl Beach Hotel – Saint Barth and Pearl Beach restaurant

That’s right. One day, the sign read Tom Beach Hotel, and the next day, it read Pearl Beach Hotel.

The Tom Beach Hotel is now known as Pearl Beach Hotel.

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter Kim came down here to visit us with one of her girlfriends, Heidi, sans husbands, for 8 fun filled days.

No St. Barth vacation is complete without stopping at Le Select for a Cheeseburger in Paradise and an ice cold beer. Kim (L) and Heidi loved it!

Almost every weekend, we go to our usual spot on St. Jean Beach. The breezes are nice, the water is beautiful and there is always activity to observe. I have watched the rejuvenation of hotel Tom Beach and its restaurant over many months. From dragging in new palm trees in early December, to setting up a makeshift beach bar in time for the Christmas holidays, the crew worked long and hard to reopen its hotel as well as its restaurant.

We were sitting on St. Jean Beach with Kim and Heidi on Saturday, March 24, 2018, the day the plywood walls came down and the new restaurant opened. Curiosity took the better of us, so we walked over there to inquire. One of the waitstaff told me that the restaurant was open for hotel guests only that day and the next, because they wanted to have a soft opening before opening it to the public on Monday. The new beach bar was not off-limits, however, so we decided to order drinks and take it all in. We were lucky that we did, because the word had spread all over the island, and it seems as if the entire population of St. Barth was there on Sunday. So much for being open for hotel guests only. It was a huge deal for islanders to see yet another place recover, and recover well, I might say. People wanted to join the celebration of the rebirth of another of Hurricane Irma’s victims. The beach parking lot was full and people partied until the sun went down.

The beachside bar at Pearl Beach has swing-like bar seats on one side.

The bartenders at Pearl Beach mix up great cockails and are super friendly (cute too).

I asked the bartender if it the bar’s name was still the Pink Parrot and he said, “No, those days are over.” I noticed that the entire staff wore shirts displaying a round palm tree logo printed on the back and learned that the owner also has a Pearl Beach restaurant in St. Tropez that uses the same logo.

Pearl Beach Logo

A few days later, I met with the hotel manager and then made a reservation for lunch. Entering by the hotel’s front door, we walked by the rooms where I saw a new courtyard with a few small tables and chairs, and a reinvented swimming pool with waterfalls that created a relaxing ambience.

The new pool at Pearl Beach Hotel has a waterfall and is for guests only.

A new staircase led down to the restaurant. It was 1:30 p.m. and busy. Our beachfront table for two was in a perfect spot to watch the beach activity as well as the fashion show, with two beautiful women modeling beachy outfits from a Gustavia boutique. We shared the shrimp tempura; both of us ordered the mahi-mahi burger with homemade fries and shared a yummy crème brulée for dessert. We really enjoyed it. The restaurant is spacious, and there is a second main bar for restaurant patrons.

Pearl Beach restaurant is open for your beachside lunch.

The restaurant bar at Pearl Beach

If you would like to reserve rooms at Pearl Beach Hotel, please contact reservations@stbarth.com. New photos will be up soon. You can make restaurant reservations with our concierge, Julia Hurd before you travel, or with our on-island concierge, Aurélie Janvier, once you have arrived. Pearl Beach restaurant is currently open for lunch, but they hope to open for dinner a few nights a week and offer a beach BBQ on Sunday evenings. Bikini Saturday, with pink flamingos and a DJ, still exists and is great fun. Not to worry, we will send you a restaurant reservation form before you leave home.

Pearl Beach Hotel has beachside service, too. You can rent chairs and an umbrella for 20 euros ona first- come- first-served basis.

4 Responses to “Bonjour, Pearl Beach Hotel”

  1. Jim Robertson says:

    Peg, I am so glad I found your blog. Lots of helpful information! 4 of us are coming to St. Barths May 1 – 8. 3 years ago was the last time there for me.

    Can you tell me — is Santa Fe Restaurant in Lurin open? I cannot tell from the other online sources I have found.

    Thanks a million!

    Jim

    • admin says:

      Hi Jim,

      Unfortunately, the Santa Fe has not reopened. I do see work going on there, however, but it looks as if it may take a while.I miss it terribly. I hope you subscribe to my blog. As soon as I have news, I will be writing about it. Enjoy your time in St. Barth.

      Sunny regards,

      Peg

  2. Karen Gotcher says:

    Peg
    So glad to have found your blog! You seem to know the island well! Next time we visit I will be contacting you.
    Do you know what happen to La Boucherie? 3 years ago it was a wonderful place to get smoked meat on weekends and they had the best deli ever! I think it was across from Le Piment.

    • admin says:

      Bonjour Karen, Thank you for commenting. I look forward to plan your next St. Barth vacation! La Boucherie sold his St. jean location toe PATI, who sells St Barth French West Indies products.He reopened as Meat My Fish which is located on the main road road toward Marigot, just before the turn to Pointe Milou. Unfortunately, he no longer does chicken and ribs on weekends. We really miss that too. The Boucherie Che Yo that is located in Les Mangliers (St. Jean, in the complex behind the gas station) sells roasted chickens on Saturdays and Sundays. They are yummy and ready at about 11:30. We learned the hard way that you should reserve them in advance. (Our concierge can do that for you, if you wish). There is also a little place across form teh old post office in Lorent that does ribs on weekends, but you should also order in advance. Sunny regards, Peg

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More fantastic signs that St. Barth is recovering well: New 5-Star hotel opens; Nikki Beach to reopen!

March 22nd, 2018

Yes, that’s right! Nikki Beach is set to reopen on March 30, 2018! View the flyer for more details.

Just contact juliahurd@stbarth.com to pre-book a reservation before you travel, or contact aurelie@stbarth.com (0590-29-75-05) to book once you are here.

This past weekend was just like the old days. The St. Barth Bucket regatta took place and the island was hopping. Steve and I, my son and VP, Tom Smyth and his wife Amy, my grandson Tyler (on his spring break), and two of my most favorite clients/friends, Kevin and Stan, were lucky to be able to sail on a St. Barth Sailor catamaran to watch the start of the race up close and personally. What a thrill. We watched these beautiful sailing yachts maneuver around the water itching to get started. The J Boat Class boats were first to start at the sound of the gun, followed by the larger category yachts, each with their own personal start time. They tried to time it so that they were at the starting buoy exactly when the gun sounded. Flo, our skipper, skillfully kept us in the perfect spot to watch it. I hope that you can experience the Bucket next year (March 21-24, 2019).

We watched the 2018 St. Barth Bucket regatta from one of St. Barth Sailor’s catamaran. Front – Tom, Amy, Peg, Kevin and Stan. Rear – Tyler and Doc.

The J-Class boats were the first to start the St. Barth Bucket on March 16, 2018. The view of them racing by our cataramarn was breathtaking.

Back to post-Irma news. You may be asking, “What’s up with the hotels?”

Many of the 5-star beach hotels that were damaged by hurricane Irma have not told me when they will reopen, making it difficult for our hotel clientele to plan their next St. Barth vacation. Never fear, the Manapany is here! Many St. Barth regulars likely remember the old Manapany—perhaps they dined in the hotel’s restaurant or visited its spa. But few would recognize it these days. Purchased, and excitingly recreated by the young, dynamic B Signature Hotels & Resorts group, the Manapany opened as a 5-star beach hotel on March 13, 2018. It’s a wow!

I have already inspected the hotel twice and love the casual luxury it exudes. The 5-star Manapany is dedicated to respecting and protecting the environment in its natural setting. It has it all – Toes in the sand dining, 43 accommodations, including a villa, cottages, and suites with beachfront decks and steps down to the beach; hillside rooms and suites, some of which can connect, making them a great choice for families; a beach/pool bar, two seaside swimming pools (one for adults only) a fitness room, boutique, game room. and the Dr. Hauschka-branded spa are all there for you to enjoy. I took these photos to give you an idea.

Lunch time at the Manapany.

Waterfront tables on the sand are available at the Manapany, too.

This is the main pool at the Manapany. The adults-only pool is located at the spa (pictured here behind the guy who is treating the pool).

The Manapany bar is located by the restaurant’s tables and the main swimming pool. The jalousied windows can be adjusted according to the breeze.

We will be getting more pictures soon. In the meantime, here is the link: Manapany. If you would like more information on the hotel’s “dynamic pricing” (meaning the rates are based on the demand at time of the request), and would like to stay at the Manapany, just email reservations@stbarth.com.

The Christopher
As mentioned in my previous blog, the 5-star Christopher hotel that was due to reopen February 20th, 2018, was unable to do so due to the devastating fire that destroyed their main restaurant, Taino three days before. However, the hotel’s feet-in-the-sand restaurant, Mango will be open for lunch, and their Sisley Spa will be open for treatments as of today, March 22, 2018. The pool will not be ready until July, but their rooms were untouched by the fire, and are open to guests looking for reasonable rates while the reconstruction of the restaurant is going on. Regular rates will apply starting October 15, 2018. To book, contact reservations@stbarth.com for more information.

The Christopher’s waterfront Mango restaurant is open for lunch. (photo credit P.Carreau)

Christopher Sisley Spa (photo credit Max-VanderNoot)

One last note: Lil Rock Beach Bar on St. Jean beach closed on Monday, March 19, 2018 and will begin building its beach restaurant in the near future. We are looking forward to having another restaurant on the beach for your dining pleasure.

2 Responses to “More fantastic signs that St. Barth is recovering well: New 5-Star hotel opens; Nikki Beach to reopen!”

  1. Iris giuffre says:

    Hi peg
    It’s iris and Iggy
    Just wanted to say it was a pleasure meeting you last week when we stopped by to see Pasquale to give her money to get cages to catch the cats and get them fixed.
    Your husband, a fellow Nj person! Was very sweet
    See you in April!

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New Restaurant Opens in St. Barth! Plus, Should You Bring Some Cash When You Travel to St. Barth?

March 12th, 2018

It has been 6 months since powerful Hurricane Irma struck our little island. St. Barth looks healthy and is thriving. Almost every one of our villas is booked during the month of March. Everyone I bump into goes out of their way to tell me how much better than expected their St. Barth vacation has been. They love seeing how well the island has recovered and cherish the laidback vibe. I still see subtle signs of the recovery. My power walk along the harbor on Saturday brought me by a skilled stone worker replacing stone tiles.

The stone tiles are being replaced along the harbor by an expert – just like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.

I have been enjoying the view and sunsets from my villa and am still trying out new restaurants. Do you remember Hervé Chovet’s restaurant Le Rivage that was at the St. Barth Beach hotel (the first place we stayed when I came here in 1986) many years ago? Then he opened Côté Port on the harbor? It was scheduled to be closed in favor of dockage on the harbor and Irma did the demolition for the Collectivité. Hervé worked diligently on securing a new spot and opened Quartier Général (Headquarters) diagonally across from the Gustavia post office a few weeks ago. We tried it and loved it! It’s a long narrow venue with comfortable tables and cushioned seating, a long bar and dim lighting (use your flashlight feature on your phone). The menu is varied, and I was happy to see that some signature dishes from the days of Le Rivage are still on there. Quartier Général is open for both lunch and dinner. It was very busy. We will be happy to make a reservation for you.

I love the curtained entrance to Quartier Général.

Quartier Général had a nice ambiance.

A bit of sad news: The hotel Christopher was due to reopen on February 22, 2018. Sadly, a fire broke out in their Taïno restaurant’s kitchen 3 nights before the opening. Evidently, electrical wires that had been damaged by hurricane Irma caused the fire and the restaurant was destroyed. The hotel will not reopen until October, so we are in the process of relocating our clients who were booked there. Contact us, reservations@stbarth.com if you would like us to assist you. The hotel is working on opening its Mango restaurant for lunch (no pool, however) and Sisley Spa. Ask our office for more details.

The Taïno restaurant at the hotel Christopher burned down February 19, 2018 (photo credit Mathieu Gladius)

A new challenge presented itself Sunday night March 4th, 2018 when the Internet and cell service went down island-wide. Of course, no one knew that it was an island issue until they asked their maid or went out to get their baguette and overheard the local gossip. I drove down to my Gustavia rental office; it was bustling. No one was upset – this is an island, after all. Go with the flow. Miraculously, we had a Wifi connection in the office, so our clients were able to check their emails and we could print their boarding passes. What happened? The huge Nor’easter that wreaked havoc on the east coast of the US, believe it or not, came all the way down to the Caribbean producing huge swells. The result? An underwater cable belonging to the carrier Orange snapped. We had to adjust to the situation.

The swell caused flooding in Gustavia.

We can really say that this is what St. Barth was like 25 years ago – a time gone by, when we were able to truly take a vacation and enjoy the relaxation without the distraction of sneaking a peek at a device. We wrote our name and the time we wanted to dine on a pad pf paper that was hanging outside of a restaurant. This time, our concierge, Aurélie Janvier physically went to the restaurants to make reservations for our clients. Restaurants cooperated by taking the credit card information manually and would charge the card once the Internet was restored. Carrying some cash while traveling Is always a good Idea. If you want euros, you can go to your local bank or AAA office, if you are a member, and ask for euros. They will give you a decent exchange rate. If not, US dollars are accepted everywhere on St. Barth. Our villas are equipped with a safe where you can store the money.

All is well with the Internet now but, remember, that you are not at home and the connection here can be slow. Take the time to disconnect, you will be happy you did.

I never get tired of the sunset view from Villa Everest.

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What is St. Barth like Post Hurricane Irma? Impressions from a St. Barth First-Timer

February 13th, 2018

Bonjour Everyone,

Today’s blog is written my client, Rich Payne who, along with his wife, had never been to St. Barth before and decided to try vacationing here. He’s hooked!

I am sure you will enjoy it.

Sunny regards,
Peg

Where to begin?

Like any good story, this one starts off with tragedy. The dual storms of Irma and Maria set our course for St. Barth, though we didn’t know it at the time. My wife and I live in New York, just outside of sleepy Manhattan. I was lucky enough to have been brought as a child to the Virgin Islands back in the 80’s. I still remember the sunburns and crazy open sided “taxis” that always seemed to drive too close to the edge of a cliff. Not much has changed, with regard to those taxis – or sunburns.

For the last 5 years, the wife and I have taken a trip to St Thomas each New Year’s Day for a week. Our annual sojourn was demolished by the terrible storms that need not be rehashed here…but to say that our hearts still break for the devastation and the lives lost.

Try as I did to find a way to return to STT for New Year’s Day 2018, it was simply not in the cards. With no direct flights, and most villas (those that survived) still on generator power, we would almost be more in the way of active recovery than would be helpful. Another time.

The wife decided, upon hearing me list the Caribbean islands with minimal storm damage, St. Barth’s was it. I had heard of this island, but only in passing. I also quickly became aware of its different spellings…was it St. Bart, St. Barth, St. Bart’s, St. Barth’s, or perhaps Saint Barthélemy? Where were we going?!?

Alas…to all of them.

Next on my personal agenda, was where to stay. Here is where we find the hero of our tale, Peg Walsh. But first…how is the snorkeling in St. Barth? For that, I turned to my trusted google. I came upon my first article that mentions snorkeling and St. Barth, written in Condé Nast Traveler circa 2013. Whereupon I find a nifty quote by Peg, and proceed to google her to see who this guru of St. Barth really is. Guru, as it turns out, is apt.

The rest, as they say, is history. I found our villa, and our island.

What is not to love about beautiful SBH? The beaches, pristine, and hardly populated. The weather, a near perfect 82 Fahrenheit in the day, and brisk 72 Fahrenheit in the evenings. The food…French, and excellent (synonymous, perhaps?). Our villa, Brume de Mer, at the very westerly end of Flamands – perfectly secluded and overlooking Île Chevreau. We could not have asked nor wanted for more.

Perhaps I am an over communicator. I am fearful to even look at all the emails I may have sent Peg in the lead-up to our arrival. I had questions, I don’t speak French, I have no Euros, do I drive on the left, is the steering wheel on the right, is it a boot, or a trunk? I can go on. Peg withstood it all, and her team as well. Quite literally from the time we stepped of Tradewind at SBH we had to think or plan for nothing. Reservations, done. Excursions, booked. Ideas for what to do and when, here’s your list. Personal concierge for “any hour” phone calls, yup. Thank you is not enough, Aurélie!!

We enjoyed a sunset champagne cruise by Pain de Sucre, a Scuba diving spot.

Peg helped us with everything. Obviously, her years of practice with novice visitors like us have allowed her to build this particular skillset. What Peg knew and that I would soon learn was that St. Barth Properties would take care of every little detail, and all we needed to do was show up.

Onto what we experienced. Kindness and patience like we have not recently experienced on any vacation. I can count on one hand how many times I heard a horn blow…people stop in the street for any length of time….and, well, you wait. Quietly. I watched a man hop out of his car in the middle of the day, holding up all sorts of cars in both directions…I quickly saw that he ran in front of his car to pick up a… tortoise? I had tortoise envy instantly. I was not to be outdone. One day heading down to Gouverneur we came across a tortoise in the middle of that narrow drive down. (S)he probably would have made it across ok, but I needed to do my part…I hopped out of the car and gently picked her/him up, and safely delivered (it) to the other side of the road. The wife filmed this particular event.

Here I am helping a turtle cross the road on our way to Gouverneur Beach

Late for your dinner reservation? Take your time. We are waiting for you. Say what?!? In New York, you could just as well kiss your table goodbye if you are even a few minutes late. Not here. In fact, take all the time you need.

We loved having dinner at Le Tamarin.

Not speaking the native language always bothers my wife and me. We honestly feel terrible. I tried my best at “Excusez-moi, Je ne parle pas français” and “parlez vous anglais” but we always felt like we should do better. Fortunately, everyone who did speak French couldn’t have been nicer…and immediately switched to English, much to our relief.

Lil Rock Beach Bar entertained us with live music.

Mornings were spent at Yoga for the wife, and I walked through Gustavia. We then enjoyed a particular boulangerie for 6 straight mornings…simply the best. Each day was a new beach, Flamands, St. Jean, Gouverneur, Saline, Shell, Colombier. The ones we didn’t get to visit this time, we at least saw when we drove around the entire island. What we can appreciate is that there is so much more to see and experience on your beautiful island that it would be folly to try and do it all in 7 days.

We hiked along a goat path from our villa Brume de Mer to beautiful Colombier Beach.

One of the main takeaways from this trip for us will be the kindness shown to us by strangers – all the local islanders and business owners who just recently lived through a trauma we can only imagine, and here you all are with smiles and warmth all around. What resilience!

I could easily name the names of the places we ate at and loved so much…but what’s the point, they are all spectacular, and surely you all know that already. I could also name the names of the people we only read about or see on TV…but what’s the point, you see them all the time…they’re neighbors and friends to you, so we will remain silent on that as well.

I must say, on our last day…I decided that there was one person on SBH I felt I needed to “bump into.” I knew it was a long shot. I found an email address online after some googling. I wrote a heartfelt note – with a little of my background for color. I left my email address and cell phone number…not that I thought my cellular network would even work down here. Sure enough, about an hour and a half later…my cell phone rings, and on the other line was Bruno Magras, Président du Conseil territorial de Saint-Barthélemy. I was speechless. Not only did he call me back, but he also agreed to meet me for a photograph! I have read enough about SBH to know that, like politics all around the world, perhaps not everyone is in awe of Le Président. I was happy as could be to meet this man. He, like the rest of the folks we encountered on SBH, was genuinely warm and gracious.

Le Président of the COM, Bruno Magras, kindly agreed to meet me.

I asked Peg if she would allow me the privilege of writing this guest blog…selfishly of course, I wanted a way to memorialize our wonderful 10-year anniversary, and I could think of no better way. Peg and St. Barth Properties truly helped us celebrate our 10 years like no other place could. Thank you!

You have a special island, worth protecting. We were lucky to catch a glimpse of the magic that is Saint Barthélemy.

Lauren and Rich Payne
New York

5 Responses to “What is St. Barth like Post Hurricane Irma? Impressions from a St. Barth First-Timer”

  1. Nancy Volk says:

    Peg, minimal damage I screamed out loud ! Hope he was corrected by someone, anyone who has gone thru a hurricane, Doug & I at the home on St Croix where I’d lived 10 years earlier, during David in 1979, which followed us up the coast to Philadelphia where we had David again ! Personally, I think crass to refer to any wife as “the wife.” Otherwise well written & they are hooked ! Had expected the writer to say Marius instead of Bruno…

    Looking forward to seeing Nirvana on 2/26 while in port on Windstar Pride for the day, Doug’s day.

    • admin says:

      Hi Nancy, Rich is a first-time visitor to St. Barth. He totally recognized the devastation that occurred on the islands. St. Thomas was out of the question. St. Barth was not, and was recovering well. he had never been to SBH before, so he was amazed at how well the island looked. As far as “the Wife” is concerned, I found it humorous. It is a writing style and not at all meant to be offensive. Best, Peg

  2. Eve Keddy says:

    That is the best report I have ever read! The part about Bruno is hysterical!
    I read this entire report out loud to my husband, and we had a great laugh. Imagine if Rich had seen the island before the storms! Hope he comes back to see how glorious it can be!

    • admin says:

      Hi Eve, Glad you like it! I really enjoyed Rich’s take on St. Barth. To me, he nailed it. He is definitely coming back to St. Barth. A January 01, 2019 arrival is tricky, so we are waiting it out to see what actually becomes available once the holiday bookings area made. Hope to see you on the island! Best, Peg

  3. Dawn says:

    I have come to rely on Pegs blog to give updates on the island since the Storms. We are returning for the third time and have loved it so much we are bringing our (adult) children with us.
    I keep checking on re-openings – not just for tourist reasons – we came to enjoy so many people that worked at the beach bars and our hotel that we were worried about them.
    thanks for the guest blog!

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What is St. Barth like Post-Hurricane Irma? Should you go? A Client’s Perspective

January 29th, 2018

Bill and Cathy Fuchs from Scottsdale, Arizona shared their late December to early January 2018 St. Barth experience with us.

What a fantastic trip (our tenth), and though there are some post Hurricane differences, there’s no reason to avoid St Barth. We enjoyed two weeks at the Villa Blue Diamond with little evidence Irma had visited three months earlier. Around the island, where power lines were damaged, now stand temporary poles, and it seems most lines are attached by rope, but there’s reliable power! Occasional roof damage is visible, but is not the norm. Roads are as they’ve always been, in good condition, and Odile with Gumbs Car Rental equipped us with a Jimny with only 24km – we like new! Grocery stores are well stocked. All Seaside restaurants except Shellona are under renovation, and they are open and very busy for a great vibe; reservation required. La Plage and Lil Rock Beach Bar at St Jean offer basic beach services to get your party started. Colombier, Saline, Gouverneur, St. Jean, and Shell beaches are as beautiful as ever.

With many of our regular restaurants under renovation, we sought new dining experiences. We visited Orega twice, so that’s obviously our top pick. Tamarin, L’Esprit, YoSushiMania, 25 Quarter, Bagatelle, and of course Le Select continue to exceed expectations. This was the best weather streak we’ve ever had with some rain at night and sunny days with occasional puffy clouds being blown by the trade winds. We could have done without the Christmas Eve M5.2 earthquake, but still found it interesting. Jimmy Buffett’s wharf-side free concert December 27th adds to the bragging rights of being in St Barth. Travel through SBH is no different; the terminal looks and functions the same.

For those of you connecting via St Maarten, the terminal will likely be closed for a year. All operations are run from tarmac-based tents with many employees anxious to give directions and assist. Arrivals are at the end of the terminal closest to the sea, departures are at the opposite end of the terminal, near the employee parking lot, and you enter a gate with a sign stating only ticketed passengers beyond this point. Inside, we find tents to obtain our tickets, clear immigration and security, and find a basic waiting area with some food. Presently there are three USA flights per day (San Juan, Miami, Atlanta), so it’s very easy to navigate and crowds were negligible as our departure flight of less than 200 passengers isn’t much of a crowd. We overnighted at the Atrium Resort, for a clean room and comfortable bed; they did a nice job. A local we spoke with, estimates they’ve lost 90% of their tourist traffic, I would agree, there’s not too much going on, and unlike St Barth, here the damage is extensive and apparent, but Driftwood, and Sunset Beach Bar are open and must not be missed for a cold bucket of Carib while watching the big jets take off as tourists try to withstand the jet blast.

Thanks Bill and Cathy. Come back soon!

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December 12, 2017 to January 04, 2018

January 5th, 2018

La Bagatelle, Shellona, La Guérite and Orega reopen on time!

Departing from Boston via Miami and then via St. Maarten, SBP VP and my son, Tom Smyth arrived December11th and reported a smooth transfer from SXM to St. Barth. On our way into Gustavia, we noticed that the pétanque aka boules (bocce) courts are ready for play.

St. Barth fixed the boules courts, too.

Have a seat on a bench and watch an early evening boules match.

We had lots of very productive meetings with the staff at our rental office as well as our Sotheby’s sales office. It was a bit noisy, because there were at least 10 men working on the Baz Bar’s rehab and about the same number of guys working on getting La Bagatelle restaurant ready for its reopening on December 14th.

We visited villas, beaches and drove around the island. Tom was last here in October and the further greening of the island was well-noted. Everyday looks better than the day before. The weather has been so clear the last few days, it seems as if we can touch the distant islands.

There were signs of the approaching holidays; people still booking villas at the last minute because they had to be in St. Barth to celebrate. Roman Abramovich owns a villa behind Gouverneur Beach and always throws a big New Year’s Eve party in St. Barth. We saw his yacht anchored next to, and dwarfing, a cruise ship that was next to it.

Roman Abramovich’s 538 foot yacht, the Eclipse is here. it is a beauftul sight to see.

La Bagatelle reopened December 14th and we had reservations for dinner. As I mentioned previously, a crew, including our waiter, was feverishly working to finish it on time. Tom saw the state of it and told me we would not be dining there as it could not possibly be ready in time. I left the office to see for myself and took a photo. I asked our server, JC if I needed to cancel our reservation. He said, “Absolutely not. Come back in an hour and see for yourself.” So, when we left the office about an hour and a half later, I checked it out.

At 11 minutes after three on December 14, 2017, Tom said to me that there was no way we would be dining at Bagatelle tonight.

I took this after photo of Bagatelle 2 hours and 15 minutes later on December 14, 2017 – Incredible.

Incredible! I had invited Dennis and Amy, clients of mine who were staying at Villa Les Embruns by Flamands Beach, to join us for a drink at the bar at 7:00 p.m. They were so happy that they had come to St. Barth. Dennis, said, “We have had a lovely week. I cannot recall a time when the island was more welcoming. Thank you very much for all your help these past weeks with our visit which was the most unique experience among all our other many trips to St. Barth.” An hour later, we were seated for dinner. The place was packed – totally sold out. We loved people-watching and our meals were delicious.

Bagatelle waa packed on opening night.

As the days fly by I am still discovering new changes, so each time I go to Gustavia or somewhere else, I take a photograph for you. Orega opened just before Christmas. After dining at Eddy’s, we walked by. Greg pulled us in to offer us a glass of Champagne in celebration. It looks even better than before. There is a sushi bar at the entrance and the main dining room has more subtle lighting. I wanted to wait until after the holiday rush, so we are dining there tomorrow.

I am happy to say that Orega opened Dec 21, 2017. You must dine here.

The man-made beach area in front of Villa Brise de Mer looks so inviting.

This fence is now up at the end of the runway. At least it will let the sand blow through it naturally.

Steve and I were lucky to have our son, Mark Smyth, his wife Cynthia and our granddaughter Reegan join us for the holidays. We were able to play tourist with them and spent time on the beaches during the day, and dining out with them at night. They stayed at Villa Au Petit Pont, which is freshly painted and has renovated bathrooms.

This was our view from Petit Pont on Christmas morning.

We loved having Christmas dinner at Le Tamarin.

The famous Tamarin tree at Le Tamarin restaurant survived Hurricane Irma and is showing new growth.

Things are picking up on St. Jean Beach. Tom Beach hotel has set up beach chairs, umbrellas, on a first come first served basis (20 euros) and there is a make-shift beach bar where you can get drinks and order some food supplied by Le Bouchon. The bartender takes your order, then a runner drives over to Bouchon and brings it back! Clever.

Tom Beach’s Beach Bar
Click above to view video

More towards the middle of St. Jean Beach, the new Lil Rock Beach Bar opened on December 23, 2017. Its lounge chairs are much plusher, and can be reserved by calling our concierge, Aurélie Janvier, at 35 euros per day. Their drink menu is less expensive than Tom Beach’s. If you are just looking to go there for a drink or some sushi and other fresh items, they offer tables and chairs where you may sit to enjoy the shade while having a drink and/or food.

Further up, in the middle of St. Jean Beach, Lil Rock Beach Bar debuted December 23, 2017.

Lil Rock Beach Bar on St. Jean Beach opened December 23, 2017.

Lil Rock Beach Bar has tables, free of charge, where you can enjoy your drinks as well as sushi and other items.

The drink menu at Lil Rock Beach Bar is very reasonable.

December 27th, 2017: We had a lovely early dinner at L’Entracte because, as promised, Jimmy Buffett gave a free concert on the quai to support the people of St. Barth who worked so hard on the recovery of the island. Residents, tourists, including parrot heads, flocked to the quai to hear Jimmy and Soley belt out fabulous tunes. Jimmy sang songs about St. Barth, like Autour de Rocher (a nightclub I remember well, before it burned down many years ago). Most of us sang along. Thank you, Jimmy and Soley!

We enjoyed a pre-concert dinner at L’Entracte.

12-27-17 Jimmy Buffett gave a fabulous free concert on the quai.

Just before New Year’s Eve, Shellona reopened with great fanfare. The place has been full ever since. I am sure that this Shell Beach bar and restaurant will have a very successful season. You must try it!

As of December 28, 2017, Shellona is open for business. Enjoy!

New Year’s Eve was as festive as ever. The fireworks did not disappoint, and it seemed as if the entire island came down to Gustavia with a bottle of Champagne to toast in the New Year and wish Bonne Année along with giving kisses on each cheek to anyone who passed by.

I know that so many of you are suffering from bitter cold and lots of snow – it is only early January. Why not book your St. Barth vacation right now? Email me pegwalsh@stbarth.com or reservations@stbarth.com. If you are looking to stay in a 5-Star hotel, the Christopher is reopening February 20, 2018! We will be pleased to book a room for you.

Happy New Year! Bonne Année!

Happy New Year from the on-island St. Barth Properties real estate sales and rental teams. It is fun to work in St. Barth! (photo taken by Laurent Benoit at Villa Nirvana)

2 Responses to “December 12, 2017 to January 04, 2018”

  1. Elisabeth Linds says:

    Are there any pictures of EMERAUD PLAGE Hotel. We stayed there several times, last visit was in February 2017.

    We know it was damaged badly. Hopefully the reopen soon.
    Thank you,
    E. Lindskog

    • admin says:

      HI Elisabeth,

      Unfortunately, nothing has been done to repair Emeraude Plage since Hurricane Irma. It was badly damaged. I am trying to get more information on whether a management company might be taking it over or it is being sold.

      All the best

      Peg

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Post-Irma Update December 01-11, 2017

December 11th, 2017

Jimmy Buffett to give a free concert on the quai December 27, 2017. It’s not too late to book a villa!

First, Breaking News!
As I told you in my pervious blog, St. Barth is a very special place that means a lot to Jimmy Buffet. Bulletin! Jimmy is giving a free concert here on December 27, 2017 to show his support of the island and encourage all of you to come. We have villas available for you, many of which only have a 7-night minimum stay. Check out our holiday availability on our website, then email me, pegwalsh@stbarth.com or reservations@stbarth.com. See you on the Quai!

Jimmy Buffett (pictured here at Le Select’s 60th anniversary in 2009) is giving a free concert on the quai December 27, 2017.

Now, on to my Post-Irma blog.

December 01, 2017

With Thanksgiving behind me and the annual hectic runaround getting my Christmas cards and shopping finished before I left Cape Cod, I was anxious to get back to my beloved St. Barth. This time we flew via San Juan Puerto Rico, but JetBlue had canceled our morning flight, so we had to find a hotel where we could overnight on December 01. We stayed at the La Concha Renaissance hotel which was only about a 10-minute ride from the airport. It sits directly on the beach and we had a beachfront room with a terrific view. We were flying to St. Barth on Tradewind the next morning, so I had booked their VIP service. I wanted to leave our checked bags with Tradewind so that we didn’t have to schlep them to our hotel and back. We only had to keep our carry-ons with us. A representative met us at our gate, took our luggage tags and escorted us to a van which Tradewind had booked for our roundtrip transfer. It worked perfectly. We can arrange all of that for you, too if you must spend the night in SJU.

December 02, 2017

Long before Hurricane Irma hit St. Barth, we had booked Villa Camaruche with 2 other couples because we always attended our Beachside Bash party where I introduced our new catalogue, together. This year’s party was to be held at Le Barthélemy hotel, but Irma rudely interrupted our plans. The hotel remains closed. My catalogue was about to go to print in France a few days after Irma so, I had to stop the production because the content was no longer accurate. Like you, we still wanted to come to St. Barth. Mike and Connie Walsh were with us as was St. Barth Properties Hotel and Villa Specialist Allegra Pawlowski. We took the 10:00 a.m. Tradewind shuttle to St. Barth. Paula and Marty, the other couple, were flying into SJU from Fort Lauderdale, so we had lunch at Le Jardin across from the airport (it was packed) and met them when the 2:07 p.m. Tradewind flight arrived. Off we went to Villa Camaruche. We were amazed how much work, time and effort had been put into getting it ready for us. And, oh that view! The angels were looking down upon Villa Camaruche because the neighboring villas were more damaged. We could not see any real signs of any remaining damage and loved sitting poolside in the lounge chairs and the outdoor living area.

We stayed at Villa Camaruche. Each mornng, we woke up to this breathtaking view.

With our Beachside Bash canceled, I decided to have a little party with our friends, our St. Barth staff and two of our US staff members who were on the island. It was our St Barth Properties Bilingual Villa and Hotel Specialist, Anne-Cécile Bedford’s last night and Allegra Pawlowski’s first night. I booked 25 Quarter for 17 of us and asked owner Chris Davis to make up a special menu for us. When we arrived, I was told to wait a few minutes because Chris had a surprise for us. A side door opened and we were escorted into 25 Quarter’s new Rhum Room, featuring rums from all over the Caribbean. We were the very first people to see it and it is fabulous. We enjoyed a Coupe de Champagne followed by exotic cocktails, then we sat down in the main area to enjoy a very delicious casual dinner. My favorite singer, Soley started singing at 10:00 pm. Everyone loved it. 25 Quarter-St Barth was just named Caribbean Bar of the Year by the Caribbean Journal. Congratulations, Chris!

I decided to have a little gathering with the staff at 25 Quarter. Here we are in their brand new Rhum Room featuring rums from all over the Caribbean.

December 03, 2017

It’s Sunday – Football Day! Many of you know that I am a huge New England Patriots fan. When I came down here in November, I purposely chose the bye week, so I wouldn’t miss a game (we have season tickets). Steve and I have attended every Super Bowl the Pats have played in, beginning with the New Orleans 2001 season’s Super Bowl XXXVII. We’ve suffered through the losses and celebrated the wins. We have Dish Network at our villa but, unfortunately, it is a New York feed, so we only get the Jets and the Giants games on TV. Our friend Mike, who was staying with us, decided to take a ride down to the Bar De L’Oubli in Gustavia to see what game they were showing. When he arrived, the Jets game was on, but only French people were sitting there, so he asked the bartender to change the satellite to the Patriots game; he called me on my cell and off we went to watch the game.

I was happy that I could enjoy a glass on Sancerre and watch the Patriots-Bills game at the Bar De L’Oubli.

That evening we went to the recently reopened Tamarin restaurant in Saline. The lily ponds and gardens were just like before Irma had destroyed all of it. The food was delicious, and we loved our round table for 6 in the garden. We will be back again and again.

The Tamarin opened right before Thanksgiving. We loved our table in the garden that has been completely restored.

December 04th – 6th, 2017

Connie, Allegra and I did some villa inspections. We visited the new Villa Coquillage that sits above Shell Beach and the harbor. You can easily walk down a fairly steep hill to get to either of them. The view of the red roof tops as well as the harbor is lovely. We were pleased to see the luxurious Villa Noé was in tip top shape (Several clients have already stayed there and raved about it) and that the island has finally put the electrical wires in front it underground! The infinity pool looks as if it flows into the sea. We inspected what will be the 3rd bedroom when it is finished mid-January. Located on the lower level, it features a French king bed that can be made up as twins and and en suite bathroom with rain head shower. Access is via a stairway or a separate outdoor entrance with parking across the street. Villa Noé can now accommodate 2 couples and 2 teens (or a nanny and younger child).

We started our day inspecting Villa Noe. It looked as luxurious as ever.

As we were a party of six that had two cars that we would have had to drive to dinner each night, Aurélie booked a taxi big enough to accommodate us, so every evening, “Annabelle Taxi” picked us up, dropped us off at the restaurant and picked us up again when we were ready to go back to the villa. No need to worry about enjoying cocktails and/or a bottle of wine.

Annabelle picked us up, took us to the restaurant, and then and dropped us off at our villa every night.

December 7th, 2017

Connie, Allegra and I inspected the new air-conditioned Villa Java that sits on the right side of Marigot Bay. As soon as we entered and went upstairs to see the bedrooms, we fell in love with it. The three French king en suite bedrooms look out to the view of the water and across the bay to Mont Jean. The living cum media room, dining area, gourmet kitchen and full guest bath are downstairs. Sliders lead out to the large deck with outdoor living and dining spaces that overlook the infinity pool and the bay. You can see turtles popping their heads as they swim by. Stairs lead down to a private man-made beach area and a small path winds around to the public beach area. Snorkeling here is a favorite pastime.

I had booked our St. Barth Properties Beach Picnic for 7 of us and chose Gouverneur Beach. It was a gorgeous day and the waves were rolling in. We are supporting our private chefs, so Chef XO set up the entre picnic, with beach chairs, umbrellas and coolers full of food, Rosé wine and water. We had so much fun. You need to try it while you are here. Just call the office or email our SBH concierge, aurelie@stbarth.com 24 hours in advance, choose your beach and menu and Aurélie will do the rest.

We enjoyed a St. Barth Properties Beach Picnic at Gouverneur Beach. Try it! You’ll love it!

Allegra took a few hours off from her villa inspections to join us for the picnic. Seems to me, she is having a pretty good time.

December 08, 2017

It was departure day for Connie and Mike, so we drove them to the airport to see them off to San Juan via Tradewind and then connect on AA via Miami to Boston.

Au Revoir Connie and Mike. Sorry to see you go back to the snow.

Les Bananiers restaurant had suffered damage and only opened for table service a few nights before, so I wanted to try it. We were glad we did. It had been ages since I had ordered their escargots and the new menu is delightful. One of the choices is tournedos, which were perfectly cooked and very tender. The service was excellent, and the new white décor makes it look larger. The place was full, so I was glad that Aurélie had made a reservation for us.

December 09, 2017

It was time for Paula and Marty to leave on an early Tradewind flight to SJU where they connected on JetBlue to Fort Lauderdale. That afternoon, we went to St. Jean Beach for a couple of hours. I am happy that we did because I witnessed palm tree, after palm tree being gently dragged over the sand by a backhoe loader from the airport entrance to La Plage restaurant/Tom Beach hotel. The results are already amazing. I think the new look is fantastic! I’ll keep tabs on what the final product looks like. I wonder if Santa Claus will arrive by Jet Ski as is usual on Christmas Day?

December 09, 2017, New palm trees were being planted in front of La Plage restaurant and the Tom Beach hotel, while I was on St. Jean Beach today. More progress!

December 10, 2017

It’s Sunday. No need to worry about NFL football today because the Patriots game is on Monday night, albeit at 9:30 p.m., because we are on Atlantic time. Fitbit back on and off to Gustavia. Silversea’s Silver Whisper cruise ship moored outside of the harbor and passengers were coming in by tender, as usual. I heard a saw coming from somewhere, which is not normal on a Sunday, so I checked it out. Good news! The noise was coming from the Baz Bar. Knowing Jean-Marc, I am sure it will be open by Christmas.

Workers were busily preparing the Baz Bar for its reopening.

We walked to Shell Beach and saw that real progress has been made on getting Shellona ready for you.

December 10, 2017 – Your table at Shellona on Shell Beach is almost ready.

December 11, 2017

I am not sure if many of you have heard of the famous French “Rock Star” Johnny Hallyday. Many people refer to him as the Elvis Presley of France. Johnny, 74, passed away in France on December 05, 2017. A huge funeral procession took place on the Champs Elysées Saturday December 09th. Like all of us, Johnny fell in love with St. Barth when he first arrived here many years ago. Eventually he built a large villa in Marigot which, I am happy to say, St. Barth Properties rents for him. He preferred that we not reveal that he is the owner of the villa, so I am respecting that request until I hear otherwise. Johnny’s two girls took surfing lessons across the street from the cemetery and his dying wish, to be buried in St. Barth, was expressed to Collectivé President, Bruno Magras. The internment in the Lorient cemetery by JoJo takes place today. I am sure the burial site will become a shrine and many fans will come to St. Barth to visit it, just the way Americans go to Paris and include a visit to Jim Morrison’s grave in Père Lachaise cemetery.

Johnny Hallyday asked St. Barth President Bruno Magras if he could be buried in Lorient, because St, Barth is his most favorite place in the world. (photo credit frenchinfo)

My son and St. Barth Properties VP, Tom Smyth, is arriving later today. Among other things, we have set up a lot of meetings with the staff at both our rental and Sotheby’s sales offices. I’ll be Back with more updates soon.

2 Responses to “Post-Irma Update December 01-11, 2017”

  1. Lisa Garner says:

    In you opinion, do you feel most of the island will be close to up and running this May? I am looking into planning a family vacation for my 50th birthday with 10-12 people renting a villa. Thank you

  2. Bill & Karen says:

    Peg
    Thanks for the updates.
    Very helpful.
    Even after 30 years…
    we always look forward to returning to St Barth.
    See you in February.
    Bill & Karen

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Hurricane Irma update November 11-15, 2017

November 21st, 2017

Which Beaches are open on St. Barth 9-10 weeks after Hurricane Irma?

The most recent update on the post-Hurricane Irma recovery on St. Barth in real-time November 11-15, 2017

November 11, 2017

It is Saturday November 11, 2017. Veteran’s Day in the US and Armistice Day in St. Barth (France). Businesses and enterprises are closed for the holiday. Not only it is a special day of tribute, it always falls on the anniversary of the founding of Le Select. Today is the 68th anniversary of this very famous bar! Marius Stakelborough opened the establishment that sits in the heart of Gustavia, in 1949.

Marius Stakelborough is one of my most favorite people. He is 94 years old and still going strong!

The celebration officially started at 11:30, so we arrived around 11:15 and were lucky to get a table that was partially shaded by an umbrella. For those of you who have been to Le Select before, the big tree with the round sign came down with Hurricane Irma, so it is sunnier. I think that Marius’ kids want to put something more permanent up, but I do not know if Marius will let them. We shall see. Anniversary cakes were cut, and Champagne was poured for everyone.

The crowd came out for the 68th anniversary of Le Select. 1949-2017

Eddy Stakelborough (Eddy’s restaurant) , one of Marius’ 9 children is there to congratulate his dad.

Everyone knows Marius, including Jimmy Buffett who refers to Marius in his One Particular Harbor song. When Marius decided to add food selections to his bar, he asked Jimmy if he could name it Cheeseburger in Paradise. Jimmy happily agreed, but only if Jimmy could have an open tab for the rest of his life. No problem! Jimmy gave a free concert on the quai for Le Select’s 50th and 60th anniversaries and I am hoping he will do it again for the 70th in just 2 more years. I’ll be there! Will you? Jimmy still comes to St. Barth all the time and will often pick up a guitar and sing an impromptu set at the Baz Bar.

Jimmy Buffett loves to stop by the Baz Bar once in a while to sing an impromptu set of songs. (I took this picture December 29, 2016. I am sure you will see him in 2017-2018, too).

Saturday night we (Pascale and her husband, Christophe, Steve and I) had invited the owners of the gorgeous Villa L’Adrech to have dinner with us at L’Esprit – Jean Claude Dufour. They accepted with an invitation to have Champagne and hors d’oeuvres at their villa first. Villa L’Adrech has so much warmth; it’s a home, so specially decorated with every little detail, that I know you will love it. From the circular garden parking area, to the view, to the flowers, the artwork, this villa is very special. You would never know that Hurricane Irma had ever touched it. The owners lived there through Irma’s wrath and, like many other people, took in some less fortunate owners who could no longer stay in their homes. This is the spirit of the people who live on St. Barth. The repairs were done immediately, and the villa is ready for your stay. Just email me, pegwalsh@stbarth.com or my very capable staff at reservations@stbarth.com.

We enjoyed a fabulous dinner wth Pascale, Christophe and the owners of Villa L’Adrech at L’Esprit Jean-Claude Dufour

November 12, 2017

Another Sunday arrives. Normally, this particular November weekend is spent commemorating the twin cities of Gustavia and Piteå (in Sweden) by running the Gustavia Loppet road race. This year, a late afternoon walk was organized to pay tribute to the solidarity shared by everyone on St. Barth after Hurricane Irma. A concert on the quai ended the day.

Time to go to Gouverneur Beach so that I can report back to you. I love this beach. Like Saline Beach, it is undeveloped on purpose. There is a small parking area by the access to the beach, so there is no need to climb a hill to reach it. The ride down to the beach is always dramatic because, as soon as you make the curve down the road, you have a stunning view of the beach that is far below. There were so many people there; many playing in the water, others sunning on the beach. Everyone was smiling. You will love it.

People were enjoying a morning swim at Gouverneur Beach

We stopped at the bakery to get our baguette. Lo and behold, I saw David Mouton, the owner of one of my most favorite restaurants, the Santa Fe. I asked him how things were going, and he told me that the landlord had just signed the insurance papers, so he can start the work. Steve asked him if the restaurant will be open in time for his Super Bowl party and he replied with a definite, “Yes”. We hope the Santa Fe opens sooner than that. I will let you know.

We bumped into David Mouton, the owner of the Santa Fe restaurant.

November 13, 2017

Today, I visited Villa Micela that sits directly on Flamands Beach. To be honest, I was absolutely astonished to see what the owners had accomplished. This two-bedroom jewel is perfect for those of you who love to be on Flamands Beach! I walked in, and immediately wanted to stay there, it looked so inviting. I opened the sliders from the air-conditioned living room to the pool deck – perfect. I walked towards the beach – a steep stairway was there inviting me to go down to the beach – incredible. Villa Micela is waiting for you. Just email me or reservations@stbarth.com. You will be in 7th heaven.

I took this photo of Villa Micela on November 13, 2017. It’s beautiful!

The Villa Micela owners ingeniously built this staircase to be sure that you can directly access Flamands Beach

For dinner, I had heard that the owner of the Tom Beach hotel bought Le Bouchon, located in the Oasis shopping center in Lorient. Indeed, our waiter had a Free St. Barth t-shirt on and told me that he can’t wait until La Plage restaurant reopens because that is where he normally works. He shared with me that they hope to have their New Year’s Eve celebration on the beach, so let julia@stbarth.com if you have reserved your villa with us and want to make reservations. Le Bouchon immediately reopened after Hurricane Irma. Although the menu is not as extensive as it will be, we loved it.

For a casual evening, try Le Bouchon in Lorient.

For now, the menu at Le Bouchon is limited, but yummy. By the time you go, there should be more selections.

November 14, 2017

I visited some potential new villa listings today. The owners had called my office to ask us to add them to our portfolio. I always inspect villas first, before agreeing to represent them. I will share the details of the villas I ok’d, once we have the contracts signed and photos to show you.

Great news! Le Tamarin restaurant reopens November 21, 2017! It is unbelievable that Paco and Julie have been able to restore their famous garden and lily ponds so quickly. I am sure it will be packed, so we should make your reservation before you travel. Never fear, we always send you a lunch and dinner reservation form in advance.

I had spotted a new sign, Da Vinci, that is next to Le Choisy bakery in Lorient, asked Aurélie about it, and she told me it is an alfresco pizza place. I had to try it for dinner tonight. I ordered a pesto pasta dish which was also on the menu and it was quite good (but very filling). This is a very casual place.

Le Choisy bakery in Lorient is open for business.

It looks as if Steve has a palm hat on at Da Vinci restaurant, next to La Choisy bakery, a very casual spot to get a pizza.

November 15, 2017

It’s my last day on St. Barth. I must go home to my house on Cape Cod to cook a huge turkey for our annual Thanksgiving Day dinner that I host for my family. I’m sorry to leave but will be back in no time, December 2nd, to be precise.

We have an arrival at Villa Royal Palm today, so I met the owner there to take a peek. Wow! It looks fantastic. The view is just as wonderful as ever and the villa is spotless.

I was able to see Villa Blue Diamond, too because we have an arrival there tomorrow. It also looks wonderful; The infinity pool was so inviting and, once again, the view is stunning. The owner will be adding a 2nd bedroom at some point (but not working on it while we have clients staying there).

I took this photo of the pool and view from Villa Blue Diamond on November 15, 2017.

Time to get ready and, let me tell you, putting on shoes after 2 weeks in paradise wearing only sandals, was not what I wanted to do. Off to the airport to return our cars to Odile at Gumbs car rental. She was sitting in the booth that St. Barth Properties shares with her. We checked in for our flight to San Juan with Tradewind. The airport and the departure lounge are fine.

Odile Gumbs was waiting for us with a smile, when we returned in our cars.

The deparature lounge at the St. Barth airport looks the same.

A true aerial view of the runway and St. Jean Beach from my seat in Tradewind.

We landed in San Juan, went through immigration and then customs. We were randomly picked to submit to an agriculture check which took some time, so I was grateful that we didn’t have a tight connection. The airport was very busy. We checked in for our flight to Boston on JetBlue.

The San Juan airport was very busy.

We seemed to be the only “tourists” on the plane. A long line with 21 wheelchairs had to board first. No one spoke English; all seemed to be evacuees. It was sad – when we were waiting for our luggage to arrive, I saw so many people, go up to someone arriving in a wheel chair, as well as others, and began hugging them and crying for happiness to get them out of Puerto Rico. I feel sorry for the island and its inhabitants and wish them well in their recovery.

I don’t believe that you will have a problem transiting through San Juan. I will let you know what it is like when I fly back to St. Barth through San Juan on December 01, 2017. We need to overnight in San Juan because JetBlue canceled its morning flights out of Boston.

As of today, the following beaches are open for your swimming enjoyment.

  • Colombier
  • Flamands
  • Anse des Cayes
  • Corossol
  • Public
  • St. Jean (airport side)
  • Shell Beach
  • Gouverneur
  • Petit Cul de Sac

I hope to see you there very soon!

Happy Thanksgiving!

You can give thanks that St. Barth survived Hurricane Irma and is well on its way to recovery.

2 Responses to “Hurricane Irma update November 11-15, 2017”

  1. Joe and Darlene says:

    Thanks once agin for this update, Peg. It is really good and honest information on the state of the Island. We will keep reading it after you return in December and hopefully will be able to return for our annual trip in April. Still thinking we will go out of JFK but not sure whether to go AA or Jet Blue. Time will tell I guess.

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