|Not long ago, St. Barts was a clandestine hideaway of Rockefellers, Rothschilds, and their lucky confidants: the celebrated, the wealthy, the globally glamorous. Now, though this snug, delectably French island hosts a more democratic crowd, it retains an elite yet casual aura and continues to lure travelers who seek a vacation as classy as it is restful and scenic. |
St. Barts may be characterized best, to begin, by what it does not have to offer your clients. There are no high-rise resorts (the largest hotel boasts 64 rooms); no golf course, few tennis courts, no casinos or Liberace-style crooners. No sign of hang-ten culture or ecofriendly campgrounds. Even waterskiing is scarce. Nightlife - other than a snatch of jazz and a glitz-free disco or two - consists of starlit strolls on the beach and lingering memorable dinners capped off, perhaps, with Veuve Cliquot in an intimate piano bar.
The island, named for Columbus's brother, Bartolomeo, passed from the Carib Indians to the French, with a brief loan to the Swedes. Too rugged for a plantation economy, it was settled by Norman and Breton farmers and fishermen; slavery played no role in its history. The language, currency and life-style are French.
Whether your clients desire a villa in the lofty hills or a room on Gustavia's harbor, they will pay top franc and get their money's worth in return: luxurious, supremely romantic lodgings, beautiful vistas, and fabulous food and wine. Travelers dine here as well as they do in Paris . . . complete with Parisian tab. Highflying shoppers will be sated as well: Rodeo Drive meets tropical suave on Gustavia's gingerbread byways.
St. Barts' scalloped coast embraces a dozen unspoiled coral-sand coves: some with accessible snorkeling on sheltered reefs, others dramatically windswept. Scooters are the most popular rental transport, but a car is necessary to explore the mountainous eight-square-mile interior. Tucked away on gleaming slopes are weathered farms, vivid gardens, and antique inns, all to fulfill your clients' wildest dreams of sweet provincial days gone by.