Archive for the ‘St. Barth Trips’ 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!

What is St. Barth like Post Hurricane Irma? Impressions from a St. Barth First-Timer

Tuesday, February 13th, 2018

Bonjour Everyone,

Today’s blog is written my client, Rich Payne who, along with his wife, had never been to St. Barth before and decided to try vacationing here. He’s hooked!

I am sure you will enjoy it.

Sunny regards,
Peg

Where to begin?

Like any good story, this one starts off with tragedy. The dual storms of Irma and Maria set our course for St. Barth, though we didn’t know it at the time. My wife and I live in New York, just outside of sleepy Manhattan. I was lucky enough to have been brought as a child to the Virgin Islands back in the 80’s. I still remember the sunburns and crazy open sided “taxis” that always seemed to drive too close to the edge of a cliff. Not much has changed, with regard to those taxis – or sunburns.

For the last 5 years, the wife and I have taken a trip to St Thomas each New Year’s Day for a week. Our annual sojourn was demolished by the terrible storms that need not be rehashed here…but to say that our hearts still break for the devastation and the lives lost.

Try as I did to find a way to return to STT for New Year’s Day 2018, it was simply not in the cards. With no direct flights, and most villas (those that survived) still on generator power, we would almost be more in the way of active recovery than would be helpful. Another time.

The wife decided, upon hearing me list the Caribbean islands with minimal storm damage, St. Barth’s was it. I had heard of this island, but only in passing. I also quickly became aware of its different spellings…was it St. Bart, St. Barth, St. Bart’s, St. Barth’s, or perhaps Saint Barthélemy? Where were we going?!?

Alas…to all of them.

Next on my personal agenda, was where to stay. Here is where we find the hero of our tale, Peg Walsh. But first…how is the snorkeling in St. Barth? For that, I turned to my trusted google. I came upon my first article that mentions snorkeling and St. Barth, written in Condé Nast Traveler circa 2013. Whereupon I find a nifty quote by Peg, and proceed to google her to see who this guru of St. Barth really is. Guru, as it turns out, is apt.

The rest, as they say, is history. I found our villa, and our island.

What is not to love about beautiful SBH? The beaches, pristine, and hardly populated. The weather, a near perfect 82 Fahrenheit in the day, and brisk 72 Fahrenheit in the evenings. The food…French, and excellent (synonymous, perhaps?). Our villa, Brume de Mer, at the very westerly end of Flamands – perfectly secluded and overlooking Île Chevreau. We could not have asked nor wanted for more.

Perhaps I am an over communicator. I am fearful to even look at all the emails I may have sent Peg in the lead-up to our arrival. I had questions, I don’t speak French, I have no Euros, do I drive on the left, is the steering wheel on the right, is it a boot, or a trunk? I can go on. Peg withstood it all, and her team as well. Quite literally from the time we stepped of Tradewind at SBH we had to think or plan for nothing. Reservations, done. Excursions, booked. Ideas for what to do and when, here’s your list. Personal concierge for “any hour” phone calls, yup. Thank you is not enough, Aurélie!!

We enjoyed a sunset champagne cruise by Pain de Sucre, a Scuba diving spot.

Peg helped us with everything. Obviously, her years of practice with novice visitors like us have allowed her to build this particular skillset. What Peg knew and that I would soon learn was that St. Barth Properties would take care of every little detail, and all we needed to do was show up.

Onto what we experienced. Kindness and patience like we have not recently experienced on any vacation. I can count on one hand how many times I heard a horn blow…people stop in the street for any length of time….and, well, you wait. Quietly. I watched a man hop out of his car in the middle of the day, holding up all sorts of cars in both directions…I quickly saw that he ran in front of his car to pick up a… tortoise? I had tortoise envy instantly. I was not to be outdone. One day heading down to Gouverneur we came across a tortoise in the middle of that narrow drive down. (S)he probably would have made it across ok, but I needed to do my part…I hopped out of the car and gently picked her/him up, and safely delivered (it) to the other side of the road. The wife filmed this particular event.

Here I am helping a turtle cross the road on our way to Gouverneur Beach

Late for your dinner reservation? Take your time. We are waiting for you. Say what?!? In New York, you could just as well kiss your table goodbye if you are even a few minutes late. Not here. In fact, take all the time you need.

We loved having dinner at Le Tamarin.

Not speaking the native language always bothers my wife and me. We honestly feel terrible. I tried my best at “Excusez-moi, Je ne parle pas français” and “parlez vous anglais” but we always felt like we should do better. Fortunately, everyone who did speak French couldn’t have been nicer…and immediately switched to English, much to our relief.

Lil Rock Beach Bar entertained us with live music.

Mornings were spent at Yoga for the wife, and I walked through Gustavia. We then enjoyed a particular boulangerie for 6 straight mornings…simply the best. Each day was a new beach, Flamands, St. Jean, Gouverneur, Saline, Shell, Colombier. The ones we didn’t get to visit this time, we at least saw when we drove around the entire island. What we can appreciate is that there is so much more to see and experience on your beautiful island that it would be folly to try and do it all in 7 days.

We hiked along a goat path from our villa Brume de Mer to beautiful Colombier Beach.

One of the main takeaways from this trip for us will be the kindness shown to us by strangers – all the local islanders and business owners who just recently lived through a trauma we can only imagine, and here you all are with smiles and warmth all around. What resilience!

I could easily name the names of the places we ate at and loved so much…but what’s the point, they are all spectacular, and surely you all know that already. I could also name the names of the people we only read about or see on TV…but what’s the point, you see them all the time…they’re neighbors and friends to you, so we will remain silent on that as well.

I must say, on our last day…I decided that there was one person on SBH I felt I needed to “bump into.” I knew it was a long shot. I found an email address online after some googling. I wrote a heartfelt note – with a little of my background for color. I left my email address and cell phone number…not that I thought my cellular network would even work down here. Sure enough, about an hour and a half later…my cell phone rings, and on the other line was Bruno Magras, Président du Conseil territorial de Saint-Barthélemy. I was speechless. Not only did he call me back, but he also agreed to meet me for a photograph! I have read enough about SBH to know that, like politics all around the world, perhaps not everyone is in awe of Le Président. I was happy as could be to meet this man. He, like the rest of the folks we encountered on SBH, was genuinely warm and gracious.

Le Président of the COM, Bruno Magras, kindly agreed to meet me.

I asked Peg if she would allow me the privilege of writing this guest blog…selfishly of course, I wanted a way to memorialize our wonderful 10-year anniversary, and I could think of no better way. Peg and St. Barth Properties truly helped us celebrate our 10 years like no other place could. Thank you!

You have a special island, worth protecting. We were lucky to catch a glimpse of the magic that is Saint Barthélemy.

Lauren and Rich Payne
New York

What is St. Barth like Post-Hurricane Irma? Should you go? A Client’s Perspective

Monday, January 29th, 2018

Bill and Cathy Fuchs from Scottsdale, Arizona shared their late December to early January 2018 St. Barth experience with us.

What a fantastic trip (our tenth), and though there are some post Hurricane differences, there’s no reason to avoid St Barth. We enjoyed two weeks at the Villa Blue Diamond with little evidence Irma had visited three months earlier. Around the island, where power lines were damaged, now stand temporary poles, and it seems most lines are attached by rope, but there’s reliable power! Occasional roof damage is visible, but is not the norm. Roads are as they’ve always been, in good condition, and Odile with Gumbs Car Rental equipped us with a Jimny with only 24km – we like new! Grocery stores are well stocked. All Seaside restaurants except Shellona are under renovation, and they are open and very busy for a great vibe; reservation required. La Plage and Lil Rock Beach Bar at St Jean offer basic beach services to get your party started. Colombier, Saline, Gouverneur, St. Jean, and Shell beaches are as beautiful as ever.

With many of our regular restaurants under renovation, we sought new dining experiences. We visited Orega twice, so that’s obviously our top pick. Tamarin, L’Esprit, YoSushiMania, 25 Quarter, Bagatelle, and of course Le Select continue to exceed expectations. This was the best weather streak we’ve ever had with some rain at night and sunny days with occasional puffy clouds being blown by the trade winds. We could have done without the Christmas Eve M5.2 earthquake, but still found it interesting. Jimmy Buffett’s wharf-side free concert December 27th adds to the bragging rights of being in St Barth. Travel through SBH is no different; the terminal looks and functions the same.

For those of you connecting via St Maarten, the terminal will likely be closed for a year. All operations are run from tarmac-based tents with many employees anxious to give directions and assist. Arrivals are at the end of the terminal closest to the sea, departures are at the opposite end of the terminal, near the employee parking lot, and you enter a gate with a sign stating only ticketed passengers beyond this point. Inside, we find tents to obtain our tickets, clear immigration and security, and find a basic waiting area with some food. Presently there are three USA flights per day (San Juan, Miami, Atlanta), so it’s very easy to navigate and crowds were negligible as our departure flight of less than 200 passengers isn’t much of a crowd. We overnighted at the Atrium Resort, for a clean room and comfortable bed; they did a nice job. A local we spoke with, estimates they’ve lost 90% of their tourist traffic, I would agree, there’s not too much going on, and unlike St Barth, here the damage is extensive and apparent, but Driftwood, and Sunset Beach Bar are open and must not be missed for a cold bucket of Carib while watching the big jets take off as tourists try to withstand the jet blast.

Thanks Bill and Cathy. Come back soon!

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)

Post-Irma Update December 01-11, 2017

Monday, December 11th, 2017

Jimmy Buffett to give a free concert on the quai December 27, 2017. It’s not too late to book a villa!

First, Breaking News!
As I told you in my pervious blog, St. Barth is a very special place that means a lot to Jimmy Buffet. Bulletin! Jimmy is giving a free concert here on December 27, 2017 to show his support of the island and encourage all of you to come. We have villas available for you, many of which only have a 7-night minimum stay. Check out our holiday availability on our website, then email me, pegwalsh@stbarth.com or reservations@stbarth.com. See you on the Quai!

Jimmy Buffett (pictured here at Le Select’s 60th anniversary in 2009) is giving a free concert on the quai December 27, 2017.

Now, on to my Post-Irma blog.

December 01, 2017

With Thanksgiving behind me and the annual hectic runaround getting my Christmas cards and shopping finished before I left Cape Cod, I was anxious to get back to my beloved St. Barth. This time we flew via San Juan Puerto Rico, but JetBlue had canceled our morning flight, so we had to find a hotel where we could overnight on December 01. We stayed at the La Concha Renaissance hotel which was only about a 10-minute ride from the airport. It sits directly on the beach and we had a beachfront room with a terrific view. We were flying to St. Barth on Tradewind the next morning, so I had booked their VIP service. I wanted to leave our checked bags with Tradewind so that we didn’t have to schlep them to our hotel and back. We only had to keep our carry-ons with us. A representative met us at our gate, took our luggage tags and escorted us to a van which Tradewind had booked for our roundtrip transfer. It worked perfectly. We can arrange all of that for you, too if you must spend the night in SJU.

December 02, 2017

Long before Hurricane Irma hit St. Barth, we had booked Villa Camaruche with 2 other couples because we always attended our Beachside Bash party where I introduced our new catalogue, together. This year’s party was to be held at Le Barthélemy hotel, but Irma rudely interrupted our plans. The hotel remains closed. My catalogue was about to go to print in France a few days after Irma so, I had to stop the production because the content was no longer accurate. Like you, we still wanted to come to St. Barth. Mike and Connie Walsh were with us as was St. Barth Properties Hotel and Villa Specialist Allegra Pawlowski. We took the 10:00 a.m. Tradewind shuttle to St. Barth. Paula and Marty, the other couple, were flying into SJU from Fort Lauderdale, so we had lunch at Le Jardin across from the airport (it was packed) and met them when the 2:07 p.m. Tradewind flight arrived. Off we went to Villa Camaruche. We were amazed how much work, time and effort had been put into getting it ready for us. And, oh that view! The angels were looking down upon Villa Camaruche because the neighboring villas were more damaged. We could not see any real signs of any remaining damage and loved sitting poolside in the lounge chairs and the outdoor living area.

We stayed at Villa Camaruche. Each mornng, we woke up to this breathtaking view.

With our Beachside Bash canceled, I decided to have a little party with our friends, our St. Barth staff and two of our US staff members who were on the island. It was our St Barth Properties Bilingual Villa and Hotel Specialist, Anne-Cécile Bedford’s last night and Allegra Pawlowski’s first night. I booked 25 Quarter for 17 of us and asked owner Chris Davis to make up a special menu for us. When we arrived, I was told to wait a few minutes because Chris had a surprise for us. A side door opened and we were escorted into 25 Quarter’s new Rhum Room, featuring rums from all over the Caribbean. We were the very first people to see it and it is fabulous. We enjoyed a Coupe de Champagne followed by exotic cocktails, then we sat down in the main area to enjoy a very delicious casual dinner. My favorite singer, Soley started singing at 10:00 pm. Everyone loved it. 25 Quarter-St Barth was just named Caribbean Bar of the Year by the Caribbean Journal. Congratulations, Chris!

I decided to have a little gathering with the staff at 25 Quarter. Here we are in their brand new Rhum Room featuring rums from all over the Caribbean.

December 03, 2017

It’s Sunday – Football Day! Many of you know that I am a huge New England Patriots fan. When I came down here in November, I purposely chose the bye week, so I wouldn’t miss a game (we have season tickets). Steve and I have attended every Super Bowl the Pats have played in, beginning with the New Orleans 2001 season’s Super Bowl XXXVII. We’ve suffered through the losses and celebrated the wins. We have Dish Network at our villa but, unfortunately, it is a New York feed, so we only get the Jets and the Giants games on TV. Our friend Mike, who was staying with us, decided to take a ride down to the Bar De L’Oubli in Gustavia to see what game they were showing. When he arrived, the Jets game was on, but only French people were sitting there, so he asked the bartender to change the satellite to the Patriots game; he called me on my cell and off we went to watch the game.

I was happy that I could enjoy a glass on Sancerre and watch the Patriots-Bills game at the Bar De L’Oubli.

That evening we went to the recently reopened Tamarin restaurant in Saline. The lily ponds and gardens were just like before Irma had destroyed all of it. The food was delicious, and we loved our round table for 6 in the garden. We will be back again and again.

The Tamarin opened right before Thanksgiving. We loved our table in the garden that has been completely restored.

December 04th – 6th, 2017

Connie, Allegra and I did some villa inspections. We visited the new Villa Coquillage that sits above Shell Beach and the harbor. You can easily walk down a fairly steep hill to get to either of them. The view of the red roof tops as well as the harbor is lovely. We were pleased to see the luxurious Villa Noé was in tip top shape (Several clients have already stayed there and raved about it) and that the island has finally put the electrical wires in front it underground! The infinity pool looks as if it flows into the sea. We inspected what will be the 3rd bedroom when it is finished mid-January. Located on the lower level, it features a French king bed that can be made up as twins and and en suite bathroom with rain head shower. Access is via a stairway or a separate outdoor entrance with parking across the street. Villa Noé can now accommodate 2 couples and 2 teens (or a nanny and younger child).

We started our day inspecting Villa Noe. It looked as luxurious as ever.

As we were a party of six that had two cars that we would have had to drive to dinner each night, Aurélie booked a taxi big enough to accommodate us, so every evening, “Annabelle Taxi” picked us up, dropped us off at the restaurant and picked us up again when we were ready to go back to the villa. No need to worry about enjoying cocktails and/or a bottle of wine.

Annabelle picked us up, took us to the restaurant, and then and dropped us off at our villa every night.

December 7th, 2017

Connie, Allegra and I inspected the new air-conditioned Villa Java that sits on the right side of Marigot Bay. As soon as we entered and went upstairs to see the bedrooms, we fell in love with it. The three French king en suite bedrooms look out to the view of the water and across the bay to Mont Jean. The living cum media room, dining area, gourmet kitchen and full guest bath are downstairs. Sliders lead out to the large deck with outdoor living and dining spaces that overlook the infinity pool and the bay. You can see turtles popping their heads as they swim by. Stairs lead down to a private man-made beach area and a small path winds around to the public beach area. Snorkeling here is a favorite pastime.

I had booked our St. Barth Properties Beach Picnic for 7 of us and chose Gouverneur Beach. It was a gorgeous day and the waves were rolling in. We are supporting our private chefs, so Chef XO set up the entre picnic, with beach chairs, umbrellas and coolers full of food, Rosé wine and water. We had so much fun. You need to try it while you are here. Just call the office or email our SBH concierge, aurelie@stbarth.com 24 hours in advance, choose your beach and menu and Aurélie will do the rest.

We enjoyed a St. Barth Properties Beach Picnic at Gouverneur Beach. Try it! You’ll love it!

Allegra took a few hours off from her villa inspections to join us for the picnic. Seems to me, she is having a pretty good time.

December 08, 2017

It was departure day for Connie and Mike, so we drove them to the airport to see them off to San Juan via Tradewind and then connect on AA via Miami to Boston.

Au Revoir Connie and Mike. Sorry to see you go back to the snow.

Les Bananiers restaurant had suffered damage and only opened for table service a few nights before, so I wanted to try it. We were glad we did. It had been ages since I had ordered their escargots and the new menu is delightful. One of the choices is tournedos, which were perfectly cooked and very tender. The service was excellent, and the new white décor makes it look larger. The place was full, so I was glad that Aurélie had made a reservation for us.

December 09, 2017

It was time for Paula and Marty to leave on an early Tradewind flight to SJU where they connected on JetBlue to Fort Lauderdale. That afternoon, we went to St. Jean Beach for a couple of hours. I am happy that we did because I witnessed palm tree, after palm tree being gently dragged over the sand by a backhoe loader from the airport entrance to La Plage restaurant/Tom Beach hotel. The results are already amazing. I think the new look is fantastic! I’ll keep tabs on what the final product looks like. I wonder if Santa Claus will arrive by Jet Ski as is usual on Christmas Day?

December 09, 2017, New palm trees were being planted in front of La Plage restaurant and the Tom Beach hotel, while I was on St. Jean Beach today. More progress!

December 10, 2017

It’s Sunday. No need to worry about NFL football today because the Patriots game is on Monday night, albeit at 9:30 p.m., because we are on Atlantic time. Fitbit back on and off to Gustavia. Silversea’s Silver Whisper cruise ship moored outside of the harbor and passengers were coming in by tender, as usual. I heard a saw coming from somewhere, which is not normal on a Sunday, so I checked it out. Good news! The noise was coming from the Baz Bar. Knowing Jean-Marc, I am sure it will be open by Christmas.

Workers were busily preparing the Baz Bar for its reopening.

We walked to Shell Beach and saw that real progress has been made on getting Shellona ready for you.

December 10, 2017 – Your table at Shellona on Shell Beach is almost ready.

December 11, 2017

I am not sure if many of you have heard of the famous French “Rock Star” Johnny Hallyday. Many people refer to him as the Elvis Presley of France. Johnny, 74, passed away in France on December 05, 2017. A huge funeral procession took place on the Champs Elysées Saturday December 09th. Like all of us, Johnny fell in love with St. Barth when he first arrived here many years ago. Eventually he built a large villa in Marigot which, I am happy to say, St. Barth Properties rents for him. He preferred that we not reveal that he is the owner of the villa, so I am respecting that request until I hear otherwise. Johnny’s two girls took surfing lessons across the street from the cemetery and his dying wish, to be buried in St. Barth, was expressed to Collectivé President, Bruno Magras. The internment in the Lorient cemetery by JoJo takes place today. I am sure the burial site will become a shrine and many fans will come to St. Barth to visit it, just the way Americans go to Paris and include a visit to Jim Morrison’s grave in Père Lachaise cemetery.

Johnny Hallyday asked St. Barth President Bruno Magras if he could be buried in Lorient, because St, Barth is his most favorite place in the world. (photo credit frenchinfo)

My son and St. Barth Properties VP, Tom Smyth, is arriving later today. Among other things, we have set up a lot of meetings with the staff at both our rental and Sotheby’s sales offices. I’ll be Back with more updates soon.

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