Archive for January, 2018

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

Monday, 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!

December 12, 2017 to January 04, 2018

Friday, 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 or 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)