Some destinations are so impossibly glamorous that the mere mention of a trip there engenders a surge of envy from even the most well-traveled friends and colleagues. So it is with St. Barths, a 9.6-square-mile speck in the Caribbean known for its white-sand beaches and peacock-blue waters as much as its designer boutiques and jet-setting visitors. This tiny island in the Lesser Antilles was a colony of Sweden for several decades, oddly enough, but it has been a jewel in France’s crown off and on since the 1600s.
We last visited in 2016, a year before Hurricane Irma blasted St. Barths with 185 mph winds and forced the closure of longtime recommendations Eden Rock and Le Guanahani, among other resorts. Since then, both have reemerged, the former as a member of the Oetker Collection and the latter as a Rosewood property. And the boutique hotel Le Carl Gustaf, which had been shuttered for years, finally reopened on its perch overlooking the picturesque harbor of Gustavia. It was time for another undercover editorial visit, and when duty calls, I answer.
Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf
After our prop plane’s gust-defying descent onto the airport’s notoriously short runway, we rented a 4WD vehicle (as one typically must in St. Barths) and drove to our hotel. On the way, the shockingly blue waters competed for our attention with the narrow, twisting roads. By the time we arrived at Le Carl Gustaf, we found ourselves high above the port of Gustavia and could soak in the stunning view from the safety of the breezy open-air lobby.