I Did St. Barths Like Hollywood Royalty & Loved Every Indulgent Second Of It
The Kardashians. Dua Lipa. Beyoncé. Miranda Kerr. Leonardo DiCaprio. What do all these people have in common? Well, they’re all exceedingly famous with some fairly deep pockets and they all love a luxe vacation in St. Barthélemy (commonly known as St-Barths). Yes, like me, you’ve probably heard of the exclusive little French Caribbean island, which is a top destination for one-percenters looking to unwind — and let loose — in relative privacy. Think Ibiza vibes … but make it French. Because of the seemingly exclusive (and expensive) nature of the destination, it admittedly has never made it to my bucket list. It just always felt a bit too out of reach for my humble civilian budget … until, that is, the vacation gods smiled upon me and offered me the trip of a lifetime.
For the record, the vacation gods I’m referring to are actually the team at Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France, the iconic and glamorous hotel that’s been a hotspot for celebrities and the like seeking rest and relaxation (sans paparazzi cameras) since the early ‘90s. (The establishment is known for its discretion and doesn’t reveal its A-list clientele. However, it’s been reported that the likes of Pippa Middleton, Cindy Crawford, and Leonardo DiCaprio have been lodgers.) The 61-room property was purchased by LVMH’s Cheval Blanc hotel group in 2013 and underwent the chicest of redesigns in recent years (naturally) by renowned designer Jacques Grange, whose understated elegant handwork can also be seen at New York’s The Mark Hotel and Francis Ford Coppola’s Palazzo Margherita in southern Italy.
This summer, I was offered the opportunity to indulge in the spoils of the exclusive hotel — rooms start at about €750 per night and suites at €1,325 a night — and the island itself for three glorious nights in the midst of its low season, which runs from about spring to late summer. While visiting a party epicenter like St. Barths in the heat of its high season (December through April) rings desirable for some, I was personally thrilled at the idea of enjoying the idyllic scene in peace and quiet since sleep and utter tranquility are my top vacation motivations these days. “Summer is underrated,” says Eva Sitarz, director of marketing for Cheval Blanc. “From May through August, it’s quieter on the island, yet we still benefit from excellent weather, so it’s the optimum time to enjoy a wellness-focused vacation and discover the authenticity of St. Barth and all it has to offer.” Sold.
In the quieter months, St. Barth’s visitors can find a range of wellness offerings at their fingertips: long hikes along the seaside, private yoga sessions in the midst of a tropical garden, and relaxing spa treatments. “The island is a natural haven for wellness with its pristine beaches, rugged coastline, hiking and water activity opportunities and more,” says Christelle Hilpron, General Manager of Cheval Blanc. “[…] At Cheval Blanc, we continue enhancing our offerings, such as inviting world-renowned fitness instructors to curate special programs for our guests, collaborating with our spa partner, Guerlain, to curate new treatments at Cheval Blanc Spa, and working with local naturopaths to elevate and innovate healthy food menus.”
I experienced these enhanced offerings myself, starting with a personal hiking tour with Diana Bourel, founder of yoga and wellness program Art of Self Care. In addition to her vast knowledge of St. Barth’s rugged surroundings and remote beaches, Bourel is also known for her spiritual counseling and mind-body therapy, which I got a taste of on our 90-minute excursion. I found myself instantly at ease with the wellness pro, discussing everything from St. Barths’ history and landmarks to our personal career journeys and even relationship and family experiences. (At the end of our tour I jokingly encouraged Bourel to invoice me for our impromptu therapy session.)