Posts Tagged ‘Tom Beach’

Hurricane Irma update November 11-15, 2017

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

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

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

November 11, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 12, 2017

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

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

People were enjoying a morning swim at Gouverneur Beach

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

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

November 13, 2017

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

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

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

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

For a casual evening, try Le Bouchon in Lorient.

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

November 14, 2017

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

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

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

Le Choisy bakery in Lorient is open for business.

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

November 15, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The San Juan airport was very busy.

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

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

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

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

I hope to see you there very soon!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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

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.