Archive for April, 2013

Just back from Brazil

Friday, April 26th, 2013

HIGH SEASON IN ST. BARTH HAS COME TO AN END – COME ON DOWN!

I just returned to St. Barth after attending the 3rd annual Travelweek trade show that was held in Sað Paulo, Brazil. Pascale Minarro from my St. Barth office was with me and we enjoyed meeting top South American travel agents whose clients want to come to St Barth for vacation. It was mostly all work but we did get a chance to shop for our Havaianas flip flops – a must.

Dining with my colleagues: From center:  Sebastien Maingourd – Hotel Christopher, Sabine Masseglia – Hotel Guanahani; Pascale Minarro- St Barth Properties St Barth office; Gonzalo Pena – Hotel K2 in Courchevel; Peg; Aymeric Bourdin – Hotel Tom Beach; Anne Dentel – St. Barth Tourism Committee; Christiane Chabez – Brazil’s’ rep for St. Barth Tourism

Dining with my colleagues: From center: Sebastien Maingourd – Hotel Christopher, Sabine Masseglia – Hotel Guanahani; Pascale Minarro- St Barth Properties St Barth office; Gonzalo Pena – Hotel K2 in Courchevel; Peg; Aymeric Bourdin – Hotel Tom Beach; Anne Dentel – St. Barth Tourism Committee; Christiane Chabez – Brazil’s’ rep for St. Barth Tourism

The significance of the Havaianas brand is that they are made in Brazil – The country is famous for them; they last forever and come in all sorts of colors and patterns. The Company has a huge store in Sað Paulo where throngs of people rush to purchase their very own. Many of them buy 10+ pairs for themselves, their friends and their family members. I did my part and bought enough to replace the brochures I had packed in my suitcase with loads of flip flops which I plan on giving as gifts. (I noticed that TSA was curious enough to go through my bag; I wonder what they thought when they saw all of them?)

Peg's Havaianas at Travelweek in Sao Paulo

Peg’s Havaianas at Travelweek in Sao Paulo

Every year Travelweek gives each person a pair and asks them to wear them on the last day of the show which is always called “Havaianas Day”. This year, we were given a pair with the 2013 slogan and theme of the event, “Feel the World” written on them in bright pink. It was fun to relax a bit while wearing them.

Pascale and I in front of our booth on Havaianas Day - Our feet said, Oh what a relief it is

Pascale and I in front of our booth on Havaianas Day – Our feet said, Oh what a relief it is!

I came back to beautiful St. Barth on Sunday in time to share the good news that it’s official…April 16 was the day our villa rates went down and will stay that way until December 15, 2013. It’s Value Season. Some villa prices are almost 40% less than their High Season rates. Spring temperatures in most of the US can be very fickle. – Not so in St. Barth where it is about 85 degrees during the day and 75 degrees in the evening and to top it off, we have nice breezy trade winds. I just love it here. If you are interested in staying in one of our hotels, there are some terrific packages available. Our Specialists can help you choose the one that is just right for you. Do you prefer a villa? Consider reserving one of our villas that offer our Drive, Dine and Relax package which includes your rental car and an evening when a private chef will come to your villa to cook and serve a very romantic dinner.

Villa Les Embruns

Villa Les Embruns – available as part of the Drive, Dine and Relax Package

If you time it just right, you can be here for Les Soldes when everything in the boutiques goes on sale. There is no competition in France (therefore not allowed in St. Barth either) so all of the shops must have their sales at the same time; the government determines the dates. In France the sales are in January. However, that is High Season in St. Barth so, naturally, the dates are chosen carefully so as to ensure that the boutiques have the opportunity to make the most euros before Les Soldes can begin. This year the sales period is from May 04 to June 06, 2013. The prices are further reduced as time goes by, so you can take your chances and come down towards the end but you won’t have the selection you would have if you go in early May.

So, come on down! For assistance with your trip, please contact me at pegwalsh@stbarth.com or one of our St. Barth Specialists at reservations@stbarth.com.

The Truth About St. Barth

Friday, April 12th, 2013

Its actual location is clearly defined

After 27 years of being in St. Barth, I learned that what we thought was a fact is actually a factoid! Now, convincing people of this newly discovered information is going to be a huge challenge because people won’t believe me. I am hoping that you can help spread the word.

It started out this way: Last week we took an island tour with Hélène Brenier, the owner of St. Barth Easy Time Tours. Our clients have raved about the various tours that she offers and I wanted to experience one for myself. Hélène was born in St. Barth and knows her island well. She is also the founder of St. Barth Essentiel a non-profit organization dedicated to “protect that which creates diversity, the originality, the beauty and the harmony of St. Barthélemy.” In other words, she is the “watch dog” whose main interest is protecting our precious island and preserving the environment.

Connie, Peg and Hélène in front of the St. Barth Essentiel office on the top of Gustavia

Connie, Peg and Hélène in front of the St. Barth Essentiel office on the top of Gustavia

We began our around-the-island tour by going to Saline and stopping at the salt pond where we learned about the island’s history of making salt. It was a difficult job but it brought in some income. The salt production stopped in 1972 when the island decided to rely on tourism as its major industry. We heard lots of tidbits about the people who settled here as we continued our tour. Most of the men had to go to St. Thomas to make a living. One such gentleman went home to see his wife once a year and as a result they produced 23 children! Phew! We saw the little “case” (house) where they were born and lived. Today, the siblings range from 50 to 90 years old.

Saline Beach

Saline Beach

Back to the point of my blog. We stopped at the top on Grand Fond to admire the view. There is a lookout spot with a large map detailing the area. Soon after this map was put up, an old-time local fisherman telephoned Hélène to tell her that the map was wrong. The artist had called the body of water on this map the Atlantic Ocean. The fisherman said that St. Barth is surrounded entirely by the Caribbean Sea, the Atlantic is much further to the east of here and that the map needed to be corrected. What??? I was always told that the wave action that connects Grand Cul de Sac Lagoon and Marigot Bay is caused by the fact that this is the very spot where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea. Hélène thought so too. Everyone thinks this factoid is true.

The Lookout at Grand Fond

The Lookout at Grand Fond

A Close Up of the Lookout's Map with the Incorrect Information

A Close Up of the Lookout’s Map with the Incorrect Information

Hélène researched and researched but each person she consulted insisted that the fisherman was wrong. Finally she decided to ask for assistance from a geologist who is a real authority on the subject. He reported that, indeed, the islands in the Lesser Antilles (which includes St. Barth) are solely in the Caribbean Sea. “According to the definition of the IHO (International Hydrographic Organization), the only islands that officially have Caribbean and Atlantic coasts are: Cuba, Haiti, Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico and Trinidad.” He went on to say, “In conclusion, officially, the island of St. Barthélemy is not washed by the Atlantic Ocean but by the Caribbean Sea only. Custom, says otherwise.” I was thrilled to learn this new fact. I always knew that some islands such as the Bahamas and the Turks & Caicos claim that they are in the Caribbean but they are too far north and are actually in the Atlantic Ocean but for some reason no one seemed to know that St. Barth is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea. Until now, that is…

Grand Cul de Sac View

Grand Cul de Sac View

A few days after our island tour, I had a site inspection at the Hotel Guanahani & Spa. I was admiring one of their newly refurbished suites and when I went out onto the suite’s deck to admire the view, the staff member who was escorting me pointed to that very spot in the lagoon and said, “That is where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean Sea.” …Not! When I corrected her, she was not at all impressed and looked at me as if I had lost my marbles. That factoid has been circulating for so many years that it is a real challenge to convince people otherwise. Hélène and I now know this new fact is true and now you know it too. Spread the word, s’il vous plaît.

Hotel Guanahani & Spa

Hotel Guanahani & Spa

P.S. Once you have selected your accommodation in St. Barth by contacting one of our Specialists at reservations@stbarth.com, our concierges can arrange an island tour with Hélène. It is a must do!