An overseas collectivity of Frances, Saint-Barthélemy (St. Barth’s for short) has long established itself as the pinnacle jet-set destination of the Caribbean. The treasure-packed island nation is essentially a tropical playground where you’ll find the world’s rich, famous and beautiful blowing air-kisses over glasses of rosé all-year round. Upon first glance, it’s not hard to see why. Between the pristine white-sand beaches, calm turquoise waters, super stylish accommodation, extravagant haute couture and gourmet restaurants, St. Barth’s has all the makings of an elite Caribbean island–with a price tag that certainly lives up to its lofty reputation. However, the magic of this dream-like destination stretches well beyond the surface. The French-speaking enclave combines the chicness and sophistication of Cannes and St-Tropez with the joie de vivre that sweeps through the Caribbean. The result is a destination that’s both exclusive and unpretentious. St. Barth’s has a specific brand of laid-back luxury that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in the world.
Where to Stay
Comfortable accommodation isn’t hard to come by in St. Barth’s. The extravagant island certainly lives up to its lofty reputation that attracts a discerning clientele. Comfortably nestled between the crystal clear-waters of the Caribbean Sea and Pointe Milou, Hotel Christopher is a refined tropical retreat. The property offers a French-colonial design, expansive swimming area, indulgent spa treatments and gourmet food options. On the other hand, Le Guanahani is more like your own private beach enclave. 30 rooms, 27 suites and 10 signature suites are spread out over 18 secluded tropical acres on its own peninsula. Check out the Luxury Hotel Guide for St. Barth’s for a complete breakdown on where to stay across the Caribbean island nation.
Where to Dine
Perhaps no restaurant better defines St. Barth’s than La Case de L’Isle. Simple, light and elegant, the signature restaurant of Cheval Blanc Isle de France Palace Hotel has quickly become one of the most sought-after dining establishments in all of St. Barth’s. Imagined by Chef Yann Vinsot, this al-fresco restaurant serves exquisite French cuisine interpreted with a Caribbean touch. A selection of more than 150 carefully-selected French wines and champagnes harmoniously complement the colorful flavors and delicious aromas. The relaxed and convivial atmosphere is further bolstered with breathtaking views of the Caribbean waters with nearby islands in the distance. Check out our Restaurant Guide to St. Barth’s for a more detailed list of options.
What to Do
Between its gingerbread-trimmed cottages, upmarket restaurants and historical sites, Gustavia, the capital of St. Barth’s, is bursting to the seams with life. On the famous Rue de la Republique, you’ll find well-heeled guests hopping from one designer shop to the next as they peer into the yacht-filled harbor on the other side. St. Jean is characterized by a slower pace of life in the form of laid-back beach bars, powder-soft sand and bohemian boutiques. Trimming the coastline of St. Barth’s are 22 white sand beaches, all open to the public, offering everything from kitesurfing to prime tanning sessions. During the holiday season, St. Barth’s transforms itself into the pinnacle destination to be. In December, the annual Christmas Village is set up at the Port of Gustavia to showcase handicrafts of local artisans, mouthwatering delicacies, live music and joyous festivities. This is followed by the New Year’s Regatta, a traditional sailing race organized around the island for fun. At night, get ready for the dazzling firework display over the harbor which can be enjoyed from anywhere in the immediate area. Expect to find many buzzing events and exclusive parties kicking off–both on land and on board. No matter where you find yourself in St. Barth’s during the holiday season, expect live entertainment and a few glasses of champagne.
What to Wear
For 11 months of the year, St. Barth’s is the epitome of casual: no jacket, no shoes, no invite, no problem. The dress code is generally a casual bastion of chic resort style that’s both comfortable and on-trend. Around the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year’s Eve, St. Barth’s transforms into the place to see and be seen. During the holiday season, you’re bound to run into more socialites clutching their Birkin bags than sandy bohemians. While the resort style may still reign supreme during the day, take notes from the chicness of the French Riviera when it comes to eveningwear. This Zimmermann Corsage Linear Mini is a carefree option under the sweltering heat, whereas these Jimmy Choo Mischa 85 Sandals and Jimmy Choo Callie Clutch Bag offer a refined touch to your night ensemble that will take you through cocktails and celebrations. Striking that perfect mix between elegant and effortless can be quite tricky. Take a peak through our Style Sheet for St. Barth’s for a thorough guide of how to pull it off right.