“St Barths is glamorous even from the air. In 1992, I traveled there for an assignment for US Vogue. I remember seeing the outline of this diminutive island from the tiny propeller-plane transfer from St Maarten, making out the island’s red-roofed villas scattered among the aloe and guaiacum trees – a great distraction before the hair-raising landing.
I’ve since been back for many more photoshoots and vacations. The natural beauty and Gallic flair are what make it such a unique Caribbean island; you can either have a laid-back beach escape or imbibe its boho-hedonistic charm of barefoot dancing on the tables, which is St Barths at its quintessential best.
My favorite place to stay is Villa Amancaya in Anse des Cayes; it’s on one of the island’s highest cliffs with the most spectacular views of the Caribbean. Then there’s Le Sereno hotel, which overlooks Grand Cul-de-Sac, a beautiful cove on the east coast where the water is as still as the hotel’s plunge pool. I love its laid-back vibe and sun-blasted décor – lots of driftwood, hammocks and the island’s best beach hangout, Restaurant des Pêcheurs. But for pure old-school glamour, nothing compares to Hotel Le Toiny and its small collection of villas – the restaurant serves the best lobster fritters in town.
At night, Maya’s in Gustavia is an institution that has been going since the mid-1980s; I love it for its ceviche. For a more low-key vibe, I venture to a tiny restaurant called Santa Fe (+ 590 590 27 61 04), which is tucked away in the hills, so remote and romantic. But my favorite St Barths experience is a picnic on Plage de Saline, which feels so far removed from the usual island scene. There are no restaurants and no crowds. It’s heaven.”
TRAVEL EDITOR’S TIPS: ST BARTHS
The Villa Marie in Colombier is only a couple of years old, but it’s already a firm favorite on the island, appealing to travelers for its super-chic yet intimate atmosphere. There are two villas, Piscine and Saline, which both sleep four and have spectacular views over Flamands Beach.
Hop between remote beaches on the very northwestern tip of St Barths aboard one of Cheval Blanc Isle de France’s yachts or sailboats, for some of the island’s best dive sites and shallow reefs. The hotel reopens this month following a complete redesign by Jacques Grange, and now offers 19 new rooms and suites.
Eden Rock, the celebrated hotel in St Jean Bay, has always been a social focal point of the island, and now its new villa-rental concept means that guests can choose from a collection of private houses located all over the island. They’re run as if you are staying at the hotel itself, with 24-hour concierge service, catering and housekeeping. Our favorite is Villa Ixfalia, perfectly situated between Gouverneur and Saline, a seamless mix of pale blond driftwood, raffia and white linen sofas laid out in a Balinese configuration of interconnecting pagodas. With space for you and seven friends, a private pool, wine cellar and wrap-around views of the ocean, it’s the ultimate good-time guaranteed spot.
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