Posts Tagged ‘St. Jean Beach’

What does St. Barth look like 8-9 weeks post Hurricane Irma?

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

A St Barth first-person Experience November 02-05, 2017

My passion has always been St. Barth. My heart was aching for the people who experienced the wrath of Hurricane Irma and I longed to get back. Finding flights from Boston had become a huge challenge. I would book flights only to have them canceled. Finally, I found a flight through Miami to St. Maarten. Today’s blog covers my first few days back in paradise.

November 02, 2017:

My husband and I flew on America Airlines to Miami. Fortunately, the flight was on time and we made it to our connecting gate to St. Maarten in time. Both flights were full. I was surprised that so many people wanted to fly to St. Maarten because the recovery there is going at a snail’s pace.

I had heard that the terminal at Princess Juliana Airport was not open and was badly damaged. Make-shift arrangements had been made. That bit of news meant that I was clueless as to how to transit through to St. Barth. We had four heavy checked bags because we packed knowing that we would be here until May. I relied upon my fabulous concierge in our US office, Julia Hurd to arrange VIP services for us. What a smart move!

As soon as we touched down on the tarmac in SXM, I saw the devastation on both sides. I was so used to seeing pictures of how well St. Barth is recovering, it was a bit of a shock. It was as if Irma had hit only 3 days ago instead of 8 weeks ago. Our pilot parked the plane near some tents and we deplaned via a stairway. We were told to go to the “FOB” building. I had no idea what that was, so I asked a friendly guy at the bottom of stairs. He said, “Is your name Walsh?” He took me to Jerry who was handling my Easyway VIP service. Thank you, Jerry!

We deplaned in St. Maarten via a stairway.

We stood in line to clear immigration while Jerry retrieved our luggage, He then escorted us to another tented area where they had some counters and checked us in at Winair. Then we went to a booth to get our passports stamped again, this time for departure, and we went through a security checkpoint in a hangar serving as the departure lounge. It had some places to buy drinks and snacks and a restroom. Soon after, Jerry came to get us, and we were on our way to St. Barth.

We stood in line under a tent, in order ito go through immigration in a temporary building.

We waited for our Winair flight in a hangar that had become the departure lounge.

I admire St. Maarten for adapting to the aftermath of Irma by opening the airport to people like me. SXM is a gateway to many other destinations. I admire American Airlines for flying from Miami and Jet Blue from JFK every day, too. FYI If you are transiting through St. Maarten, please be sure to ask Julia to arrange the VIP service, you will be so happy that you did.

Vive La Différence! As we approached the island, we could see how green St. Barth is – already! We cleared immigration and headed to the St. Barth Properties booth that we share with Gumbs Car Rental. Odile was waiting for us with her always pretty smile and showed us to our rental cars. (Yes, we have two so that I can go off and work without stranding Steve.) 0ff we went to Villa Everest.

I tried to look at the surroundings as I drove. Yup, definitely, a hurricane had hit, the most obvious indication being the almost-naked palm trees. Otherwise, there were many signs of repairs and recovery that impressed me. Even the palms’ fronds had sprouted new growth showing that they were well on their way back to their stately beauty. We unpacked, showered and headed out to dinner. I had vowed that we would frequent every restaurant whose staff had busted their tails to reopen as soon as possible and show my support by dining there. We are always a bit tired on our first night and chose the casual Le Grain de Sel by Saline Beach; it was busy; they had blackboard specials, and we enjoyed the food, the friendly staff as well as the nice breeze.

November 03, 2017

I love waking up my first day back in St. Barth. Feeling rested, I grabbed my camera-phone and took a picture from the pool deck. The island looked nice and green and I remarked that Lorient beach looked beautiful. My mission is to give you firsthand knowledge of how St. Barth looks in real time but to also let you know how the people who lived through this nightmare felt and now feel.

My first morning view from Villa Everest was different but still stunnng.

Steve (aka “Doc”) went to his favorite warehouse in Lorient to stock up on supplies. In case you do not know my husband, he is Dr. Chatter and loves to talk to anyone. Maybe that is because he is a dentist and he was great at distracting his patients with banter between his dental assistant and him. He and the warehouse owner had a long conversation after the guy in front of him had bought every last bottle of Heineken out from under us!) The owner said that the guy owns a restaurant and people like him will go wherever they can to get what they need. Steve settled for Amstel Light and chatted away.

The owner said he had never experienced anything like Hurricane Irma. It was a category 5 but that is as high as the rankings go, and he thought of it as a category 7. In 1995, I remember when Hurricane Luis stalled over St. Barth for 36 hours. He said Irma was fast moving but was much stronger. Some people has lost part of their roofs and windows and when the eye hit at 7:00 am on September 6th, it was a blessing in disguise because people were able to go to the homes of friends and relatives and be safe. The backside was even worse. On September 7th, the island immediately began the recovery process. Everyone showed solidarity and pitched in to help one another. No one was going to sit back and wait for France to send help. The French didn’t think we needed it anyway because, “rich people come to St. Barth.”

Later, I met Anne laure and Laura from my rental office at Villa Les Embruns in Flamands so that I could visit it for a client of mine who is arriving in December. I saw people as well as the villa owner working on the villa, readying it for the first arrival on November 28th. Stonework was being done on a wall as well as repairs on the deck’s gazebos. When we went inside, it was perfect. The furniture looked as if nothing had happened. Laura successfully tested a “flybox” that enabled the Internet connection at the villa. I am going back next week to see the difference and report back.

I stopped at my offices in Gustavia to see everyone and to look at the damages. We have lots to do but both offices are open and ready to welcome you.

I stopped by my new St Barth Properties Sotheby’s International Realty sales office to check out the damages and to say hi to Benoit, Pascale, Nadine and Melissa.

That evening, we dined at another casual place, Bistro Josephine, which is on the road towards Shell Beach, not far from my offices. As soon as I opened the door, I saw my dear friend Audrey Ferrari who was the owner of Carpe Diem restaurant until the landlord decided to tear it down in favor of more shops. Audrey described the menu and the specials to us as we sipped our Coupes de Champagne. Once again, we had a delicious meal and had the chance to talk to Jean Paul, the owner. The bistro features a band once in a while; it also has a rear garden where you can dine alfresco. Try it, you’ll love it. We will make the reservations at any of the restaurants for you.

Doc and I are with Audrey and Jean Paul at Bistro Josephine.

November 04, 2017

Another day of reconnaissance found us driving past Grand Cul de Sac Beach, then turning left to view the lagoon from the righthand side. I wanted to see Le Barthélemy hotel and in the distance Le Sereno and Le Guanahani. The colors of the lagoon were as beautiful as ever; the beach looked inviting, too. The hotels are already in recovery – mode but it will take time before they can reopen. We have plenty of villas ready for your arrival. Maybe it’s time you try the Villa Experience. We can arrange every kind of service you may wish to have while you are there.

Next stop: Lorient Beach. We parked in our usual spot and took the footpath by the cemetery onto the beach. I looked to my left to see a very, very wide sandy beach. We walked the beach and realized that it was as wide as it is because the vegetation in front of the houses was gone. I saw homes that I had never seen before. It should all grow back soon. I spotted a woman with her two children playing on the beach near where the surf shack used to be and, as we approached, I realized that it was Hafida, the owner of The Hideaway restaurant. She told us that she is doing her best to reopen in December. I’ll be there in a heartbeat.

Lorient Beach is looking good too.

We had dinner at Eddy’s which had just reopened October 30th. It was quite busy, and we enjoyed seeing Brigitte, Eddy and their son Mahé again. The restaurant itself didn’t suffer any damage. The front garden lost its big tree. Eddy remarked that they were very fortunate because the tree fell across the street instead of onto the restaurant. Our meals were delicious, and I can’t wait to go back.

It is always a pleasure to see Eddy.

November 5, 2017

Today is Sunday. The day of rest is taken seriously by the islanders, so most places are closed. I put on my sneakers, put my Fitbit on my wrist and we headed off to Gustavia for a combination power walk and reconnaissance trip. The bakery in Lorient was open and a coveted parking space was free, so we parked and went in to buy our baguette for sandwich-making, so we could head to the beach with them later.

We stopped to buy our daily fresh baguette at La Petite Colombe in Lorient.

We decided to start our walk towards the other side of Gustavia. A cruise ship was anchored outside of the harbor and passengers had come in by tender. Therefore, a few shops were open. We headed to my offices and saw both the Bagatelle and the Baz Bar were under renovation. They plan on being open in December. Yay! As we continued on, we saw a few places that had been harmed by Irma. The harborside buildings that once held Hervé’s Coté Port and Carole’s Yacht Club were already scheduled to be torn down in favor of more dock space for boats, so no need for repairs there. We walked past the Hôtel de La Collectivité, as handsome as ever, and turned around at the end of that side of the harbor. Minor things such as benches need repair and the palm trees need more fronds.

The Hotel de la Collectivité (city hall) looks great

Reversing our steps, we walked down the other side of the harbor past the ferry dock and fish market. Everything seemed normal. The Voyager ferry had just arrived from St. Martin, taxi drivers were offering island tours to the cruise ship passengers, Le Repaire was open for breakfast and the fish market was intact but not open because it was Sunday. I did see a piece of plywood on the window at Longchamp’s but not much more. Further up the Bar de L’Oubli was open, too.

The Voyager ferry arrived on this quiet Sunday.

The fish market showed no sign of damage.

The afternoon reconnaissance: St. Jean Beach. After packing the cooler, putting beach chairs and an umbrella in the car, we headed to the parking lot across from the beach. The path at the end of the runway, going onto the sand, was wide, once again, because the foliage was gone. Believe it or not, we found a tiny piece of beach where we usually sit, that was shaded by some rejuvenating palm trees.

The sand on the Les Ilets de la Plage side of the beach has come back nicely. I think it is because most of the fence washed away.

We walked the beach towards Eden Rock and saw the damage to Tom Beach, Emeraude Plage and Eden Rock. Lots of work to do there. Tom Beach is already on its way back and expects to be open in December. We saw piles of sand waiting to be spread in various spots along the beach.

The sand at the Eden Rock side of St. Jean Beach is recovering well.

A benefit from Irma is that the better parts of the fences washed away. You can walk the entire beach again. Hope it lasts.

I noticed a few chaise lounges with umbrellas at the spot where Carib Water Play’s booth used to be and stopped to chat with Lucas, Jean Michel’s son. He was open for business! Good to know – 15 euros for a lounge chair and 10 euros for an umbrella – well worth it.

Carib Water Play is open for business.

Lucas is ready to set up your chaise lounge and umbrella, rent you a surf board or give you a windsurfing lesson.

To end the day, we enjoyed a casual Sunday night dinner at Le Vietnam restaurant in Gustavia.

My next blog will be shorter, I promise, and I will tell you more about my adventures post-Irma.

An Expansive Spectacular Beachfront Villa Estate is Now Available on St. Barth

Saturday, September 17th, 2016

VILLA CAMP DAVID – ST JEAN BEACH
ST. BARTH

Many people want to share a lifetime experience on beautiful St. Barth with family and friends. However, an exceptional villa that is large enough wasn’t an option. Finding one on the beach? Impossible!

– Until Now –

I am delighted to announce that St. Barth Properties is currently offering the – never before on the rental market – very exclusive beachfront villa compound known as Camp David. Those of you who are returning guests pass by the driveway with a small sign pinpointing Camp David each time you head towards Lorient.

Sign and entrance to Camp David

Sign and entrance to Camp David

This is where the top of the property’s two-plus acres begins and marvelously stretches all the way down to St. Jean Beach. When you walk along the smaller, quieter side of St. Jean Beach, you see a private roped-off beach area but you cannot see Camp David itself because it is hidden amongst towering palm trees. It’s deliciously private.

Camp David is situated directly on beautiful St. Jean Beach

Camp David is situated directly on beautiful St. Jean Beach

Imagine being able to stay in a beachfront estate that can accommodate 24 people. With 12 bedrooms, two swimming pools, a tennis court and a gym, you may never want to step foot outside of this magnificent property.

Camp David's upper swimming pool is located below the main pavilion

Camp David’s upper swimming pool is located below the main pavilion

The lower pool at Camp David is hidden behind the beach

The lower pool at Camp David is hidden behind the beach

Looking for places to gather? The compound has multiple outdoor and indoor living areas.

The main house at Camp David has an outdoor living area that overlooks the upper swimming pool

The main house at Camp David has an outdoor living area that overlooks the upper swimming pool

Camp David's lower swimming pool with outdoor living area is located just behind the beach

Camp David’s lower swimming pool with outdoor living area is located just behind the beach

The main house at Camp David has an airconditioned indoor-living room

The main house at Camp David has an air conditioned indoor living room

Is dining under the stars while listening to the sound of the gentle waves something you would love to do? No problem!

Guests can enjoy outdoor dining by the sea

Guests can enjoy outdoor dining by the sea

For more information, have a look at our link to Camp David.

This aerial photo gives you an idea of the layout at Camp David

This aerial photo gives you an idea of the layout at Camp David

Take a moment out of your busy day to enjoy this soothing video of Camp David.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/4qfa4yzqc0li5wt/Camp%20David%20St.%20Jean%20%232.m4v?dl=0

A Beautiful Way to Burn Calories and Stay in Shape While on Vacation in St. Barth

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Bonjour and Bonne Année from beautiful St. Barth to all of my loyal readers! I hope that you enjoyed the holidays and I wish you a very healthy and happy 2016.

One of my sons, Mark Smyth (the dentist vs. son, Tom Smyth, V.P. at St. Barth Properties) along with his family were, once again, able to join us in St. Barth for the holidays.

He wrote this guest blog. I hope you enjoy it.

Peg

A BEAUTIFUL WAY TO BURN CALORIES AND STAY IN SHAPE WHILE ON VACATION IN St. BARTH

My name is Mark Smyth. My family and I have been fortunate enough to be at least annual visitors to this beautiful island of St Barth. Brother Tom Smyth and mother Peg Walsh as well as the entire St. Barth Properties team have made this possible. The magnificent landscapes, quaint villages, and friendly islanders are amazing allures to this little slice of paradise; the world class cuisine is one its finest pleasures, thus the point of my blog.

We enjoyed Christmas Eve dinner at Le Repaire in Gustavia. (L to R) My daughter Reegan, my wife Cynthia, me, my mom Peg , daughter Lilia, my stepdad Doc and son Nate.

We enjoyed Christmas Eve dinner at Le Repaire in Gustavia. (L to R) My daughter Reegan, my wife Cynthia, me, my mom Peg, daughter Lilia, my stepdad Doc and my son Nate.

After indulging in some French and Caribbean delicacies for a few days, I typically feel the need for some cardio exercise. Normally, I would find a less busy part of the island and partake in a 30-45 minute jog. Over the past few years, the wear and tear on my knees plus a few extra pains au chocolat have made running less practical. Walking has become my exercise of choice.

In the early morning, I embarked on a walk that took me from L’Oasis in Lorient down through St. Jean looping back along the stadium and recreational areas and returning to L’Oasis. It is exactly a 5 km course taking about an hour (depending on how many stops one makes to drink in the gorgeous scenery and snap a photo or two). Very importantly, it is 95% sidewalk accessible. It’s hilly too which gets the cardio going.

I began my early morning trek by starting out at the L'Oasis Center  in Lorient.

I began my early morning trek by starting out at the L’Oasis Center in Lorient.

The reason I am writing this blog is because during my walk at 7am, I rediscovered the absolute stunning beauty of this French piece of Eden. Over the years we’ve tended to get into our rented vehicles and drive to the beach, then back to the villa, or to Gustavia to shop and back, or out to dinner and back. Cruising the island at 30-40 km/hr., I’ve missed out on some of the subtle idyllic nuances of St Barth. Being the driver nearly all of the time, I have had to focus on keeping our car on the wonderful, narrow local roadways. While on my walk that day, I rounded a bend at the top of one of the hills high above St. Jean and, suddenly, I was looking across to the little airstrip which was illuminated by the rising sunshine.

The tiny airstrip is bathed in the early morning sunlight.

The tiny airstrip is bathed in the early morning sunlight.

Further along, I could see all the way across the Baie de St. Jean and hear the surf lapping against the rocky shoreline below as well as some birds singing from nearby flowering trees. The occasional bleat from a goat and a call from a rooster all joined in to enhance the spectacular vistas I was taking in. I genuinely felt a calmness and reconnection with this lovely isle.

Stop for a moment.  The breathtaking view of the Baie de St. Jean is not to be missed.

Stop for a moment. The breathtaking view of the Baie de St. Jean is not to be missed.

A flat stretch brought me by St. Jean Beach and peek at Eden Rock. I kept going (Be aware that the sidewalk disappears for a bit and it’s not really pedestrian-friendly which is another reason to go early). I crossed the street and continued to the gas station, bought a bottle of water at the Superette de L’Aéroport and took that road to begin my loop back passing by the fire station, stadium, municipal tennis courts and pool and then along the Étang (salt pond) that is parallel to the main road, then took a left to end back at Eden Rock and reversed my direction.

Eden Rock divides the Baie de St. Jean into two parts.

Eden Rock divides the Baie de St. Jean into two parts.

And, of course, when I returned to my car at the L’Oasis parking lot, a visit to the new boulangerie Choisy for a pain au chocolat was well deserved.

The Choisy bakery in Lorient

The Choisy bakery in Lorient

The Pain au Chocolat (Chocolate Croissant) at the new boulangerie Choisy in Lorient is hard to resist.

The Pain au Chocolat (Chocolate Croissant) at the new boulangerie Choisy in Lorient is hard to resist.

I may try and scout out some other walkable courses around the island, but for this trip, I continued walking the loop that helped me rediscover the beauty that has drawn us all to St Barth.

p.s. I would recommend embarking on this 5K walk early in the morning (before 8am). I do so because there will be less traffic noise cruising by as you walk and the rising sun bathing St. Jean is inspirational!

Mark Smyth's Exercise Route Festive Season 2015

Mark Smyth’s Exercise Route Festive Season 2015

Connie’s SBP Trip Report November 2015

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

Bonjour from sunny St. Barth!

Steve and I made it back to paradise on Tuesday and are now based here until May (poor us). I have some last minute newly constructed villas to inspect in the next few days and will be adding them to our website shortly thereafter. For all of you procrastinators, yes we do still have some villas available over the holidays. Just follow this link to see http://stbarth.com/christmas-and-new-year-availability.

Last month, I was here with some of my US office’s staff, including Marketing and Travel Industry Consultant Connie Walsh. I am pleased to share her trip report.

I hope to see you at Bagatelle on Wednesday evenings for our weekly cocktail party.

Happy Holidays,
Peg

Trip Report, November 2015 by Connie Walsh

connie1

Connie Walsh

I’ve made some eighteen trips from Boston to St. Barth over the past decade, each as smooth as the sand on its gorgeous beaches. But this time, a flight delay – the dreaded “mechanical” – put us in Puerto Rico too late to catch our flight on Tradewind Aviation, the day’s last. Friends would be dining without us at the harbor’s new Carpe Diem and we would not be laying our heads down that night at Villa Everest. Tant pis indeed.

We’d arranged for VIP service through Tradewind and found their indomitable Lizbeth waiting for us at the gate when we deplaned. And she had a plan B. She confirmed availability at a nearby hotel, arranged transportation to-and-from, and seats on the first flight out the next morning. We were whisked off to the old grand dame, El San Juan. That lobby is still gorgeous. We checked in, took a walk on the beach, through the casino, enjoyed a cocktail at the bar and dined at the La Picola Fontana. Excellent northern Italian food. Coulda been worse.

Villa Everest

Villa Everest

As promised, the next morning Lizbeth was at the check-in counter to take us up to Tradewind’s VIP lounge. Two espressos later, hubs and I were winging our way to St. Barth, arriving in time to settle in and make an early lunch reservation at the Santa Fe. It was a Thursday and at Santa Fe that means moules-frites – divine as always. I ordered a starter of gazpacho which was chilled to perfection. Nice to be back!

On Thursday, November 12, St. Barth Properties launched the season and the latest edition of Live Your Dream® in style with a cocktail party, seaside at the beautiful Hotel Taïwana. One could really sense the excitement. Love St. Barth in November.

Taïwana Hotel

Taïwana Hotel

As always, the week was a hustle-bustle of villa visits, hotel inspections, and meetings but we happily incorporated some down time. Our Saturday afternoon picnic lunch at St. Jean Beach and our traditional Sunday morning swim at Gouverneur were delightful interludes.

One of the highlights of this trip was our site inspection at Le Toiny. The hotel reopened with the first phase of the extensive renovations completed. The villas French Colonial décor is gone, replaced with a chic and cool contemporary coastal style. Bleached white wooden floors anchor a palette of sandy-soft neutrals and crisp whites with pops of tropical color. The entrance, reception area, and restaurant have been reconfigured creating more of lobby-like feel. That gorgeous half-moon pool remains and now there is an adjacent open-air oyster shell bar. We lunched at the newly named Le Toiny Restaurant. Chicken Creole for me – and it was divine.

Hotel Le Toiny

Hotel Le Toiny

Below the hotel, the new sprawling Beach Club was just being completed. It’s surrounded by a coconut grove and furnished with comfy chaises. Lunch and libations served and transportation to-and-from provided. Looking forward to enjoying a glass of rosé with my toes-in-the-sand there – next trip.

We checked out the progress on the sure to be gorgeous 52 room Le Barthélemy Hotel & Spa. Located on the lagoon of Grand Cul de Sac with its 600-foot beachfront, it slated to open in 2016 and already generating lots of buzz.

And now for the “food facts.” We joined the fun at Gustavia’s new 25 Quarter (formerly Monbart), they have a hip street food menu complete with tacos, dumplings and empanadas and exciting cocktails. Football fans take note, they’ll be showing NFL games this winter. We sampled the new Italian focused cuisine at Le Sereno as they celebrate their new sister property in Lake Cuomo. I made a return visit to harbor side Bagatelle. It’s becoming one of my gotta-go-tos. Their signature white pizza with black truffle is amazing and its scene is quintessential St. Barth. Join the St. Barth Properties’ team for a libation at their weekly cocktail party every Wednesday from 6:30-7:30, then stay for dinner!

Speaking of scenes, if you haven’t lunched at Nikki Beach, do go. Our Sunday lunch there was so much fun. Costumed waiters sashay out to deliver Jeroboams of Champagne while the DJ spins a great rock n’ roll soundtrack, so good it inspires patrons to get up and boogie – sometimes on the tabletops. The quality of the food is not sacrificed for all the merriment. It’s terrific. The comprehensive menu includes lots of fresh fish, a variety of salads (try the Niçoise) and yummy BBQ.

Lots of visits to villas newly added to the company portfolio were on our agenda. My faves included the super – sweet one bedroom beach house Maison de La Plage, just steps from the shore at St. Jean Beach and Villa Yeye, a lovely traditional four bedroom vacation home in Pointe Milou with a stunning view. Its décor pays homage to the casually elegant lifestyle of St. Barth in the ‘70s. I loved its circular plunge pool and shady rear garden.

Villa Maison de la Plage

Villa Maison de la Plage

Villa Yeye

Villa Yeye

We were impressed with the stunning seascape, from the umbrellas at Nikki Beach to Anse de Cayes, at the three bedroom Villa La Pointe du Reef in St. Jean. Its contemporary design is complemented with “old St. Barth” images and accessories. At Villa Super Ciel, a lovely three bedroom villa with loads of living space and two pools, verandahs boast some half a dozen hammocks. They sway in the breeze with a view of the verdant hillside and slivers of the sea. I took a test drive.

Villa La Pointe du Reef

Villa La Pointe du Reef

Villa Super Ciel

Villa Super Ciel

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we were wowed by the chic and modern six bedroom Villa Monaco. It celebrates Princess Grace and is as every bit as stylish. Set high above Anse des Cayes, the oversized heated swimming pool has a unique platform with chaises looking out to the eye-popping view. When we arrived at brand-new Villa Fleur de Sel workmen were busy finishing all the details. Its five en suite bedrooms are named for designers and the penthouse master suite pays homage to Louis Vuitton.

Villa Monaco

Villa Monaco

All great additions to the portfolio. Full details and pictures are on the website www.stbarth.com.

Will Kids Love St. Barth?

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

It’s Julie Nally’s turn to share her recent trip report with you. Julie has been a St. Barth Specialist with St. Barth Properties for 18 years. When she began her career with us, she had not yet had children. Over the years, she was blessed with two very nice boys. If you are considering going to St. Barth with your family and have younger children, Julie gives some insight on what a family trip to St. Barth can be like.
I hope you enjoy it!

Sunny regards,
Peg

Will Kids Love St. Barth?

By Julie Nally

“Will my kids love St. Barth?” is a common question I get from potential clients planning their next family vacation. Well, the answer has always been “yes” for a variety of reasons. However, now I can speak from my own experience, the answer is an even bigger “YES!”

I just returned from my latest island villa and hotel inspection trip. This trip was different than any other because I was not traveling alone or with a friend but with 5 kids! That’s a “busload.” The age range was from 10 to 21 years old and included my two sons, Jack, 10, Keith, 13 and my three nieces ages 14, 16 and 21.

The initial interest in planning this trip was sparked by my son Keith. He was curious about St. Barth and always asking if he could come with me when I went for work. He was determined to be on the plane to St. Barth with me. I granted his wish and it had a domino effect for all the other kids.

We flew from Boston to San Juan on Jet Blue and then took Tradewind Aviation from San Juan directly to St Barth. The Tradewind Aviation flight is ideal for anyone traveling to the island. Convenient, quick, and comfortable – a good start to any trip.

Boarding our Tradewind Flight - Jack, Julie, Ava, Haley, Lindsey, Keith

Boarding our Tradewind Flight – Jack, Julie, Ava, Haley, Lindsey, Keith

After arriving, it was on to Villa Eclipse in Camaruche. This villa with its long lap pool, amazing view, privacy, and oversized indoor and outdoor living spaces was the perfect choice for our group. The US Satellite TV in both the living room and master bedroom didn’t hurt either. The NBA Championship games were on and I have two sports enthusiasts for sons! The owner of Villa Eclipse also owns the amazing Villa Wings located in St Jean and the convenient condominium Wahoo in Gustavia. Three different locations, three very different properties but all top-notch villas that offer great amenities for the appropriate clientele.

On Top of the World - Ava and Haley - Villa Eclipse

On Top of the World – Ava and Haley – Villa Eclipse

After some refreshing pool time, we were treated to quite a surprise – an amazing fireworks display that lit up the skies. Lucky for us there was a large high-end wedding on the island and as it turned out Villa Eclipse had the best seat in the house. The kids were so excited!

We were treaated to a Fireworks display on our very first night.

We were treated to a Fireworks display on our very first night.

After, we left for a casual first-night dinner at L’Isoletta in Gustavia. This chic little bistro offers the best gourmet pizza slices on earth and outdoor dining on comfy couches and candlelight. We ended the evening with my niece giving a toast and that started a fun tradition.

Saturday and Sunday were filled with swimming and lounging at the villa and beach exploration (Saline on Saturday and Flamands Beach by the hotel Taïwana on Sunday). We had dinner at L’Entracte in Gustavia and JoJo Burger in Lorient and kept the nightly toast tradition going. My niece Ava gave it at L’Entracte and my son Jack at JoJo Burger. I also enjoyed some needed “girl time” Saturday night with two of my nieces Lindsey and Haley, at one of my favorite local bars Sayolita. It’s owned by two free-spirited St. Barth surfers Daniel and Sylvain and the girls loved the vibe and the “chill” atmosphere.

First ones in the pool every morning - Ava and Keith

First ones in the pool every morning – Ava and Keith

The absolute highlight of the weekend was our jet ski tour around the island on Sunday afternoon. Wow! None of us had ever jet ski’d on the open ocean before and what an adrenaline rush it was. Ninety minutes of pure fun, gorgeous scenery, and lots of laughs. Jeremy at Ouanalou was our guide and he was terrific.

Come Monday morning it was time for me to start my villa visits. I felt the best spot to get the kids situated was at St Jean Beach. They could watch the planes come and go, hang out at La Plage, the beach restaurant at the Tom Beach hotel, and walk to local shops. To my surprise, my son Jack opted to come with me for the day as opposed to beaching-it with the rest of the crew. He wanted to get an inside look at these properties he had only seen on our website before. Let me tell you, it was an absolute pleasure having him with me as my “little assistant.” His eye for detail, knowledge of all the technical gadgets (I had never heard of a “launchport” before.), and genuine interest in discussing the properties after seeing them was a nice surprise. He accompanied me again on Tuesday. I now wish he could be with me on every inspection trip!

I knew I wanted to capture this family vacation on film in some form or another. How could I not take advantage of this opportunity of our all being together in paradise?! Of course, there was collectively hundreds of selfies taken by the kids but I wanted something more. I made arrangements with island photographer, Chrystele Escure to come to the villa for a photo session. On Monday evening with cool music playing on the Bose surround system throughout the villa, we started what turned out to be a real (and fun, and exciting) photo shoot. Chrystele gave every person their time in the spotlight and a chance to be a “supermodel” – and captured their spirit. Seeing just how much fun everyone was having and the unique pictures that Chrystele was taking of us as a group and individually was priceless!

Chrystele getting ready for photoshoot with Julie

Chrystele getting ready for photoshoot with Julie

I highly recommend booking a photo shoot. It’s a fun and creative way to shed inhibitions and capture your time on St Barth. It’s a once in a lifetime experience! Just ask Julia or Magda, our concierges to arrange it for you.

Before our vacation together came to an end on Wednesday, the kids were able to get in a few more midnight swims at the villa, browse the shops in Gustavia, and enjoy their last delicious meal at Bar L’Oubli -followed by yummy gelato of course. I didn’t want to see them go because, of all the trips to the island, this was the one that brought me the most joy and happiness. I loved that they picked up on the true spirit of St Barth …the people, the beauty, and that “mysterious vibe” that floats in the air and puts a smile on your face. Anyone who has been to St. Barth knows exactly what I’m talking about.

Before they left on their Tradewind Flight back to San Juan, the girls and I recalled that classic movie Wizard of Oz we all know and love. However, instead of clicking ruby slippers, they were clicking summer sandals and flip flops thinking “There’s no place like St Barth…there’s no place like St Barth.”

Julie Nally

Julie Nally

St. Barth Properties US office Concierge, Julia Hurd’s Trip Report

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Did you ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes that makes your trip to St. Barth so remarkable?

Here is one of the reasons:

Bonjour Everyone,

Julia Hurd

Julia Hurd

I hope that you had a very enjoyable summer. Today’s blog was written by our fabulous Concierge Julia Hurd from our US office. If you have not already had the pleasure of working with Julia, you will be very impressed when you do. Julia helps all of our clients arrange any services they may wish her to organize for them…car rentals and dinner reservations, private chef and spa services, babysitters, birthday parties etc. Basically, everything on a person’s wish list will magically be set up and ready upon arrival.

In order for Julia to accomplish this feat, traveling to St. Barth to touch base with our St. Barth Properties Sotheby’s International Realty office’s Concierge, Magda Votava and meet all of our service partners is a must.

Enjoy,
Peg

Julia’s Trip Report

by Julia Hurd
US Concierge, St Barth Properties

Kathy Schlitzer, one of our St. Barth Villa Specialists, and I travel well together and this trip was no exception. We departed Boston, MA with JetBlue direct to St. Maarten. Once we arrived Easyway VIP Service was waiting for us to assist us through the St. Maarten airport to the Voyager Ferry.

Photo of Easyway VIP Agents in SXM

Easyway VIP Agents in SXM

Once we arrived into St. Barth we headed off to the Hotel Taïwana and we had the most beautiful two bedroom Jade Suite with a private pool. We settled in after a long day of travel and Sunday woke up and walked the beach of Flamands. The hotel is stunning and everyone there was so generous and kind. I wish I could have stayed longer.

Monday morning I went to our office in Gustavia to start my work week with Magda, our on island concierge. We speak daily and it is nice to see her in person. My first order of business is to collect updated information of the new and exciting things that the island has to offer, so we headed off to the Tourist Office in Gustavia.

SBP Office in Gustavia

SBP Office in Gustavia

The island of St. Barth has so much to offer, each time I visit, I learn something new.

I was excited to dine at some new restaurants on the island: Black Ginger, Ocean and of course my all time favorite Santa Fé.

Here is my Dover Sole that I enjoyed at Santa Fe

Here is my Dover Sole that I enjoyed at Santa Fé

I love fish, so I heard that the grocery store in Lorient called L’Oasis now has a Fish market for those guests that want to sleep in and not meet the local fisherman in Gustavia to see what the daily catch is. I took a ride to check it out. WOW if you want to stay in one night and cook, then I would suggest taking a look at their beautiful array of fish. They have many choices and all are packed on ice to stay fresh.

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I wanted to take a ride around the island to explore, so Magda and I decided to take a little excursion in Grand Fond; many clients enjoy hiking to see the Washing Machine. Make sure you wear sneakers; no flip flops for this hike.

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We also took the hike to Fort Karl, 63 steps up to the most spectacular view overlooking Gustavia harbor on one side and Shell Beach on the other.

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After that Magda and I hopped in the car to explore; we came across some new friends on the road. I also saw some ponies at the stables in Gouverneur.

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After our adventure I headed to the beautiful villa Méli Mélo where I would stay until I departed. This villa has the most stunning views from the front and the back. The front view overlooks St. Jean, the sea and the planes landing over the mountain; the villa was provided with binoculars, so I took advantage of using them. It was amazing to see the planes land and take off. The rear view looks out to the beautiful water at Saline Beach.

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I was lucky to be on the island for our last cocktail party of the season held at La Plage on St Jean Beach, I was happy to meet so many of our clients that I talk to and assist in planning their dream vacations on St. Barth. It was nice to spend time getting to know them better and in person. It just so happened to be Magda’s birthday, so Kathy and I invited her and her beautiful daughter Valérie to join us for dinner.

It was, as always, sad to leave, but I had to get home to make sure that I could share all my adventures and new knowledge of St. Barth with all of you. Call me anytime. I love my job!

A bientôt, St. Barth.

Pave Paradise – Put up a Parking Lot

Friday, May 4th, 2012

For those of you who have never been to St. Barts and/or those of you who haven’t been back here this season, the parking at St. Jean Beach has changed. Everyone used to have to scramble to find parking (there wasn’t any) so people just parked along the curb by pulling onto the sidewalk, putting the right front and rear tires up there and letting the left tires stay on the road. Things really got hairy over the holiday period when the island is full and the St. Bart children are on vacation because everyone wants to go to the beach. So, anarchy set in for some people who simply decided to park on the sidewalk on the other side of the street making it impossible for 2 cars to get by. Throw in a taxi driver who doesn’t care about blocking traffic and we had gridlock. At times, the Collectivité (aka The Com) would make that stretch of road one way which helped a lot but that was just a temporary solution.

No more! The Com decided to build a parking lot across the street from the runway end of St. Jean Beach. Environmentalists were disappointed because they had to construct it on virgin land but St. Jean Beach lovers are grateful to have it. Note the photo also shows the posts that have been put up on the sidewalk just in case those anarchists don’t get the message.

The new parking lot across from St. Jean Beach

The new parking lot across from St. Jean Beach

Another concrete area was built on the water near the Hôtel de la Collectivité (aka City Hall). It’s a beautiful new extension of the quai on that side of the harbor thus creating more places where the local people can dock their boats. Whatever company won the landscaping contract must have had a huge budget because the area has towering palm trees and flowering bushes. There is a compass rose made up of small stones and it lies in front of built-in benches where you can sit and enjoy the view of the harbor; there’s a wall of stones that holds a sign welcoming people to St. Barthélemy. My morning walks that take me over there make exercising a bit more tolerable because the scenery is so appealing. I hope that you will take the time to go there the next time you are in St. Barts.

The Hôtel de la Collectivité

The Hôtel de la Collectivité

The new quai - Note the partial view of the compass rose on the left

Welcome to St. Barts

Welcome to St. Barts

One more bit of news regarding one of our villas is the “new look” at Villa Bonjour. The owner has made lots of upgrades on the furnishings including new chaises on the terrace and an outdoor sitting area in front of one of the bedrooms. If you love to be centrally located in St. Jean, Villa Bonjour is a great choice for two people and also for two couples because the king en suite bedrooms are located on either end of the villa and are identical. For more information, contact reservations@stbarth.com.

Villa Bonjour

Villa Bonjour

More Neat stuff about St. Barts

Friday, January 13th, 2012

Do you remember one of my previous blog’s where I mentioned the very talented Tomas Doncker Band that was playing at the Baz Bar over the holiday period? Tomas kindly stopped my office in Gustavia to give me his latest CD, “Power of the Trinity”. It is excellent. I thanked him and told him that we would go to his last show on Sunday night before the band headed back to New York. We enjoyed it immensely. If you get a chance to see the band, you will not be disappointed. Check out their website www.tomasdonker.net.

I gave my grandson Vince a trip to St. Barth as a combination Christmas/ 21st birthday present and I invited his girlfriend Samantha (“Sam”) to join him before they return to the University of Miami where they are both top students (Yes, I am allowed to brag.) I used my frequent flyer miles to get them as far as St. Maarten and then secured the inter-island flights for them. They have been having a great time. We went to St. Jean Beach one afternoon. The next day they toured all the way around the island by Jet Ski and yesterday they hiked the goat path to Colombier Beach. (You must do that at least once or take a catamaran there. That is the only way to access this gorgeous beach and great snorkeling spot.)

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Vince and Sam get ready to Jet Ski around St Barth

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The Jet Ski instructor uses this map to point out the natural reserves where Jet Skis are forbidden to enter

Colombier Beach

Colombier Beach

Our evenings have been full, too. We went to some of my favorite restaurants. Tuesday evening we went to our St. Barth Properties cocktail party which we host every Tuesday evening (late November to the end of April). It takes place from 6:30 to 7:30 at the gorgeous Bonito restaurant which overlooks the harbor. We enjoyed talking to our villa and hotel clients and then stayed on for dinner. The food was excellent.

A week in St. Barth should include one night at Le Ti St. Barth. It describes itself as being “A Caribbean Tavern.” We went there for dinner and were entertained by a fashion show at 9:30 followed by a cabaret show. You should try it. Today we’ll hit the shops and tomorrow we’ll have a “cheeseburger in paradise” at Le Select.

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Fashion show at Le Ti

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Vince and Sam at Le Ti St Barth

Last night we went to the Santa Fe restaurant (delicious as always!) and as we were leaving, a gentleman introduced himself and his wife to me. He said, “Peg? I love your blog.” Well, that stopped me right there in my tracks, “You do????” He said, “Yes I wouldn’t miss it.” It was great to hear that. So, if any of you feel the same way, I certainly do not mind if you add a comment to let me know. You can also ask me questions about St. Barth and suggest topics you would like me to explore.

Robert-and--Susan-Waite-at-the-Santa-Fe-restaurant

Robert and Susan Waite at the Santa Fe restaurant

It turns out that this couple is a longtime repeat client of SBP. They have come to St. Barth and used our services every year since 2002. Happy 10th Bob and Susan!

Julie-Nally

Julie Nally

They told me that they love working with Julie Nally who is one of our St Barth Specialists. Julie has been with SBP and assisting clients with their choice of villa or hotel since 1997. Her contact info is julienally@stbarth.com. This is the 5th time in a row that Bob and Sue stayed at Villa Sud Ouest which is a real testimony on how enjoyable it is. I hope to see them again at our cocktail party next Tuesday.

Quick Trip to St Barth Part 2: Summer Sessions, the “New” La Route des Boucaniers plus the just opened V Lounge

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

I forgot to tell you that I had a business (and pleasure) lunch with Pascale Minarro the Directrice of our St Barth office and Magdalena Votava, our Concierge. Paula joined us at the newly reopened La Route des Boucaniers harbor side restaurant that is now owned by Xavier Pignet of Dõ Brazil. I had been dying to try it and I am so glad that we did. The menu is varied and they offer lunch specials every day. Prices range from 10 to 20 euros each. (The dinner menu is different and very good, too.) The restaurant is completely remodeled; the bar was moved and the dining areas are more open so you feel more al fresco and can enjoy the view. We each tried a different item. I had the Langouste Salad and it was quite good. Paula and Magda indulged in the dessert—Yummy!

Pascale,-Magda,-Paula-and-Peg-about-to-have-lunch-at-La-Route-des-Boucaniers

Pascale, Magda, Paula and Peg about to have lunch at La Route des Boucaniers

Dessert--Anyone

Dessert anyone?

The-New-Bar-at-La-Route-des-Boucaniers

The New Bar at La Route des Boucaniers

Saturday afternoon I took a few hours off and went to St. Jean Beach with Paula. The water was divine. I noticed some camera equipment on the beach (This is fairly common but more so on Shell Beach). It turns out that Victoria’s Secret was doing a photo shoot featuring one of their top models, Candice Swanepoel. She really is stunning and we watched the entourage for a while. It’s quite a production just to get one shot. If you happen to read one of their next catalogues and you see her picture, try to notice if you recognize the beach in the photo.

Victoria's-Secret-Candice-Swanepoel-on-St.Jean-Beach

Victoria's Secret Candice Swanepoel on St. Jean Beach

Saturday night was the Summer Sessions concert on the quai so we decided to go down to Gustavia early because DJ Alex Merrell was spinning at the new V Lounge. The what? The V Lounge aka the Voyageur Lounge… It is a gorgeous very elegant lounge for us “grownups” who can’t stay up until the night clubs get going at midnight and close at 4:00 am. It is luxuriously furnished with white sofas inside and tables are located on the outside deck. The view of the harbor from here is outstanding. The bar is beautiful too. The V Lounge is located above the Yacht Club and La Marine in Gustavia and the fact that it opens at 7:00 pm is really great. People can go there for an apéritif then continue on to dinner or stop by for a digestif after dinner. If you are looking for a great place to enjoy drinks and a light supper the V Lounge offers a wonderful selection of tapas. Open from Tuesday to Sunday 7:00 pm to 1:00am and they accept reservations. I think you are going to love this place.

The-new-V-Lounge

The new V Lounge

Paula and I had decided that we were going to hire a taxi to pick us up at Villa Everest. Our island office concierge, Magdalena Votava hired Karine Greaux who dropped us off at the V Lounge. Karine told me to call her 15 minutes before were ready to go home. So we were on foot and left the V Lounge to dine at the Wall House. The food was great per usual and we spent time talking to co-owner Julien Tatin. Julien and his co-owner dad, Bernard love St Barth Properties and our clients, so if you want to have lunch or dinner there, you can reserve a table before you travel or call Magda when you are on the island. She will make the reservation for you and you will receive a 10% discount off of the entire bill! Now that is a great deal.

After dinner we walked over to the other side of the harbor to enjoy the music. Lots of people were there and the entertainment was great. Then I called Karine and she took us back to the villa.

Saturday-Night-Concert-on-the-Quai

Saturday Night Concert on the Quai

More to come in my next blog…

What do some St. Barth residents do on Easter Weekend that they cannot do the rest of the year?

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Easter weekend in St. Barth is unique. Some businesses (like the banks) choose to really stretch it out by closing on Thursday afternoon and reopening on Tuesday morning. Lucky them and lucky me because I just made it to the bank at 4:15 on Thursday, right before their 4:30 closing. Other businesses stayed open until noon on Friday and some made it until Saturday at noon. My SBH office was open and only closed for Easter Monday and Sunday, as usual. Of course our 24/7 “On-Call” phone was available to assist our clients in case of an emergency. Arriving clients had taken care of the fact that the grocery stores were closed (except Oasis which is open 365 days a year) by filling out our pre-arrival shopping list so that their villa’s fridge was already stocked when they arrived.

Did you guess the answer to my question as to what people are allowed to do only on Easter weekend?

St Jean Beach on Easter Weekend

St Jean Beach on Easter Weekend

Go Camping! I kid you not; the island allows people to set up camps on the beaches just one time per year and Easter is it. You ask yourself, “Go camping when the island’s size is only 8 square miles?” Think about it…You live on this paradise all year round and the idea of doing something different and fun is just what you need. You can set up camp with a BBQ and air mattresses and jump in the water for a swim at anytime. You can run home to use the facilities, take a shower and bring back more food, water and beer at the drop of a hat.

Camping on Shell Beach

Camping on Shell Beach

More camps on Shell Beach

More camps on Shell Beach

The weather was gorgeous and the island was hopping because it was school vacation for many and Value Season prices had just kicked in. If you want to come on down we have lots of villas at very reasonable prices. Many offer Special Packages. We have some wonderful hotel packages, too. For more information, contact reservations@stbarth.com

Camping on Lorient Beach

Camping on Lorient Beach

What’s new? FYI: La Route des Boucaniers has been sold and is throwing a party on Sunday May 01, 2011 before closing its doors for good later that evening. New owners Xavier and Rimma Pignet (part owners of D0 Brazil) will begin renovating the place before reopening. Stay tuned as to what it will become. Thanks to the Delage Family for their many years of devotion and success as great restaurateurs. Bonne Chance to you in your future endeavors.