Soleil worshipper? You don’t have to jet across the pond this winter for French immersion. Instead, hop a Caribbean-bound flight to St. Barts in the French West Indies.
13 Rue Samuel Fahlberg, Gustavia 011-590-590-52-45-31
Clic Bookstore & Gallery
Rue de la République, Gustavia 011-590-590-29-70-17
Rue de la République, Gustavia 011-590-590-27-66-15
Hotel Le Christopher (from $590 per night, with a minimum three-night stay)
Hotel Saint-Barth Isle de France (from $907 per night)
BP 612, Baie des Flamands
Angle des Rues du Bord de Mer et Samuel Fahlberg, Gustavia
Les Hauts du Carré d’Or, Gustavia 011-590-590-27-59-98
Rue de la République, Gustavia 011-590-590-87-90-24
On the Rocks and Sand Bar
Eden Rock Hotel (from $907 per night; Villa Rockstar prices available upon request)
St. Jean Bay
Hotel Carl Gustaf (from $1,300 per night)
Rue des Normands, BP 700, Gustavia
Tom Beach Hotel (from $590 per night) and La Plage
BP 1058, St. Jean Beach
Wind Wave Power
On the beach by St. Barth Beach Hotel
EAT Celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten hooked up with Eden Rock Hotel’s On the Rocks (fine dining served on a rock that juts out onto St. Jean Bay) and Sand Bar (offering a casual lunch menu) in late November to redesign the menus. No stranger to St. Barts, the chef, born in Alsace, France, also keeps a house on the island. For dinner at On the Rocks, St. Barts lobster is served with basil, lemon and Asian coleslaw, or folded into lobster tacos; there are plenty of Asian noodle dishes, too, and signature cocktails aplenty. Victoria’s Restaurant, tucked into Hotel Carl Gustaf, offers a new twist on an old concept: “mystery” prix fixe menus that are of the chef’s design. And for late-night snacks, B4 Lounge, inside an adorable Creole clapboard cottage in the heart of the island’s capital city of Gustavia, serves tapas and French-cheese plates (locals love the to-go pizzas).
SLEEP If you’ve got cash to burn, inquire about Eden Rock Hotel’s new Villa Rockstar, which hosts a private recording studio and a bar stocked with 40 whiskeys. Or, book a private painting lesson with the hotel’s artist-in-residence (the hotel also has a full-blown contemporary-art gallery). Fresh off a 2009 renovation, the 12-room Tom Beach Hotel on St. Jean Beach also dabbles in art with a new art gallery that showcases fine art against stark-white walls. Its restaurant, La Plage (French for “the beach”), is a personal favorite of celebrity chef Todd English.
SHOP Gustavia is home to many high-end, magnifique boutiques. Pick up a beach-chic tunic or a silk sundress at Lolita Jaca, scan the indie-designer apparel at Toulouse, France-based Kristina Popovitch, scoop up duty-free accessories from French luxury-fashion houses like Hermès and Louis Vuitton, or browse photography books (some rare and signed) at Clic Bookstore & Gallery, which is run by Christiane Celle, the founder of the Calypso St. Barth’s fashion label.
SPA/SPORT Hotel Le Christopher in Pointe Milou rolled out its brand-new spa just in time for winter; 15 different massages are on the menu, including Lomi Lomi, Ayurvedic and Balinese. Another must-stop for spa devotees is the Hotel Saint-Barth Isle de France, on the island’s northwest side. Its Citrus Drench body treatment helps heal sun damage (an unfortunate casualty of Caribbean vacations), and there’s also a gazebo for massages en plain air (book early, though). While surfing conditions are right on only some beaches, windsurfing is king at Grand Cul de Sac beach on the island’s eastern side. Wind Wave Power, on the beach near St. Barth Beach Hotel, rents equipment and offers lessons. At the same beach, 7e Ciel runs kite-surfing courses, equipment included.