It’s a few months yet before a who’s-who list of hip-hop stars, “it” girl actresses, and international supermodels descend upon this chic and sunny 8-square-mile Caribbean island. A stay on the A-lister playground of St. Barthélemy (more commonly known as St. Barths or St. Barts) does not come cheap – many rooms in season start at about $1,000 per night – but if you’ve always wanted to visit and are considering a last-minute Caribbean getaway over the next few weeks, there are pre-season savings to be had at the island’s top resorts. I have stayed at or dined at four of them – here’s what you need to know:
Eden Rock: If you enjoy being in the center of the action, the legendary Eden Rock resort, located front-and-center on chic St. Jean Beach, is ideal for you. All 27 rooms and suites and seven villas, which range from Caribbean-style garden cottages and classic rock suites (they are atop the rock that gives the hotel its name, shown above at left) to sleek oceanfront beach houses and lavish beach villas (one, Villa Rockstar, has a nightly price tag to match its name) are decorated individually by the resort’s owners. This gives the property a one-of-a-kind vibe that’s increasingly rare these days. It was just announced that Eden Rock’s two restaurants, the beach-level Sand Bar and the panoramic On the Rocks, will serve cuisine produced in a partnership between the hotel’s executive chef Anne-Cecile Degenne and internationally celebrated chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Rooms start at $680 a night, though December 16, 2011.
Hotel St.-Barth Isle de France: Fresh from a renovation that updated the furnishings and bathrooms in the main building’s 12 rooms and suites, the lovely St.-Barth Isle de France, renowned for its serene white-on-white décor and idyllic Flamands Beach locale, is ideal for couples seeking a glamorous yet low-key getaway. Another 16 rooms and suites are located in a lush garden setting (as is the Isle de France Spa), while premium beach suites (shown at right) and villas are set off to the side on the beach. The al fresco La Case de L’isle restaurant, overlooking the beachfront pool, offers local and internationally inspired cuisine. You’ll find this secluded and refreshingly uncomplicated resort to be the perfect spot to relax, unwind and reconnect. Rooms start at $625/night through December 19, 2011.
Hotel Guanahani & Spa: The only “resort” in the traditional sense on the island, Hotel Guanahani & Spa features 68 rooms and suites – most newly redecorated with a clean, modern ambience and ranging from airy and comfortable garde- view rooms to sprawling two- and three-bedroom suites and villas. They are staggered around a hillside overlooking two beaches, and the 16-acre grounds also house tennis courts, a beachfront pool (although many of the suites and villas have private plunge pools), three restaurants (including the wonderful Bartolomeo, where chef Philippe Masseglia creates superb tasting menus), and a Clarins Spa. Book the three-night “St. Barts Spree” Package for stays up until December 17, 2011, and you’ll get three nights’ accommodation with daily buffet breakfast, one cocktail per person at a resort bar, and one lunch or dinner per couple at any of the resort’s restaurants, round-trip airport transfers, and a car rental, from $2,043.
Le Toiny: The 25-room, hillside Le Toiny may not be located on a beach, but very few guests who stay here even notice. What this Relais & Chateaux resort offers is unsurpassed ocean views, relaxing villas with private plunge pools, and a restaurant that serves some of the island’s best cuisine – which is saying a lot since St. Barts is a foodie haven. The resort’s junior suites and villas, which range from 720 to 785 square feet, feature polished mahogany floors and four-poster beds with breezy neutral décor that doesn’t fight with the amazing views from the glass-paneled doors and private pool deck. There is also a spectacular infinity-edged pool for socializing and the award-winning Le Gaiac restaurant, where chef Stephane Mezieres mixes French and Creole influences to create unforgettable dishes and a legendary Sunday brunch. Junior suites start at $764/night through November 20, 2011, or book the five-night “Fall for Le Toiny” package, which includes accommodations in a one-bedroom villa suite with daily breakfast, roundtrip airport transfers, free laundry service and WiFi, and a three-course dinner for two at Le Gaiac (excluding beverages) for $4,417, through Nov. 19, 2011.