Colleen and Jim's 2nd St Barts Honeymoon

My husband and I married in September of 1987.  While looking at a Travel and Leisure magazine, my husband stumbled upon an article about a small, beautiful French island somewhere in the Caribbean.  That intrigue led us to choose St Barts for our honeymoon. We did some homework about the island; as much as two twenty somethings could do without the internet, google, email, and the 24-7 world we live in today; and we chose to stay at L’Hibiscus in Gustavia.  We had a wonderful trip. As it is now, September was a quiet month on the island. We were the only guests staying at L’Hibiscus. We visited several beaches, shopped a bit, and spent time exploring the island.

Fast forward thirty-one years – we decided to return to St Barts.  We were excited to visit the island again. We were also curious to see just how different it would be.  We knew that St Barts is now well known as a travel destination, especially during the winter season. We also knew that it is known as a playground for the rich and famous.  We also considered the effects of Hurricane Irma from last year in deciding where to stay.

We stayed in the Flamands area of the island.  The villa we chose was Flamands Blue. We reached out to the owner, Jeff McGrew, in early August.  He promptly answered our questions regarding flight time guidelines between St Maarten and St Barts, mosquitos in the area, and villa amenities such as grills and pools.  The villa has a jacuzzi; not a pool or a hot tub. We found it to be quite nice. The temperature was comfortably warm (not hot) and very roomy for two. It is located a few steps from the master bedroom.

We left Baltimore before the crack of dawn and headed to Miami.  From Miami we flew to St Maarten. Our flights were on time. We arrived in Miami a little after three.  Our flight to St Barts was with St Barth Commuter at 4:15. We felt that was cutting it a little close with the situation of the Princess Julianna Airport in St Maarten.   Consequently, we used the VIP services of Easyway-SBH. We were met in St Maarten by Jerry and in St Barts by Franc. Both men couldn’t have been nicer. They had our boarding passes for us, handled our luggage, and guided us through immigration.  Well worth the cost of the service!

Next stop was the rental car area of the airport.  We rented through Gumbs Car Rental. Odile was the woman we worked with.  We had emailed prior to our trip and had reserved a car. Again, a pleasant non -stressful situation.

We made our way to the villa, Flamands Blue.  Driving was definitely a bit of a surprise. The roads are very narrow with twist and turns.  There are also many steep roads on the island. During our visit we encountered scooters zipping along and many construction vehicles.  The villa manager, Diana, met us there. She showed us around the villa, shared a few helpful hints about restaurants that were currently open, and left us with a lovely tray of fruit, breads, and cheeses.  We also ran into her one afternoon and spent some time talking about our trip, our impressions of the island, and how much the island has changed since our last visit. She was friendly and easy to talk with.

The villa was comfortable and VERY clean.  The upper floor, consisting of kitchen, living room, and powder room, had wonderful views of Flamands Beach.  Sliding glass doors provided lots of natural daylight. There was a grill and table/chairs outside on the wraparound deck. It was relaxing to sit out there and listen to the ocean waves.   We ate most of our breakfasts outside; enjoying both our pastries and the lovely view of the mountainside and Flamands Beach. We usually jumped in the car and drove up the hill to La Petite Colombe Bakery for breakfast goodies and took them back to eat at the villa.  Flamands Blue has air conditioning, which in our opinion is a huge perk! It worked well and was so nice to have. The lower level consisted of the bedrooms and bathrooms. There are three bedrooms. We used one bedroom, since there were only two of us. However, a group could stay there and be comfortable.  We did enjoy the shower in the master bath – a wonderful view. The terrace, where the jacuzzi and lounge chairs are located, is accessed from two of the bedrooms.

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One afternoon we walked from the villa to Flamands Beach.  It was an easy walk down to the beach. Not quite as easy on the way back, due to the steepness of the hill.  But we managed with no problem! The waves were fairly strong that day. There is a good deal of construction going on.  Hurricane Irma hit that area hard. The hotel, Cheval Blanc - Isle de France is being rebuilt. It will certainly be beautiful when completed.  Guests of Flamands Blue have access to beach chairs and pool at the hotel in season.

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We were able to visit many of the beaches on the island.  They were beautiful. We swam at Flamands, Saline, St Jean, and Gouveneur.  We also drove around the island to visit the other beaches. We stopped at Toiny and Grand Fond.  They are on the eastern, less developed end of the island. We visited Lorient Beach one morning. We were there a short while before a rain shower chased us away, but not until we finished our croissants from La Choisy Boulangerie!  

View during Hike to Colombier Beach

We hiked to Colombier Beach the day of our anniversary.  We packed a picnic lunch. We enjoyed seeing the wild goats and awesome views on the hike.  All the beaches we visited were not crowded. We saw three other people while we were at Columbier.  Traveling during the off season you find fewer people around. However, there are also less restaurants and shops open.  Additionally, it is hurricane season. We knew that would be the case when we visited.


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One afternoon we explored the streets of Gustavia; checked out Le Select and Shell Beach, had a great lunch at La Gloriette, hiked to the lighthouse and cross, took numerous pictures, and did a little shopping.  We loved the home store in Public.

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We used the kitchen at Flamands Blue for many of our meals.  We found it contained all the necessities: coffee pot, microwave, cookware, and dishwasher.  The maids did a nice job of cleaning the villa. We happened to be there a few times they came; they were friendly, efficient, and pleasant to chat with.  Some of our meals out included breakfast at Le Jardin, dinners at Les Bananiers, and Quartier General. Les Bananiers, which was very close to the villa, had good meals and a comfortable atmosphere.  We enjoyed our dinner at Quartier General; especially the fruit tart and the vanilla rhum!

On the last day of our visit we drove to the area of St Barts where Grand Cul-de-Sac, Petit Cul-de Sac and Marigot are located.  We did not swim or wade at any of these beaches. There is much on-going construction. The effects of Hurricane Irma are evident there.  However, we did take lots of pictures of the beaches and coves.

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Our trip to celebrate our 31st anniversary was wonderful.  We had safe travels, no injuries, lovely accommodations, and good weather.  We found the people of St Barts to be welcoming and friendly. We feel fortunate that we were able to make this trip.  It is easy to see why many are return visitors to St Barts. It is a little piece of paradise! We hope to be back.

The island has been busy...

Summer is a great time to come.   The ocean is flatter (better snorkeling) there are fewer Americans, no cruise ships or crowds.   You can go out to one of the secluded beaches and those steps can be just yours.

The weather is about the same with less breeze but the villa is up high and there is almost always at least some there.  Of course Flamands Blue has full AC.

Great rates, too....love to have you,

Jeff

 

 

The Island Now / April 2018

We've had Guests to the villa almost every week since December (mostly repeaters), and we're looking forward to a having more over the spring, summer and fall.

Typically we transfer though St Maarten (SXM) on the way to St Barts but this trip we tried something many of our Guests have raved about, Tradewind, out of Puerto Rico direct to St Barts from (SJU).  It was easy since you don't clear Immigration in PR since it's the US and the service is VIP.   A photo of the executive lounge in SJU. 

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Amazing, but St Barts appears almost 90% recovered from the hurricane last fall----it's most parts of the island you would never guess there was storm although some places are still repairing and renovating.

Grocery stores were completely stocked with fresh goods and most restaurants had re-opened.

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Beaches are pristine as usual and careful restoration of the dunes has been happening as well.

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Caroline & Jeff March 2018 trip

We often come this time of year on one of our two or three annual trips to St Barts.  The island was gorgeous as usual.

First morning my wife having coffee with her views as I return from the bakery

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Even though our maintenance staff is great I still look forward to touching up little things. Here replacing the hand deck shower that we and Guests use to was sandy feet from the beach below before entering the villa.

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First "toes in the sand" after breakfast to check one of our favorite beaches.

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Evenings we walked the harbor and dined nearby, beautiful sailboats added to the scene.

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We stopped by for lunch at one our favorite spots at a hotel on the next beach over from Flamands which was just re-opening from renovation.

Our daughter Heidi joined us mid trip and we spent a nice afternoon over on St Jean where we lounged, had lunch and Heidi took a paddleboard out past the reefs.

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Out to see the sailboats, we took a day trip on a beautiful Catamarran.  Lunch, watching the boats, swimming, good wine and music.

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Watching the other sailing yachts up close is always a thrill.

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We spent most of the trip on a regular routine.....breakfast (sometimes lunch) at the villa, beaches out for beautiful dining in the evenings.  Do we ever get tired of returning to the place?  No way

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One of our last afternoons we spent a the entire one over at Shell Beach at a beautiful beachfront restaurant....good food, and nice swims.

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Like a few other days, our last one we hiked to out spectacular Colombier beach....a great way to cap the trip. 

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Caroline & Jeff's post Irma Vacation.

We were looking forward to this trip.  Transfer through St Maarten was easy and as usual we were excited to fly in over the harbor.

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Flamands Blue had slight damage from the storm, but our excellent staff arranged to have the villa repaired, cleaned, painted top to bottom inside out and it looked like a brand new place!

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Some of the large hotels were not yet opened but all the beaches had been cleaned and were beautiful.

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We spent a lot of time at the beaches this trip.

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We walked down the sidewalk to our favorite little pizza place in Flamands. The pizza maker is the best on the island and the thin crust is delicious.

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For lunch most days we got carry out and just came back to the villa and enjoyed the view.

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We took a 1/2 day snorkeling trip on Jicky Marine which was beautiful.  

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This is an excellent operation and we've known the owners for years, they always take great care of our guests.  Our skipper and his assistant this trip were great as usual.

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We took advantage of some of the fine dining on the island.  Black Ginger was very good

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Several other favorites such as Le Tamarrin with the beautiful gardens.

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This gorgeous setting is always one of our favorites.

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Whie we were there we added to our night lighting making it even a little more romantic in the gardens near the Jacuzzi off the master suite.

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An excellent week on St Barts!

Great dining, beaches and our a pic our last night in the warm Jacuzzi showing some of the night lights with the along with the full moon rising over the Flamands Hilliside.

Have great trips to our favorite island this season, Jeff & Caroline

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Trundle Family Easter Vacation

We'd wanted to come to St Barts with the family, but did not want to spend a fortune in a hotel, when we found Flamands Blue we knew it would be perfect.  Jeff (and his manager) helped with everything to plan our trip which came off like a dream.

Jeff set us up with a boat rental for the day----we explored this beautiful island from the sea.

The colors of the sea of St Barts were so beautiful they looked fake!

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We followed Jeff's instructions and hiked all over the island as well.   This one was out to the natural pools. Kids and parents LOVED it!

The villa was perfect in every way, even though we did not spend a whole lot of time there.

This was our favorite lunch----Jeff's friend's place called Santa Fe....Gorgeous views to go along with the dining.

Just a perfect St Barth vacation, we'll definitely return and tell friend's, too.

Caroline, Jeff and Heidi's trip: March 2017

A few photos from yet another memorable one!  For our God-daughter, Heidi it's her 7th trip, she tells us she is "completely hooked" on St Barts!

First day, my wife Caroline and Heidi heading off to their spa appointment.

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Caroline later in the trip at the Cheval Blanc Spa down from the villa with her favorite person.

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This was such a great time, we spent the afternoon with friends (along with new ones) on a Catamarran ride, swimming, eating, paddle boarding and as you can see here the ladies dancing.

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This was such a great time, we spent the afternoon with friends (along with new ones) on a Catamarran ride, swimming, eating, paddle boarding and as you can see here the ladies dancing.

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We had a beautiful lunch and spent the rest of the afternoon by the gorgeous pool at the new hotel, Le Barthelemy on Grand Cul de Sac.    It's one of the most beautiful settings on the island and the staff here is tops.  Diana, closest in the photo is our Villa Manager and came along with us this nice afternoon.

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This was yet another great lunch after a morning on Gouvanier Beach we went back up on the hillside for an outstanding lunch at Santa Fe with views to die for

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Our next open full open week is June 26 –- Summer is great on St Barts, uncrowded, very European...we also have a few days open at the end of May. Contact me for details! 

–Jeff

Jenn & Ben's Christmas/New Years' Trip 2017

We took a needed break from our busy medical research careers to have a 2 week trip to St Barts over the holidays.   It was our 2nd time to this beautiful island.  First trip,  we met Jeff when we arrived in St Maarten, trying to find our flight to St Barth when the airport was being re-configured---for a pair of tired travelers it was not something we could navigate.  Jeff introduced himself,  guided us through immigration, baggage, customs and to our flight like a personal assistant.  We stayed at a nice hotel but knew next trip we'd like a private villa...he may have not remembered that he gave us a card 5 years prior.  We checked the Flamands Blue website and knew that it was exactly where we wanted to have this vacation.


Since the villa was has two separate suites we invited our very good friends to come with us for week in the middle of our trip.    They loved it!

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It was fun to show them about what was becoming "our" island.


We did the beaches.

We spent time just hanging out---in this case over pre-dinner drinks.


Fine dining....here at Eden Roc


Danced in Gustavia to great music on the harbor.

We hiked all over the island but found the views off the natural pools such a gorgeous place to be.


Along with plenty of "romantique" time to remember this trip, and plan our next one.

The villa, staff, and location were perfect!  We'll definitely be back....

Bucket Regatta Trip 2016

This trip was something we'd not done before: a full house, using all three bedrooms with all of us at our Flamands Blue. Caroline and I invited our good friends Bill and Susan from Phily. They've vacationed at our villa several times before over the years and came down a week prior....sent us this beautiful "teaser" pic from the deck.

They spent the next four nights with us, with Sancere in the frig when we arrived. Along, too was our may-as-well-be daughter, Heidi from Chicago, on her 5th trip---who's now "addicted" to St Barth she tells us.

Some of you may remember her as one of the "Big Girls" and cliff jumper on the trip with sister back in '12.

Heidi & Julie Sisters' Trip May, 2012

First night we all went to 25 Quarter in Gustavia which was very good---we'd all really looked forward to this trip and the company was outstanding! The three of us on the right had been going since about 4am....no problem, we were on vacation!

Next was a lunch and spa day for the ladies at Isle de France (still call it that) which many believe is the best on the island. Staff at their spa remains the same from year to year and is quite attentive.

Wonderful next day on the boat---excellent company (Jeanette, Dennis and Diana were in our group, too) viewing the gorgeous Bucket Regatta racing yachts, ending with lunch/drinks and swimming at beautiful Colombier.

A day simply does not get any better than this and our skipper could not have made things finer, either.

Skipper put out the paddleboard, some of us tried-----it's little harder than it looks.

Next morning Heidi made us all this tasty breakfast vegetarian frittata....Mimosas, along with the company and our views were so nice to share.

Afterward, we walked down to spend a lazy afternoon at Hotel Tiawana with a perfect lunch then swimming and napping in their lounges.

We've found the management here to be very accommodating at this beautiful setting on the beach.

Snapped this pic as we were leaving...I contemplated waking her but I asked my friend Bill who advised to let her sleep. It was that kind of day....later she woke and walked back up to the villa.

Bill and Susan told us we had to have the fish sandwich here at O'Corial----it along with French fries and Caribs were SO, good!


A local, long-time folk singer here sings one with words "I go to bed now when I used to go out".
After dinner with us, Heidi met friends & went out to Le Ti or BAZ most nights.
Thanks also to Jeanette & Dennis for looking out for her.

A chill day for us, but Heidi went rock climbing next morning & swimming near the natural pools.

Our fine dining experience and it did not disappoint, whatsoever. Our finest meal along with the ambiance & service, an establishment that simply does everything right.

This day we all went for a long lunch at Do Brazil and swim/relax down on the beach.
Friend and Manager David took great care of us, as always.

Heidi's last day she and Caroline planned another spa massage. I met them afterward for Rose down on the plage. The result....do these ladies look relaxed and happy or what?

Does this vacation have to be over??
Heidi left a day before us and took this beautiful last morning walk down Flamands.


After we took Heidi to the airport, I spent the afternoon with some ongoing maintenance. Good friend DDA stopped by to help with a new (US/Euro interface issue) kitchen faucet omitted from last fall's new counter work. Later that evening we had dinner with he and Diana at Eddy's.

Love this one, even though it was a busy vacation, my wife certainly looks like she has the "St Barts Glow" coming out of the sea with Heidi on Flamands Beach.

We've had so many wonderful ones on St Barth in the last 20 years (15 at our villa) but this one will be remembered as one of our best, ever.

Jeff
Flamands Blue

Sharon and Brian's Honeymoon

After getting engaged, we quickly realized that we were much more excited about planning the honeymoon than the wedding. When we decided on St. Barts, we spent hours looking at hotel and villa options. Ultimately, we reached out to the great community at SBH Online, and were pointed in the direction of Flamands Blue. We knew that it was meant to be, as Jeff’s villa had already caught our eye in our initial search. Everyone simply raved about it, and we tried to keep our expectations in check. Well, Jeff and the villa offered by far the best honeymoon experience we could have imagined. It was an easy flight into St. Maarten, and the excitement really began when we boarded our St. Barts Commuter flight. We were the only “first timers” on our flight, and we could tell we were in for a treat by speaking with our fellow passengers. The mood was entirely different than it had been on our large flight to St. Maarten - these people were ready to have some fun! I was practically the co-pilot, and we got to see an amazing aerial view of our home for the next week.

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Everyone was incredibly helpful in directing us to the the villa (although Jeff also provided excellent directions), and we got there without a hitch. Diana made us feel right at home, and we were so incredibly impressed by our accommodations. The photos don’t do it justice, and the view is one of the most spectacular around! We decided to head into Gustavia to have a nice, low-key night because we were still a little tired from our day of traveling. We’d had several people tell us that Bagatelle had terrific food and a fun atmosphere. Little did we know that the “fun” atmosphere translates into dancing on tables and group sing-alongs. We ended up staying out much later than we anticipated, but we had a blast watching (and participating) in all of the fun. An evening here was such a great way to start the trip.

The following day, we took Jeff’s advice and picked up croissants from the little bakery just up the hill. Enjoying the delicious pastries every morning on the villa terrace became one of our favorite things about our stay. We also discovered that they have delicious (and affordable) sandwiches for lunch!

We decided to spend the day exploring the island, and broke out our map and sunscreen. We made it to 10 beaches on the first day, and had such a good time navigating around and seeing the whole island. It was a great way to decide where to revisit on the following days.

We spent the next few days lounging on all of the island’s beautiful beaches - it was so hard to pick a favorite! Flamands is definitely one of the best around, and it’s so nice to be able to walk from the villa. We also discovered that Shell beach has great swimming, and wonderful restaurant to pop into in case of a rain shower and emergency glass of wine!

We’re so glad that Jeff told us about the hikes that are available on the island, as these are some of our best memories! Colombier is absolutely breathtaking, and we spent an incredible afternoon there.

The hike to the natural pools was incredible in itself - we felt like real adventurers! The pools were a wonderful reward to reach at the end of our journey.

The next day was spent soaking up some serious luxury at Cheval Blanc Isle de France. It’s a stunning hotel, and just down the hill from Flamands Blue. It’s definitely worth the splurge to enjoy lunch there and take advantage of their beach loungers for the day.

While on the island, we met some of the members of the SBH online community. They were so friendly and welcoming, and even invited us to their sunset watching “party” at the lighthouse in Gustavia. We felt like we were part of the crew, and can’t wait to be on our 20th trip showing the island around to newbies like us one day!

On our final day, we planned a return visit to Colombier. This time, at Jeff’s recommendation, we booked a trip on a chartered catamaran with Jicky Marine. It was incredible to see Gustavia and Colombier from the perspective of being out in the water, and we had such a blast snorkeling.

There were 3 other couples on the boat with us, and two of them were also honeymooning! We hit it off so well, that we agreed to meet at Baglatelle that night for our send-off party. Again, we had so much fun, and it was a great place to begin and end our trip.

We both agree that the island has some of the best food we’ve ever eaten, and we looked forward to dinner (when we splurged a little more) every day! It was so nice to spend a day at the beach, come home and shower and dress for dinner, while watching the sunset over Flamands from our window. All while enjoying an aperitif, of course!

We ended our trip enjoying yet another fabulous meal, this time at the sandwich shop that Jeff recommended near the airport. It was a perfect ending to a perfect trip.

It was so hard to leave Flamands Blue, and the island, and taking our last photos was bittersweet. It definitely eased the pain to know that we had officially been on our honeymoon, and it was better than we ever imagined. We can’t wait to return the island, and to Flamands Blue, for future special occasions or “just because” getaways.