Archive for the ‘St. Barth Trips’ Category

More fantastic St. Barth Villa and Restaurant Recommendations

Thursday, September 13th, 2018
Allegra

Allegra Pawlowski

St. Barth Hotel and Villa Specialist Allegra Pawlowski’s Guest Blog and Trip Report

I hope that you enjoyed your summer and are thinking about going to St. Barth, now that Labor Day is behind us. To get you in the mood, I am presenting a guest blog written by our fabulous St. Barth Hotel and Villa Specialist Allegra Pawlowski. Happy reading!

Hope to see you in St. Barth,
Peg

This past May I took my spring inspection trip to the island with our US based concierge, Julia Hurd. Julia is not comfortable with flying (she outlined her experience in her trip report a few months ago) but she did great! We flew Tradewind Aviation (her first time) and she was a total pro. Here she is upon landing in St Barth with the pilot:

Upon landing, we collected our rental cars. We picked up two cars as Julia had plans to check out new restaurants, services etc. on the island and I had a separate one which I used to explore the island and perform my villa inspections. We drove straight up to our villa, L’Adrech which would be home for 3 nights. L’Adrech has an outstanding view over St. Jean (from Lurin). I could spend the whole day sitting on the terrace or in the pool and watching the planes come and go from the airport in the distance below. This is a wonderful spot for a multigenerational family. The master bedroom (which is HUGE) is located in the main villa with a large walk-in closet and massive en suite bathroom. Next to it, there is also the TV room which could be considered part of, or separate from, the master suite. The suite also has its own access to the pool terrace and the view. Stunning! In this same building, you will find the fully AC’d living, kitchen and dining rooms – all of which are open to the view.

View from Villa L’Adrech

The pool is a few steps down from the main building and has a small waterfall and lovely mature foliage framing the view. The pool has a beach feeling entry – no stairs and is very gradual making it great for little ones or older guests (beware, there is no railing). Surprise! Julia had rented a giant inflatable flamingo and a pizza slice for us to lounge on while drifting in the pool. The second building on the property houses the two other bedrooms which have their own en suite bathrooms and face the view. These two bedrooms can also be joined if you have a nanny traveling with you or a few kids who want to have connected rooms and be separate from the parents in the master. This is a fantastic property for a family to stay and take in the view while giving everyone some space. It is still available for the holidays and the owner will allow a 7 night stay! Please ask me more if you can see your family here for Christmas or the New Year.

Pool at Villa L’Adrech

We had a chef-prepared lunch at the villa with our on-island office on our first full day and it was the perfect spot for breezes and views. I had to leave the lunch early to meet and show some clients some potential villas for the holidays but here are a couple of mouth-watering photos of the delicious menu:

Some other great family villas I saw that week were: Brise de Mer (located just a short walk from gorgeous and the calm part of Lorient beach with two bedrooms under one roof with a pool – great for a family with little ones), Gros Ilets (Fab sunset views and both bedrooms under one roof on a lower level), Fabrizia (gorgeous views over the harbor and well equipped for a large family), Sur le Port (located in Gustavia so you can walk to dinner, shopping and Shell Beach), Sea Sand & Sun, Caribbean Breeze, Moulin (at the end of the runway on St. Jean Beach), Vie en Rose (very comfortable villa with lots of land for kids to play and explore with water access from the property and a short walk to the beach and tennis courts within the gated neighborhood).

Villa Caribbean Breeze

Villa Fabrizia

Villa Moulin

After a few nights, we switched to another villa. This one was located a bit lower on the hillside in St Jean and had a more modern décor than where we had been. We loved the set up of Le Diamant (which is perfect for two couples as we each had a bedroom flanking the living, dining and kitchen area. The large zero edge pool was warm and a great place to end our days before heading out to dinner. Going to dinner and our daily excursions were made easy with the central access to all parts of the island from Le Diamant. Julia had arranged a surprise for our last afternoon, massages by the pool. A PERFECT way to end our tough week (wink wink). Merci beaucoup Julia!

Pool area at Villa Le Diamant

From IN the pool at Villa Le Diamant

While on the island, as is always the case – some FANTASTIC meals were had – we loved Tamarin, fishCorner (we went there twice in 6 days and Julia raved about the meal already so I will only show you some photos), L’Esprit, Le Repaire, Bagatelle, Le Piment, 25 Quarter, Quarter Général, François Plantation, Ociela, and the staple, Les Bananiers. Let us also not forget the chef at the villa and the chef-prepared picnic lunch to accompany our Sea Bob outing on Sunday. (Please see Julia’s rave review of the Seabob adventure – This is now something I will do each trip!)

Strawberries and millefeuille at L’Esprit

fishCorner…again – repeat offender

The now highly revered lemon meringue pie at fishCorner

Chocolate soufflé at Villa Marie St Barth’s François Plantation

Wild mushroom raviolo and grilled prawn at L’Esprit

François Plantation at Villa Marie St Barth’s take on our new infatuation, the lemon meringue pie – deconstructed

Eddie crafting and igniting cocktails at 25 Quarter

Lunch selection at fishCorner

Some of the other villas I saw that week which stood out were: Serenity (a new favorite spot high above Gustavia for three couples), LAO (outstanding views over Corossol from here – watch the boats and have a great sunset – all afternoon sun by the pool), Java (modern décor with nice views over Marigot Bay), Aigue Marine (great views over Flamands Beach – short walk to the sand or enter the water right from the property), Wide View (Sunrise lovers will enjoy this spot – also a great location if you must fit in your daily run), Sophia (wonderful spot on Marigot Bay with water access – great for three couples or a family with teens), Golden (high above Marigot Bay – wonderful view and refreshing breezes – I am “borrowing” some decorating ideas from here), La Boussole (great set up for two families traveling together), Aronnax (convenient in town location – everything at your doorstep), Colony Club E2 (great for the solo traveler), Colibris (perfect for honeymooners), Sucriers (great for two couples or a small family), Lyra (idyllic spot for extended family or a group of couples traveling together with stunning Gouverneur Beach views) and the island’s newest addition, Neo.

View from Golden over Marigot Bay

Villa Golden

Looking down at Lyra’s levels and gorgeous Gouverneur beach below

Dreamy pool at Villa Sophia

Pool view at Villa Wide View

Irma has certainly left her mark on the hearts of St Barth lovers, but the island has done an incredible job dusting herself off to welcome all of us. I think we may always have little reminders of Irma and Maria’s wrath, but hopefully we will be able to grow to have a sense of humor about some parts of it as evidenced by a property owner in Gustavia.

After the tough week, it was time to say our “ à bientôts and “au Revoirs” to our favorite spot in the Caribbean. Once again, Julia was a pro and remarked that she will ONLY fly this way now.

Boarding Tradewind

Post script – Right after I got home, I attempted the lemon meringue pie. While a valiant effort, it’s just not the same. It must be the butter….

Attempt at the lemon meringue pie in the US

Ever Wonder Why Our St Barth Properties-USA Concierge Knows How to Personalize and Enhance Your St Barth Vacation Experience?

Tuesday, July 24th, 2018

Today’s blog is written by our amazing SBP-USA office concierge, Julia Hurd who has been with the Company since 2007. For those of you who have traveled with us in the past, you know how perfectly Julia assists you with any extra service you may desire. For those of you who have yet to book their St. Barth vacation with St. Barth Properties, you are in for a treat. Here is how Julia keeps on top of things for you. Enjoy.

Sunny regards,
Peg

Julia’s Trip Report St. Barth May 2018

It has been a year and a hurricane since I have been to the island of St. Barth, so I was very excited to see how the island and my colleagues have been doing along with the friends I have made since I have been with St. Barth Properties. I set off from Boston on a JetBlue direct flight into San Juan with my coworker Allegra Pawlowski, a St. Barth Properties Villa and Hotel Specialist. Now, here is the funny part, anyone who knows me is very aware of my fear of flying, so I have never in the 11 years of working as the St. Barth concierge ever flown on Tradewind Aviation. Yes folks, that is correct I always fly into SXM and take Winair, St. Barth Commuter or one of the ferries, Voyager or Great Bay Express, The ferry being my first choice.

Well, after a stern talking to myself, I decided I would give it a try. We arrived into San Juan and we were met by a Tradewind Aviation VIP Service agent who took us right to the Tradewind Aviation lounge to relax, have a cold drink and snack while the agent retrieved our bags and got us both checked in – what a breeze. I highly recommend the additional cost of $150.00 for this service; there is no additional charge if you are a party of one or eight.

I met Tom, one of the Tradewind Aviation pilots, in their VIP Lounge.

Once the plane was ready for takeoff, they let me board first and pick a seat I felt comfortable in. Tom, one of the pilots, was so kind and often looked back to make sure I was ok. I have to be honest I am mad it took me this long to fly Tradewind Aviation; it was such a smooth flight on the aircraft, a Pilatus PC-12, an 8 seater providing two pilots, a pressurized cabin, AC, cold drinks and snacks. I was NOT going to look out the window on my inaugural flight, so I got to watch 2 episodes of a 30 min show on my iPad. One hour later I was in St. Barth not even realizing we had landed. Two thumbs up to the crew and Tradewind Aviation for making this the best first-time experience ever.

We arrived and went to our SBP booth where we picked up our rental cars at Gumbs Car Rentals. We said hello to Odile who kindly lets us share the booth with her; Our greeter Romain was there to escort us to our villa L’Adrech and treated us just as if we were clients of SBP. Allegra will tell you all about this gorgeous villa in Peg’s next Guest Blog detailing her trip report.

The first night we ate at Les Bananiers; Aurélie Janvier, our St. Barth office Concierge, and Laura Commaret our St. Barth office Villa Rental Specialist, surprised us by walking in. We all had dinner together; it was great fun catching up.

I love working with St. Barth Properties-St. Barth Concierge Aurélie Janvier.

The Royal Wedding happened to be taking place that Saturday, May 19th. I thought it would be fun to arrange a Chef Lunch at the villa for our island staff along with some Tiara’s and Top Hats. We had Pascal, of Pascal Cook, one of the wonderful chefs we use on-island, prepare a Royal Feast.

Royal Lunch at Villa L’Adrech L to R- Laura, Allegra, Pascale, Me-Julia, Nadine, Romain and Benoit.

Pascal the Chef

I was lucky to be able to spend time with Aurélie our island Concierge, as we speak daily and work very closely together. It was wonderful to be able to spend every day doing new things and dining out at all the great restaurants that St. Barth has to offer.

We dined at:

fishCorner is only open for lunch; they sell freshly-caught fish daily from 8:30am to 12:00pm then again from 3:30pm to 6:00pm; they are open 12:00pm to 3:00pm for lunch and are located in Gustavia in the alley by the Bar de L’ Oubli. I had the Fish and Chips and the most amazing Lemon Meringue Pie for dessert. I went back twice just for the pie. I even contacted the pastry chef Margaux Bellorgey and asked if I could have the recipe. NO SUCH LUCK, I will have to meet her next time; maybe she will allow me to be her assistant and we can make it together.

fishCorner Fish n Chips

The Lemon Pie at fishCorner is out of this world.

L’Esprit, located in Saline, Jean Claude DuFour is the owner and chef, such a great meal wonderful to see him and his staff. Ociela located in Gustavia has a wonderful view; it just so happened that Soley the musician was singing there that evening, which was a wonderful treat. Bagatelle located in Gustavia -always a wonderful time; 25 Quarter was also a great spot; we visited the new Rum Room after dinner and had a rum tasting, it was amazing. So many rums from all over the world.

25 Quarter’s fantastic Rum Room.

L’Isoletta was a restaurant I have never been able to fit into my schedule but this trip Aurélie and I made a point to have lunch; we had pizza, a salad, dessert and coffee for 20 euro pp – can’t beat that price. It was delish. Located on the upper road in Gustavia.

Aurélie devoured the pizza combo at L’Isoletta.

My Berry Ricotta dessert at L’Isoletta was very good.

We also were able to spend a day at the hotel Manapany pool and have a wonderful lunch; we toured the Spa and some suites at the hotel. What a tough job I have.

The Manapany is on Anse des Cayes Beach.

You can have lunch by Manapany’s main pool or use the adults-only pool at their spa.

Tamarin located in Saline – what a great restaurant. I love Heart Rocks and collect them in my travels, I simply fell in love with the one in the lily pond. I wish it fit in my luggage. The dinner was fantastic, everyone was happy and the tables where full. What a delightful night.

Here is Tamarin’s heart rock in one their lily ponds.

Allegra and I loved dining at the Tamarin.

I also wanted to try the St. Barth Properties Beach Picnic and some of the other activities that we offer, so we arranged a Beach Picnic with Chef XO Christophe and a lesson with Cyril Reymann to try the Seabobs. The St. Barth Properties Beach Picnic lunch was set up on Shell Beach as our lesson was there. The food from Christophe was outstanding as always, it was a pleasure to see him and one of his helpers. I highly recommend the SBP Beach Picnic; simply contact me and I will arrange everything for you. It was a great day. The Seabob was so much fun. You must try it!

Try the St, Barth Properties Beach Picnic next time you go to St. Barth.

While we were picnicing on Shell Beach, Allegra and I had a blast learning how to swim with the Seabob.

One item on my bucket list was to have a massage at a villa and boy oh boy was I one lucky and happy lady. It seems being a concierge can be stressful at times, believe it or not. So what other choice did I have but to have a massage? Allegra and I moved to the beautiful and very private Villa Le Diamant in St. Jean. (All of us at SBP love to experience the Villa Lifestyle just the way you do so that we can give you first-hand knowledge of the accommodation.) Nadine from Venus Institute set up her table poolside and within minutes I was in heaven. I can’t think of anything better to arrange for you than a fabulous massage to help you relax.

Nadine from Venus Spa came to our Villa Diamant to give me an excellent in-villa massage.

Nadine was fantastic. Venus Institute is a wonderful Spa in Gustavia that has many services from hair, makeup, mani, pedi, massages and so many more services, simply contact me at juliahurd@stbarth.com and I will give you all the details. In-villa or at the spa can be arranged.

I could not get over how wonderful the island looked and how green and beautiful it was. Other than a few obvious observations (such as the fronds on the palm trees not being 100% back), you would never think a category 5 hurricane visited. The people of St. Barth have worked so hard and are so grateful to bring the island back to its splendor.

St. Barth has so many coiorful flowers.

Another activity that Aurelie and I tried was Janzu, with Body and Soul. We met Nanda at the far end of smaller side of St. Jean Beach. Janzu is a type of water massage; it is practiced in the pool or ocean (but your villa pool can’t be too deep). It induces a state of deep relaxation, allowing energy blockages to emerge. Nanda places a nose water clip and tells you to breath out of your mouth, she listens to your breathing and tells you to close your eyes. The session was not only relaxing and calming, it was very emotional at the end; both of us found ourselves moved to tears, in a good way. Thank you, Nanda at Body and Soul. I still feel your energy. For more details contact me at juliahurd@stbarth.com.

Nanda and I are on the quieter side of St. Jean beach for Allegra’s and my Jenzu experience.

Right after Hurricane Irma hit St. Barth, the citizens began cleaning the island of debris. Each weekend a different spot is chosen. Trash bags and gloves are provided. Allegra and I volunteered to pick up trash along the roads of Corossol on a Sunday morning along with our island office; we did a great job. The more hands the better.

Benoit, Aurélie, Laura, Alllegra and I went to Corossol to join in the cleanup on Trash Day.

I can’t get over how fast the week went by, it was great to see everyone and see how well the island is doing. I am thankful to all the wonderful people and places I visited while I was there. It is one amazing island. Thank you to everyone in St. Barth for making my work week so enjoyable, it is always sad to say goodbye. Thank you to my copilot Aurélie, you’re a great partner.

Aurélie bid us goodbye. We will be back very soon.

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.