Our wonderful St Barth Hotel and Villa Specialist, Allegra Pawlowski shares her St. Barth experience with you today. She has lots of good information about places to stay, things to do and where she dined.
I always look forward to my spring inspection trip as I usually get to travel with Julia Hurd, our US-based concierge. This year, on the way to St Barth, we planned an overnight stop in Puerto Rico to test out a new hotel on Condado Beach, the Serafina Beach Hotel. This made our travel day so easy – a direct flight from Boston to San Juan and jump in a taxi to the hotel.
Since neither of us had ever spent any time in San Juan before, we checked into our room (oohed and ahhed over the fabulous sea view) and then took an Uber to Old San Juan to explore that part of the city. What a treat! I loved this part of our stay here – we stumbled on a crafts fair at the fort, watched some traditional performances and then continued our exploring.
Starving, we found a nice spot called Rosa de Triana to get some tapas, located on a beautiful park. We overordered and enjoyed having the place to ourselves. Stuffed, we continued wandering the cobblestoned streets and then late in the afternoon, returned to the hotel to rest a bit before enjoying our dinner outside at the hotel’s restaurant, Amare.
This is a great hotel to split up your trip to St Barth, especially if you are traveling from the West Coast of the US. It is a short taxi ride from the airport and is located in an area with many options for dining and some shopping. The views from here are gorgeous to wake up to as the waves crash on the beach below the hotel. They also make a yummy Pina Colada. Please let us know if you would like to try this hotel as we will be happy to help secure it for you.
The next morning, we returned to the airport for our scheduled Tradewind flight to the island on one of their 8 seat Pilatus air-conditioned aircraft. Besides flying privately, this is truly the best way to get to the island. It was a clear day and I love looking out the window to see all of the Virgin Islands as we fly over them as we approach the legendary landing on St. Barth, which is always thrilling. Upon landing, we were greeted by Romain, our wonderful and always welcoming team member who escorted us through getting our car rental and then we proceeded to our home for the next few nights. We had a nice surprise with the car – instead of getting what I usually prefer, a Terios, we got a bright orange mini cooper convertible for the week. I am now dreaming about this for my next car at home 😊. It really was a treat to explore for the week with the mini! However, some villas have accesses where the mini won’t work because it sits too low on the road. We will let you know if your villa qualifies when it is time to book your car.
Home for the first three nights was Fleur de Cactus, located in Lurin. It is a totally air conditioned 3 bedroom villa facing the sunset. What a spot! There are two bedrooms and a sitting area on the entry level and then an interior staircase to the lower level where you find the kitchen, living room, dining area and another bedroom, all facing that view! We loved this for the ease of getting to work in the morning in Gustavia and then getting to finish the day there taking in the view. From here, it is a VERY easy drive into town, Gouverneur Beach or one of our favorites, Santa Fe for dinner! We also have some other villas in close proximity, if your group is larger than 6 people and need other properties in the same area.
On the weekend, we visited the new addition to St. Jean beach, L’il Rock Beach Bar/restaurant. We enjoyed the beach with their lounge chairs and lunch with some members of our team on Sunday. The island’s famous, Soley performed while we ate and enjoyed the day lazing on the beach.
Monday morning meant the start of the work week and after getting Julia set up with her car, I was off to the office to get my marching orders for the day. Luckily, we were to start a bit slowly. During these twice a year trips, I always have a long list of villas I want to revisit or see for the first time. On this trip I really wanted to visit our cottages, Dahouët, Val André and Cap Fréhal and in the Sable d’Or area of St. Jean as well as the boutique hotel, Les Îlets de la Plage next door.
Surprisingly, I had actually never been on this side of the runway before and instantly felt transported in time to “old St. Barth” once you pass through the gate. These properties are all equipped with modern conveniences but have maintained the island charm which keeps people coming back to this island year after year. The Sable d’Or cottages are situated at the waters edge, but do not have a beach. To access the sandy beach, you will have to walk down the road a bit, back towards the runway, but there is water access from the cottages (remember your water shoes!).There is also a tennis court included with the cottages if you feel up to an early morning workout. The nearby hotel, Les Îlets de la Plage also has a step back in time feeling with comfortable rooms and cottages with or without sea views. They also have a hotel pool and are a short walk to the sandy area of St. Jean beach.
During the week, I crisscrossed the island seeing new properties and revisiting others for which I needed a refresher. Some standouts were Wish and D’zir, located in Colombier (think – sunset views over the mouth of the harbor and a short walk to Les Bananiers or the bakery, La Petite Colombe), Iris with its new sleek look, modern feel and fun new TVs, Dei Sogni– my ideal beach house on the sand of Lorient beach (utter perfection in my estimation), Villion located high up in Petite Saline for its privacy, value and views, Au Paille en Queue and Anse Etoilée located in St. Jean with nice views and very bright, fresh feeling interiors (including morning delivery of fresh French pastries included with a 7 night stay), Beach House for the ability to walk right out your door and be on the sand in St Jean, Lumière for its fantastic renovation and views.
On these trips, I aim to test out some of the restaurants on the island and traveling with our concierges, we certainly do. Some of the spots we tried this visit included Santa Fe (for lunch), Nikki Beach, Victoria, La Guérite (for the last night of the season), fishCorner (we had to try the dreamy lemon meringue tart again), Le Toiny (for lunch at their beach club), JoJo Burger (always a great burger) and Maya’s. I had not been to Maya’s in a few years and was very pleased to see nothing has changed and their cooking and presentation remain reliable and simply delicious. The service at Maya’s is superb and of course that view and breeze off of the water are welcome after a hot day racing around the island on visits.
Our second home for the week was Villa K, located in Anse des Cayes. As with most areas on the island at this time, there was construction here during the day, but when it stopped, I loved hearing the waves crash at the end of our sandy path. I imagined having our concierge arrange a massage at the villa and to set it up near the path at the end of the day. This would be a perfect place, as it gets dark, to really start the relaxation part of vacation. Note to self……… 😊
One day during the week, we took an afternoon off to enjoy a catamaran excursion with our colleagues in the office on the island. We sailed to Colombier on “Wayayaï” with Top Loc and our captain. There, we snorkeled and followed turtles and sting rays. It was truly a perfect afternoon on the water.
At Villa K, I won the coin toss on the master suite. It is HUGE with two separate lounging areas with gorgeous sea views and a very luxurious bathroom with separate steam shower and tub. This villa is very well set up for an extended family traveling with teenagers or a nanny. We had our last night dinner with the on-island office at Villa K and dined outside while enjoying the incredible talents of one of our favorite chefs, Christophe.
I am looking forward to the next visit in November to reconnect with our team on the island and see all the new properties at that time, as there will be much more to see!