Plan Your Luxurious St. Barthèlemy Vacation
With French cuisine that will tantalize your senses, relaxing beaches, chance to scuba dive to see the exotic marine life and the latest French fashions, St. Barthèlemy will make sure to give you a splendid vacation. Located in the Caribbean, the island’s language, cuisine and culture is distinctly French. It is a popular destination for tourists, especially during the winter season. You can try on the latest trends in fashion, indulge in the rich flavours of tapas, choose from over a 100 restaurants for an elegant meal or just please your sight with the spectacular views.
Hotels at St. Barthèlemy
People tend to travel to the island during the winter holiday season from mid-December till early January so you must make reservations far in advance. This is when prices are the highest, almost double. A 5% government tourism tax is levied on room prices so make sure to ask if the tax is included in the price you are paying.
Hotels and villas on St. Barthèlemy are quite expensive as you are basically paying for the privilege of staying on the island. However, if you manage your finances well, it is not so expensive as to leave you unable to pay your children’s college fees.
If you want to have a clear picture of what you will be presented with when you finally arrive on the island, it is best that you call a reservation manager and try to make a personal connection in advance. The people on the island who are close to the action can be better guides than people on the internet. You can ask about the views, decorations, meal options and special package rates. The hotel rates that you see are per room and not per person. The quoted rates often include service charges as well as airport transfers most of the time. Internet booking sites might give you unpleasant surprises so it is better to check with the hotel before making reservations.
Villas and Condos at St. Barthèlemy
On the island, a villa can either be a small cottage or a luxurious estate. If you are travelling with family and friends, a villa will be the best option for you. Most villas are equipped with a private pool, kitchen with all the utensils, electronic devices such as DVD players, satellite TV, broadband internet and maid service except on Sunday. The rates for villas are quoted in dollars which makes them advantageous for travellers from America by protecting them from unfavourable fluctuations in the Euro. During the peak season, you can expect a weekly rate starting from $1400. Most of the companies renting out villas are based in the USA. Also, you can view pictures as well as videos of the villas on internet websites. Keep in mind that these villas are not in front of the beach except for a few so if you dream of vacationing in a beachfront villa, make reservations at villas that are operated by hotel properties.
Contact for more information
It is a local villa rental company representing more than 100 villas. Most of the villas are not listed with other companies. For details, call 0590/27-62-02 or visit the website at www.marlavillas.com.
St. Barthèlemy Properties, Inc.
This company is owned by Peg Walsh who is American but has been on the island since 1986. Representing more than 120 properties, they can guide you to choose the perfect spot for your vacation. Weekly rates start from $1400 during the peak season. The rates depend on the size of the property, the location and the facilities it provides. You can have a virtual tour of the villas on their website. The company has an office in Gustavia which can answer your queries or offer concierge-type service if you require so. For details, call on 508/528-7727 or 800/421-3396 or visit the website at www.stbarth.com.
This company represents more than 230 properties and is based in Rhode Island. The villa rents range from $2000 to $10,000 for two and three bedroom villas. For larger villas, the weekly rent starts from $7000. You can view pictures of the villas on the company website or you can order a catalogue by mail which will give you a clear picture of what you are planning to pay for. Wimco also offers to arrange for babysitters, massage, chefs and other services for clients in addition to private air charters. Call on 800/932-3222 or visit the website at www.wimco.com.
Restaurants at St. Barthèlemy
St. Barth is home to more than 80 restaurants which offer exquisite cuisine. Most menus offer freshly caught local seafood which is a special treat for seafood lovers and top-quality provisions come in from Paris on a regular basis to provide you with the best meals. The cocktails whipped up by the island bartenders are sophisticated and unlike anything you typically get on the Caribbean. ‘Ti Punch’ is a signature drink of St. Barth and is similar to a Brazilian Caipirinha.
The restaurants on St. Barth display their daily specials on a chalk board. And even the pickiest of eaters will find something on the menu that will be mouth-watering. Your meal will be expensive but if you choose carefully and limit your cocktails and wines, you can treat yourself to a delicious meal that will not be too heavy on your pocket. If you do not want expensive meals, you can always indulge in ti creux, meaning snack or small bite, provided at small crêperies, cafés, sandwich shops, and pizzerias which you can easily find in the main shopping areas. Dinner is usually more costly than lunch.
Since it is a popular tourist destination, be sure to make reservations beforehand specially if you are travelling in the peak season. Many restaurants now offer to make reservations for you by email so avail that facility to make your vacation perfect. Publication such as magazines feature menus offered by the different restaurants so you can check them out to make your choices. If you are not travelling to the island in the peak season, it is not important to make reservations far in advance. Even a day’s or a few hours’ notice will do. Just because you finish your meal does not mean you have to leave the restaurant. You can linger at the table so long as you do not request for the bill. Since the culture is French, you must follow the French way.
Check your bills carefully. Although a service charge is added by law, you must tip the waiter in cash. A 5% to 10% extra will do. Your credit card might offer a better exchange rate than the restaurant so if you with in American dollars with your credit card, you might have a certain advantage. However, most credit cards now a days charge 3% or more conversion cost which renders it useless. Locally caught lobster is priced by weight and usually is the most expensive item on the menu; expect to pay anything between $40 and $60 for a single lobster.
At lunch spots on the beach, you can wear a bathing suit or a gauzy top. Jackets are not required to be worn by men but most people tend to dress formally and elegantly for dinner. Women tend to wear the latest trends in fashion to appear chic and hip. Women can wear a tank dress or anything clingy with white jeans to match with the island environment. You can wear whatever you think is stylish at nightclubs and lounges in high season – let your imagination run wild. Also, leave some space in your suitcase as you might be tempted to buy the perfect outfit on the island to take back home. Shorts mostly label a man American but now since many locals have adopted the habit; it is not a distinct sign of being American. Since it is an island, it might get a little cool at night so be sure to pack a light sweater or shawl for the breezy nights.