Free to Roam – It feels like the best dream ever!
There was something very inspiring about my first international trip in almost one full year! Now, several weeks later, it truly feels like a fabulous dream! It felt like a rebirth… going from my warm and cozy cocoon in New Jersey, to breaking out of my shell and going back out into the world. I was busting out like a butterfly! It felt like traveling for the very first time, a little like Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”….yet it felt strangely familiar. It reminded me a bit of my life-transforming experience in India over 15 years ago. My senses were heightened, and the experience was more even more vivid than usual. A little like an Instagram-filtered dream, all in slow motion.
The short Tradewind Aviation flight out of San Juan was easy with VIP service, where they take your passport, COVID test results and luggage while you wait in the lounge until boarding time. The 60-minute flight is a breeze, and my favorite part is when you begin your descent and spot the red roofed villas among the lush green hills, the multitude of coves of the lightest sky blue water perfectly spotted with white yachts and sailboats and white sandy beaches. You glide down to the tiny landing strip and land in paradise! Coming from cold winter weather, as we stepped onto the tarmac, the feeling of freedom overcame me as the warm Caribbean breeze started blowing all around me and through my hair–enveloping me and welcoming me.
As we left the airport, we were greeted by several young and eager drivers holding a sign for Le Barthelemy Hotel & Spa. We were almost home!
As we approached the circular driveway with the wonderful water wall emblazoned with the name: Le Barthelemy, Patrice Lantier, our General Manager and all the team ran out to greet us with “Welcome home!” Whisked into the open air lobby and offered a cool drink, we immediately felt like we had arrived in heaven on earth with the birdcage style swings in the lobby, all overlooking the gorgeous light blue water of the bay of Grand Cul de Sac. We were off to our rooms to get ready to enjoy this gorgeous open air beach front property.
Le Barthelemy was truly the best property to visit for my first trip! Everything about the hotel has an outdoor component with the exception of the Spa by La Mer. We were kindly offered a massage and as it was my first massage in months and the ambiance of the spa is very inviting and warm–it felt even more relaxing and healing.
My room faced the beautiful infinity pool and the bay, so I could see all that was going on from the second floor, which is my favorite vantage point. I love these rooms as they all have vaulted ceilings with that give the room the feeling of being even larger than they already are. My room featured white louvered woodwork throughout the room and bathroom with shutters separating the bedroom and bathroom which brilliantly showcases the sea view from the bathroom. I love this design concept and have often wondered why more hotels don’t incorporate the same.
The staff were so friendly, as always, and the team offered us a tremendous number of special gifts and amenities each and every night while we were there.
I was more mindful and observant on this first trip in a while. The entire St. Barth’s experience was just a bit more Zen! The island was a more low key, which I loved, as social distancing was being considered and therefore hard partying was discouraged during COVID. Don’t be mistaken, it was still incredibly fun and exciting but just more low key.
We had the chance to take yoga classes outdoors with Anouk, who was a wonderful teacher! It was a truly zen experience — again keeping with the style of Le Barthelemy! Overlooking the bay and beach, with the gentle breeze and flowing sea…it is the ideal spot to enjoy this mindful and meditative practice.
Sitting outdoors on the beach or at Aux Amis Plage, the beach restaurant where you can have lunch with your feet in the sand, is wonderful! We also had a lobster dinner one night on the beach with we a live guitar player and singer whose name is Soleil. He is a well known artist on the island and is very entertaining.
Can we talk champagne? There was lots of champagne whether on the beach just sitting in the sun on our first afternoon, almost every evening and is a “thing” on St. Barth’s!
One of our most memorable meals was our welcome dinner that also coincided with a gorgeous full moon. It couldn’t have been a more ideal arrival! The amazing sommelier created a pairing menu just for our group, starting off with champagne and moving on to wine, which were all from vineyards owned by our hotel owners. Each was better than the next. They featured an incredible selection including the Abyss, from Le Clerc Briant a biodynamic champagne house which creates very unique styles of Champagne. This particular one is a special concept where the bottles are stored submerged in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of northern France to age for 1-1.5 years. The cuisine was outstanding as well!
A highlight of our trip was a half day on a yacht that was an outstanding time. Each of us had an incredible time in the sun, with the breeze blowing and sea flowing! We stopped at several beaches where we were able to swim and enjoy the clearest blue water and skies. It was a perfect afternoon. Afterwards a few of us walked around Gustavia to peruse the lovely shops and sights.
I took some time to swim in the bay as well as the pool, both of which were lovely. The water in the bay is calm and quite warm even in January! The pool is warmer and you feel as though you are swimming into the sea, as the way it has been designed, you look right into the sea and the underwater sound system is such a thoughtful concept and enhances the overall ethereal feeling! The vibe at the pool and pool bar is relaxed but fun, yet very inviting for all.
When a snow storm in New York forced me to stay an additional night, I must admit I was not at all sorry! I was so thankful that my travel advisor was able to help and guide me through the changes and get me home safely the following day! I was so happy to take in another day, grateful for the entire experience and tried to capture even more of the sun and beauty all around to hold me through the last few months of cold winter in New Jersey.
All the advisors who joined me adored Le Barthelemy! It is such a wonderful welcoming and relaxed ambiance yet with a style of refinement and sophistication. We hated to leave our friendly team and home in St. Barth’s. But I know I will be back again soon. We can’t wait to send even more wonderful clients soon and know this will be an exceptional year in St. Barth’s, a little bit of France in the Caribbean…. My favorite island!