St. Barthélemy

The Tig Archives 09 / 22 / 2014

More commonly known as St. Barths, and most generally associated with the yachting, sweater over the shoulder crowd, who sip fine champagne, wear high heeled stilettos with their bikinis, and probably speak French – even if only to ask for la carte des vins. This exists here. But so do relaxed locals, a Francophile sensibility that is just as island-esque as it is chic, quiet beaches, authentic creole food, and a place where strolls down cobblestone streets and visits to French pharmacies rival those found in Paris. On my trip to St. Barths, I opted for the latter with a healthy dose of swanky goodness peppered throughout. Bienvenue à St. Barths!

Check in to the boutique chic Hotel Taïwana, which with its recent renovation tucks quietly into a cliff in Flamands Beach where you are close enough to the action but removed enough to find respite from the bustling crowd that will make their way to Bagatelle for late night jaunts. With a spa on site, and a convivial staff (especially the summer interns who are beyond accommodating), this place easily transitions into a home away from home. The Hermes products in the white washed rooms certainly trump the products I have at home, but when in St. Barths it only feels right…

From Flamands, with its large pebbled seafront, pack a picnic and hike along the coast for a half hour to Colombier Beach, where after cliffside trekking you will find yourself in a mostly secluded bay, accessible only by boat. It’s the closest you will get to The Blue Lagoon in St. Barths, with soft white sand and cerulean waters lapping at your feet. It’s a picture perfect first day – and a great place to read a book, do some yoga, or truly vacate.

Dinner at Hotel Taïwana is delicious with the fresh lobsters grilled perfectly and accompanied by a bottle of rosé and cruciferous vegetables. The coconut sorbet with thick shavings of coconut is worth saving room for. Keep in mind, the island is French, so the cuisine reflects that – simple ingredients prepared skillfully and with a finesse that is très français.

After a restful sleep, wake up to a delicious breakfast al fresco on your patio, check some emails, and then explore – this was our chance to see what the locals do, which in my estimation is what travel is all about. Venture to Grand Saline Beach where I can only describe the ocean as playful. With waves that tease you, I was the mermaid my friends could not drag out of the sea. With the exception of a rogue nudist galavanting along the seashore, we were the only people on the beach, and it felt blissful.

The best part of Saline is perhaps that it’s a stones throw from Le Grain de Sel, an authentic Caribbean restaurant serving up creole classics. Do not miss this food gem, where the bites are as transportive as the vacation itself. For the fashionistas, Gustavia is where the action is – every high end boutique you can think of exists there, but if you’re like me, you will do some window shopping and save your shekels to grab a drink at nearby Shell beach, where the sand is truly blanketed in shells of all sizes. Wind down your day with dinner at the incredible Jean Georges restaurant in the Eden Rock hotel. The cocktails are tremendous, and the view is ode worthy with spotlights cascading into the dark blue waters. The food is exceptional, highlighting island flavors with an Asian twist as only JG can do.

After three nights of this girls getaway, we take in the view one last time before traveling by Jeep to the airport, where the pilot allowed me to sit in the front with him on our puddle jump back to St. Maarten for our layover. Without question, St. Barths remains an ultra luxury destination, but with a little scouring, you can find a respite from the fancy fray or dive right in – whatever your pleasure, this island does seem to have it all.