ST. BARTHS? SENSATIONAL

ST. BARTHS? SENSATIONAL

The Jet Set getaway is still the go-to choice for many honeymooners. It has everything and more that you could ever want, discovers our intrepid traveler Kristen O’Brien, who shares her barefoot luxury point of view while staying at Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf.

If you are seeking some R&R after a busy wedding season, with ample sun and beach time, with a dash of glitz and glamour, not to mention an incredibly romantic setting, then Saint Barthélemy, aka St. Barts or à la française. St. Barths, the jewel of the Antilles, does not disappoint. The “season” on the island is long, from early November until the end of August when most hotels shutter for the hurricane season. The height of the season is between Thanksgiving and the New Year, when the population of almost 10,000 grows to include a who’s who of monied and well-heeled globe trotters with their yachts on full display in Gustavia’s harbor.

Nestled on a hill above the port of Gustavia, is the capital of St. Barth. The Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf St Barth overlooks one of the most spectacular bays in the Caribbean. Designed by renowned French firm Gilles & Boissier, the five-star resort exudes luxury, elegance, and French-style charm throughout its 21 rooms, suites, and bungalows that all face the ocean. The bungalows have plunge pools, and the 5-bedroom Villa Diane comes with a private chef and butler. The colonial-style Carl Gustaf was built in the 1970s and purchased by the Barrière Group in 2016.

With a roster of luxury properties all over France, including Cannes and Courchevel as well as Marrakech, and the recently opened Hotel Fouquet’s in New York, this was their first venture into the Caribbean. Renovations had to be halted in 2017 due to Hurricane Irma, and therefore, it wasn’t until late 2020 that they finally reopened. The hotel has a chic, French ambiance yet also fits in with the island’s laid-back atmosphere, while still offering all the necessities and luxury one could desire. Pricing for the villa starts at just under $19,000 per night, and for the other accommodations, some rooms are available during the low season for $781 a night.

Le Carl Gustaf offers a newly opened restaurant on site, an “haute couture” meat bar aptly named Beefbar, where guests can savor dishes such as Wagyu steak and Kobe prosciutto, an exclusive menu item developed by founder Riccardo Giradui. There are fresh and light options on the Leaf & Reef, including the iconic Miso Spinach or the refreshing Hamachi Crudo. And of course, a mouth-watering signature Soufflé rounds out the meal. All while enjoying the warm tropical breeze and view of twinkling lights below in Gustavia.

What’s wonderful at the Carl Gustaf is that you don’t need a car and can walk to most of the places you’d want to go…a fabulous beach restaurant and club at Shell Beach, the cute boutiques and haute couture shops of Gustavia, the trendy bars and other incredible restaurants like Bonito, Bagatelle, and Orega, are all walkable if you don’t mind climbing down a steep hill…and up again. The hotel provides electric bicycles for their guests, and a car service to the ferry or airport, the stellar concierge team can organize taxis to other destinations on the island. A great place to start your trip is at Shellona, the private beach club and Greek restaurant on Shell Beach, a quick five-minute walk from the hotel and where guests can easily get a day bed and soak up the sun, enjoy an Aperol, mix with interesting people from around the globe, and watch one of the best sunsets on the island. Like most of the beach restaurants on St. Barts, and there are 22 beaches on the island, there is usually a DJ on site creating a carefree party vibe similar to what you’d expect to find in Ibiza or Mykonos.

Another key benefit of staying at the Carl Gustaf? All the pampering and treatments you can dream of on-site at the Spa Diane Barrière, which offers multi-sensory and bespoke holistic treatments, facials, mani-pedis, and tailored massages in three massage rooms, as well as a fitness and yoga studio. Other activities the hotel offers or can coordinate, besides the electric bikes and aqua bikes, include a Catamaran sailing excursion, water sports, hiking tours, picnics, and fishing.

If you can pull yourself away from the tranquility and pampering at Carl Gustaf then head into Gustavia for shopping at Louis Vuitton, Dior, Prada, and adorable local boutiques, like Poupette, Lolita Jaca, and Sea Memory. There are also 40 quartiers to discover and so many places to swim, snorkel, hike, enjoy top-notch culinary delights, and dance the night away. No other place compares when it comes to chic and cozy, where you can feel the warm Caribbean breezes, view the stunning water, islands, and mountains, as well as the colorful Caribbean buildings dotted with Swedish architecture and churches. One can hear the church bells ringing, the bleating of the cabris, the mourning doves chirping, and by nightfall, the katydids. St. Barts is a magical place that enchants the senses. The Island is luxurious but understated, although nothing is understated in its stunning beauty and impeccable hospitality.