Jet Setting in St. Barths
St Barths is a popular choice for some of our clients, and especially couples looking for a special getaway. What makes St Barths so special?
After all, there’s a wide choice of islands to visit in the Caribbean, and St Barths is only about eight square miles in size.
Like many Caribbean vacation destinations, St Barths serves up some fabulous beaches, there are a number of great hotels and restaurants and great shopping. Another characteristic is the safety factor. There’s no poverty and hardly any unemployment. Perhaps it is these elements that make St Barths such a special Caribbean vacation choice.
The island’s hilly and dry topography was not conducive to building plantations, and as a result there was no need for slaves by the European settlers. In the 1970’s the jet setters discovered the island, built over-the-top villas on the hillsides, and since then St Barth’s became the St. Tropez of the Caribbean.
Getting to the island is its own adventure! The runway is tiny, and you need to fly to St Maarten, Antigua or San Juan and then fly on a small aircraft into St Barth’s. (The most frequent service is between St Maarten and St Barths.) Because the runway is short and on an incline, the pilot has to descend nose down, cut the engine, ’drop’ the airplane safely into the runway, and hit the brakes hard. It’s easier to land on an aircraft carrier than at St Barths airport, and only 100 or so pilots are certified to land here.
Interest in vacations to St Barths continues to increase, especially during the peak season between Thanksgiving through spring. There are not many hotels on the island, and most are small, so you need to plan way ahead, up to a year in advance if considering travel for the holidays. A check on availability last weekend (now low season) found most hotels full.
The best way to explore the island is to rent a vehicle. The four best beaches are Gouverneurs, Salines, St Jean and Flamands. As for dining: the hotel restaurants are very good, including Hotel St Barths Isle de France, Guanahani, Eden Rock, and at the Christopher. In addition there’s Isola in Gustavia and Maya’s, which is an institution and beloved by locals and visitors.