More fantastic signs that St. Barth is recovering well: New 5-Star hotel opens; Nikki Beach to reopen!

March 22nd, 2018

Yes, that’s right! Nikki Beach is set to reopen on March 30, 2018! View the flyer for more details.

Just contact juliahurd@stbarth.com to pre-book a reservation before you travel, or contact aurelie@stbarth.com (0590-29-75-05) to book once you are here.

This past weekend was just like the old days. The St. Barth Bucket regatta took place and the island was hopping. Steve and I, my son and VP, Tom Smyth and his wife Amy, my grandson Tyler (on his spring break), and two of my most favorite clients/friends, Kevin and Stan, were lucky to be able to sail on a St. Barth Sailor catamaran to watch the start of the race up close and personally. What a thrill. We watched these beautiful sailing yachts maneuver around the water itching to get started. The J Boat Class boats were first to start at the sound of the gun, followed by the larger category yachts, each with their own personal start time. They tried to time it so that they were at the starting buoy exactly when the gun sounded. Flo, our skipper, skillfully kept us in the perfect spot to watch it. I hope that you can experience the Bucket next year (March 21-24, 2019).

We watched the 2018 St. Barth Bucket regatta from one of St. Barth Sailor’s catamaran. Front – Tom, Amy, Peg, Kevin and Stan. Rear – Tyler and Doc.

The J-Class boats were the first to start the St. Barth Bucket on March 16, 2018. The view of them racing by our cataramarn was breathtaking.

Back to post-Irma news. You may be asking, “What’s up with the hotels?”

Many of the 5-star beach hotels that were damaged by hurricane Irma have not told me when they will reopen, making it difficult for our hotel clientele to plan their next St. Barth vacation. Never fear, the Manapany is here! Many St. Barth regulars likely remember the old Manapany—perhaps they dined in the hotel’s restaurant or visited its spa. But few would recognize it these days. Purchased, and excitingly recreated by the young, dynamic B Signature Hotels & Resorts group, the Manapany opened as a 5-star beach hotel on March 13, 2018. It’s a wow!

I have already inspected the hotel twice and love the casual luxury it exudes. The 5-star Manapany is dedicated to respecting and protecting the environment in its natural setting. It has it all – Toes in the sand dining, 43 accommodations, including a villa, cottages, and suites with beachfront decks and steps down to the beach; hillside rooms and suites, some of which can connect, making them a great choice for families; a beach/pool bar, two seaside swimming pools (one for adults only) a fitness room, boutique, game room. and the Dr. Hauschka-branded spa are all there for you to enjoy. I took these photos to give you an idea.

Lunch time at the Manapany.

Waterfront tables on the sand are available at the Manapany, too.

This is the main pool at the Manapany. The adults-only pool is located at the spa (pictured here behind the guy who is treating the pool).

The Manapany bar is located by the restaurant’s tables and the main swimming pool. The jalousied windows can be adjusted according to the breeze.

We will be getting more pictures soon. In the meantime, here is the link: Manapany. If you would like more information on the hotel’s “dynamic pricing” (meaning the rates are based on the demand at time of the request), and would like to stay at the Manapany, just email reservations@stbarth.com.

The Christopher
As mentioned in my previous blog, the 5-star Christopher hotel that was due to reopen February 20th, 2018, was unable to do so due to the devastating fire that destroyed their main restaurant, Taino three days before. However, the hotel’s feet-in-the-sand restaurant, Mango will be open for lunch, and their Sisley Spa will be open for treatments as of today, March 22, 2018. The pool will not be ready until July, but their rooms were untouched by the fire, and are open to guests looking for reasonable rates while the reconstruction of the restaurant is going on. Regular rates will apply starting October 15, 2018. To book, contact reservations@stbarth.com for more information.

The Christopher’s waterfront Mango restaurant is open for lunch. (photo credit P.Carreau)

Christopher Sisley Spa (photo credit Max-VanderNoot)

One last note: Lil Rock Beach Bar on St. Jean beach closed on Monday, March 19, 2018 and will begin building its beach restaurant in the near future. We are looking forward to having another restaurant on the beach for your dining pleasure.

2 Responses to “More fantastic signs that St. Barth is recovering well: New 5-Star hotel opens; Nikki Beach to reopen!”

  1. Iris giuffre says:

    Hi peg
    It’s iris and Iggy
    Just wanted to say it was a pleasure meeting you last week when we stopped by to see Pasquale to give her money to get cages to catch the cats and get them fixed.
    Your husband, a fellow Nj person! Was very sweet
    See you in April!

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

March 12th, 2018

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

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

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

I love the curtained entrance to Quartier Général.

Quartier Général had a nice ambiance.

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

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

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

The swell caused flooding in Gustavia.

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

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

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

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

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

5 Responses to “What is St. Barth like Post Hurricane Irma? Impressions from a St. Barth First-Timer”

  1. Nancy Volk says:

    Peg, minimal damage I screamed out loud ! Hope he was corrected by someone, anyone who has gone thru a hurricane, Doug & I at the home on St Croix where I’d lived 10 years earlier, during David in 1979, which followed us up the coast to Philadelphia where we had David again ! Personally, I think crass to refer to any wife as “the wife.” Otherwise well written & they are hooked ! Had expected the writer to say Marius instead of Bruno…

    Looking forward to seeing Nirvana on 2/26 while in port on Windstar Pride for the day, Doug’s day.

    • admin says:

      Hi Nancy, Rich is a first-time visitor to St. Barth. He totally recognized the devastation that occurred on the islands. St. Thomas was out of the question. St. Barth was not, and was recovering well. he had never been to SBH before, so he was amazed at how well the island looked. As far as “the Wife” is concerned, I found it humorous. It is a writing style and not at all meant to be offensive. Best, Peg

  2. Eve Keddy says:

    That is the best report I have ever read! The part about Bruno is hysterical!
    I read this entire report out loud to my husband, and we had a great laugh. Imagine if Rich had seen the island before the storms! Hope he comes back to see how glorious it can be!

    • admin says:

      Hi Eve, Glad you like it! I really enjoyed Rich’s take on St. Barth. To me, he nailed it. He is definitely coming back to St. Barth. A January 01, 2019 arrival is tricky, so we are waiting it out to see what actually becomes available once the holiday bookings area made. Hope to see you on the island! Best, Peg

  3. Dawn says:

    I have come to rely on Pegs blog to give updates on the island since the Storms. We are returning for the third time and have loved it so much we are bringing our (adult) children with us.
    I keep checking on re-openings – not just for tourist reasons – we came to enjoy so many people that worked at the beach bars and our hotel that we were worried about them.
    thanks for the guest blog!

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

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!

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December 12, 2017 to January 04, 2018

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)

2 Responses to “December 12, 2017 to January 04, 2018”

  1. Elisabeth Linds says:

    Are there any pictures of EMERAUD PLAGE Hotel. We stayed there several times, last visit was in February 2017.

    We know it was damaged badly. Hopefully the reopen soon.
    Thank you,
    E. Lindskog

    • admin says:

      HI Elisabeth,

      Unfortunately, nothing has been done to repair Emeraude Plage since Hurricane Irma. It was badly damaged. I am trying to get more information on whether a management company might be taking it over or it is being sold.

      All the best

      Peg

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Post-Irma Update December 01-11, 2017

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.

2 Responses to “Post-Irma Update December 01-11, 2017”

  1. Lisa Garner says:

    In you opinion, do you feel most of the island will be close to up and running this May? I am looking into planning a family vacation for my 50th birthday with 10-12 people renting a villa. Thank you

  2. Bill & Karen says:

    Peg
    Thanks for the updates.
    Very helpful.
    Even after 30 years…
    we always look forward to returning to St Barth.
    See you in February.
    Bill & Karen

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Hurricane Irma update November 11-15, 2017

November 21st, 2017

Which Beaches are open on St. Barth 9-10 weeks after Hurricane Irma?

The most recent update on the post-Hurricane Irma recovery on St. Barth in real-time November 11-15, 2017

November 11, 2017

It is Saturday November 11, 2017. Veteran’s Day in the US and Armistice Day in St. Barth (France). Businesses and enterprises are closed for the holiday. Not only it is a special day of tribute, it always falls on the anniversary of the founding of Le Select. Today is the 68th anniversary of this very famous bar! Marius Stakelborough opened the establishment that sits in the heart of Gustavia, in 1949.

Marius Stakelborough is one of my most favorite people. He is 94 years old and still going strong!

The celebration officially started at 11:30, so we arrived around 11:15 and were lucky to get a table that was partially shaded by an umbrella. For those of you who have been to Le Select before, the big tree with the round sign came down with Hurricane Irma, so it is sunnier. I think that Marius’ kids want to put something more permanent up, but I do not know if Marius will let them. We shall see. Anniversary cakes were cut, and Champagne was poured for everyone.

The crowd came out for the 68th anniversary of Le Select. 1949-2017

Eddy Stakelborough (Eddy’s restaurant) , one of Marius’ 9 children is there to congratulate his dad.

Everyone knows Marius, including Jimmy Buffett who refers to Marius in his One Particular Harbor song. When Marius decided to add food selections to his bar, he asked Jimmy if he could name it Cheeseburger in Paradise. Jimmy happily agreed, but only if Jimmy could have an open tab for the rest of his life. No problem! Jimmy gave a free concert on the quai for Le Select’s 50th and 60th anniversaries and I am hoping he will do it again for the 70th in just 2 more years. I’ll be there! Will you? Jimmy still comes to St. Barth all the time and will often pick up a guitar and sing an impromptu set at the Baz Bar.

Jimmy Buffett loves to stop by the Baz Bar once in a while to sing an impromptu set of songs. (I took this picture December 29, 2016. I am sure you will see him in 2017-2018, too).

Saturday night we (Pascale and her husband, Christophe, Steve and I) had invited the owners of the gorgeous Villa L’Adrech to have dinner with us at L’Esprit – Jean Claude Dufour. They accepted with an invitation to have Champagne and hors d’oeuvres at their villa first. Villa L’Adrech has so much warmth; it’s a home, so specially decorated with every little detail, that I know you will love it. From the circular garden parking area, to the view, to the flowers, the artwork, this villa is very special. You would never know that Hurricane Irma had ever touched it. The owners lived there through Irma’s wrath and, like many other people, took in some less fortunate owners who could no longer stay in their homes. This is the spirit of the people who live on St. Barth. The repairs were done immediately, and the villa is ready for your stay. Just email me, pegwalsh@stbarth.com or my very capable staff at reservations@stbarth.com.

We enjoyed a fabulous dinner wth Pascale, Christophe and the owners of Villa L’Adrech at L’Esprit Jean-Claude Dufour

November 12, 2017

Another Sunday arrives. Normally, this particular November weekend is spent commemorating the twin cities of Gustavia and Piteå (in Sweden) by running the Gustavia Loppet road race. This year, a late afternoon walk was organized to pay tribute to the solidarity shared by everyone on St. Barth after Hurricane Irma. A concert on the quai ended the day.

Time to go to Gouverneur Beach so that I can report back to you. I love this beach. Like Saline Beach, it is undeveloped on purpose. There is a small parking area by the access to the beach, so there is no need to climb a hill to reach it. The ride down to the beach is always dramatic because, as soon as you make the curve down the road, you have a stunning view of the beach that is far below. There were so many people there; many playing in the water, others sunning on the beach. Everyone was smiling. You will love it.

People were enjoying a morning swim at Gouverneur Beach

We stopped at the bakery to get our baguette. Lo and behold, I saw David Mouton, the owner of one of my most favorite restaurants, the Santa Fe. I asked him how things were going, and he told me that the landlord had just signed the insurance papers, so he can start the work. Steve asked him if the restaurant will be open in time for his Super Bowl party and he replied with a definite, “Yes”. We hope the Santa Fe opens sooner than that. I will let you know.

We bumped into David Mouton, the owner of the Santa Fe restaurant.

November 13, 2017

Today, I visited Villa Micela that sits directly on Flamands Beach. To be honest, I was absolutely astonished to see what the owners had accomplished. This two-bedroom jewel is perfect for those of you who love to be on Flamands Beach! I walked in, and immediately wanted to stay there, it looked so inviting. I opened the sliders from the air-conditioned living room to the pool deck – perfect. I walked towards the beach – a steep stairway was there inviting me to go down to the beach – incredible. Villa Micela is waiting for you. Just email me or reservations@stbarth.com. You will be in 7th heaven.

I took this photo of Villa Micela on November 13, 2017. It’s beautiful!

The Villa Micela owners ingeniously built this staircase to be sure that you can directly access Flamands Beach

For dinner, I had heard that the owner of the Tom Beach hotel bought Le Bouchon, located in the Oasis shopping center in Lorient. Indeed, our waiter had a Free St. Barth t-shirt on and told me that he can’t wait until La Plage restaurant reopens because that is where he normally works. He shared with me that they hope to have their New Year’s Eve celebration on the beach, so let julia@stbarth.com if you have reserved your villa with us and want to make reservations. Le Bouchon immediately reopened after Hurricane Irma. Although the menu is not as extensive as it will be, we loved it.

For a casual evening, try Le Bouchon in Lorient.

For now, the menu at Le Bouchon is limited, but yummy. By the time you go, there should be more selections.

November 14, 2017

I visited some potential new villa listings today. The owners had called my office to ask us to add them to our portfolio. I always inspect villas first, before agreeing to represent them. I will share the details of the villas I ok’d, once we have the contracts signed and photos to show you.

Great news! Le Tamarin restaurant reopens November 21, 2017! It is unbelievable that Paco and Julie have been able to restore their famous garden and lily ponds so quickly. I am sure it will be packed, so we should make your reservation before you travel. Never fear, we always send you a lunch and dinner reservation form in advance.

I had spotted a new sign, Da Vinci, that is next to Le Choisy bakery in Lorient, asked Aurélie about it, and she told me it is an alfresco pizza place. I had to try it for dinner tonight. I ordered a pesto pasta dish which was also on the menu and it was quite good (but very filling). This is a very casual place.

Le Choisy bakery in Lorient is open for business.

It looks as if Steve has a palm hat on at Da Vinci restaurant, next to La Choisy bakery, a very casual spot to get a pizza.

November 15, 2017

It’s my last day on St. Barth. I must go home to my house on Cape Cod to cook a huge turkey for our annual Thanksgiving Day dinner that I host for my family. I’m sorry to leave but will be back in no time, December 2nd, to be precise.

We have an arrival at Villa Royal Palm today, so I met the owner there to take a peek. Wow! It looks fantastic. The view is just as wonderful as ever and the villa is spotless.

I was able to see Villa Blue Diamond, too because we have an arrival there tomorrow. It also looks wonderful; The infinity pool was so inviting and, once again, the view is stunning. The owner will be adding a 2nd bedroom at some point (but not working on it while we have clients staying there).

I took this photo of the pool and view from Villa Blue Diamond on November 15, 2017.

Time to get ready and, let me tell you, putting on shoes after 2 weeks in paradise wearing only sandals, was not what I wanted to do. Off to the airport to return our cars to Odile at Gumbs car rental. She was sitting in the booth that St. Barth Properties shares with her. We checked in for our flight to San Juan with Tradewind. The airport and the departure lounge are fine.

Odile Gumbs was waiting for us with a smile, when we returned in our cars.

The deparature lounge at the St. Barth airport looks the same.

A true aerial view of the runway and St. Jean Beach from my seat in Tradewind.

We landed in San Juan, went through immigration and then customs. We were randomly picked to submit to an agriculture check which took some time, so I was grateful that we didn’t have a tight connection. The airport was very busy. We checked in for our flight to Boston on JetBlue.

The San Juan airport was very busy.

We seemed to be the only “tourists” on the plane. A long line with 21 wheelchairs had to board first. No one spoke English; all seemed to be evacuees. It was sad – when we were waiting for our luggage to arrive, I saw so many people, go up to someone arriving in a wheel chair, as well as others, and began hugging them and crying for happiness to get them out of Puerto Rico. I feel sorry for the island and its inhabitants and wish them well in their recovery.

I don’t believe that you will have a problem transiting through San Juan. I will let you know what it is like when I fly back to St. Barth through San Juan on December 01, 2017. We need to overnight in San Juan because JetBlue canceled its morning flights out of Boston.

As of today, the following beaches are open for your swimming enjoyment.

  • Colombier
  • Flamands
  • Anse des Cayes
  • Corossol
  • Public
  • St. Jean (airport side)
  • Shell Beach
  • Gouverneur
  • Petit Cul de Sac

I hope to see you there very soon!

Happy Thanksgiving!

You can give thanks that St. Barth survived Hurricane Irma and is well on its way to recovery.

2 Responses to “Hurricane Irma update November 11-15, 2017”

  1. Joe and Darlene says:

    Thanks once agin for this update, Peg. It is really good and honest information on the state of the Island. We will keep reading it after you return in December and hopefully will be able to return for our annual trip in April. Still thinking we will go out of JFK but not sure whether to go AA or Jet Blue. Time will tell I guess.

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Another firsthand report on the post-Hurricane Irma recovery

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.

7 Responses to “Another firsthand report on the post-Hurricane Irma recovery”

  1. Randy says:

    We’d love to hear more about other villas, especially the one we’ve rented
    January 27. How many are ready for occupants? How many will not be ready this “high season”? What part of the island sustained the most damage to villas? North side? South side?

    • admin says:

      Dear Randy,

      Like the hotels, the villas on most beaches were damaged. No specific areas were more damaged than others because each one had “micro bursts”, severely damaging some villas while leaving villas down the road with very little damage. At least 50% of our villas will be fine by Christmas and many more will be ready throughout the ensuing months. The owner of your villa Plein Sud is coming next week, so we will have more definitive news. It takes time to know because the insurance adjusters have to come before repairs can be done. Thank you for your patience. Peg

  2. jeff says:

    is Kikie Mos open? if so what condition is it in?

    by the way great blog!

    cheers,
    jeff

  3. Marla says:

    Are the activities like jet skiing, paddleboats and kayaks open in Grand cul de sac?

    • admin says:

      Hi Marla, Grand Cul de Sac lagoon is fine for swimming & activities now. Jet skiing is ok, and our concierge books them often. Kite surfing is alive and well. The kayak shop is not there right now, but we can order them from a person who delivers. Please let me know if you have any more questions. Sunny regards, Peg

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What does St. Barth look like 8-9 weeks post Hurricane Irma?

November 8th, 2017

A St Barth first-person Experience November 02-05, 2017

My passion has always been St. Barth. My heart was aching for the people who experienced the wrath of Hurricane Irma and I longed to get back. Finding flights from Boston had become a huge challenge. I would book flights only to have them canceled. Finally, I found a flight through Miami to St. Maarten. Today’s blog covers my first few days back in paradise.

November 02, 2017:

My husband and I flew on America Airlines to Miami. Fortunately, the flight was on time and we made it to our connecting gate to St. Maarten in time. Both flights were full. I was surprised that so many people wanted to fly to St. Maarten because the recovery there is going at a snail’s pace.

I had heard that the terminal at Princess Juliana Airport was not open and was badly damaged. Make-shift arrangements had been made. That bit of news meant that I was clueless as to how to transit through to St. Barth. We had four heavy checked bags because we packed knowing that we would be here until May. I relied upon my fabulous concierge in our US office, Julia Hurd to arrange VIP services for us. What a smart move!

As soon as we touched down on the tarmac in SXM, I saw the devastation on both sides. I was so used to seeing pictures of how well St. Barth is recovering, it was a bit of a shock. It was as if Irma had hit only 3 days ago instead of 8 weeks ago. Our pilot parked the plane near some tents and we deplaned via a stairway. We were told to go to the “FOB” building. I had no idea what that was, so I asked a friendly guy at the bottom of stairs. He said, “Is your name Walsh?” He took me to Jerry who was handling my Easyway VIP service. Thank you, Jerry!

We deplaned in St. Maarten via a stairway.

We stood in line to clear immigration while Jerry retrieved our luggage, He then escorted us to another tented area where they had some counters and checked us in at Winair. Then we went to a booth to get our passports stamped again, this time for departure, and we went through a security checkpoint in a hangar serving as the departure lounge. It had some places to buy drinks and snacks and a restroom. Soon after, Jerry came to get us, and we were on our way to St. Barth.

We stood in line under a tent, in order ito go through immigration in a temporary building.

We waited for our Winair flight in a hangar that had become the departure lounge.

I admire St. Maarten for adapting to the aftermath of Irma by opening the airport to people like me. SXM is a gateway to many other destinations. I admire American Airlines for flying from Miami and Jet Blue from JFK every day, too. FYI If you are transiting through St. Maarten, please be sure to ask Julia to arrange the VIP service, you will be so happy that you did.

Vive La Différence! As we approached the island, we could see how green St. Barth is – already! We cleared immigration and headed to the St. Barth Properties booth that we share with Gumbs Car Rental. Odile was waiting for us with her always pretty smile and showed us to our rental cars. (Yes, we have two so that I can go off and work without stranding Steve.) 0ff we went to Villa Everest.

I tried to look at the surroundings as I drove. Yup, definitely, a hurricane had hit, the most obvious indication being the almost-naked palm trees. Otherwise, there were many signs of repairs and recovery that impressed me. Even the palms’ fronds had sprouted new growth showing that they were well on their way back to their stately beauty. We unpacked, showered and headed out to dinner. I had vowed that we would frequent every restaurant whose staff had busted their tails to reopen as soon as possible and show my support by dining there. We are always a bit tired on our first night and chose the casual Le Grain de Sel by Saline Beach; it was busy; they had blackboard specials, and we enjoyed the food, the friendly staff as well as the nice breeze.

November 03, 2017

I love waking up my first day back in St. Barth. Feeling rested, I grabbed my camera-phone and took a picture from the pool deck. The island looked nice and green and I remarked that Lorient beach looked beautiful. My mission is to give you firsthand knowledge of how St. Barth looks in real time but to also let you know how the people who lived through this nightmare felt and now feel.

My first morning view from Villa Everest was different but still stunnng.

Steve (aka “Doc”) went to his favorite warehouse in Lorient to stock up on supplies. In case you do not know my husband, he is Dr. Chatter and loves to talk to anyone. Maybe that is because he is a dentist and he was great at distracting his patients with banter between his dental assistant and him. He and the warehouse owner had a long conversation after the guy in front of him had bought every last bottle of Heineken out from under us!) The owner said that the guy owns a restaurant and people like him will go wherever they can to get what they need. Steve settled for Amstel Light and chatted away.

The owner said he had never experienced anything like Hurricane Irma. It was a category 5 but that is as high as the rankings go, and he thought of it as a category 7. In 1995, I remember when Hurricane Luis stalled over St. Barth for 36 hours. He said Irma was fast moving but was much stronger. Some people has lost part of their roofs and windows and when the eye hit at 7:00 am on September 6th, it was a blessing in disguise because people were able to go to the homes of friends and relatives and be safe. The backside was even worse. On September 7th, the island immediately began the recovery process. Everyone showed solidarity and pitched in to help one another. No one was going to sit back and wait for France to send help. The French didn’t think we needed it anyway because, “rich people come to St. Barth.”

Later, I met Anne laure and Laura from my rental office at Villa Les Embruns in Flamands so that I could visit it for a client of mine who is arriving in December. I saw people as well as the villa owner working on the villa, readying it for the first arrival on November 28th. Stonework was being done on a wall as well as repairs on the deck’s gazebos. When we went inside, it was perfect. The furniture looked as if nothing had happened. Laura successfully tested a “flybox” that enabled the Internet connection at the villa. I am going back next week to see the difference and report back.

I stopped at my offices in Gustavia to see everyone and to look at the damages. We have lots to do but both offices are open and ready to welcome you.

I stopped by my new St Barth Properties Sotheby’s International Realty sales office to check out the damages and to say hi to Benoit, Pascale, Nadine and Melissa.

That evening, we dined at another casual place, Bistro Josephine, which is on the road towards Shell Beach, not far from my offices. As soon as I opened the door, I saw my dear friend Audrey Ferrari who was the owner of Carpe Diem restaurant until the landlord decided to tear it down in favor of more shops. Audrey described the menu and the specials to us as we sipped our Coupes de Champagne. Once again, we had a delicious meal and had the chance to talk to Jean Paul, the owner. The bistro features a band once in a while; it also has a rear garden where you can dine alfresco. Try it, you’ll love it. We will make the reservations at any of the restaurants for you.

Doc and I are with Audrey and Jean Paul at Bistro Josephine.

November 04, 2017

Another day of reconnaissance found us driving past Grand Cul de Sac Beach, then turning left to view the lagoon from the righthand side. I wanted to see Le Barthélemy hotel and in the distance Le Sereno and Le Guanahani. The colors of the lagoon were as beautiful as ever; the beach looked inviting, too. The hotels are already in recovery – mode but it will take time before they can reopen. We have plenty of villas ready for your arrival. Maybe it’s time you try the Villa Experience. We can arrange every kind of service you may wish to have while you are there.

Next stop: Lorient Beach. We parked in our usual spot and took the footpath by the cemetery onto the beach. I looked to my left to see a very, very wide sandy beach. We walked the beach and realized that it was as wide as it is because the vegetation in front of the houses was gone. I saw homes that I had never seen before. It should all grow back soon. I spotted a woman with her two children playing on the beach near where the surf shack used to be and, as we approached, I realized that it was Hafida, the owner of The Hideaway restaurant. She told us that she is doing her best to reopen in December. I’ll be there in a heartbeat.

Lorient Beach is looking good too.

We had dinner at Eddy’s which had just reopened October 30th. It was quite busy, and we enjoyed seeing Brigitte, Eddy and their son Mahé again. The restaurant itself didn’t suffer any damage. The front garden lost its big tree. Eddy remarked that they were very fortunate because the tree fell across the street instead of onto the restaurant. Our meals were delicious, and I can’t wait to go back.

It is always a pleasure to see Eddy.

November 5, 2017

Today is Sunday. The day of rest is taken seriously by the islanders, so most places are closed. I put on my sneakers, put my Fitbit on my wrist and we headed off to Gustavia for a combination power walk and reconnaissance trip. The bakery in Lorient was open and a coveted parking space was free, so we parked and went in to buy our baguette for sandwich-making, so we could head to the beach with them later.

We stopped to buy our daily fresh baguette at La Petite Colombe in Lorient.

We decided to start our walk towards the other side of Gustavia. A cruise ship was anchored outside of the harbor and passengers had come in by tender. Therefore, a few shops were open. We headed to my offices and saw both the Bagatelle and the Baz Bar were under renovation. They plan on being open in December. Yay! As we continued on, we saw a few places that had been harmed by Irma. The harborside buildings that once held Hervé’s Coté Port and Carole’s Yacht Club were already scheduled to be torn down in favor of more dock space for boats, so no need for repairs there. We walked past the Hôtel de La Collectivité, as handsome as ever, and turned around at the end of that side of the harbor. Minor things such as benches need repair and the palm trees need more fronds.

The Hotel de la Collectivité (city hall) looks great

Reversing our steps, we walked down the other side of the harbor past the ferry dock and fish market. Everything seemed normal. The Voyager ferry had just arrived from St. Martin, taxi drivers were offering island tours to the cruise ship passengers, Le Repaire was open for breakfast and the fish market was intact but not open because it was Sunday. I did see a piece of plywood on the window at Longchamp’s but not much more. Further up the Bar de L’Oubli was open, too.

The Voyager ferry arrived on this quiet Sunday.

The fish market showed no sign of damage.

The afternoon reconnaissance: St. Jean Beach. After packing the cooler, putting beach chairs and an umbrella in the car, we headed to the parking lot across from the beach. The path at the end of the runway, going onto the sand, was wide, once again, because the foliage was gone. Believe it or not, we found a tiny piece of beach where we usually sit, that was shaded by some rejuvenating palm trees.

The sand on the Les Ilets de la Plage side of the beach has come back nicely. I think it is because most of the fence washed away.

We walked the beach towards Eden Rock and saw the damage to Tom Beach, Emeraude Plage and Eden Rock. Lots of work to do there. Tom Beach is already on its way back and expects to be open in December. We saw piles of sand waiting to be spread in various spots along the beach.

The sand at the Eden Rock side of St. Jean Beach is recovering well.

A benefit from Irma is that the better parts of the fences washed away. You can walk the entire beach again. Hope it lasts.

I noticed a few chaise lounges with umbrellas at the spot where Carib Water Play’s booth used to be and stopped to chat with Lucas, Jean Michel’s son. He was open for business! Good to know – 15 euros for a lounge chair and 10 euros for an umbrella – well worth it.

Carib Water Play is open for business.

Lucas is ready to set up your chaise lounge and umbrella, rent you a surf board or give you a windsurfing lesson.

To end the day, we enjoyed a casual Sunday night dinner at Le Vietnam restaurant in Gustavia.

My next blog will be shorter, I promise, and I will tell you more about my adventures post-Irma.

12 Responses to “What does St. Barth look like 8-9 weeks post Hurricane Irma?”

  1. Thanks Peg for the authentic and candid updates and photos. This is just what we all need… to know the real story. So glad you are there and things are coming back together. The people there are amazing, strong and so resilient!

  2. Peg,
    Thank you so much for your comprehensive information about St.Barth’s Recovery process which I have also shared with my husband. You touched upon so many of our favorite places and it so nice to hear that you were planning to dine at all the restaurants who were open for the reasons of their proprietors and all they had to endure throughout the recovery process. My husband and I are determined to return hopefully in 2019 as I had previously expressed to Julia who then was able to connect me my contact here in the states when we are ready to travel. My dream is when the island is truly up and running to find a venue who will appreciate solo violin music as this is what I do and know a lot of French tunes. I realize this is down the road but is my dream. Le Gaic, Le Carl
    Gustaf or L’hotel L’isle de France would be perfect settings!
    So happy to hear and may also use Julia’s VIP service if need be!!
    A Bientot!
    Jodi

    • admin says:

      Bonjour Jodi,

      Thank you for the comment. I hope that you can Live Your Dream by playing in one of St. Barth’s venues. i will be there with bells on.

      Peg

  3. Helen Rose says:

    Thank you so much Peg for such a detailed update on St Barth’s .
    We have holidayed there the last 4 Year’s and have a booking later in March 2018 at Tom Beach hotel for 2 weeks, we have been in contact with them and have been assured that our reservation still stands which we are very happy about.
    I am always trying to find out how everything is going there and your blog has been the best information so far, thank you so much and keep up the good work.
    We are traveling from Australia and incorporating St Barth’s with a cruise out of Miami so as you can imagine we needed to book flights etc , we are all done and looking forward to our time at beautiful St Barth’s .
    Many thanks once again
    Helen Rose

    • admin says:

      Dear Helen,

      Thank you for your comment. You are a real testimonial to how much people love St. Barth by traveling all the way from Australia! I just booked some repeat clients at Tom Beach in March.i drive by the hotel every day and see improvements each time. I will be posting further updates, so please stay tuned and keep reading my blog.
      Peg

  4. Joe and Darlene says:

    Peg, we really enjoyed reading your update. Have also been following the many folks on the St Barth’s Forum as there is a good deal of information there. Darlene and I are booked into Gros Islet in April but coming from Canada looks like an impossibility given that Air Canada and Westjet will not likely be flying to SXM anytime soon. We wonder who flys to SXM from New York maybe as that might work for us without much additional cost. We for sure won’t be interested in going thru SJU or Antigua! Also wonder how Gros Islet is coming with repairs although we have lots of time yet. Fingers are crossed as it’s either St Barths or nothing for us now!

    • admin says:

      Hi Joe and Darlene, Thank you for your comments. Gros Islets is recovering well. It will be fine for your stay. I am going back to Boston for 2 weeks to host Thanksgiving and then back down here again December 01 via San Juan, so I will be posting about that experiences, Jet Blue flies nonstop to SXM departing JFK April 8 at 8:25 am and arriving in SXM at 12:30 pm. The return on April 22, 2018 departs SXM at 1:32 pm and arrives at JFK at 6:04 pm. I hope this information helps,
      Peg

      • Joe and Darlene says:

        Thanks Peg, yes that information helps a lot! We will touch base with Anne Cecile in January for an update on the villa. Hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving and that the Pats continue to win for you!

  5. Thanks for the update. Has us feel a little bit better.

  6. Thanks so much for the update.

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Hurricane Irma Update 4

October 25th, 2017

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

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

Gustavia 10-12-17

Irma before and after 10-13-17

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

Business/Restaurant/Airport/Ferry Info

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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