Finding the best-kept secret in St Barth
By Alexander Britell
ST JEAN — St Barth is quiet in the summer. The winter crowds have left to the Cote d’Azur and the edges of Long Island, but the roofs are still red and the hills are still green and you can still enjoy the kinds of afternoons you can only find in the French Caribbean.
Because there is a certain kind of afternoon in the French Caribbean; you find it on a balcony drinking a ti’ punch and listening only to the wind, when you become convinced that time takes its holidays here, too.
The French have made an art form of these places, small oases in the hills of the West Indies, where the sweeping views become paintings you must study for hours.
One such place is Le Village, a boutique four-star hotel in the town of St Jean with 25 rooms and suites and a pair of luxury villas.
It is a lovely hotel, with spacious rooms with broad balconies overlooking the sea and outdoor kitchens and hammocks and shelves of books built into the walls.
It is also a family-run hotel that was among the island’s first, with a heritage of more than 40 years, under the stewardship of Catherine and Bertrand Charneau.
At any time of year, it is a sanctuary, just steps up the hill from the island’s most famous beach, offering a tranquil getaway that really does feel like your own private retreat.
Lately, Le Village has been making changes, adding a breakfast lounge and terrace and poolside gazebo with an honor bar.
The changes join the hotel’s hallmarks: the infinity pool gazing at the bay of St Jean; the panoramic second-level fitness room; the warm service.
And then there are the rooms — thoughtfully designed units with shelves of books, outdoor kitchens and the sounds of coqui frogs in the evening.
Even better is the location in St Jean — a quick drive from the airport and within easy access to all of the wonders of St Barth: the restaurants, the beaches, the shopping in Gustavia.
But the best part might be that you’re getting one of the great hotels in the French Caribbean for, well, far less than many of its famous neighbors.
This isn’t just a great hotel in St Barth — it’s an affordable hotel in St Barth, with rates as low as 170 € in the summertime.
And the whole place is right out of a novel; as you walk the grounds and meet the guests at the pool, you get a sense that this is somewhere for travelers in the know, for those who have found something to treasure, for those who value French Caribbean afternoons.
And it is the Best-Kept Secret in St Barth (and one of the best St Barts hotels).