Posts Tagged ‘The Hideaway’

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.

Anne-Cécile Bedford’s May 2016 Trip Report

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

BONJOUR! As many of you know, our staff travels to St. Barth at least twice a year in order keep up-to-date on all that is happening on our favorite little island. It is extremely important that we inspect and re-inspect our Properties, dine at the restaurants, participate in activities and meet with our on-island colleagues. That way, we can better serve you when planning your St. Barth vacation.

Today’s Guest Blog is written by our Bilingual St. Barth Specialist Anne-Cécile Bedford.

Enjoy.

Sunny regards,
Peg

Anne-Cecile Bedford

Anne-Cécile Bedford

I just returned from a week on St Barth, my favorite place to work! As you all may know by now, I take two trips a year, in the spring and fall, to inspect our new properties and revisit villas I have not seen in a while as well as the one that went through renovation. I must have full knowledge to report back to all of my clients and be able to match them with the best property!

There are so many to choose from that it can be a bit overwhelming, so my job is to make it easy for you and guide you through the selection process. From a romantic villa for two perched high up on the hill to a family-friendly place by the beach or a luxurious 5 star villa or hotel, you can rely on my expertise to find your dream place on this little piece of paradise.

Villa Inspection

Villa Inspection at Villa Jade, a 5 star villa in Marigot

This time my trip was a bit bittersweet because I had to say goodbye to two of my long time coworkers who are moving on with their lives and leaving the island for a new promising future. I will miss Ted’s “Joie de vivre” and Mai’s Zen attitude but I was happy to welcome Anne Laure who tagged along with me on some of my visits. Many of you will have the chance to meet her on the island; she is very professional and simply gorgeous.

On my first night I had dinner with Peg at the Les Bananiers restaurant located in Colombier. It is a casual but wonderful restaurant, adjacent to La Colombe bakery where they bake the best baguettes on the island. Les Bananiers serves French and International cuisine; the perfect place to chill out after a day of travel! Their pizzas are as good as the ones at The Hideaway and I had the best Mahi-Mahi dish I have ever had on St Barth. I could not resist having “Escargot” (snails) as an appetizer of course; it is very French. This place is open for lunch, dinner but closed on Sundays.

Mahi-Mahi at Les Bananiers

Mahi-Mahi at Les Bananiers

This time I stayed at villa Mon Cheri, a deluxe property located hillside in Lurin with incredible views. For those looking for proximity to town, this is the ideal place to be. Both St. Jean and Gustavia are within a 7 minute drive. The villa features a large living area and kitchen with two equal bedrooms on both sides and a third little bedroom perfect for a child or a nanny. As a plus, the villa is fully air conditioned.

The living room opens up to a nice covered terrace where guest can dine by the pretty edge pool while watching the sunset. To my surprise the owner has added a Jacuzzi which was perfect for me to relax after longs days of visits and standing on my feet.

Villa Mon Cheri

Villa Mon Cheri

Mon Cheri Jacuzzi

Mon Cheri Jacuzzi

From Mon Cheri, I enjoyed the convenience of walking to one of my favorite restaurants, “Santa Fe” to say a last goodbye to Manu the owner. He is off to the South of France where he spent his childhood attending school there and seemed pretty happy about it. Do not worry, the Santa Fe will remain but with a new owner.

Amongst the new villas I visited, I absolutely loved Villa Kelly, a chic three bedroom villa, located near Gustavia and perfect for families. From the villa you can enjoy the panoramic view of St. Jean and a constant ballet of planes in the distance. The villa is beautifully designed in a nice contemporary style and features 3 bedrooms (2 bedrooms can communicate), a fitness room, a nice outdoor living space with a bar/kitchenette and a large barbecue to dine alfresco! The indoor living area and kitchen is fully air conditioned for those who cannot handle the heat. The long infinity heated pool (58 by 11 feet) is gorgeous with a shallow part where you can lay on chaise lounges. You will enjoy the convenience of being near your favorite restaurants and shopping spots in Gustavia.

Villa Kelly

Villa Kelly in Lurin

While you are strolling the streets of Gustavia, take the time to stop at the “Eden Fine Art Gallery” located near L’Isola restaurant and owned by Cathia Klimovsky. The gallery, hosted by Lynda Jacques, specializes in artwork and sculptures from selected leading International artists. They have several boutiques in the world; 3 in New-York, 1 in San Francisco, 2 in Tel Aviv and 1 in St. Barth. You will recognize the amazing work of the brilliant Yoel Benharrouche. Check it out! You may find your next piece of art or recognize yourself through the art piece.

Eden Fine Art GalleryEden Fine Art Gallery

Don’t forget while parking in Gustavia to put your Blue Disc on the windshield of your car and indicate the time you have parked, as there is a limited time (90 minutes) authorized. I omitted to put mine on there for a quick stop and ended up having to pay a parking ticket of 17 Euros. If this ever happens to you, the thing to do is to go to the Collectivité Locale (located by the stop sign on the corner that goes up from Le Select and is near the police station in Gustavia). Go there first to get a stamp and then go next door, to the police station but it closes at 5:00 (because our island is so safe!). It’s on the right, not too far past the Choisy bakery on the upper exiting road in Gustavia.

The Blue Disk that is used for parking in certain areas of St. Barth

The Blue Disk that is used for parking in certain areas of St. Barth

On other villa news, I am happy to announce that Villa Arrow Marine in Mont Jean is back in our inventory. It is a wonderful property for families or group of friends and the sunrise views from this villa are just stunning. Villa Arrow Marine features 4 bedrooms and can be rented as a 5 bedroom villa in combination with Villa Alphane located on top of the property. It is a breezy area and the view is gorgeous.

Villa Arrow Marine

View from Villa Arrow Marine in Mont Jean

On my last day, I had to make a stop at La Gloriette restaurant, open for lunch (every day except Wednesday) and for pizza and burgers but only at dinner. This is the perfect spot to enjoy a relaxing Sunday lunch, feet in the sand, facing the lagoon at “Grand Cul de Sac”.

I was happy to run into Albert the owner whom I had not seen in many years. I purchased their wonderful vanilla rhum to take home and I was glad to find out that they now ship to the US (shipping fee starts at Euro 40), France and Europe. Check their web site rhum-lagloriette.com.

Quick news: L’Oasis supermarket in Lorient has reopened, under new management, offering a variety of Bio products. If you are a wine lover check Le Papillon Ivre located in St. Jean up from Le Piment. They serve salads, sandwiches and fresh homemade products. In Gustavia, Le Quarter 25 is a fun place to start the night and enjoy a cocktail. They also have a dinner menu and offer delicious fish tacos and zesty popcorn. Their selection of bourbons is quite impressive.

My trip to St. Barth would not be complete without a swim in the beautiful warm ocean. Clients often ask, “What is the best beach to go to”? Which one do you recommend?” It is true that as tiny as St Barth is, the island offers 16 beaches! They are all beautiful and easy to access with free parking. My favorite is Saline Beach simply because it is unspoiled and just spectacular, a place where nature meets with the ocean and where part of my heart will remain always…

Saline Beach

Saline Beach

I can’t wait to share with you all of villas I have inspected. Call me at 508-570-4477 or email me at anne@stbarth.com and book your trip now to take advantage of the low season rates.