Although the island of Saint Barthelemy in the Caribbean Sea is tiny (it covers an area of just 24 square kilometers or nine square miles), it satisfies all the needs for a joyous holiday: a delightful climate (77 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit year round) and lots of fun both at the water and on land.
Officially, the island is recognized as a French overseas territory. It could be described as an extension of the Riviera but in the middle of the Caribbean. Some of the reasons for the intimate feel of St. Barts include its harbor, which is not big enough for cruise ships, and the small airport only allows planes with 15 passengers or less. Residents cannot erect large apartment buildings on the island, and the number of hotel beds is restricted. But those who can, choose this tiny Caribbean outpost as their kingdom for their Christmas holidays.
Travelers come for the continuous lavish parties held at this time of year. The best Champagne is always chilling in the numerous mega yachts and luxury villas that dot the island.
However, at the famous Nikki Beach, soirees are organized to surprise and dazzle because any excuse is cause for celebration. For example, on Wednesday 30th, St. Barts will debut the Peace, Love & Music Festival, a cheerful return to the 1960s. Two days before, visitors are invited to revel in the night at the Dom Perignon Party.
No hotel can beat the exclusivity of private yachts and villas, but the island’s accommodations also pamper the visitors with special menus and party favors. There are at least seven five-star hotels with no more than 35 rooms each. The Eden Rock is considered one of the best in the world and is usually fully booked until January.
Le Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France Hotel—owned by French luxury giant LVMH —is quite luxurious as well as other lodgings like Le Guanahani, Le Toiny, and Le Sereno. There are also lesser known hotels that are equally or even more welcoming, such as the great Emeraude Plage, by the sea. As the holidays approach, it is almost an impossible mission to book a room, unless there’s a last-minute cancelation.
The fine dining options are concentrated in Gustavia, the capital. The charming Saint Bart Restaurant also has a club and bar. Finishing the list of fabulous hotels in St. Barts, our list includes: Bagatelle, Do Brazil, and Pipiri Palace. Many of these restaurants will feature live music on New Year’s Eve.
In December—from the 1st to the 28th— most shops and boutiques in St. Barths compete for the best window displays with beautiful and varied decorations. And from the 12th to the 21st the Christmas Village Festival in Gustavia adds to the holiday cheer with local arts and crafts and numerous food stands.
If you want to enjoy outdoor shows at Christmas time, go to the harbor and watch the midnight fireworks on New Year’s Eve in Gustavia Bay, and the New Year Regatta with yachts of all sizes. St. Barts offers myriad activities for the Holidays in every corner of the island. ■