Archive for the ‘St. Barth Restaurants’ Category

St. Barth Restaurants – June 2018 trip report

Monday, June 25th, 2018

St. Barth Restaurants – Even More Choices – It Just Keeps on getting better!

To continue my blog about gathering information for our revised Live Your Dream® magazine, Connie and I went about our business. Yes, it was a working trip and always fun. We met with people regarding the revision of some of the articles we had written. For example, the Coral Restoration St. Barth project has been drastically changed by Irma. We are hoping to bring the association’s effort to the public’s attention because St. Barth must preserve and restore what makes it so special. The Coral Restoration St. Barth’s undertaking really needs funds, or they cannot continue. I just made a personal donation and I hope you will, too.

A big part of the St. Barth Experience concerns the outstanding variety of places to dine on St. Barth – from casual to gourmet. I need to be up-to-date on the latest restaurant news because people are always asking us to give them recommendations. It’s another very pleasant part of my job. Many of you know that the Gloriette restaurant on Grand Cul de Sac Beach was badly damaged by Hurricane Irma. Owner Albert Balayn is uncertain of its future but built a new place almost directly across the street from my offices. (The staff pops over there almost daily to get lunch-to-go.) Café Gloriette just opened and is run by Albert’s daughter, Sandra who prepares freshly made dishes and drinks daily. Connie and I tasted numerous selections, including the Salade Crudité, the Quiche Chèvre, the Tortilla and the Cake Salé Chèvre. – Delicious.

Salade Crudité dressed with fresh lemon juice at Café Gloriette is a must.

I was so happy to to see Sandra Balayn at her Café Gloriette. (My pin says 95 in honor of Marius’ birthday)

You can purchase Albert’s famous Rhum La Gloriette and branded souvenirs at Café Gloriette, too. (Open from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. every day except Sunday. However, the first Sunday of the month, it is open until 1:00 p.m. to coordinate with the Marché that is held in Gustavia once a month.)

Café Gloriette is open everyday except Sunday.

We also enjoyed a different food experience: The St Barth staff joined Connie and me at the beautiful and luxurious 6 bedroom Villa Lyra that is located above Gouverneur Beach. Villa Manager Ronas Ledee cooks and serves breakfast and lunch for the villa owner and his family. You can be pampered like this too. Villa Lyra is part of our Grand Cru Collection, that includes extra services such as continental breakfast. As a bonus, Ronas is also available to prepare light lunches for 6-12 people (buffet-style) with 2 appetizers, 2 main courses with veggies, and 2 desserts. The cost is only 300 euros for her service (shopping and cooking) per lunch (clients pay for the food and beverages). We wanted to try her cuisine before you do. We began with a glass of chilled rosé wine with ice, which I was told by my French colleagues is called Rosé Piscine. The buffet included tomatoes with mozzarella, salad with balsamic dressing; breaded chicken cutlets, beef medallions with bacon, rice and fresh broccoli. The desserts were an incredible Tarte Tatin as well as a serving of ice cream. If you would like to enjoy your St. Barth vacation at Villa Lyra, we are offering an introductory special reflecting a 10% reduction for any reservation that occurs between June 26 and November 15, 2018. Please contact reservations@stbarth.com.

The tomato and mozzarella appetizer prepared by Ronas at Villa Lyra was light and fresh.

We finished our lunch at Villa Lyra by devouring Ronas’ delicious Tarte Tatin.

Speaking of lunch, Connie heard us raving about the new fishCorner restaurant, so she wanted to try it for herself. She was not disappointed! We wrote about it in our April 2018 newsletter, Le Bulletin. In case you missed it: Love fish? Then we have just the restaurant for you: fishCorner.

Johny Laplace, who comes from a long line of island fishermen, partnered with Nicolas Almeda (whose dad is co-owner of Black Ginger) and turned the former Stephane & Bernard Boutique into a fish market that transforms into a restaurant at lunchtime. Fish is sold from 8:00 a.m. till noon, and then again from 3:30 p.m. until 6:00. Lunch is served from noon until 3:30 p.m. every day – fresh fish, of course, and you’ll love the homemade sides. It’s so popular you’ll need to reserve your table, and we’ll be happy to do that for you. You’ll find fishCorner in the alleyway by Bar de L’Oubli. It’s open every day but Sunday.

fishCorner is hidden in an alley near the Bar de L’Oubli

I had the fish and chips; Connie ordered the local sole as her main course. Both were outstanding. The lemon tart is so popular with many of my staff that when our US concierge Julia Hurd and St Barth Villa and Hotel Specialist Allegra Pawlowski sampled it on their May trip to St. Barth, they tried to get the recipe from the pastry chef. She refused. Both Allegra and Julia are trying to duplicate it but can’t. By coincidence, I met the chef at my office and I told her to keep the secret. (Sorry, Julia and Allegra.)

The fish and chips at fishCorner is light and tasty (Warning- Don’t ask for ketchup!) Connie’s delicious local sole is in the background.

The famous lemon tart at fishCorenr cannot be duplicated.

For the last two nights of our stay, we moved to the newly named Pearl Beach hotel, formerly known as Tom Beach. We each had a balcony room upstairs. The view from my room #10 was beautiful with tall palm trees, lush gardens and a glimpse of the sea beyond. There was a minibar and a table with 2 chairs on the deck to enjoy an apéritif. Connie’s room #12 had a deck with a table and 2 chairs, plus 2 lounge chairs for sunning. Each morning, we enjoyed breakfast at their beachside restaurant which is open for lunch every day. It is also open on Friday and Saturday nights, so we dined there on Friday while listening to the sound of the waves.

My view from Room 10 at Pearl Beach hotel was gorgeous.

To finish off the week, we enjoyed lunch at Nikki Beach. If you have not done so, try it on a non-Sunday. It is a great, more relaxing experience.

The Salade de Langouste is one of my Nikki Beach favorites.

Hope to see you on St. Barth!

Marius Stakelborough’s 95th birthday

Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

Is longevity a trait of the people who were born in St. Barth?

Many of you are familiar with our Live Your Dream® magazine that we publish. It features articles, information on our USA and St. Barth offices and their staff as well as descriptions of our villas and hotels. Last summer, as usual, I worked on it, had all of the content proofread and sent the final OK to be printed in France. Then along came Hurricane Irma with her evil eye passing over the island on September 05-06, 2017. – STOP THE PRESS! – Almost everything that was written was no longer relevant and had to be edited or redone. So, Connie Walsh (no, we are not related), who coordinates the content with me and I went back to St. Barth. I chose to be there during Marius Stakelborough’s 95th birthday celebration. And what a celebration it was! For those readers who don’t know about him, Marius founded the famous Le Select bar that is located in the heart of Gustavia in 1949. He later added food, so it’s where you can get a Cheeseburger in Paradise, have fun and watch the world go by.

Three days of partying! The actual birthday was June 5th, but the festivities began at Le Select the evening of June 4th. Lots of people had flown down just the occasion and, of course, the people who live on the island were there, too. The next day, we gathered at Le Select around 11:00 a.m. Marius was at a table where drinks and wine were served; Champagne flutes as well as yummy hors d’oeuvres were being passed around. Soley came to serenade us.

The 95th birthday celebration spanned over 3 days.

The family was asked to come forward for a team photo – Marius has 9 children, lots of grandchildren and great grandchildren – so the group was large. At about 4:00 p.m., everyone took a break, but the party resumed at 7:00 p.m. with an even larger crowd who joined in the festivities and danced to the music of a local band.

The family photo I took here shows some, but not all of Marius’ relatives – These are mostly the grandchildren and great grandchildren.

The following evening the celebration continued at Eddy’s restaurant. Eddy is one of Marius’s sons; his wife Brigitte and son Mahé help run the place. Marius was still going strong and people like me flocked to give him a hug.

Marius is one of my most favorite people. It’s an honor to know him.

Hors d’oeuvres and drinks were served, followed by a shrimp appetizer, a choice of Red Snapper or Chicken Colombo and birthday cake. The restaurant was packed. Soley was back to entertain. We sang Happy Birthday to Marius many, many times. He loved it as did we. Long Live Marius!

Stay tuned for more about my June 2018 trip in my next blog. Hint: St. Barth dining – Believe it or not, even more choices.

St. Barth Post-Irma Guest Blog from a 15-year St. Barth Visitor’s Perspective

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

What a Difference Five Months Makes

Bonjour!

Many of our clients love St. Barth so much that they vacation on this tiny piece of paradise more than once a year. Today’s Guest Blog is written by Amy M. from Summit, New Jersey.

Enjoy!

Sunny regards,

Peg

My love affair with St. Barth began almost 15 years ago with a special group of friends. The idea was a girls’ trip—no husbands, no children, just friendship in paradise. Every April for 10 years my friends and I returned to “our” island. We rented villas, enjoyed long sandy lunches, explored beaches, hiked, shopped, relaxed and laughed (a lot) until life and schedules got in the way. After 2 years away, I realized how much I missed St. Barth and decided it was finally time to introduce my husband to my “other” love. Just days into our first trip he was sold—he too loved the island’s winding roads, beaches, food, wine and of course, the warmth of its people.

After a few trips together, we decided to bring our daughters for a Thanksgiving holiday. They immediately loved the island and asked on that first Thanksgiving if we were returning for the next one. Yes, of course, we all agreed, this would be our new tradition. The next Thanksgiving was last November, not long after Irma, and we were determined to keep our plans. Several plane changes and 1 villa later (thank you SBP!) we were fortunate to return. It was a very special trip, one I will always remember with a few tears—not only for what the island had endured, but also for its strength and warm embrace. While St Barth had obviously suffered greatly, it was fighting back in full force and we were touched by its courage and spirit. We didn’t mind the scarcity of WIFI or no landline, we allowed extra time to drive the darkened roads at night and didn’t mind less choices for eating out. We spent a peaceful week amidst the quiet beauty of the island slowly greening, growing and rebuilding. It seemed especially fitting to end that trip with Thanksgiving dinner in the newly planted garden at Tamarin, beside the beautiful tree, celebrating and giving thanks.

Shortly after returning home, we made plans for next Thanksgiving. Knowing I couldn’t wait that long, I had an idea. My husband’s birthday falls the last week of April, and truth be told, a few were missed over the years due to SBH trips. He never minded when the group calendar synched that way and always said “go, have fun with your friends” so I decided this was the year to finally celebrate his birthday, together, on St. Barth. I got in touch with Julie Nally, my trusted SBP villa agent, and she arranged our week at Villa Birdy in Pt. Milou.

I couldn’t wait to see how far the island had come since November and it did not disappoint! Travel through SXM was much improved—the new temporary air-conditioned tents are comfortable and the entire process more organized. I flew down a couple of days early as schedules allowed, but even separately, both JetBlue JFK-SXM flights were on time, and both St. Barth Commuter flights actually departed early. Smooth and efficient, I landed and was greeted warmly as always by Odile at Gumbs.

On the drive to Pt. Milou I could see right away how much the island foliage had grown and how many palm trees had regrowth. There are still homes and roofs to repair, hotels to reopen, and work to be done, but the island felt much more like itself. I settled into the villa, perfect for the two of us, just above the Christopher hotel, and enjoyed the sunset.

The sunsets at Villa Birdy were glorious.

After a peaceful first morning at Gouverneur Beach, it was time to stock the villa. The Oasis market in Lorient hadn’t yet reopened in November but has since been nicely redone and is very convenient to the villa. Marché U was completely stocked, the freezer sections full and I found more than everything I needed. That night, I had the pleasure of meeting Julie for dinner (she happened to be on island for SBP business) at the wine bar Le Papillon Ivre in St Jean. Just up from Le Piment, it’s a sweet casual spot with wines by the glass, an extended menu of small plates and very friendly service. The food was delicious.

The next day, after a walk around Pt. Milou, I spent a few hours on Saline Beach before picking up my husband at the airport. We toasted his birthday at sunset and headed to dinner at François Plantation located at the Villa Marie hotel, a perfect choice for a special occasion. The room is stunning, the service top notch, and the food outstanding. In conjunction with the restaurant, SBP arranged a small birthday cake for dessert, candles and all. Delicious!

The birthday dessert at François Plantarion was fabulous.

Over the next few days we explored our favorite beaches. Gouverneur again was sparkling, a bit windy with perfect waves. The tree at the entrance is slowly growing back and there was ongoing dune restoration with great progress over several days. The path to Saline looked greener, and while the descent down was significantly steeper in November, it now seemed slightly less so. The lower hike to Colombier was as picturesque as ever and we finally found new access paths down to the beach after years of scaling the big rock. We noticed fewer rocks in the water and definitely less at the far end of the beach where many had accumulated post Irma. Several boats were docked, and, despite some wind, we found a nook and enjoyed a peaceful afternoon before hiking back and stopping at Shellona for drinks. It was fairly full at late afternoon and understand they have recently closed until June to expand their kitchen. Earlier that day we stopped in to see the recently opened beautiful Hotel Manapany in Anse de Cayes. A very pretty spot on the beach for lunch, drinks or dinner.

Colombier Beach

The main pool at the Manapany hotel is beachfront.

Loved the feet in the sand restaurant at the Manapany hotel.

That night we met Julie at the re-opened Bonito for sunset cocktails. Such a stunning room, very happy to report it is as beautiful as ever post Irma. We sat at the bar and enjoyed a perfect sunset over the harbor.

St. Barth Properties Villa and Hotel Specialist Julie Nally took this picture of us when we met her for drinks at Bonito.

Since we had a little time before dinner, we walked down to Baz Bar to see its re-do, always a special spot for drinks along the harbor. It looks very much the same, though miss the loungey feel of the original. We then walked up to L’Isoletta for delicious pizza, red wine and great service, perfect for a casual night. Another excellent dinner was Orega—one of our favorites. Everyone so friendly and welcoming with wonderful food, the tuna with foie gras a must. Greg, the owner, was as hospitable as ever, the restaurant beautiful. The next day we hiked to the natural pools at Grand Fond—something I’ve wanted to do for years. There are a few spots where you might not want to look down for too long (!) but it is a breathtaking hike and well worth the effort.

We walked to the Natural Pools at Grand Fond.

Another photo of the Natural Pools in Grand Fond.

After a quick change we walked down to a gorgeous lunch at Mango at the Christopher hotel. While rebuilding Taïno restaurant, the hotel has done a great job managing the construction while keeping Mango and the hotel spa open. We enjoyed the seaside setting and some of the best food I’ve had on St Barth. The chicken gyoza, soft boiled egg in mushroom crust, crispy chicken leg with tabbouleh, and yellowfin tartar were all excellent. We spoke with one of the staff who said the pool is scheduled to reopen in June, fingers crossed!

We enjoyed having lunch at the Christopher hotel’s feet in the sand Mango restaurant that is just a short walk from Villa Birdy.

That afternoon it was time to shop. Most stores in St. Jean and Gustavia have reopened (with a few to come) and after a quick run to Kiwi, we drove into Gustavia to M’Bolo for our favorite vanilla rum. The bottles we bring home never last long, so fortunately Sandy and Christian have started selling online at mbolo-rum.com. We stopped at Bijoux de la Mer to pick up a repair which Marie sweetly sealed in an envelope for our daughter, then visited a few other favorites like Baya before drinks at Bar L’Oubli. We restocked our wine supply at Le Cellier du Gouverneur and La Cave du Port-Franc on the way out of town and headed back to the villa for sunset, a casual dinner and a St. Barth full moon!

Sweet packaging by Bijoux de la Mer.

After service at the Anglican church Sunday morning, we drove up to the park by the hospital and took in the views before heading to Saline for our last afternoon. On the way back, we stopped at Eden Rock’s pop up on Lorient Beach for a glass of rose. It was very quiet that day, and we enjoyed seeing their temporary set up for lunch, drinks and lounging. We had a long chat with one of the staff who said the hotel plans to re-open just before Christmas. Later we walked down to meet a friend for cocktails and another gorgeous sunset at the Christopher. It was then on to dinner at Tamarin— the gardens as beautiful as ever. The restaurant was quite busy and the food, wine and service excellent. After dinner, back to the villa for vanilla rum and one last night of stargazing.

The view from the park behind the hospital is breathtaking.

Our last sunset from Villa Birdy was beautiful.

All in all, my plan worked! A very special birthday celebration and a perfect trip—travel, weather, villa, restaurants, shops, hikes, people—all fabulous. We are so fortunate to have been to St. Barth twice since Irma and very encouraged by, and in awe of, all that’s been accomplished. For those who know St Barth, do not hesitate to come back, you will find it as beautiful as ever and its spirit unchanged. For those considering a first trip, now is the time. In these months of rebuilding the island is quieter and more like its older self, while well on its way to becoming better than ever!

Bonjour, Pearl Beach Hotel

Tuesday, April 10th, 2018

Au revoir, Tom Beach Hotel and La Plage restaurant
Bonjour, Pearl Beach Hotel – Saint Barth and Pearl Beach restaurant

That’s right. One day, the sign read Tom Beach Hotel, and the next day, it read Pearl Beach Hotel.

The Tom Beach Hotel is now known as Pearl Beach Hotel.

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter Kim came down here to visit us with one of her girlfriends, Heidi, sans husbands, for 8 fun filled days.

No St. Barth vacation is complete without stopping at Le Select for a Cheeseburger in Paradise and an ice cold beer. Kim (L) and Heidi loved it!

Almost every weekend, we go to our usual spot on St. Jean Beach. The breezes are nice, the water is beautiful and there is always activity to observe. I have watched the rejuvenation of hotel Tom Beach and its restaurant over many months. From dragging in new palm trees in early December, to setting up a makeshift beach bar in time for the Christmas holidays, the crew worked long and hard to reopen its hotel as well as its restaurant.

We were sitting on St. Jean Beach with Kim and Heidi on Saturday, March 24, 2018, the day the plywood walls came down and the new restaurant opened. Curiosity took the better of us, so we walked over there to inquire. One of the waitstaff told me that the restaurant was open for hotel guests only that day and the next, because they wanted to have a soft opening before opening it to the public on Monday. The new beach bar was not off-limits, however, so we decided to order drinks and take it all in. We were lucky that we did, because the word had spread all over the island, and it seems as if the entire population of St. Barth was there on Sunday. So much for being open for hotel guests only. It was a huge deal for islanders to see yet another place recover, and recover well, I might say. People wanted to join the celebration of the rebirth of another of Hurricane Irma’s victims. The beach parking lot was full and people partied until the sun went down.

The beachside bar at Pearl Beach has swing-like bar seats on one side.

The bartenders at Pearl Beach mix up great cockails and are super friendly (cute too).

I asked the bartender if it the bar’s name was still the Pink Parrot and he said, “No, those days are over.” I noticed that the entire staff wore shirts displaying a round palm tree logo printed on the back and learned that the owner also has a Pearl Beach restaurant in St. Tropez that uses the same logo.

Pearl Beach Logo

A few days later, I met with the hotel manager and then made a reservation for lunch. Entering by the hotel’s front door, we walked by the rooms where I saw a new courtyard with a few small tables and chairs, and a reinvented swimming pool with waterfalls that created a relaxing ambience.

The new pool at Pearl Beach Hotel has a waterfall and is for guests only.

A new staircase led down to the restaurant. It was 1:30 p.m. and busy. Our beachfront table for two was in a perfect spot to watch the beach activity as well as the fashion show, with two beautiful women modeling beachy outfits from a Gustavia boutique. We shared the shrimp tempura; both of us ordered the mahi-mahi burger with homemade fries and shared a yummy crème brulée for dessert. We really enjoyed it. The restaurant is spacious, and there is a second main bar for restaurant patrons.

Pearl Beach restaurant is open for your beachside lunch.

The restaurant bar at Pearl Beach

If you would like to reserve rooms at Pearl Beach Hotel, please contact reservations@stbarth.com. New photos will be up soon. You can make restaurant reservations with our concierge, Julia Hurd before you travel, or with our on-island concierge, Aurélie Janvier, once you have arrived. Pearl Beach restaurant is currently open for lunch, but they hope to open for dinner a few nights a week and offer a beach BBQ on Sunday evenings. Bikini Saturday, with pink flamingos and a DJ, still exists and is great fun. Not to worry, we will send you a restaurant reservation form before you leave home.

Pearl Beach Hotel has beachside service, too. You can rent chairs and an umbrella for 20 euros ona first- come- first-served basis.

New Restaurant Opens in St. Barth! Plus, Should You Bring Some Cash When You Travel to St. Barth?

Monday, March 12th, 2018

It has been 6 months since powerful Hurricane Irma struck our little island. St. Barth looks healthy and is thriving. Almost every one of our villas is booked during the month of March. Everyone I bump into goes out of their way to tell me how much better than expected their St. Barth vacation has been. They love seeing how well the island has recovered and cherish the laidback vibe. I still see subtle signs of the recovery. My power walk along the harbor on Saturday brought me by a skilled stone worker replacing stone tiles.

The stone tiles are being replaced along the harbor by an expert – just like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.

I have been enjoying the view and sunsets from my villa and am still trying out new restaurants. Do you remember Hervé Chovet’s restaurant Le Rivage that was at the St. Barth Beach hotel (the first place we stayed when I came here in 1986) many years ago? Then he opened Côté Port on the harbor? It was scheduled to be closed in favor of dockage on the harbor and Irma did the demolition for the Collectivité. Hervé worked diligently on securing a new spot and opened Quartier Général (Headquarters) diagonally across from the Gustavia post office a few weeks ago. We tried it and loved it! It’s a long narrow venue with comfortable tables and cushioned seating, a long bar and dim lighting (use your flashlight feature on your phone). The menu is varied, and I was happy to see that some signature dishes from the days of Le Rivage are still on there. Quartier Général is open for both lunch and dinner. It was very busy. We will be happy to make a reservation for you.

I love the curtained entrance to Quartier Général.

Quartier Général had a nice ambiance.

A bit of sad news: The hotel Christopher was due to reopen on February 22, 2018. Sadly, a fire broke out in their Taïno restaurant’s kitchen 3 nights before the opening. Evidently, electrical wires that had been damaged by hurricane Irma caused the fire and the restaurant was destroyed. The hotel will not reopen until October, so we are in the process of relocating our clients who were booked there. Contact us, reservations@stbarth.com if you would like us to assist you. The hotel is working on opening its Mango restaurant for lunch (no pool, however) and Sisley Spa. Ask our office for more details.

The Taïno restaurant at the hotel Christopher burned down February 19, 2018 (photo credit Mathieu Gladius)

A new challenge presented itself Sunday night March 4th, 2018 when the Internet and cell service went down island-wide. Of course, no one knew that it was an island issue until they asked their maid or went out to get their baguette and overheard the local gossip. I drove down to my Gustavia rental office; it was bustling. No one was upset – this is an island, after all. Go with the flow. Miraculously, we had a Wifi connection in the office, so our clients were able to check their emails and we could print their boarding passes. What happened? The huge Nor’easter that wreaked havoc on the east coast of the US, believe it or not, came all the way down to the Caribbean producing huge swells. The result? An underwater cable belonging to the carrier Orange snapped. We had to adjust to the situation.

The swell caused flooding in Gustavia.

We can really say that this is what St. Barth was like 25 years ago – a time gone by, when we were able to truly take a vacation and enjoy the relaxation without the distraction of sneaking a peek at a device. We wrote our name and the time we wanted to dine on a pad pf paper that was hanging outside of a restaurant. This time, our concierge, Aurélie Janvier physically went to the restaurants to make reservations for our clients. Restaurants cooperated by taking the credit card information manually and would charge the card once the Internet was restored. Carrying some cash while traveling Is always a good Idea. If you want euros, you can go to your local bank or AAA office, if you are a member, and ask for euros. They will give you a decent exchange rate. If not, US dollars are accepted everywhere on St. Barth. Our villas are equipped with a safe where you can store the money.

All is well with the Internet now but, remember, that you are not at home and the connection here can be slow. Take the time to disconnect, you will be happy you did.

I never get tired of the sunset view from Villa Everest.

December 12, 2017 to January 04, 2018

Friday, January 5th, 2018

La Bagatelle, Shellona, La Guérite and Orega reopen on time!

Departing from Boston via Miami and then via St. Maarten, SBP VP and my son, Tom Smyth arrived December11th and reported a smooth transfer from SXM to St. Barth. On our way into Gustavia, we noticed that the pétanque aka boules (bocce) courts are ready for play.

St. Barth fixed the boules courts, too.

Have a seat on a bench and watch an early evening boules match.

We had lots of very productive meetings with the staff at our rental office as well as our Sotheby’s sales office. It was a bit noisy, because there were at least 10 men working on the Baz Bar’s rehab and about the same number of guys working on getting La Bagatelle restaurant ready for its reopening on December 14th.

We visited villas, beaches and drove around the island. Tom was last here in October and the further greening of the island was well-noted. Everyday looks better than the day before. The weather has been so clear the last few days, it seems as if we can touch the distant islands.

There were signs of the approaching holidays; people still booking villas at the last minute because they had to be in St. Barth to celebrate. Roman Abramovich owns a villa behind Gouverneur Beach and always throws a big New Year’s Eve party in St. Barth. We saw his yacht anchored next to, and dwarfing, a cruise ship that was next to it.

Roman Abramovich’s 538 foot yacht, the Eclipse is here. it is a beauftul sight to see.

La Bagatelle reopened December 14th and we had reservations for dinner. As I mentioned previously, a crew, including our waiter, was feverishly working to finish it on time. Tom saw the state of it and told me we would not be dining there as it could not possibly be ready in time. I left the office to see for myself and took a photo. I asked our server, JC if I needed to cancel our reservation. He said, “Absolutely not. Come back in an hour and see for yourself.” So, when we left the office about an hour and a half later, I checked it out.

At 11 minutes after three on December 14, 2017, Tom said to me that there was no way we would be dining at Bagatelle tonight.

I took this after photo of Bagatelle 2 hours and 15 minutes later on December 14, 2017 – Incredible.

Incredible! I had invited Dennis and Amy, clients of mine who were staying at Villa Les Embruns by Flamands Beach, to join us for a drink at the bar at 7:00 p.m. They were so happy that they had come to St. Barth. Dennis, said, “We have had a lovely week. I cannot recall a time when the island was more welcoming. Thank you very much for all your help these past weeks with our visit which was the most unique experience among all our other many trips to St. Barth.” An hour later, we were seated for dinner. The place was packed – totally sold out. We loved people-watching and our meals were delicious.

Bagatelle waa packed on opening night.

As the days fly by I am still discovering new changes, so each time I go to Gustavia or somewhere else, I take a photograph for you. Orega opened just before Christmas. After dining at Eddy’s, we walked by. Greg pulled us in to offer us a glass of Champagne in celebration. It looks even better than before. There is a sushi bar at the entrance and the main dining room has more subtle lighting. I wanted to wait until after the holiday rush, so we are dining there tomorrow.

I am happy to say that Orega opened Dec 21, 2017. You must dine here.

The man-made beach area in front of Villa Brise de Mer looks so inviting.

This fence is now up at the end of the runway. At least it will let the sand blow through it naturally.

Steve and I were lucky to have our son, Mark Smyth, his wife Cynthia and our granddaughter Reegan join us for the holidays. We were able to play tourist with them and spent time on the beaches during the day, and dining out with them at night. They stayed at Villa Au Petit Pont, which is freshly painted and has renovated bathrooms.

This was our view from Petit Pont on Christmas morning.

We loved having Christmas dinner at Le Tamarin.

The famous Tamarin tree at Le Tamarin restaurant survived Hurricane Irma and is showing new growth.

Things are picking up on St. Jean Beach. Tom Beach hotel has set up beach chairs, umbrellas, on a first come first served basis (20 euros) and there is a make-shift beach bar where you can get drinks and order some food supplied by Le Bouchon. The bartender takes your order, then a runner drives over to Bouchon and brings it back! Clever.

Tom Beach’s Beach Bar
Click above to view video

More towards the middle of St. Jean Beach, the new Lil Rock Beach Bar opened on December 23, 2017. Its lounge chairs are much plusher, and can be reserved by calling our concierge, Aurélie Janvier, at 35 euros per day. Their drink menu is less expensive than Tom Beach’s. If you are just looking to go there for a drink or some sushi and other fresh items, they offer tables and chairs where you may sit to enjoy the shade while having a drink and/or food.

Further up, in the middle of St. Jean Beach, Lil Rock Beach Bar debuted December 23, 2017.

Lil Rock Beach Bar on St. Jean Beach opened December 23, 2017.

Lil Rock Beach Bar has tables, free of charge, where you can enjoy your drinks as well as sushi and other items.

The drink menu at Lil Rock Beach Bar is very reasonable.

December 27th, 2017: We had a lovely early dinner at L’Entracte because, as promised, Jimmy Buffett gave a free concert on the quai to support the people of St. Barth who worked so hard on the recovery of the island. Residents, tourists, including parrot heads, flocked to the quai to hear Jimmy and Soley belt out fabulous tunes. Jimmy sang songs about St. Barth, like Autour de Rocher (a nightclub I remember well, before it burned down many years ago). Most of us sang along. Thank you, Jimmy and Soley!

We enjoyed a pre-concert dinner at L’Entracte.

12-27-17 Jimmy Buffett gave a fabulous free concert on the quai.

Just before New Year’s Eve, Shellona reopened with great fanfare. The place has been full ever since. I am sure that this Shell Beach bar and restaurant will have a very successful season. You must try it!

As of December 28, 2017, Shellona is open for business. Enjoy!

New Year’s Eve was as festive as ever. The fireworks did not disappoint, and it seemed as if the entire island came down to Gustavia with a bottle of Champagne to toast in the New Year and wish Bonne Année along with giving kisses on each cheek to anyone who passed by.

I know that so many of you are suffering from bitter cold and lots of snow – it is only early January. Why not book your St. Barth vacation right now? Email me pegwalsh@stbarth.com or reservations@stbarth.com. If you are looking to stay in a 5-Star hotel, the Christopher is reopening February 20, 2018! We will be pleased to book a room for you.

Happy New Year! Bonne Année!

Happy New Year from the on-island St. Barth Properties real estate sales and rental teams. It is fun to work in St. Barth! (photo taken by Laurent Benoit at Villa Nirvana)

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.

Another firsthand report on the post-Hurricane Irma recovery

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

Post Hurricane Irma blog November 06-10, 2017

November 06, 2017

Monday morning is bustling. Trucks are full of supplies and workers are everywhere. The landscapers are tending to the gardens, masons are repairing the stone walls, the children are back in school after the Toussaint (All Saints) vacation and people are heading back to work. Sneakers and Fitbit back on, we head to Gustavia again. Today’s walk takes us to Shell Beach. The shells are back! The beach is pretty, although the left end is missing some sand. The right end is wider than ever.

The shells are back on Shell Beach!

Shell Beach is doing well.

We checked out Shellona and came to the conclusion that it will be fine. The building looks the way it did one year ago when the owners were pushing hard to get it open in time for Christmas; the lower part of the restaurant that sits on the sand needs to be restored with its tables and bar, but I don’t think it is a big deal. For sure, it will be open for the holidays (In my humble opinion, that is). The word is that it will reopen December 22, 2017.

Shellona is boarded up and still standing. The beach front area needs to be set up.

I went back to the villa and worked remotely, then went to my office to meet with Benoit and Pascale about the schedule to do the repairs of both offices as well as our plans for your arrival and other administrative matters.

We dined at Black Ginger which had reopened a few days before, and had another delicious dinner. It’s St. Barth, after all. By coincidence, Pascal Ramette, one of the owners of La Guérite, was at the next table. I asked him when his gourmet restaurant was reopening, and he said, without hesitation, December 22nd! What a great spot to have your New Year’s Eve dinner and then watch the midnight fireworks. We can make the reservation for you.

Black Ginger is one of our favorite restaurants.

November 07, 2017

More good news! I received the following email from Mathilde Tissot, the owner of the 5 star Villa Marie, a Sibuet boutique hotel.

“Dear Peg,

I can now confirm the official re-opening date for the hotel Villa Marie Saint-Barth on March 9th, 2018!

Villa Marie Saint Barth will even offer 2 additional units to the existing 18 villa and bungalows:

– A second master villa with sweeping ocean views and private pool
– A third master villa (without private pool) which can be divided into a Prestige bungalow + a Caribbean bungalow: perfect for a family or for two couples in search of a Caribbean getaway.

Reservations are now open!”

So, all you need to do is contact me or one of my very capable St. Barth Villa and Hotel Specialists at reservations@stbarth.com. I love, love, love this hotel. I think you will too. Even if you do not stay there, you must dine at their gourmet restaurant, François Plantation. It is supposed to reopen in December and it’s a wonderful experience. You can also have lunch at their intimate poolside restaurant. If you want to hang out there for the day, we can reserve some chaises for you when we make your lunch reservation.

Our walk took me to the stairway up to Fort Karl. I had expected the steps that are built into the hillside would have been totally washed away, so I was happy to see them intact and waiting for you to use them.

Climb the steps up to Fort Karl to take in the fabulous view.

No trip to St. Barth is complete without having a Cheeseburger in Paradise at Le Select, so today is the day! The problem? One of my pet peeves is those tiny plastic ketchup packets that I can never open, except with my teeth, and my dentist- husband forbids me to do that. Knowing that we would be going to Le Select, I always bring my own bottle of ketchup (it must be Heinz), so I checked every grocery store on the island and: NO Heinz Ketchup whatsoever! No any kind of ketchup, either, so, off we went to the American Store in Gustavia; surely, they would have it, but no, nothing there except a jar of “Original Ketchup.” I settled for that, went to check-out and found out it cost 13 euros! It was ok, but nothing like Heinz, I do understand that it is not a priority and it may take time to stock the shelves.

I had to settle for a 13 euro jar of ketchup. The 2 cheeseburgers plus an order of fries cost exactly the same – 13 euros.

No trip to St. Barth is complete without having a cheeseburger in paradise at Le Select.

That evening we dined at Le Repaire and watched the Voyager ferry come in on its last run from St. Martin. We always enjoy dining there.

November 08, 2017

Today is full of meetings. I met with Claire Hillau from Le Barthélemy hotel to discuss the reopening. I was disappointed to hear that no date has been set. She thinks she will know the beginning of December, but it looks like it won’t be until the fall of 2018. For sure, they will be open by November because they have a wedding scheduled there that month.

We dined at L’Isola, had a nice corner table and an outstanding meal, the vitello limone for me, and shrimp and lobster risotto for Steve. We were warmly greeted by both Fabrizio the owner, and Ricardo the manager. We met a nice couple who said that they want to buy property on St. Barth, so I said that my St. Barth Properties Sotheby’s International Realty office will take care of them.

We loved our evenng at L’Isola and are very happy that they reopened so quickly.

November 09, 2017

I knew you would be asking me about Saline Beach, so off we went to check it out. The salt pond was full, the path from the parking lot was nice and wide and we began our hike. The rocky access up seemed a bit tougher and steeper to me, but that might be because I have not climbed it recently. When we reached the top, the view was as breathtaking as ever and was incredibly expansive. There was quite a steep slope to get down to the beach itself. Good exercise for you! It has not yet been approved for swimming due to the high level
Of the salt pond but it should be ok very soon.

Bonjour from the top of Saline Beach!

Saline Beach is wide and enticing.

This afternoon I inspected Villa Aloa in Flamands. It looks good and is ready for your stay. The owners were there and pointed out that they have added AC to the living room.

From Villa Aloa, I had a bird’s eye view of the garden bungalows at Cheval Blanc St. Barth Isle de France. I am still waiting for a reopening date.

Time for another casual night. So, we went to 25 Quarter in Gustavia. We loved it! It was lively and fun. The décor was unique. We shared a beef quesadilla appetizer followed by Mahi Mahi tacos for Steve and Tuna Tataki for me…really, really good. We chatted with owner Chris Davis who told us that he is going to have a rum room featuring rums from all over the Caribbean.

Thursday Night Football was on in the bar area of 25 Quarter.

November 10, 2017

Today brings us to Flamands Beach. The beach front buildings really took a hit from Irma. To get onto the beach at this time, you need to take the entrance at the far end of the beach. We started our reconnaissance from there and walked all the way down to the hotel Cheval Blanc St. Barth Isle de France. The hotel’s beach front restaurant, pool and rooms need lots of repairs. Some of our villas suffered less damage than others and will be ready for guests in a few weeks.

Today, it is Flamands Beach.

If you are coming to St. Barth soon, you will see damaged houses but you can still enjoy Flamands, a classic wide Caribbean Beach.

The hotel Baie des Anges is already open – a very positive sign! The beach itself lost sand and is much lower than before but it is really wide and as beautiful as ever. You can spend the day there. Bring your beach chairs and cooler or order our VIP picnic package that includes the chairs, an umbrella and a delicious picnic basket.

The sand on Flamands Beach is soft and perfect for sun bathing or just taking a nice walk.

As we finished our Flamands reconnaissance walk, this little guy said bonjour, ensuring me that all is well with the St Barth animal life.

Fittingly so, we had dinner, poolside, at La Langouste restaurant located at the Baie des Anges. We always share the Christophine appetizer, one of my very favorites. I had the Dover sole, another favorite. Steve loved the langouste tagliatelle.

We could hear the sound of the waves while we enjoyed dinner at La Langouste.

That’s it for now. I do not want to bore you too much. Stay tuned for my next chapter.

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.

Hurricane Irma Update 4

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

The latest news plus, how do you see photos of St. Barth in real time?

We know many people are confused by some information that has been reported in the media. It is true we were hit by a very powerful storm. Some media have lumped St. Barth together with other islands that had certainly suffered greatly and are not as fortunate to possess the resources for such a rapid recovery like St. Barth. Our hearts go out to our neighbors and we wish them the best in their efforts towards recovery. We know they will all rise up again.

Gustavia 10-12-17

Irma before and after 10-13-17

Below you can see the current list of updated business and restaurant openings as well as airport/ferry information. All of this can be found on our Hurricane Irma update page on which we have posted nearly every day. We invite you take a moment to read this page. Be sure to start from the bottom of the page to see all updates. We think you’ll be impressed with the progress.

Business/Restaurant/Airport/Ferry Info

  • Private Villas:
    • We have assessed all of our properties and are pleased to report that many are ready for their November or December arrivals and most ready for high season. A few may take a bit longer but with 250 beautiful homes in our inventory we have plenty of great choices to offer you.

Villa Royal Palm in Vitet received its first guests October 23, 2017. They are thrilled! Photo taken 10-22 17.

  • Shops & Businesses:
    • The majority of shops in Gustavia and St. Jean are open now or will be re-opening as originally scheduled in October & November.
  • Restaurants:
    • Open now or by the end of November: Bakeries island wide, Le Select, Bar de L’Oubli, Galawa (former Pipiri), 25 Quarter, Le Jardin, Le Vietnam, Island Flavors, Au Regal, Bistro Josephine, Le Bouchon, Les Bananiers, Modjo, Yo Sushi Mania, L’Esprit de Saline, La Langouste, La Cantina, Le Piment, Papas Pizza delivery, Le Rendez-Vous, Eddy’s, Le Tamarin, Black Ginger, François Plantation, L’Isola, L’Isoletta, Orega, Chez Rolande, L’Entracte, Spice of St. Barth, Jo-Jo Burger, Mayas to Go.
    • Opening in December: Mayas, Le Ti St. Barth, La Bagatelle, La Plage, Shellona (former Dð Brazil), La Guérite (former Wall House), Kiki é Mo, Baz-Bar.
  • Airports/Airlines/Ferries:
    • St. Barth Airport: OPEN Re-opened in September and is fully functional.
    • St. Maarten Princess Juliana International Airport: OPEN Re-opened Oct 10 to commercial flights.
    • San Juan Airport: OPEN Tradewind Aviation is currently flying daily flights between St. Barth and San Juan and will maintain a full schedule for the high season.
    • Antigua Airport: OPEN Tradewind Aviation will resume its flights between Antigua and St. Barth and expects to add additional flights for the high season.
    • St. Thomas Airport: OPEN Tradewind Aviation will resume its flights between St. Thomas and St. Barth for the high season.
    • St. Kitts/Nevis Airport: OPEN Tradewind Aviation will resume its flights between St. Kitts/Nevis and St. Barth for the high season.
    • Great Bay Express: Ferry service between St. Martin and St. Barth resumed October 13.
    • Voyager Ferry Service: Ferry service between St. Martin and St. Barth resumed October 13.

The residents of St. Barth have worked hard so that they can welcome you back this season. If you are considering a St. Barth vacation and support our beloved island, everyone there will be happy to see you! I would be delighted to assist you in securing the right accommodations. Some who know St. Barth are saying this could be the perfect year to visit as it may be a bit quieter than recent years, a nice reminder of the St. Barth in simpler times. I look forward to assisting you. Contact me pegwalsh@stbarth.com or our St. Barth Specialists at reservations@stbarth.com, 1-800-421-3396.

Many of you have asked for photos of the island. Everyday it gets greener and greener. For a live update 24/7, check http://www.st-barth.com/livecam5.html. You can follow along to see the improvement right up until your day of travel.

The greening of St. Barth continues…10-22-2017

Post Irma, only 7 weeks later, the palm trees that looked like Q-tips as described by Tom Smyth 2 weeks ago are now coming back with gusto 10-22-2017