Each Caribbean island has its own distinctive personality, but the one that delights almost everyone is St. Barths. With its status as a DOM (Département d’Outre-Mer), St. Barths is as much a part of France as Normandy or Provence, even if the mother country is 4,100 miles away. It is also perceptibly one of the happiest, most polite and most peaceful places in the world. The white sand beaches are dazzling; the food is consistently excellent; and the island’s capital, Gustavia, has arguably the prettiest harbor in the Caribbean (its only real rival is St. George’s, Grenada).
Le Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France
St. Barths has recently seen major renovations of several of its most famous hotels, notably the Isle de France. This intimate 40-room (four suites, two villas) resort, set amid 10 acres of grounds and fronting the lovely Baie des Flamands, was renamed as the Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France in 2014, when it became the third property in luxury conglomerate LVMH’s growing roster of hotels. The other Cheval Blanc resorts are located in Courchevel and the Maldives, and hotels are under development in Paris and Oman. Following the comprehensive program of renovation and redecoration at Isle de France, we decided to make a return visit.
First impressions matter, and the young staff members were warm and welcoming on arrival. The men were dressed in white polo shirts and white canvas slacks, while the women wore pretty, sleeveless Creole-style seersucker dresses. This studied informality set a relaxed island tone immediately, as did the old-fashioned glass drink dispensers, the ceiling fans in the lobby, the white wicker furniture with floral chintz cushions and the decorative accents of pale salmon pink.