The allure of St Barths has never been stronger, thanks to a trifecta of irresistible allure: stunning natural beauty, pristine beaches that invite you to relax and a wealth of upscale amenities designed to pamper you. Once a hidden gem, the enchanting island now attracts the creme de la creme of travellers seeking a luxurious retreat surrounded by breathtaking scenery and a vibrant social scene.
Located in the northwest corner of the Caribbean, St Barts is a tiny island that feels like a private paradise. It was first inhabited by the Arawak Indians before Columbus chanced upon it in 1493 and named it Saint Barthelemy, after his brother Bartolomeo. By the late 1600s, the island was settled by French sailors from Normandy and Brittany. But unlike neighbouring St Kitts, St Barths was not colonized for sugar plantations and remained too rocky and dry to sustain agriculture.
A burgeoning tourism industry spawned in the early 20th century, drawing in the creme de la creme of travellers – the wealthy, the famous and those in search of a secluded getaway. St Barths’ pristine landscapes and enticing social scene are the perfect blend of seductive tranquillity and high-style glamour that entices everyone from honeymooners and families to front-page-news celebrities and moguls to visit its dazzling shoreline.
In the heart of its capital, Gustavia, a plethora of swanky bars and restaurants cater to the island’s discerning clientele. Many are a must-visit, including Le Bart’s (+1 590 (0)590 276182), where the glamorous hordes gather for a night of live music and cocktails. Other highlights include La Maison Blanche (+590 (0)590 276181), where chef Yann Vinsot serves locally-inspired gourmet French cuisine and 150 French wines in unadulterated St Barths luxury, or the open-air Tamarin (+590 (0)590 292774), where diners can enjoy a meal under the stars and centuries-old tamarind trees.
Secluded Gouverneur Beach is a gorgeous sweep of white-sand fringed by crystal waters and framed by high cliffs. It’s the most beautiful of all St Barth’s beaches and a top spot for snorkelling and sunbathing.
A must-visit, Hôtel Frégate is a beautiful beachfront resort with an impressive collection of rooms and suites. Some are large enough to accommodate a family or group of friends, while others are more intimate and come complete with private pools and a Jacuzzi. Despite its opulent décor, the hotel is unpretentious and welcoming, with staff that are ready to help in whatever way they can.
Lolita Jaca is one of the best places to pick up elegant resort fashions, from silk caftans with colourful embroidery to Laura pants that have drawstring cuffs at the ankles for a haremish look and kimonos in hand-blocked cotton. For men, try a pair of slimline chinos or a cotton shirt in a sophisticated tropical print from coveted French label Vilebrequin. The Pure Altitude Spa has two treatment rooms and offers a range of personalised body treatments including the detoxing Perfect Body package and the nourishing Pure Coconut Ritual.