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Thread: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

  1. #1
    KevinS is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jul 2003 Posts: 21,436

    I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    I've been visiting St Barth for a long time, over 30 years, gotta be close to 35. I love the island and I love the people. A lot.

    I visit at least twice each year, in November and April. I add on a day here and there, as conditions permit, so at present, in total, I spend a bit over a month each year on my favorite island.

    Hurricane Irma presented me with a problem. Do I visit over Thanksgiving as usual, or do I stay away and let the island recover?

    Information is limited. The Tourism Board and the Villa Rental Agencies say Come, the island is ready after November 1. At the same time, I read of locals who have no roofs on their houses, and lines at the grocery stores for limited items. Also, the usual gateways to St Barth, St Maarten, San Juan, and St Thomas, are dealing with their own hurricane-related issues.

    I think back 22 years ago, to the day, when Hurricane Luis devastated the island, and I'm using that as my guide today. 22 years ago, in the days leading up to Luis, I was FAXing updates from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) to my friend Michel Ledee at the Marigot Bay Club (not Michel Ledee, former night bartender at Le Select, but his uncle). He said at the time that I might be sending him better information than the local government was getting.

    When Luis hit, and Luis hit HARD, the island was devastated. Michel told me of sitting in his house above Marigot Bay, and watching a sailboat which had broken free from its mooring slam into his restaurant. And slam it again, again, and again, destroying part of it.

    I let things settle for a month before I telephoned Michel. After spending some time catching up, I said “Michel, I have one question for you. Should I come in November as usual, or should I stay away and let the island recover.” His immediate response, this from a friend whose restaurant was out of business and who would not make a centime off of my visit, was “Come, we need your money”.

    So we came. And it was a wonderful visit. I actually had dinner at Le Rivage with my friend Michel and his wife Therese, because with a destroyed restaurant, their nights were free. Not all of the restaurants on the island were open, but we did just fine. Not all of the beaches were in good condition, but we spend more time at the villa than at the beach anyway. The sun was the same as usual. The people were as welcoming as usual, and all of our friends were happy to see us. What I remember most is that most of the vegetation was gone, and that I discovered clusters of houses, almost small villages, which I never knew existed.

    That was 22 years ago, after Luis, and I'm not as young as I was then. And as bad as Luis was, Irma was worse. I look at the good news, and I look at the bad news, it's a tough decision to make, but I've made a decision which works for me.

    The villa which I usually rent in November, BAS, is offline for a year. However, Rosita has a place for me to stay. Her guests at EMM, which I usually rent in April, have canceled, and the villa will be ready. So we'll stay there.

    I think that, again, St Barth needs my money. The island is not ready for everyone to return, but I think that it is ready for some people to return. So I'm going. I know some people who could use a hug. And some shops and restaurants who could use a few clients. And some waitstaff who could use a tip. And perhaps there's a Private Chef who could use a night's work. Etc., etc.

    Wi-Fi permitting, I'll let y'all know how it works out. It won't be the same, but in some ways it will be better.

    Now, on to the next problem - what to do about Thanksgiving... (I'll work it out, and in recent years, I've often ordered the Mahi instead of the special Dinde menu).

  2. #2

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinS View Post
    I've been visiting St Barth for a long time, over 30 years, gotta be close to 35. I love the island and I love the people. A lot.

    I visit at least twice each year, in November and April. I add on a day here and there, as conditions permit, so at present, in total, I spend a bit over a month each year on my favorite island.

    Hurricane Irma presented me with a problem. Do I visit over Thanksgiving as usual, or do I stay away and let the island recover?

    Information is limited. The Tourism Board and the Villa Rental Agencies say Come, the island is ready after November 1. At the same time, I read of locals who have no roofs on their houses, and lines at the grocery stores for limited items. Also, the usual gateways to St Barth, St Maarten, San Juan, and St Thomas, are dealing with their own hurricane-related issues.

    I think back 22 years ago, to the day, when Hurricane Luis devastated the island, and I'm using that as my guide today. 22 years ago, in the days leading up to Luis, I was FAXing updates from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) to my friend Michel Ledee at the Marigot Bay Club (not Michel Ledee, former night bartender at Le Select, but his uncle). He said at the time that I might be sending him better information than the local government was getting.

    When Luis hit, and Luis hit HARD, the island was devastated. Michel told me of sitting in his house above Marigot Bay, and watching a sailboat which had broken free from its mooring slam into his restaurant. And slam it again, again, and again, destroying part of it.

    I let things settle for a month before I telephoned Michel. After spending some time catching up, I said “Michel, I have one question for you. Should I come in November as usual, or should I stay away and let the island recover.” His immediate response, this from a friend whose restaurant was out of business and who would not make a centime off of my visit, was “Come, we need your money”.

    So we came. And it was a wonderful visit. I actually had dinner at Le Rivage with my friend Michel and his wife Therese, because with a destroyed restaurant, their nights were free. Not all of the restaurants on the island were open, but we did just fine. Not all of the beaches were in good condition, but we spend more time at the villa than at the beach anyway. The sun was the same as usual. The people were as welcoming as usual, and all of our friends were happy to see us. What I remember most is that most of the vegetation was gone, and that I discovered clusters of houses, almost small villages, which I never knew existed.

    That was 22 years ago, after Luis, and I'm not as young as I was then. And as bad as Luis was, Irma was worse. I look at the good news, and I look at the bad news, it's a tough decision to make, but I've made a decision which works for me.

    The villa which I usually rent in November, BAS, is offline for a year. However, Rosita has a place for me to stay. Her guests at EMM, which I usually rent in April, have canceled, and the villa will be ready. So we'll stay there.

    I think that, again, St Barth needs my money. The island is not ready for everyone to return, but I think that it is ready for some people to return. So I'm going. I know some people who could use a hug. And some shops and restaurants who could use a few clients. And some waitstaff who could use a tip. And perhaps there's a Private Chef who could use a night's work. Etc., etc.

    Wi-Fi permitting, I'll let y'all know how it works out. It won't be the same, but in some ways it will be better.

    Now, on to the next problem - what to do about Thanksgiving... (I'll work it out, and in recent years, I've often ordered the Mahi instead of the special Dinde menu).
    Kevin, Denise and I second all your comments as to coming down over Thanksgiving. Also, we're coming with a SPECIAL hug for one of the Island's best ambassadors as she assures us she can house us as well. BLESS YOU ROSITA. As to possibly getting together with you and your wife, I'm sure we can work it out while we're down there. Well done Kevin, hope to see you in a few short weeks.
    PS: I'm sure most of us fellow posters would agree, that your tireless efforts for keeping us updated is greatly appreciated.
    Now that, is the cheeseburger in paradise.

  3. #3
    cec1 is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2008 Posts: 6,770

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    Thanks for your very special recollections, Kevin, and report of November plans. I write this note, sitting on AA4399, JAX to MIA, on my way to SBH . . . remembering similar questions & experiences of past St. Barths trips. Wendy & I will look forward to seeing you & Kate in November . . . meanwhile, I look forward to contributing, in small ways, to island recovery & the enjoyment of friends there. Reports to follow!

  4. #4
    Bart -my real name- is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Nov 2009 Alexandria, VA Posts: 5,427

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    Great news!!!!

    I cant wait for the reports. They always do my heart good when conditions are normal. I suspect this year they’ll be be doubly therapeutic.

    Charley - great to hear about your trip too. Sorry we won’t be able to run into you and your wife again. We had flight canceletions that wouldn’t allow us to get there from DC so hopefully we’ll run into you in Dec 18


    Looking forward to pictures and reports!

  5. #5
    soyabeans is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Feb 2008 NYC Posts: 1,431

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    Charlie, happy that you and Denise will be able to spend Thanksgiving on the island with that special hug to Rosita
    enjoy
    Today is the oldest you've ever been, yet it's the youngest you will ever be......so........ENJOY THE DAY

  6. #6
    cassidain is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Jul 2007 Ailleurs Posts: 7,486

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    well said, kevin. you've given dc a good run for his money for his perennial most-well-written award. amuse-toi bien !

  7. #7
    amyb is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 28,232

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    Kevin, we are right behind you and feel exactly the same and made the same decision. There will be sun and friends and the rest will be what it is! Some glitches expected, but we will handle that. Anxious to support our happy place with hugs, smiles, and euros.

    The sun will shine. The flowers will bloom. And with a little bit of luck, the turtles, the birds, the iguanas and the villa cats will be around too.

    We too came after Luis and were welcomed with open arms. This year I expect to see happy faces and get my hugs and I also expect to shed a few tears as I see familiar things and new open views because of the loss of plantings. But there will be tears of joy as I reunite with friends who have managed to become family to me.

    Wi fi permitting, we will share our discoveries. Just know, our Tuesday evening plans will be different this trip and I know the Cheval Blanc models will miss the big guy and his camera clicking away! Perhaps we will do more cruising if we are not interfering with workers going to and fro and try some outdoor and scenery shoots.


    I sure am looking forward to enjoying the new and refreshed face of St Barths and sharing it with all of you. I can not tell you the happiness in hearing that our rental villa is being fixed and that we can return to it.
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  8. #8
    Amery is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Sep 2017 Posts: 64

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    Thank you for these memories and sentiments. Completely agree. We have rebooked flights and found a new villa for Thanksgiving. We know it won't be the same and that is okay, "in some ways better" very likely! We want to support however we can, by being there, smiling, and spending.

  9. #9

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    Hello Kevin. I am new to this forum but have been coming to St Barth for over 15 years. I recently bought a villa in Flamand and am here now to assess the condition of both the island and my home. I have been here almost a week and have driven around the island every day.
    First of all, the island is not devastated. True, many homes and hotels were badly damaged but when you drive around the island, go to the beach or restaurants you do not get the feeling that a huge Hurricane just passed by.
    Secondly, WiFi, electricity, water and generally speaking basic services are fully restored. FYI my Villa's WiFi works better than before. I did my grocery at the Marche in St Jean twice including on a Friday and Sunday and did not notice any lines or food shortage (Maybe the meat department). I don't know where you are getting your info but it seems they are reflective of mid-late September status.
    The only reason why i am not enjoying my trip to St Barth as much as i usually do is that most shops and restaurants are closed and the humidity level is super high. But according to the agencies many restaurants and shops are set to open by Nov 1st and many more by Thanksgiving.
    So, for anyone who is a true St barth lover i say the island will be ready for you by November. You may not access hotels but you will surely be happy with restaurant options.

  10. #10
    BAM is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Mar 2013 New Jersey/New York Posts: 114

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    My wife and I are hoping to confirm that our booked villa will be ready for 12/1 arrival for 2 weeks. We feel as many of you do, we love the island and hope to help with our presence in someway. It will be our 7th trip. We need it badly... to be a bit selfish... Our flights through Philly/SJU/Tradewinds are still in tact...

  11. #11
    tim is offline
    Moderator Joined: Jun 2003 Vélo, Virginia Posts: 16,797

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    Kevin, hope you and Kate have another terrific Thanksgiving on St. Barth!
    The best moderation is the least moderation.

  12. #12
    stbartshopper is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Dec 2013 Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.A. Posts: 10,918

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    There was never a doubt in our minds about not going to paradise. You have made the right decision. Have a wonderful time!

  13. #13
    amyb is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 28,232

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    I don't see anyone giving up. I see some postponements,but no one saying they are done with St Barths. There is no right or wrong here, Hopper. Every family has priorities and has to make decisions that are right for them at the time. I am sure they are sad, but I know they are coming back in a year or so. St Barths usually gets under your skin FOREVER!
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  14. #14
    Bart -my real name- is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Nov 2009 Alexandria, VA Posts: 5,427

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    Thank you Amy.

  15. #15
    Izzy is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Mar 2016 Posts: 872

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    Best wishes for your trip, Kevin. Is the San Juan Ritz still an option in transit?

    Quote Originally Posted by stbartshopper View Post
    There was never a doubt in our minds about not going to paradise.
    The decision process has been easier for those of us whose trip is not until February or March 2018 and still have time to see how things develop. Those with plans in November and December have been placed in a difficult situation.

    Kevin's reports will certainly improve upon what he generously labels "limited" information that has been available thus far.

  16. #16
    cec1 is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2008 Posts: 6,770

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    Replying to Pietro1986 . . . just arrived earlier today, & couldn't agree more wholeheartedly about your assessment of the island today. I'll write more later about my impressions, but for the moment suffice it to say that, as you described, "the island is not devastated." As a matter of fact, in many respects I'm carried back to memories of 40 years ago!

  17. #17
    amyb is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 28,232

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    Dennis this is great to read. Enjoy your visit and please keep the posts coming!
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  18. #18
    KevinS is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jul 2003 Posts: 21,436

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    Quote Originally Posted by Izzy View Post
    Is the San Juan Ritz still an option in transit?
    Not at the present time. The Ritz is offline, potentially for up to a year. It appears that the El San Juan May be offline too. Other hotels in the vicinity of the Ritz which appear to be open include the Intercontinental, Embassy Suites, and Hampton Inn and Suites. I’ve stayed at the last two at one time or another, but not the first.

  19. #19
    Dennis is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Apr 2004 Austin, TX Posts: 9,907

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    Bravo, Kevin...Bravo!

  20. #20
    rivertrash is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Aug 2005 Tyler, Texas and Beaver Creek, Colorado Posts: 4,652

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    Quote Originally Posted by amyb View Post
    Kevin, we are right behind you and feel exactly the same and made the same decision. There will be sun and friends and the rest will be what it is! Some glitches expected, but we will handle that. Anxious to support our happy place with hugs, smiles, and euros.

    The sun will shine. The flowers will bloom. And with a little bit of luck, the turtles, the birds, the iguanas and the villa cats will be around too.

    We too came after Luis and were welcomed with open arms. This year I expect to see happy faces and get my hugs and I also expect to shed a few tears as I see familiar things and new open views because of the loss of plantings. But there will be tears of joy as I reunite with friends who have managed to become family to me.

    Wi fi permitting, we will share our discoveries. Just know, our Tuesday evening plans will be different this trip and I know the Cheval Blanc models will miss the big guy and his camera clicking away! Perhaps we will do more cruising if we are not interfering with workers going to and fro and try some outdoor and scenery shoots.


    I sure am looking forward to enjoying the new and refreshed face of St Barths and sharing it with all of you. I can not tell you the happiness in hearing that our rental villa is being fixed and that we can return to it.
    And the Rivertrash family will be there with all you fine folks! Got airline tickets last week for DFW-SJU-SBH on American and Tradewind. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth we got a villa confirmed yesterday. Hopefully this will give us an opportunity to actually meet some of you.

    Our experience with near-destroyed favorite places is with New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans is our favorite all-time town. Absolutely love it. When Katrina and the subsequent flooding hit, we wanted to do something more than send money to aid in the recovery. After a few weeks we just decided to go and spend some money in the tourist economy. We were amazed at the gratitude of the people down there. Over and over a server, bartender, chef, etc. would thank us for being there and spending money. Many of the restauarants had small cards on the tables expressing their thanks and others left a card with the bill. (They didn’t ask for tips, but they got them!) The experience was amazing! (And as I told Kevin, the fact that the Windsor Court Hotel opened just before we went didn’t hurt anything.)


    Hoping to see and meet many of you in about a month.

    Dick, Cecie and Hailee
    To the optimist the glass is half full.
    To the pessimist the glass is half empty.
    To the engineer the glass is simply too big.

  21. #21
    Izzy is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Mar 2016 Posts: 872

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinS View Post
    Not at the present time. The Ritz is offline, potentially for up to a year.
    No popovers...

  22. #22
    KevinS is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jul 2003 Posts: 21,436

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    Quote Originally Posted by Izzy View Post
    No popovers...
    My overnights in SJU are truly about the popovers. I might do an occasional spin on a Roulette wheel too, and I have paid for a few Tradewind tickets that way. The popovers won't be available there for awhile, but I have the recipe, which BLT Steak freely gives out, and a popover pan. I'm a much better cook than I am a baker, but I may give it a try. Come to think of it, I think that I know someone who has a popover pan on SBH...

    On my upcoming trip, I'm trying something completely different and transiting through Antigua. It's a new adventure, requiring multiple overnights, new hotels, new restaurants, and no advance knowledge of whether or not there will be popovers at all, let alone popovers to rival BLT Steak. I'm discovering that Antigua is an island with many all-inclusives, and many restaurants which require gentlemen to wear long trousers after 6PM.

  23. #23

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    Quote Originally Posted by amyb View Post
    I don't see anyone giving up. I see some postponements,but no one saying they are done with St Barths. There is no right or wrong here, Hopper. Every family has priorities and has to make decisions that are right for them at the time. I am sure they are sad, but I know they are coming back in a year or so. St Barths usually gets under your skin FOREVER!
    Forever is right Amyb!!

  24. #24
    Rosita is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jun 2003 st-barthelemy Posts: 1,844

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    Quote Originally Posted by cec1 View Post
    Replying to Pietro1986 . . . just arrived earlier today, & couldn't agree more wholeheartedly about your assessment of the island today. I'll write more later about my impressions, but for the moment suffice it to say that, as you described, "the island is not devastated." As a matter of fact, in many respects I'm carried back to memories of 40 years ago!
    I would like to reply to Pietro1986 too
    I am not agree with him ..don't want to be rude ..but if you are here only since one week and found out st Barth is not" destroyed " it's because since one month their people are trying very hard to clean and make their life better after "Irma troma"
    you was not there that day ..so you don't know
    lucky you if you don't have no damage at your place
    it's not the same for 70% of st Barth houses ..roofs are been repairs or still in renovations ...thanks God after one month the result is fantastic
    the beaches are open, stores are open, restaurants are open
    it's because hard workers

    every body know me from this forum that I am a nice person ..and open my mouth only when necessary
    so please a little respect
    rosita
    ..........
    villa la baleine | villa les jardins d'Emmanuel | villa les basses

  25. #25
    amyb is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 28,232

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    Believe me Rosita-we know how hard people are working to get the island cleaned up. Also know that we certainly do appreciate all the sweat and toil you are putting into fixing up the damaged properties.
    Love and hugs and big thank yous to all who are working even when they think they can not do it anymore! St Barths rock....
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  26. #26
    rivertrash is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Aug 2005 Tyler, Texas and Beaver Creek, Colorado Posts: 4,652

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    Quote Originally Posted by amyb View Post
    Believe me Rosita-we know how hard people are working to get the island cleaned up. Also know that we certainly do appreciate all the sweat and toil you are putting into fixing up the damaged properties.
    Love and hugs and big thank yous to all who are working even when they think they can not do it anymore! St Barths rock....
    I agree with Amy. We never dreamed the island would be fit by Thanksgiving, but it is! Thanks to all the St Barths for the work.
    To the optimist the glass is half full.
    To the pessimist the glass is half empty.
    To the engineer the glass is simply too big.

  27. #27
    BAM is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Mar 2013 New Jersey/New York Posts: 114

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    Sounds like meeting for drinks somewhere to toast would be a good idea. As I mentioned, we arrive 12/1...

  28. #28
    KevinS is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jul 2003 Posts: 21,436

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    Did someone say Drinks, LOL?

  29. #29
    amyb is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 28,232

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    Kevin-I keep hoping SEGECO goes retail for your return.
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  30. #30
    Eve is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jun 2008 Boston Posts: 8,307

    Re: I've Decided To Go - For Thanksgiving

    As a regular late August, and occasional October visitor, I remind myself that the island is always dead, this time of year. In August, it is rather surreal. So if the island seems dead, some of it is because it would be that way anyway. In a month or two we will have a better idea.
    Without Nikki or Eden Rock, the biggest difference will be the type of visitors on the island. That lack of “vibe” is what will make it like 30 years ago.

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