You’re wearing head-to-toe white on a pristine beach, holding a glass of chilled rosé, kissing your friends hello on both cheeks as you all head out to a party. Are you in heaven? Not yet, but luckily, you’re in the closest place on earth — Saint Barthelemy. Located in the French West Indies, St. Barths the poshest place in the Caribbean, drawing devoted royals, scene-loving celebs and yacht wielding billionaires to its beaches and bars each holiday season. Gustavia harbor is like ‘I Spy’ for decadence...“I spy with my little eye, something that begins with ‘C’”. “Okay, ‘C’...Cartier? Chanel? No, its caviar, right? No? Champagne? Chopard?”. With a population of just over 9,000, visitors keep the local economy going strong. Portia and Ellen have been spotted on shopping sprees, Rachel Zoe goes bananas in the boutiques, Roman Abramovich throws his notoriously elaborate New Year’s Eve parties, Diddy wears white, Ron Perleman docks his yacht, Simon Cowell smirks from his sundeck, Gwen and Gavin in their together times rocked the town, and chicette Olivia Palermo was proposed to on its shores. Yet, St. Barths has been a jet-set mainstay for decades for its European heritage, charming villages, natural beauty and bohemian spirit, as much as its has for its glitz and glamour. Even the ‘capital’ of Gustavia, which hugs the marina like a horseshoe, feels like a little nook of the old world, its azure bays dotted with bright white sailing boats, its streets lined with anything-but-ordinary shops, where adamant discussions en français can be heard wafting out from the cafes.
The island is completely devoid of high-rise, chain hotels, thanks to an antiquated building code stating that no structure could be higher than the tallest palm tree. Thus, uber-chic boutique hotels and glamourous private villas, some of which tap out at $190k per week, are the accommodations of choice. Its the antithesis of all-inclusive - St. Barths is all exclusive. With almost 20 beaches, each possessing its own distinctive character, its easy to plan a perfect day in paradise for everyone (the island only takes 30 minutes to drive around). Whether you’re tanning topless on Saline Beach, having a rose picnic on isolated Gouverneur, or hiking to hidden Colombier, the sand will be silky and white, the water turquoise, calm and warm. Though, it doesn’t have to be an adventure to spend some time in the sun. Say you’re staying at Eden Rock - St Barths on St. Jean, simply walk ten meters to La Plage to dine on €30 tuna tartare, hear a local DJ and watch a island chic ‘fashion show’, all without having to change out of your bikini.
Sure, the tropical breezes are enchanting and the vistas are pristine, but the 1% needs more than a hammock to have fun. With over 100 restaurants in nine square miles, choices for an evening out are endless - yet a real St. Barths night on the town is a truly insider experience. Die hards know that while Le Ti is the site of the infamous Real Housewives taping, the mood at Le Select is so chillaxed, it inspired Jimmy Buffett to pen his ballad ‘Cheeseburger in Paradise’. The Hideaway is where you are most likely to rub shoulders with A-listers going incognito, yet you can still hear the chi-ching of black cards handling seemingly insurmountable bills over at at Nikki Beach, only a hop, skip, and a jump away.
And what to wear on the Caribbean’s chicest île? Laid-back luxe is the style tous les jours - this is the place that birthed the Calypso empire, after all. A perfect outfit is a mix of boho and runway, heavy on hats, jewels and trinkets. Just layer your resortwear with standout accessories, a tan and a dash of bling - et voila! - St. Barths' style. Perhaps you’ll swing by Vuitton and pick up a silk dress to wear as a cover up over your Eres bikini with a classic Louboutin espadrille. At night you’ll slip into a Missoni maxi and simple leather slides for dinner at Maya’s. Or, you may prefer a no-name white shift with an Hermes scarf, a mis-match of bold beaded necklaces and no shoes for lunch at Le Sereno’s pool, changing to vintage Pucci for a night of dancing in the moonlight. Either way, you’ll look the part. Now that you’re all packed, bisous, bisous - see you on St. Barths!