I recently had the pleasure of overnighting on St. Barts to review its jewel-box hotel, Eden Rock. (Ah, yes, I love my job.) While its hard to go wrong with accommodations on St. Barts the island is filled with glitzy boutique hotels polished to perfection the Eden Rock stands out from the gang for a few reasons.
Because of its origins as a private residence Eden Rock has a range of accommodations, all varying in size and décor (Jane Matthews pilots the design and decoration for all interiors), from petite cottages at the base of the rock to oceanfacing suites in de Haenens and friends former rooms to new villas and bungalows that stretch out on the beach on either side of the rock. Its a mishmash of luxury thats both enchanting and flashy.
The Matthews also have a passion for the arts and have thus created The Eden Rock Gallery which has exhibited works from American artists Richard Prince and Will Cotton (they also partner with the New York Academy of Art and host burgeoning artists at the hotel as part of an inspirational work/stay program) as well as a new tricked-out Rockstar Villa complete with a fully equipped recording studio designed by Allen Sides and featuring a vintage console favored by John Lennon (he used it to record Imagine).
All this, plus two fantastic and super-trendy restaurants, the Sands Bar (the mahi mahi with bacon is divine) and On the Rocks (try the mushroom ravioli and the veal fillet), helmed by Chef Jean-Claude Dufour. Needless to say, I was in heaven Eden, if you will and while it was hard to ignore the beautiful people lounging on the beach, the air of exclusivity, and the sky-high prices of cocktails, well, and the sky-high prices of everything (the Euro-to-dollar conversion on top of high prices is killer), I sat on my breezy balcony, flipping through a Hughes biography (there are many Hughes-related books and curios in the suite), watched the propeller planes take off and land on the tiny stretch of runway that fronts St. Jean Beach (once the goat pasture that de Haenen landed his plane on), and imagined de Haenen and Hughes gallivanting around the islands secluded coves with their harem of Hollywood pinups. I wondered if they ever imagined then that their private and quaint hideaway would morph into the epicenter of style that it is today.