Archive for the ‘Weddings’ Category

News on Dining and Transiting Through Sint Maarten This Season

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

In the last 33 years I have never seen St. Barth as busy this early in the fall. The island was hopping! It was so much fun. Of course, I was there to work and had lots of villa inspections to do, meetings to attend and restaurants to try. I’ll bet many of you would love my job. I sure do.

Coincidentally, our wonderful gérant (head honcho of my two St. Barth Properties Sotheby’s International Realty rental and sales offices), Benoit Meesemaecker married Anne Picard, the owner of Venus Health and Beauty Spa on November 8, 2019. Weddings in St. Barth (as well as in France) are different from those in the USA. Any couple must be legally married during business hours at the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) first. Therefore, legal wedding ceremonies do not take place on the weekends. Like many other couples, Benoit and Anne planned their wedding at the end of the day on a Friday. This couple is very special because the President of the Collectivité, Bruno Magras performed the ceremony, instead of an underling. Steve and I were there to watch and we went out to the terrace on Gustavia Harbor for a toast with a coupe de Champagne.

President of the Collectivité, Bruno Magras performs the ceremony, while the couple exchanges rings.

After the cremony, Benoit and Anne posed for photos on the balcony at the Hôtel de Ville.

Benoit is a champion sailor and is very much involved with St. Barth Yacht Club where the children of St. Barth learn to sail. So, he and Anne hosted a wonderful reception at the SBYC which is on the beach in Public. It was a perfect night.

The ambience at the reception at the St. Barth Yacht Club on the beach at Public was so romantic.

Soley serenades the happy couple.

The St. Barth Gourmet Festival took place November 06-10, 2019. It was a huge success. Every participating restaurant was booked. We were a party of eight who thoroughly enjoyed our meal at L’Esprit by Jean-Claude Dufour whose guest chef was Philippe Jourdin, MOF One-Star Chef at Terre Blanche in Cote D’Azur. If you would like to attend next year’s Gourmet Festival, the dates are November 11-15, 2020. Let me know if you would like to book your villa or hotel now.

The 70th Anniversary of Le Select did not disappoint. Three days of events culminated on the actual date, November 11, 2019. It was a pleasure to spend time with 96 year old Marius Stakelborough who founded Le Select in 1949. It was a privilege to be able to explore his Back Street Gallery near his home by Shell Beach. There is so much of St. Barth history to discover there.

We were thrilled when Jimmy Buffett took us by surprise and jumped on the small stage at around 6:15 pm – just Jimmy and his guitar -and sang many of his songs that relate to St. Barth. Jimmy and Marius have been friends for years and years and that is how Le Select was able to name its spot Cheeseburger in Paradise.

At the end of the impromptu set, Jimmy was presented with a Le Select sign for his new villa that he just built.


From Winair: To ensure your experience at SXM Airport is as pleasant as possible we advise you to check in at least 3 hours prior to your scheduled departure. This advice is for all flights departing SXM Airport to your home airport between 1:00 PM and 6:00 PM. During these hours they do expect congestion at check-in, security screening, immigration and customs. If you have booked one of our villas or hotels and would like us to arrange VIP transfers for your arrival and/or departure in SXM, let our Concierge, Julia Hurd know,

Where should you dine when there is a full moon in St. Barth?

The all-new Al Mare restaurant at the 5-star Le Sereno hotel in Grand Cul de Sac! Located by the sandy beach and near the water’s edge, the restaurant has added feet-in-the-sand tables to dine under the stars. (You can have lunch there, under the palm trees, too.) Professionals from their hotel Sereno Lago di Como restaurant on Lake Como, have taken over the kitchen and the floor to serve you and delight you with their all-Italian menu. Steve and I had the pleasure of dining there. The food was delicious, the atmosphere was romantic, the service was impeccable, and the view was breathtaking. If you are vacationing in St. Barth during a full moon, we can book your table for you. Be sure to bring your camera with you.

Le Sereno hotel Al Mare feet-in-the-sand open-air dining area under the full moon.

Book your table at Le Sereno Restaurant al Mare when there is a full moon. It’s breathtaking.

What’s New on the St. Barth dining scene? Le Carré! This open-air sidewalk café sits smackdab in the middle of Le Carré D’Or where there are boutiques and an art gallery. The café presents a nice casual menu that is sure to delight your palate. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner (Monday through Saturday 8:00 am to 10:00 pm. (Closed Sunday)

Le Carré in the daytime

Le Carré at night

Wishing you and yours a wonderful holiday season. I hope to see you on St. Barth very 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 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.

A Note to share with our St. Barth Properties Friends

Friday, June 19th, 2015

An intimate wedding takes place in St. Barth and you know the bride!

I am sure that most of you know that we have two fantastic concierges to assist you with, among other things, your dinner reservations, on-island activities, in-villa massages, birthday and anniversary parties, as well as weddings in St. Barth. Julia Hurd assists you before you travel and Magda Votava continues that great service once you are on the island.

This time it was Magda‘s turn to arrange her own wedding! She is a pro by now, so she knew exactly what she needed to do. She wanted a very small, intimate wedding and it went flawlessly.

The beautiful bride is our fabulous St. Barth Properties Sotheby's International Realty on-island office Concierge, Magda Votava photo : François Vochelle

The beautiful bride is our fabulous St. Barth Properties Sotheby’s International Realty on-island office Concierge, Magda Votava
photo : François Vochelle

If you read one of my previous blogs about getting married in St. Barth, you know that all marriages in St. Barth, just like in France, must take place at the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) in this case, the Hôtel de la Collectivité d’Outremer as it is known in St. Barth.

Official wedding ceremonies in St. Barth always take place at the Hôtel de la Collectivité

Official wedding ceremonies in St. Barth always take place at the Hôtel de la Collectivité

So, on June 08, 2015 Magdalena Votava married Frédéric Borne, the Captain of a private yacht located in Gustavia Harbor. Magda’s beautiful daughter Valérie Votava and Fred’s handsome son, Ryan Borne were at their side.

Time for the Ring photo François Vochelle

Time for the Ring
photo François Vochelle

Valérie Votava, Magdalena Borne, Frédéric Borne, Ryan Borne photo credit : François Vochelle

Valérie Votava, Magdalena Borne, Frédéric Borne, Ryan Borne
photo credit : François Vochelle

I asked Magda if she would share their love story by answering some questions.

When, where and how did you and Fred meet?
“We met 6 years ago in France. Fred spent a couple of months there when he worked on a private boat in Cannes. We had a common friend on Facebook and that’s how we got to know each other. He came to see me when I was in Paris and that’s how it started. We never wanted to separate from that moment.”

What were your jobs at the time?
“I was a commercial assistant at Myllykoski (a huge paper manufacturer at that time in Europe). Fred worked as a yacht captain in Cannes.

When did you decide to come to SBH and why?
I made up my mind when Fred came to help me after an elbow surgery. It wasn’t easy for me to take care of the house and of Valérie who was little at that time (5 years old) and he came and did everything ☺. He was already in SBH, but flew to Paris to take care of me. When he asked me if I wanted to follow him, I didn’t hesitate a second.”

St. Barth is Synonymous with Love photo : François Vochelle

St. Barth is Synonymous with Love
photo : François Vochelle

Why did you choose to work at St. Barth Properties Sotheby’s International Realty?
“I found an ad in the Journal of St. Barth. SBP was looking for someone to replace a staff member for a couple of months. It corresponded with my profile and my knowledge, so I sent my CV. A week later, I was at SBP2 ☺. When Nadine came back, YOU decided you wanted to keep me ☺.”

Can you tell me a little bit about Ryan and Valérie?
“Ryan is 16 and he goes to school in Aix-en-Provence now (He was in SBH until September 2014, but, as you know, children in St. Barth can’t complete their studies here after ninth grade) so once Ryan finished, he decided to continue his studies in France. He wants to be a pilot in the army, just like his grandfather (Fred’s dad was a very famous fighter pilot). Recently, he passed an aeronautics exam and he scored 100%!!! Only 3 out of more than 600 candidates received the Committee’s Congratulations and he was one of them. We are very proud of him.

Valérie is 10 now and she will start secondary school in September. She’s very excited about this. She would like to be in the linguistic class and learn English and Spanish. She is already bilingual as she speaks Polish very well. She loves music, attends dance classes, and started piano lessons. She still doesn’t know what she wants to do in the future, but I keep telling her that she has a lot of time to make the final decision ☺.”

Mother and Daughter photo : François Vochelle

Mother and Daughter
photo : François Vochelle

Is there anything else you would like to include?
“Oh, I don’t know. If you want to write that Fred left France when he was 4 and then spent 20 years in Africa, as his dad was a fighter pilot there and then they all moved to St. Barth (23 years ago). He started to work as a captain almost 30 years ago (He was only 17).

I graduated for the University in my hometown, Lodz in Poland where I studied English and I obtained a Master’s Degree. I moved to France when I was 25 and obtained a Postgraduate Degree at Sorbonne University in Paris.

We both love traveling and photos (some of them, even Fred’s were used in our Live Your Dream catalogues).”

Congratulations to Magda and Fred Borne. May you live happily ever after!

Presenting: Madame et Monsieur Frédéric Borne photo : François Vochelle

Presenting: Madame et Monsieur Frédéric Borne
photo : François Vochelle

Eddy, Nils Dufau, Vice-President of the Hôtel de la Collectivité who performed the wedding ceremony, Magda, Fred, Ryan, Joel, Valérie and Sandrine photo : François Vochelle

Eddy, Nils Dufau, Vice-President of the Collectivité d’Outremer who performed the wedding ceremony, Magda, Fred, Ryan, Joel, Valérie and Sandrine
photo : François Vochelle

Getting Married in St. Barth – Live Your Dream®

Friday, May 30th, 2014

St. Barth has relaxed its regulations a bit for couples dreaming of getting married in St Barth

Your Dream of getting married in St. Barth can come true

Your Dream of getting married in St. Barth can come true

St. Barth is the romantic capital or the world (albeit that I might be a bit prejudiced). We know a lot of couples who want to get married in this paradise. Who can blame them? Some couples want a Destination Wedding with 200 guests while others want to have a more intimate gathering. It used to be quite an ordeal with strict residency requirements before a bride and groom could even attempt to plan any type of legal wedding in St. Barth. Quit your job for 6 months and come here while you wait it out? Sounds wonderful but not very practical. Now with the relaxed regulations and a healthy dose of marriage equality, brides and grooms, brides and brides and grooms and grooms (have I missed anyone?) have a wealth of new options.

In the past we had to advise couples wanting to be married here that they needed to get legally married elsewhere and then they could “fake it” by having a wedding ceremony in front of their guests at a hotel, a private villa or at a church and those attending wouldn’t know any better. Most couples had a legal ceremony at home and kept it a secret. Many still do. BUT if you are looking for the real thing, a wedding in St. Barth, it can be done! It is not easy but it is simpler than before. Perseverance is the key. The best part? You do not have to wing it alone. Our Concierge in our St. Barth office, Magda Votava will assist you throughout the entire process and will become your Wedding Concierge.

We will also arrange accommodations for you as well as for your guests and enlist our service partners to assist with all the frills that go with the wedding too. Flowers? A vintage Fiat Spider for the bride and groom? Rehearsal dinner? No problem. Other activities? Our pleasure. Julia Hurd our Concierge in our US office will coordinate everything with Magda so as to ensure that your St. Barth wedding will be wonderful.


We organized a glorious, intimate family wedding for some quite famous Brits recently. I got to know the bride (Mary) so well during the planning of the event that she asked my husband and me to stand up for them as witnesses.

Steve and I were honored to be witnesses at the official ceremony.

Steve and I were honored to be witnesses at the official ceremony

We started the process by selecting a villa where most of her guests could stay. Mary fell in love with Villa Sky so she planned the date of the wedding around its availability. (Returning guests have the first right to rebook their villa for the following year, so we had to wait for that period to expire before we could reserve it.)

Once the booking was made, we secured other villas and hotel rooms for the guests and the process began. Magda went to the Hôtel de la Collectivité (City Hall) and asked them to reserve the date of the marriage on their calendar and we asked the church to do the same. Magda gathered all of the documentation (See below) that would be necessary for the marriage to take place here in St. Barth. Mary did her part and sent everything to Magda when it was a little less than 6 months before the wedding. My husband and I had to give copies of our passports because we were to be the witnesses.

The official legal ceremony must take place at the Hôtel de la Collectivité. It is only open on weekdays so weekend weddings are not the custom in France. The date and time were set for a Thursday at 10:00 am. The church wedding took place at 4:00 pm that afternoon which worked out perfectly because Mary had time to get her hair styled in between events.

Nils Dufau the VP of St. Barth performed the ceremony and presented them with their marriage certificate

Nils Dufau the VP of St. Barth performed the ceremony and presented them with their marriage certificate

That afternoon Roy and Mary were married (again) at the Anglican Church in Gustavia.

That afternoon Roy and Mary were married (again) at the Anglican Church in Gustavia

The wedding went perfectly as did the private dinner on the beach at the Hotel St. Barth Isle de France afterwards. I arranged for the newlyweds to spend their honeymoon night in an intimate pool suite at the Hôtel Le Toiny which they loved.

No matter the size you want your St. Barth Destination Wedding to be, we‘ll coordinate all of the arrangements

No matter the size you want your St. Barth Destination Wedding to be, we‘ll coordinate all of the arrangements

Would you like to get married in St. Barth? We are here to help you make that dream come true! When you call us, we will ask if you have a specific date in mind. It is best to wait until we discuss your needs and budget and give us a “ballpark” of dates that would work. Do you want a winter wedding so that your guests can escape the cold? A spring, summer or fall wedding would work too (and Value Season pricing would be in effect). We can then research options.

Your wedding guests will be thrilled to be in St. Barth!

Your wedding guests will be thrilled to be in St. Barth!

Once you set your date and have chosen your villa or hotel as well as the venue for the ceremony, we will get you booked and can secure some better rates in the hotels if your guests book multiple rooms. Then all you need to do is send a “Save the Date” invitation to your potential guests with my contact information or the contact information of one of our St. Barth Specialists with whom you are working and we will assist them with their accommodation, car rental and inter-island flights.

The bride chose to stay at Villa Sky – What a view!

The bride chose to stay at Villa Sky – What a view!

What to do:

As soon as you have set the date:

Magda will send a letter dated and signed by you and addressed to the civil registry on St. Barth requesting the wedding date you have chosen.

Six months (or less) but at least 30 days before the wedding:

  1. Official copies of the birth certificate (with the raised seal) for each person (issued and dated no more than six months before the wedding). Certificates issued by foreign authorities must be translated. (We can have them officially translated locally for you at reasonable rates.)
  2. Official copies of your passports. (If a visa is required for you to travel to St. Barth, the visa (or the request for a visa needs to accompany it).
  3. Last names, first names of your parents with date of birth, where they were born as well as their addresses and professions.
  4. Last names, first names, date of birth, where born, as well as their addresses, professions as well as copies of the passports of the two witnesses.

Roy and Mary enjoy a wedding day kiss before the reception at the Hôtel St. Barth Isle de France.

Roy and Mary enjoy a wedding day kiss before the reception at the Hôtel St. Barth Isle de France


An officially accepted translator/interpreter of your choice needs to be there to ensure that the marriage ceremony is translated into your language so that you understand what is being said; this person’s name will be mentioned in the marriage documents. (We will do this for you.)

The bride and groom couldn't resist putting their toes in the sand on Flamands Beach

The bride and groom couldn’t resist putting their toes in the sand on Flamands Beach


Legal age to be married: 18

Freedom of consent

You must both be present at the marriage ceremony.

Marriage between direct relatives (brother and sister, uncle and niece, aunt and nephew, etc.) is prohibited.

Prohibition of polygamy. Civil authorities must provide a document stating that neither person is married if your home state or country requires it. (Proof of divorce is necessary if married before.) Otherwise just present an official document stating that neither person is presently married.

Celebration of the marriage will be performed by a public official. (We will arrange that, too.)

After the ceremony you can go outside for photos harbor side. If you want to serve Champagne, we'll take care of that, too.

After the ceremony you can go outside for photos harbor side. If you want to serve Champagne, we’ll take care of that, too.

Don’t get discouraged! St Barth Properties will assist you throughout the entire process. After you get this paperwork over with, you will be so happy that you took the time to do it. A Wedding in St. Barth is so worth the little extra effort it takes to make it happen. As Dean Martin sang, “Memories are made of this.”