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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.